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Merlin Entertainments
Merlin Entertainments
is a British-based company headquartered in Poole, Dorset (England), which operates 127 attractions, 19 hotels and 7 holiday villages in 27 countries. It is listed on the London
London
Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.

Contents

1 History

1.1 Legoland 1.2 Tussauds 1.3 Florida 1.4 Australia
Australia
and New Zealand 1.5 Listing 1.6 Thorpe Park

2 Properties

2.1 Theme parks 2.2 Midway attractions

3 Bus operation 4 References 5 External links

History[edit] In December 1998, Nick Varney, Andrew Carter and the senior management team of Vardon Attractions (Vardon plc) completed a management buyout of the company to form Merlin Entertainments
Merlin Entertainments
Group Ltd. with the backing of the private equity firm Apax Partners. Apax sold the company to another financial investor, Hermes Private Equity, in 2004.[3] In May 2005, the company was acquired from Hermes by a division of The Blackstone Group
The Blackstone Group
[4] which later started a major expansion. Over the years, Merlin acquired Legoland, Gardaland, an Italian theme park, and The Tussauds Group. The company was first listed on the London Stock Exchange
London Stock Exchange
in 2013.[5] Legoland[edit] When the Legoland
Legoland
theme parks came up for sale, Varney wanted to buy it but Hermes did not want to invest more capital. After the sale of Merlin to Blackstone Group, the company negotiated to buy control of Legoland
Legoland
for about £250 million in 2005, then merged it with Merlin.[6] As part of the deal, KIRKBI AS, the investment arm of LEGO owners, took a share in Merlin Entertainments.[7][8] Tussauds[edit] In May 2007 Blackstone purchased The Tussauds Group, owner of the Madame Tussauds
Madame Tussauds
celebrity wax attractions, for US$1.9 billion; this company was merged with Merlin and has since been managed by Merlin.[9][10] After the Tussauds acquisition, Dubai International Capital, the previous owner, received a 20% stake in the combined entity as well as £1.03bn in cash.[11][9][12] On 17 July 2007, as part of the financing for the Tussauds deal, the freeholds of Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle
and Madame Tussauds were sold to private investor Nick Leslau and his investment firm Prestbury, with a subsequent leaseback agreement.[13] Although the attraction sites are owned by Leslau, they are operated by Merlin based on a renewable 35-year lease.[9] Florida[edit] On 15 January 2010, Merlin Entertainments
Merlin Entertainments
bought a defunct Winter Haven, Florida-based theme park, Cypress Gardens, and reopened it as Legoland
Legoland
Florida theme park.[14] Reports in early October 2017 indicated that Merlin Entertainments
Merlin Entertainments
was considering a takeover of Sea World in Tampa but on 11 October, the company said it was no longer involved in such discussions.[15] Australia
Australia
and New Zealand[edit] In late 2010, it was announced that Merlin would purchase approximately A$116 million worth of entertainment attractions located in Australia
Australia
and New Zealand from Village Roadshow Theme Parks and Attractions. The sale would include Sydney
Sydney
Aquarium, Sydney
Sydney
Wildlife World, Oceanworld Manly, Sydney Tower
Sydney Tower
and the Koala Gallery in Australia, in addition to Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World in New Zealand.[16] On 3 March 2011, the deal was finalised.[17] This was followed by the $140 million acquisition of Living and Leisure Australia
Australia
which owned several attractions in the Asia-Pacific region including UnderWater World, Melbourne Aquarium, Falls Creek Alpine Resort, Hotham Alpine Resort, Otway Fly, Illawarra Fly, Busan Aquarium and Siam Ocean World.[18][19] On 28 June 2013, Merlin Australia's Madame Tussauds
Madame Tussauds
in Sydney
Sydney
placed a wax figure of the former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, into a mock queue of the unemployed at a Centrelink
Centrelink
office in central Sydney. Deposed by the Australian Labor Party in the evening of 26 June, and replaced by Kevin Rudd, the publicity stunt drew wide attention, but received some criticism for the "disrespect" shown to the office of the Prime Minister, and the first female political leader of Australia.[20] Listing[edit] Merlin had planned to go public in the early 2000's, but market turbulence postponed those plans. Instead, Blackstone sold 20% of the company to the private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, reducing Blackstone's holding to 34%. CVC acquired another 8% from the Dubai investment fund which is no longer involved with the company, giving it 28% in all. KIRKBI, a Danish family trust that owns LEGO, also increased its stake, emerging as the largest shareholder, with 36%. CVC paid a price that valued Merlin at £2.25 billion[21] – more than six times what Merlin and Legoland
Legoland
together were worth when Blackstone acquired them five years earlier. Blackstone's investment was by that point worth more than three and a half times what it had paid.[22] On 8 November 2013 Merlin floated 30% of the company on the London Stock Exchange valuing the private equity-backed company at almost £3.4bn.[23] Thorpe Park[edit] In October 2013 mental health campaigners accused Merlin's Thorpe Park attraction of putting profit before the welfare of those with mental illness. Its Halloween attractions included mazes which 'draw on classic horror film content' including one called The Asylum, which mimicked a mental health institution. The attraction was contrasted unfavourably in some media, Twitter
Twitter
and by mental health campaigners who believed The Asylum perpetrated stigmatising and damaging images of mental illness.[24] Thorpe Park
Thorpe Park
issued a statement indicating the subject would be reviewed.[25] Properties[edit] Theme parks[edit]

Name Location Year Opened Year Acquired Notes

Alton Towers
Alton Towers
Resort Staffordshire Moorlands, UK 1980 2007 Acquired in Tussauds Group deal.

Thorpe Park Chertsey, Greater London, UK 1979 2007 Acquired in Tussauds Group deal.

Chessington World of Adventures
Chessington World of Adventures
Resort Chessington, UK 1987 2007 Acquired in Tussauds Group deal.

Gardaland
Gardaland
Resort Castelnuovo del Garda, Italy 1975 2006 Purchased in 2006 under Blackstone.

Heide Park
Heide Park
Resort Soltau, Lower Saxony, Germany 1978 2007 Acquired in Tussauds Group deal.

Legoland
Legoland
Billund Resort Billund, Denmark 1968 2005 Acquired in Blackstone deal.

Legoland
Legoland
California California, USA 1999 2005 Acquired in Blackstone deal.

Legoland
Legoland
Deutschland Resort Günzburg, Germany 2002 2005 Acquired in Blackstone deal.

Legoland
Legoland
Dubai Resort Jebel Ali, Dubai, United Arab Emirates 2016 - Opened as part of the Dubai Parks and Resorts development in Jebel Ali.

Legoland
Legoland
Florida Resort Winter Haven, Florida, USA 2011 2011 Cypress Gardens
Cypress Gardens
acquired and rebranded.

Legoland
Legoland
Japan Nagoya, Japan 2017 - New-build theme park.

Legoland
Legoland
Malaysia Resort Johor Bahru, Malaysia 2012 - New-build theme park.

Legoland
Legoland
Windsor Resort Windsor, UK 1996 2005 Acquired in Blackstone deal.

Warwick
Warwick
Castle Warwick, UK 1978 2007 Acquired in Tussauds Group deal.

Midway attractions[edit]

Name Location(s) Year Opened Year Acquired Notes

Australian Treetop Adventures Australia 2005 2010 Canopy walkways acquired in MFS Living and Leisure deal

Blackpool Tower
Blackpool Tower
Circus Blackpool, UK 1894 2011

The Dungeons Amsterdam Berlin Blackpool Edinburgh Hamburg London San Francisco Warwick New York - 2013 2011 - 2000 1974 2014 - 1975 1992

Eye Brand Blackpool London Sydney Orlando 1894 2000 1981 2015 2011 2007 2011 2015

Falls Creek ski resort Victoria, Australia 1946 2011 Acquired in MFS Living and Leisure deal

Hotham Alpine Resort Victoria, Australia 1925 2011 Ski resort acquired in MFS Living and Leisure deal

Madame Tussauds Amsterdam Bangkok Beijing Berlin Blackpool Chongqing Hollywood Hong Kong Las Vegas London New Delhi New York Orlando San Francisco Shanghai Singapore Sydney Tokyo Vienna Washington DC Wuhan

Bus operation[edit] In February 2016, Merlin purchased a 15% shareholding in Big Bus Tours.[26] References[edit]

^ a b c "Preliminary Results 2017". Merlin Entertainments. Retrieved 11 March 2018.  ^ "Merlin Way". Merlin Entertainments. Archived from the original on 21 February 2017. Retrieved 9 April 2017.  ^ "Blackstone Acquires Merlin Entertainment". blackstone.com. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2015.  ^ "Blackstone Acquires Merlin Entertainment". Blackstone.com. 23 May 2005. Archived from the original on 30 October 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2017.  ^ " Merlin Entertainments
Merlin Entertainments
Group acquires Italy's Gardaland". Coaster Buzz. 16 October 2006. Archived from the original on 5 April 2016. Retrieved 25 March 2016.  ^ "Business Troubled Lego sells theme parks". BBC News. 13 July 2005. Archived from the original on 2 October 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2017.  ^ "Why you shouldn't buy shares in Legoland
Legoland
owner Merlin Entertainment". Telegraph.co.uk. 30 October 2013. Archived from the original on 27 March 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2015.  ^ "Tour Legoland
Legoland
California". CaliforniaResortLife.com. Archived from the original on 5 February 2016. Retrieved 13 August 2015.  ^ a b c 12:01AM BST 18 Jul 2007 (18 July 2007). "Merlin conjures up leaseback deal". Telegraph. Archived from the original on 14 November 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2017.  ^ "Blackstone Buys Madame Tussauds
Madame Tussauds
Chain". Washingtonpost.com. Archived from the original on 20 September 2016. Retrieved 15 December 2017.  ^ King of Capital, p. 313. ^ "Tussauds firm bought in £1bn deal". BBC News. 5 March 2007. Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 12 May 2010.  ^ " Alton Towers
Alton Towers
sold in £622m deal". BBC News. 17 July 2007. Archived from the original on 23 August 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2010.  ^ " Cypress Gardens
Cypress Gardens
Sold to Legoland". 15 January 2010. Archived from the original on 17 January 2010. Retrieved 15 January 2010.  ^ " Legoland
Legoland
and Alton Towers
Alton Towers
owner Merlin Entertainments
Merlin Entertainments
waves goodbye to SeaWorld deal City A.M". City A.M. 11 October 2017. Archived from the original on 1 February 2018. Retrieved 15 December 2017.  ^ AAP (17 December 2010). "Village Roadshow sells Sydney
Sydney
Attractions". Sydney
Sydney
Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 20 December 2010. Retrieved 17 December 2010.  ^ AAP (3 March 2011). "Plans for a Madame Tussauds
Madame Tussauds
in Sydney". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 7 March 2011. Retrieved 12 March 2011.  ^ Ooi, Teresa (20 December 2011). " Merlin Entertainments
Merlin Entertainments
Group conjures $140m James Packer bid". The Australian. Archived from the original on 27 December 2011. Retrieved 4 June 2012.  ^ Danckert, Sarah (13 February 2012). "Merlin ready to wrap up Living and Leisure deal". The Australian. Archived from the original on 16 February 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2012.  ^ "A wax figurine of Julia Gillard
Julia Gillard
at Centrelink
Centrelink
isn't a publicity stunt, it's just plain stupid - and offensive". The Sydney
Sydney
Morning Herald. 28 June 2013. Archived from the original on 30 June 2013.  ^ CVC Capital Partners
CVC Capital Partners
press release[dead link], 24 June 2010. ^ King of Capital, p. 314. ^ Why you shouldn't buy shares in Legoland
Legoland
owner Merlin Entertainment Archived 27 March 2015 at the Wayback Machine. The Telegraph, 30 October 2013 ^ Thorpe Park
Thorpe Park
defends Halloween asylum attraction Archived 22 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine. BBC ^ Thorpe Park
Thorpe Park
‘considering changing Asylum maze over name row’ Archived 10 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Metro ^ Merlin eyes Big Bus Tours
Big Bus Tours
takeover following £24.6 million state deal Archived 27 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine. The Daily Telegraph 25 February 2016

External links[edit]

Official website

v t e

The Blackstone Group

Founders

Peter George Peterson Stephen A. Schwarzman

Business Services

CMS Computers RGIS SunGard
SunGard
(minority shareholder)

Consumer/Retail

Michaels
Michaels
(Joint Control) Performance Food Group Pinnacle Foods United Biscuits

Financial Services

BankUnited
BankUnited
(minority stake) HealthMarkets (minority stake) FGIC (minority stake)

Healthcare

Biomet Emcure Pharmaceuticals (investment) Vanguard Health Systems

Industrial

Freescale (Joint Control) Klöckner Pentaplast TRW Automotive
TRW Automotive
(Control)

Media/Telecommunications

SESAC eAccess (investment) Nielsen Holdings
Nielsen Holdings
(minority stake) Axtel
Axtel
(minority stake) Deutsche Telekom
Deutsche Telekom
(minority stake) TDC (minority stake) The Weather Channel
The Weather Channel
(minority stake)

Travel & Leisure

Hilton Worldwide Center Parcs
Center Parcs
Europe (freehold) Caesars Entertainment Corporation
Caesars Entertainment Corporation
(minority stake) Merlin Entertainments
Merlin Entertainments
(minority stake) SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Tragus Group Travelport

Real estate

Extended Stay America
Extended Stay America
(minority stake) Equity Office Luxury Resorts
Luxury Resorts
(LXR) La Quinta Inns & Suites

v t e

Merlin Entertainments

Resort theme parks

Alton Towers Chessington World of Adventures Gardaland Heide Park Thorpe Park

Legoland

Legoland
Legoland
Billund Resort Legoland
Legoland
California Legoland
Legoland
Deutschland Resort Legoland
Legoland
Japan Legoland
Legoland
Malaysia Resort Legoland
Legoland
Windsor Resort Legoland
Legoland
Florida Resort Discovery Center Boston Discovery Center Westchester

Sea Life locations

Standalone attractions

Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium National Sea Life Centre (Birmingham) Sea Life Benalmádena Sea Life Busan Aquarium Sea Life London
London
Aquarium Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium Sea Life Orlando
Orlando
Aquarium Sea Life Porto Sea Life Shanghai
Shanghai
(Changfeng Ocean World) Sea Life Sydney
Sydney
Aquarium Sea Life Bangkok
Bangkok
Ocean World UnderWater World Sea Life Aquarium

In resort theme parks

Sharkbait Reef  Alton Towers Chessington Sea Life Centre  Chessington World of Adventures Gardaland
Gardaland
Sea Life Centre  Gardaland Atlantis Submarine Voyage   Legoland
Legoland
Windsor Resort Atlantis   Legoland
Legoland
Billund Resort Atlantis   Legoland
Legoland
Deutschland Resort Sea Life Legoland
Legoland
  Legoland
Legoland
California

Sanctuaries

Cornish Seal Sanctuary Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary Manly Sea Life Sanctuary Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary

In malls

Grapevine Sea Life Aquarium Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium Sea Life Arizona Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Sea Life Kansas City Sea Life Grapevine

Madame Tussauds

Amsterdam Bangkok Beijing Berlin Blackpool Chongqing Hollywood Hong Kong Istanbul Las Vegas London New York Orlando San Francisco Shanghai Singapore Sydney Tokyo Vienna Washington D.C. Wuhan

The Dungeons

Amsterdam Berlin Blackpool
Blackpool
Tower Hamburg London San Francisco Warwick
Warwick
Castle York

'Eye' attractions

Blackpool Tower
Blackpool Tower
Eye Jurassic Skyline London
London
Eye Orlando
Orlando
Eye Sydney Tower
Sydney Tower
Eye

Wild Life locations

Wild Life Hamilton Island Wild Life Sydney

Australian Tree Top Adventures

Illawarra Fly Otway Fly

Other attractions

Legoland
Legoland
Discovery Centres Shrek's Adventure Falls Creek Hotham Alpine Resort Warwick
Warwick
Castle

v t e

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