Merlin Entertainments General Discussion

Talk about what is going on in the theme park and attraction industry in general.
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Nickolai
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Yeah they are pretty well off Disney. Even the lower end Disney Hotels provide a smoother and better experience.
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Morgan
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With the introduction of the new Legoland VIP Pass (offering similar benefits to the now extinct VIP MAP), could we be seeing more individual park VIP Passes?
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Ladyofthelake
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I do wonder if Merlin are trialing a few possible options with passes. Thorpe have been offering a season fastrack pass for £400 this year, and now Legoland are offering this £650 VIP membership. It makes me think that maybe Merlin are trying to see if there is an audience for either individual park VIP passes, or high value add ons like the season long fastrack.

Personaly, I think the Legoland VIP membership has been priced far too high at £650. Whilst you do have that fastrack access, the cost will make the pass prohibitive for most - especially when you consider Legoland's target market is young families, and that it will only be valid during the March - November main season. It would have been better priced between £300-£400. For comparison, DisneyLand Paris' top tier Infinity Annual Pass costs £401 at today's exchange rate and includes preferred parking, an enhanced discount at retail outlets, larger discounts on hotel rooms, dedicated park entrance, a photopass, and a few more things - plus, the key thing is it can be used 365 days a year.

My concern is that we wil start to see individual park VIP Memberships, all priced at a similar level to Legoland. That means if you wanted to have one for say Towers and Thorpe you'd be looking at £1300!! I'm afraid this cost just isn't justifiable in any way.
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Swarm Chris
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Whilst I somewhat expect the other parks to come up with their own versions of these types of passes, I get the feeling these are the parks trialing things more than Merlin.

Legoland are already doing far more ticket offerings than any of the other parks, with lifetime passes, tiered fastrack and a host of VIP experiences. It makes me think they're just set up to be more reactionary and have been able to quickly come up with something.

Thorpe have been offering the fastrack ticket for almost a year now, but outside of forum posts, very little has been done to publicise it - even to Thorpe's own staff. The terms and conditions are still essentially the response to an email I sent last year, and whilst they got a box of new cards printed for it this year, it just doesn't seem to be doing much at the moment.

Meanwhile Merlin Annual Pass are publicly stating a VIP style pass replacement may be coming, with their own 'register your interest' page. Although I wouldn't expect to see anything from this until next season.

In terms of costing, I suspect Merlin already have a very good idea of the marketable rate for this type of park wide premium pass, just from the length of the waiting list for the old VIP pass. I get the feeling that it was significantly long, so from a business perspective they clearly left money on the table. However, I agree that bolting together several park versions from a customer perspective wouldn't be overly great in feeling and I suspect would have far fewer takers than an all attraction pass. A significant part of the Merlin passes are their ability to be used in a lot of places, so a higher price can be somewhat justified with all the available options, which wouldn't be a factor for single site passes.
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Swarm Chris
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As reported by TowersTimes News this morning, Merlin Entertainments are to be taken over by an investment group whose interests include Lego. At a cost of £4.8bn, investors Kirkbi Invest hope to use their wealth of money and experience "to realise the company's potential to grow".

TowersTimes News will have more information later today.
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RobStandley
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I'm reading this morning the entire Merlin group has agreed a £4.8 billion takeover deal. Kirkbi Invest says it has the money and experience to "realise the company's potential to grow".

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48797245

What do you think this will mean for AT and the other UK based attractions in the short and long term?

Interesting news either way...
 
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abigsmurf
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I'm pessimistic, the family only have motivation to make the Lego parks have maximum investment to help keep the prestige of Lego . Everything else? Maximum profit for minimal spending, there's no brand for the other Merlin parks whose image needs protecting.

I don't actually mind theme parks wringing money out of you for unique experiences (wand fitting, light saber building). Those kinds of immersive experiences require insane spending though and I don't see them taking the risk.

Be very worried if the non Lego parks get their own subsidery. That screams asset stripping or selling off.
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obviously this is a good move for Lego, and the Lego Parks, but there is alt more to Merlin than the Lego Parks, ALOT more. I struggle to believe Lego is really looking to get into the global tourist attraction business, anymore than what is Lego branded. What does Lego want with any of the Dungeons or any of the Eyes?

Cant say I would be a bit shocked if there is some form of split between the Lego Lands and the other Merlin Entertainment attractions. 
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As reported by TowersTimes News, Merlin Entertainments announced that they have agreed the terms of a £4.8bn offer for the company from a group of investors which include LEGO owners KIRKBI Invest.

Do you think this is a positive development for Merlin Entertainments?
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GregH94
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Depends what they can bring to the table - I hope the non-Lego parks still retain their own identity, I mean, a Lego themed area to replace CCL would be great, but Alton Towers is still Alton Towers and future lands/Secret Weapons still need to have their own original theme 
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wamdue
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GregH94 wrote:Depends what they can bring to the table - I hope the non-Lego parks still retain their own identity, I mean, a Lego themed area to replace CCL would be great, but Alton Towers is still Alton Towers and future lands/Secret Weapons still need to have their own original theme 
If Lego wanted a second loaction in the UK, would they not just open one? how is having a mini Lego Land inside Alton Towers better for them? sure its their profit now, but I am forced back to the earlier question, how does Lego benefit from owning non Lego branded tourist attractions? 
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DerpyQuark
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Is Merlin going to be absorbed into the KIRKBI brand, or will it still be called Merlin?
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wamdue
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Just looking at the long list of stuff Merlin owns, I wonder if some of the "brands" like Sea Life, the Eyes, The Dungones maybe spun off first. Keeping actual theme parks close to the Lego theme parks makes a bit more sense, but the likes of Warwick Castle and Hotham Alpaine Resort, I really struggle to see what value Lego can add to them, or them to Lego.
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Swarm Chris
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wamdue wrote: If Lego wanted a second loaction in the UK, would they not just open one? how is having a mini Lego Land inside Alton Towers better for them? sure its their profit now, but I am forced back to the earlier question, how does Lego benefit from owning non Lego branded tourist attractions? 
Diversification of investment would be one reason. Plus retail is a massive opportunity within any theme park, we already have premium Lego sets for things like Stranger Things, imagine one for Nemesis.
DerpyQuark wrote:Is Merlin going to be absorbed into the KIRKBI brand, or will it still be called Merlin?
Whilst nothing has been stated about the Merlin brand specifically, it is expected that what is currently Merlin will continue to operate as a separate business unit, essentially like it is now. Given the brand awareness for things like the Merlin Annual Pass, it seems unlikely that the Merlin name will disappear.
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Piplup2003
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I gotta say, I'm kind of worried about this. Can't see them having much experience in the thrill aspect of parks, let's not hold out hope for a new Thorpe coaster any time soon.
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wamdue
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Swarm Chris wrote:
wamdue wrote: If Lego wanted a second loaction in the UK, would they not just open one? how is having a mini Lego Land inside Alton Towers better for them? sure its their profit now, but I am forced back to the earlier question, how does Lego benefit from owning non Lego branded tourist attractions? 
Diversification of investment would be one reason. Plus retail is a massive opportunity within any theme park, we already have premium Lego sets for things like Stranger Things, imagine one for Nemesis.
I get the idea of "Diversification", but will Lego really ever be saying "well we had a weak year selling Lego Bricks, but thank god we bought a book of global attractions, and that Smilier lego, we only really sell in one loaction, thats saved the business this year. How do you do a Lego Rollercoaster? beyond just an actual lego rollercoaster, cos that will be overly expensive.
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Piplup2003
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Also, saying Lego owns Alton just......doesnt sound right.
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wamdue
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Piplup2003 wrote:Also, saying Lego owns Alton just......doesnt sound right.
it doesnt, but that is the nature of business these days.
Also that I get. Its 100% understandable Lego want as much of the Lego Land theme parks profit as possible, and I understand how in that deal, they also end up owing a few other theme parks as well, that I do understand.
However all the other stuff however I dont see it. Lego own a ski resort, lego own the lease to a fort built by William the Conqueror, I just dont see it.
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Swarm Chris
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We have to remember the KIRKBI group have owned 30% of Merlin Entertainments for a long time, with this takeover they would own only 50% of the company. KIRKBI own a majority stake in LEGO along with other investments. All three partners of this new company wanting to acquire Merlin have stated their belief that long term investment is key, and that they want to keep all aspects of the business as is. Merlin as a property is attractive because of its diversification across the leisure market, both in terms of the attractions they operate (both indoor and outdoor) and their worldwide locations. The new business entity has praised this diversification, so carving out parts of the business would undo this.
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So apparently Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Madame Tussauds have been brought out by a company called Blackstone for £5.9bn...

Is this right?
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