UK based Merlin Entertainments, the world’s second largest visitor attraction operator, today announced the acquisition of the Underwater Adventures Aquarium in Minnesota, USA, from The Minnesota Aquarium LLC, for an undisclosed sum.
Underwater Adventures is located in the iconic Mall of America in Minnesota and currently welcomes more than 600,000 visitors a year to its impressive displays of living marine creatures.
This acquisition underlines Merlin’s expertise in the operation of marine attractions. The company is already the world’s leading operator of aquaria through its SEA LIFE brand which welcomes over 10 million visitors a year to its 28 sites including its recently opened site at LEGOLAND in Carlsbad, California – the company’s first SEA LIFE location in North America
With 58 attractions around the world Merlin is the leading name in location based, family entertainment; and has seen the most successful and dynamic growth of any company in the sector over the last five years. It aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its 34.7 million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global brands, such as Madame Tussauds, SEA LIFE, Dungeons, London Eye and LEGOLAND; and the commitment and passion of its managers and 13,500 employees.
This acquisition is an important part of Merlin’s overall growth plan for N America, enhancing Merlin’s existing portfolio of six US attractions. It also follows the successful opening in 2008 of its LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Schaumburg, outside Chicago; and SEALIFE centre in the LEGOLAND Park in Carlsbad California.
With several other new attractions already due to open in North America in 2009 including Madame Tussauds in Hollywood – the company is also actively progressing negotiations on a number of sites for 2010 and beyond.