The No 1 visitor attraction operator in Europe, No 2 in the world, Merlin Entertainments’ (Merlin) headquarters are in Poole, Dorset (UK). Merlin operates an international portfolio of global and local attractions, among them many of the world’s best known brand names – Madame Tussauds, The Dungeons, Alton Towers Resort, LEGOLAND, SEA LIFE, Gardaland, The EDF Energy London Eye and many more!
The company’s 94 attractions, 7 hotels and 2 holiday villages in 21 countries across four continents (Europe, North America, Australasia and Asia), welcomed 46 million visitors in 2011, and employs 20,000 staff worldwide.
LEGOLAND No 3 visitor attraction brand in Europe. Pirate, explorer, fire fighter… whatever the kids aspire to be (and Mum and Dad also wish they were!) offers families with children from 2-12 the opportunity to let their imaginations run free and have a go in the wonderful world of LEGO. Kid-powered rides, cool building challenges with a unique mix of interactive attractions, exhilarating coasters, shows that pull the audience into the action and so much more. There really is a surprise around every colourful corner, with lively music and astonishingly accurate LEGO® brick models. LEGOLAND Parks have something to excite every family member and dozens of things to enjoy together. There are currently six LEGOLAND sites - in Windsor (UK), Billund (Denmark), both of which include a LEGOLAND Hotel; Gunzburg (Germany); California (USA) which includes a Water Park and SEA LIFE Aquarium, with hotel to open in 2013; Florida (USA) with Water Park; and Malaysia.
Madame Tussauds Probably our most famous global visitor attraction, and the ultimate celebrity experience, Madame Tussauds has been providing entertainment, magic and wonder for visitors for over 200 years. Visitors are fully immersed in the world of celebrity, politics, history, music, film and sport, getting up close and personal with their icons and heroes in an inclusive, innovative and interactive environment based around amazingly life-like wax figures. The red ropes are long gone, and Madame Tussauds’ unique experience continues to rollout globally with 13 attractions in London, New York, Amsterdam, Las Vegas, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Sydney, Washington DC, Berlin, Hollywood, Bangkok, Vienna and Blackpool, UK, and a 14th to open in Tokyo in 2013.
SEA LIFE is the No 1 aquarium brand in the world, and No 2 visitor attraction brand in Europe. SEA LIFE champions the cause of marine conservation through its global BREED, RESCUE and PROTECT programmes. There are currently 45 SEA LIFE attractions around the world, plus 6 as part of Merlin’s theme park resorts; Chessington World of Adventures, Alton Towers, Gardaland, LEGOLAND Billund, LEGOLAND Deutschland, LEGOLAND California and LEGOLAND Windsor. Together they welcome well over 15 million visitors a year, and are an exciting and authoritative guide to the last great frontier, the seas and oceans of the world, and their myriad mysterious and amazing inhabitants. Unrivalled display technology, biological expertise and entertainments skills combine to provide seamless journeys through European and tropical waters, and astonishing close encounters with everything from humble shrimps and starfish to seahorses, sharks and stingrays. New SEA LIFE attractions will open in Rome and Manchester, UK in 2013.
All Merlin employees are dedicated to delivering memorable fun experiences to all their visitors. Merlin colleagues in its other core businesses like The Dungeons in London, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Blackpool, Warwick Castle, York (and Berlin from 2013) are no less passionate. Merlin’s DUNGEONS bring the darkest chapters of history wailing, screaming ... and often laughing hysterically ... bang into the third millennium. Historically accurate tales of death, disease, evil deeds and disaster are their theme ... but entertainment their objective and talented teams of actors and actresses bring fresh ingenuity every day to the challenge of breathing life into scenes lost in the mists of time.
LEGOLAND Discovery Centres are the Group’s newest and fastest growing attraction concept. There are already 8 attractions open in Berlin and Duisburg (Germany); Chicago; Dallas/Fort Worth; Kansas City and Atlanta (USA); Manchester (UK); and Tokyo, Japan; with new ones planned for New York and Toronto in 2013. An exciting new indoor attraction based on the ever popular LEGO construction toy, LEGOLAND Discovery Centres offer fun, highly interactive and educational experiences ideal for children 3-12 years old. This includes a 4D cinema, Model Builder’s Workshop, themed LEGO ride, the hugely popular MINILAND, special birthday rooms and much more. The perfect place for the whole family to enjoy together.
The EDF Energy London Eye opened in March 2000 as part of the Millennium celebrations and is the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel. Now a recognised global icon, the attraction has won more than 80 design, tourism and people’s choice awards. During its gradual 30 minute rotation, the 135 metre wheel gives passengers in the 32 high-tech capsules, a 40km view in every direction. The Merlin Group recently invested £12.5m in a three year capsule upgrade programme to enhance the visitor experience even more, and opened the UK's first ever attraction 4D pre-show experience at the Eye giving guests a bird's eye view of London throughout the seasons, including the City’s world famous New Year's Eve fireworks display, before their ‘flight’!
Other iconic ‘local’ Merlin attractions include:
The Blackpool Tower One of the UK’s most iconic monuments, the Tower has undergone a massive restoration and redevelopment programme and now houses five fantastic attractions – a new look observation Tower Top - the Blackpool Tower Eye with 4D preview show; The Blackpool Tower Dungeon; the amazing Tower Ballroom; the unique Tower Circus; and Jungle Jim’s play area. Exciting restaurant and retail elements make this a “must do” for visitors of all ages to Blackpool.
And in Asia/Pacific
Sydney Tower Eye and SKYWALK Standing 250 metres above the City’s skyline this iconic tower gives the best views of the Harbour and Sydney town day or night from its panoramic 360 degree observation deck. A 4D preview cinema raises the anticipation; while the ‘brave’ can step out into the clouds on the SKYWALK - a moving glass floor viewing platform.
WILD LIFE Sydney In the heart of the City a fantastic collection of world class interactive displays and incredible walk-through habitats filled with wonderfully unique Australian wildlife from Rex, one of the world’s largest crocodiles, to ‘cuddly’ koalas and a huge collection of birds, reptiles, insects and invertebrates; the perfect complement to the marine wonders of SEA LIFE Sydney just down the road.
WILD LIFE Hamilton Island and SEA LIFE Manly Located on the dramatic Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, an ideal place for adventure and to get close to nature. Everyone from furry marsupials to dangerous creepy crawlies call this amazing place home; while the marine life in the SEA LIFE aquarium will mesmerise visitors.
Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium. One of New Zealand’s most popular attractions you can swim with the sharks and snorkel in a shark case at Underwater World, or frolic with the country’s only flock of sub-Antarctic penguins after taking a snowcat ride through Scott’s Antarctic. A unique experience anywhere in the world.
Other iconic Asian aquariums, now part of Merlin’s SEA LIFE portfolio, include Busan Aquarium (South Korea); Siam Ocean World (Bangkok); Chang Feng Ocean World (Shanghai); and Dubai Aquarium Underwater Zoo.
In Australia, Merlin also offers two quite different types of attractions. Walk along the tree tops of the rainforest in Victoria or in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales; or try zip-lining over the impressive forest at the Otway Fly or Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures.
If you are a skier then Merlin operates two of Australia’s most popular year-round Alpine Resorts in Victoria, Mount Hotham and Falls Creek. Both have a number of slopes suitable for different level skiers and other snow sports, snow sports schools, tours, walks, and a wide choice of accommodation, restaurants and shopping.
Merlin’s theme park resorts are some of the most famous in Europe. The company is investing heavily to position them as short break destinations, with the addition of accommodation in hotels and/or holiday villages and new second gate attractions from their Midway portfolio – like the Waterparks at LEGOLAND California and LEGOLAND Florida and hotels in LEGOLAND Windsor, LEGOLAND Germany, Gardaland, Heide Park, Alton Towers and Chessington.
Gardaland Resort is No 3 theme park in Europe and Italy’s number one with over 40 rides and attractions. Based right on Lake Garda, it is a special combination of adventure, dream and strong emotions in a wonderful fantasy world. Discover the fascination of a submerged continent, challenge the fury of the rapids in the heart of the jungle, face the dangers of the ferocious sea; experience the emotion of flight aboard a supersonic jet; or brave the fearsome Raptor - everything is possible in Gardaland. The park includes a SEA LIFE attraction and The Gardaland Hotel, a magical place where you can spend a fantastic short break or base yourself for a longer holiday in the area.
The Alton Towers Resort is amongst the top five tourist attractions in the UK. It is also the only family short break resort in the UK with a world class theme park, two fully themed hotels, an amazing tropical Waterpark, a luxury spa, fully equipped conference venue, and uniquely themed extraordinary golf course. It is the perfect place for a relaxing weekend away for the whole family at any time of the year. Landscaped in 500 acres of Staffordshire countryside, it has 200 acres of beautiful gardens with the Towers themselves forming a unique and historic centrepiece. The hotels sit in their own landscaped gardens on the edge of the resort, but within easy reach of the main attractions – the tropical paradise that is UK’s largest indoor Waterpark, and the stunning selection of rides and attractions for all the family within the theme park itself. All in all, the perfect escape for all ages!
Billed as the UK’s thrill capital, THORPE PARK has some of the best extreme thrill rides in the UK and in Europe. Thorpe’s impressive portfolio for adrenaline-fuelled fun thrill seekers is second to none in the UK, and includes the SWARM, the UK’s first winged coaster; Storm Surge, a jaw dropping 64ft spiraling water ride; Stealth, Europe’s fastest launch coaster; Colossus, the world’s first ten inversion rollercoaster; Nemesis Inferno, the 4.5 G-force experience; and a horror movie-themed extreme terror ride, SAW The Ride, with a ‘beyond vertical’ drop of 100º from a terrifying height of 100ft, and three inversions.
Chessington World of Adventures. Explore Chessington. It’s a whole world of Wild Adventures all in one place. Discover the Serengeti in Surrey; go on the exciting new safari; or explore the ancient ruins of Wild Asia, a mythical land where families can take on the KOBRA, an awesome spinning disc ride! Go truly wild on an expedition through the Lorikeet Lagoon in amongst the exotic colourful birds. With exciting rides and rollercoasters, amazing animals and a SEA LIFE Centre - Chessington really is Britain’s wildest adventure!
Based in Soltau, the Heide Park Resort is North Germany’s largest theme park and is situated in 850,000 square metres of countryside, approximately 65 km from Hamburg. Amongst its 40 plus rides and attractions, the Park is home to the terrifying Kracke; as well as the world’s tallest drop tower, Scream; and Colossus – the steepest wooden roller coaster in the world. The Heide Park Resort complex includes an extensive holiday centre with Caribbean style lodges, and a 4-star resort hotel, The Port Royal.
Warwick Castle, undoubtedly Merlin's oldest attraction, is Britain's ultimate castle delivering everything you would expect with a spell binding difference, the addition of fantastic themed attractions, and a year-round programme of interactive entertainment like Fighting Knights, Fairytale Princesses, a Dragon Tower, the world’s biggest siege machine, thrilling jousting tournaments, breathtaking birds of prey... It immerses visitors in castle life, from the murky middle ages and gorgeous Georgians, right through to the Victorians, all within the surroundings of one of the UK’s most awesome castles. The magic of Warwick also includes a fantastic Dungeon attraction alongside the castle.
Merlin's most recent press corporate releases, together with news of significant future events and developments, are featured on the next pages. For individual attraction activity please go to the relevant websites.