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Merlin Entertainments acquires Sydney Attractions Group and Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World from Village Roadshow

Merlin Entertainments Deal With Village Roadshow Completes
The deal announced in December 2010 by Merlin Entertainments Group (‘Merlin’) to acquire the Sydney Attractions Group and Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World from Village Roadshow (‘VRL’) was completed today, 3 March 2011.
Merlin’s first entry into the Australian and New Zealand markets is at the highest level.  The deal includes Sydney’s top three tourist attractions – Sydney Aquarium, Sydney Wildlife World and the Sydney Tower Observatory and Skywalk, as well as Manly Oceanworld in Sydney, the Hamilton Island Wildlife Park in Queensland and Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World in Auckland, New Zealand.
Committed to a multi-million dollar investment programme for the six attractions, Merlin will draw on experience gained from running global brands such as SEA LIFE, the world’s biggest aquarium brand and their observation ‘Eye’ attractions, to optimise their potential.    More than that, plans are also underway for the development of another of the company’s global attractions in Sydney, Madame Tussauds, in 2012.
The group already has established Madame Tussauds attractions in Hong Kong, Shanghai and most recently Bangkok and will also be opening a major LEGOLAND Park in Malaysia in 2012. The entry into Australia and New Zealand will further strengthen Merlin’s position in the wider Asia Pacific region.
The company has appointed Edward Fuller as Divisional Director to manage the new Australia/New Zealand ‘midway’ division.  Edward was previously General Manager of Madame Tussauds in London and he will work with the attraction teams and other Merlin colleagues to ensure a smooth changeover.
Commenting he said, “These are exciting attractions with enormous potential.  They are well established and of a very high quality, and I believe will benefit greatly by being part of the Merlin ‘family’.  Most of all, even in my short time getting to know them, my colleagues and I have been very impressed by the operating teams who are knowledgeable and passionate about their businesses and I am sure that we have a lot to learn from one another.”
Merlin Entertainments CEO Nick Varney reinforced his comments made at the time of the initial announcement: “Sydney is one of the world’s leading cities and these are iconic, well established tourist attractions with plenty of potential for future growth. Together with the businesses in Queensland and New Zealand they represent an excellent addition to our portfolio. Merlin also remains interested in buying further high quality visitor attraction assets in the wider Asia Pacific region and these will give us a perfect base on which to build.”
Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, publicist, strategist, blogger, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She excels at writing about all aspects of design and technical design, production and project management. Areas of special interest include AV integration and show control, lighting design and acoustics, specialty cinema, digital video and world’s fairs. Judith has ties to numerous industry organizations. From 2005-2020 she ran communications, publications and social media for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA, and co-chair of the 2014 IMERSA Summit. She was publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association in the 1990s, now part of the Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA) and has also contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Already making her mark as a magazine and book editor, Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. Launching as a freelancer in the mid 1990s she has contributed to dozens of publications and media outlets including Funworld, Lighting&Sound America, Sound & Communications, Urban Land, The Raconteur and The Planetarian. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute. She has lived in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, and now makes her home in Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts and theater community.

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