Sept 27, 2019 — Merlin Entertainments today announces that it has entered into a partnership agreement with Global Zhongjun Cultural Tourism Development Co., Ltd (“Global Zhongjun”) to build and operate a LEGOLAND Resort in Sichuan Province in Western China. The resort is scheduled to open by 2023.
Under the terms of the agreement, Global Zhongjun will fund the construction of LEGOLAND Sichuan, as well as the required infrastructure and adjacent commercial developments, while Merlin will partner in the resort development and operate it under a management contract arrangement.
LEGOLAND Sichuan will be located within the Tianfu New Area in the city of Meishan, approximately 60km south of Chengdu city center. With good transport links by road and a future metro station planned for the area, LEGOLAND Sichuan will be within a two-hour catchment of 30 million residents. Chengdu and the surrounding region is also a popular tourist destination within Western China attracting millions of international and domestic visitors each year.
The resort will open with two fully-themed LEGOLAND Hotels, with an estimated capacity of 500 rooms. It will also have scope to incorporate further attractions in the future.
Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainments, said: “There’s no doubt that China represents a great opportunity for strong global brands. Having been active in China for over a decade, Merlin has gained critical insights into Chinese consumers and built a broad portfolio of Midway attractions within key cities.
“Leveraging this position, we’re delighted to be able to announce the development of a LEGOLAND Park in Sichuan Province together with a strong partner in Global Zhongjun. It is an exciting prospect and a significant milestone in the expansion of the LEGOLAND estate in China.”
John Jakobsen, Chief Development Officer of Merlin Entertainments, added: “Sichuan Province has a strong tradition of welcoming people from all over, which aligns closely to our values as a business. Within it, Chengdu, Meishan and the Tianfu New Area is developing at a rapid pace driven by investment, enterprise and, increasingly, its popularity as a tourist destination.
“Our partner is a leading developer of tourism in the region with a great track record in delivering scale projects, and we look forward to working with them and the local community to bring the LEGOLAND Resort experience to guests in Western China.”
Global Zhongjun is a joint venture between development companies Zhongjun Beijing and The Chengdu Global Century – Exhibition & Travel Group (“ETG”). The majority shareholder ETG focuses on investing in and operating exhibition centres, tourism resorts, branded hotels, urban commercial complexes, and health care facilities throughout China. It is one of Western China’s largest tourism companies and boasts the New Century Global Centre in Chengdu – the largest building in the world.
In a prepared statement, ETG commented:“LEGOLAND Sichuan Resort will be a significant tourist development in Tianfu New Area and the largest LEGOLAND in the world, subject to planning approvals. With its unique design, we aspire for it to be the role model for future new LEGOLAND parks.”
The LEGO Group has distributed products in China for more than 25 years. The company opened a regional hub office in Shanghai in 2014 and a manufacturing facility in Jiaxing in 2016. During the past year it has expanded its presence in the country and expects to have more than 140 stores in 35 cities by the end of 2019.
Merlin operates 13 Midway attractions in China including LEGOLAND Discovery Centers, Madame Tussauds, SEA LIFE Centers, Dungeons, Peppa Pig World of Play and Little BIG City.
Subject to future announcements, LEGOLAND Sichuan will be Merlin’s eleventh LEGOLAND Park following the announcement of LEGOLAND New York (scheduled to open 2020) and LEGOLAND Korea (scheduled to open 2022). Discussions continue regarding opening further LEGOLAND Resorts in China.