There are a couple of LEGOLAND Park and Discovery Center related news that came out a few days ago that are relevant to LEGO fans. The most significant one is that Merlin Entertainments (the current owners of LEGOLAND Parks and Discovery Centers) was purchased by a group of private investment companies, including KIRKBI, the Kirk Kristiansen family’s own private holdings and investment company. In other words, Merlin’s properties are going back to private hands again, after the LEGO Group sold the company’s LEGOLAND Parks in 2005 due to financial troubles. What this means for the future operation of LEGOLAND Parks and Discovery Centers is not yet known, but below are a few quotes from the official press-release to give you an idea.
Søren Thorup Sørensen, Chief Executive Officer, KIRKBI A/S, said: “As the long-term owner of the LEGO®brand and as a strategic shareholder in Merlin since 2005, we have great pride and passion for this amazing company, its management team and its employees. With a shared understanding of the business and its culture, we believe that this group of investors has the unique collective resources necessary to equip Merlin, including the LEGOLAND Parks and LEGOLAND Discovery Centers, for their next phase of growth. We are committed to ensuring LEGOLAND and the other activities in Merlin reach their full potential, which we believe is best pursued under private ownership, in order to deliver fantastic experiences to visitors of all ages around the world.”
Joe Baratta, Global Head of Private Equity, Blackstone, said: “We are pleased to partner with KIRKBI and CPPIB to acquire a business we know very well. We are prepared to commit the substantial resources required to support the long-term objectives of Merlin, which will require significant investment to ensure its long-term success. We believe we are uniquely placed through our Core private equity strategy to make this investment alongside our partners at KIRKBI and CPPIB. We look forward to backing Nick Varney and his strong management team in driving Merlin into the future.”
Ryan Selwood, Managing Director, Head of Direct Private Equity, CPPIB, said: “Merlin has established itself as a globally diversified, world-class operator of themed attractions and entertainment. Its ability to partner with a number of leading global brands to deliver high-quality family entertainment has been key to Merlin’s success. Through close collaboration with our partners, we look forward to promoting the steady growth, long-term capitalisation and continued international expansion of this business, which aligns well with CPPIB’s long-horizon investment strategy.”
It is expected Merlin’s shares will de-list from the London Stock Exchange upon completion of the transaction. It will probably take a while for us to see any tangible changes in the operation of LEGOLAND Parks and Discovery Centers, but it seems to be a good thing that the Kristiansen family will have more control over these attractions. If you would like to read the full press-release, it’s available here.
Another pieces of news is that the LEGO Ninjago: Master Wu’s Mission at LEGOLAND Discovery Centers kicks off soon! Here is the description of the event: Calling all ninjas in training! Master Wu is ready to challenge guests with an epic mission! LEGO Ninjago has been summoned to LEGOLAND Discovery Centers during the month of July and August (dates vary slightly by locations, so make sure you check the schedule for the one nearest you at the LEGOLAND Discovery Center website). Visitors will become a master Ninjago warrior by conquering the Spinjitzu Mountain, directing a mini movie creation, building activities and more! Kids can even meet and greet one of the stars of Ninjago, Kai, who has fire elemental powers. The LEGO Ninjago: Master Wu’s Mission event features the following activities, which are all included with admission:
- Build a Mega Mech Machine – Families can work together to assemble a mech machine and test it down Spinjitzu mountain!
- Create your Epic Battle Movie – Guests can make the most awesome ninja battle sequence at the stop motion tables.
- Meet and Greet Kai – Kids will strike a ninja pose or take a selfie with everyone’s favorite Ninjago hero, Kai. An unforgettable photo-op for the family!
- LEGO Ninjago 4D Short Movie – Families can experience the action-packed world of Ninjago with sights and smells in this explosive 4D adventure.
- The LEGO Ninjago Training Camp – Little ninjas will dodge lasers in the maze and master speedy building skills at the Ninjago reaction game.
What do you think? Have you ever visited a LEGOLAND Park or Discovery Center? How did you like them? And what changes (if any) would you like to see now that the ownership changed? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below!
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