Friday, December 1, 2023

Merlin Entertainments to develop Legoland Japan in Nagoya; 2015 target opening

Above: IPM slideshow from opening of Legoland Florida. Additional photos here.

Merlin Entertainments Group Ltd (‘Merlin’) and GCDS Corporation today announced the selection of Nagoya as the preferred location for LEGOLAND Japan and will now move forward with formal negotiations with the City. Pending the terms and conditions necessary for them to develop, construct and operate LEGOLAND Japan within Nagoya city limits, the family theme park could open as early as 2015.

Merlin Entertainments Group, the second largest visitor attraction group in the world, and GCDS Corporation, a venture company with exclusive territorial rights obtained from Merlin Entertainments Group Ltd, have been evaluating and discussing several sites in Japan. Based on the results of these discussions, Merlin and GCDS today have confirmed to Mayor Kawamura and other officials of the City of Nagoya, a desire to continue conducting further and more detailed studies including due diligence, consents and final contract terms.

LEGOLAND® is a full day theme park experience dedicated to families with children between the ages of 2 and 12 and features interactive rides, shows and attractions based on the LEGO® toy brand.

Merlin and GCDS are excited by the opportunities this project will create, particularly its potential to contribute in a meaningful way to the vitality and prosperity of the community and economy of Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture and Japan. “We sincerely believe LEGOLAND Japan would make Nagoya an important tourist destination for both domestic and international markets,” said Mr. Frank Stanek, the designated Chairman of the Japanese entity that would develop LEGOLAND Japan. He added that he was convinced this would be Nagoya’s answer to Tokyo’s Disneyland and Osaka’s Universal Studios – both being very successful theme parks that he actively developed in senior leadership roles during his previous corporate career.

John Ussher, Merlin Entertainments’ General Manager of LEGOLAND Development said: “We are very pleased to be working with GCDS and to have reached this agreement in Japan, which illustrates the strength of the LEGOLAND brand and of Merlin’s business model across the globe. The Asia Pacific region provides a great opportunity for Merlin’s continued development across our brands, particularly LEGOLAND. This site, it’s potential as a catalyst to build a major tourist and leisure destination in Nagoya and Japan, and the support of the City of Nagoya, all played a key role in our decision to take this project to the next stage.”

About Merlin Entertainments:
A global leader in location-based, family entertainment, Merlin Entertainments has seen the successful and dynamic growth of any company in the sector over the last five years. Merlin operates 78 attractions, six hotels/two holiday villages in 17 countries and across four continents. The company aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its 44 million visitors worldwide through its iconic global and local brands and the commitment and passion of its managers and more than 16,000 employees.

Merlin Entertainment operates the following attractions: SEA LIFE, Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND, The EDF Energy London Eye, Dungeons, Gardaland, LEGOLAND Discovery Centres, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures Resort, Blackpool Tower, Heide Park, Earth Explorer, Sydney Aquarium, WILD LIFE Sydney, Sydney Tower Eye and SKYWALK, Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter Underwater World, Oceanworld Manly and Hamilton Island Wildlife Park. All brands are distinctive, challenging and innovative and have great potential for growth in the future. Visit for more information.

About GCDS Corporation:
GCDS Corporation is a special purpose venture company organized under the laws of the British Virgin Islands. Through a Collaborative Agreement signed with Merlin Entertainments, the company has the exclusive rights to jointly evaluate and develop a LEGOLAND theme park in the territory of Japan with Merlin.

LEGOLAND theme parks are dedicated to families with children between the ages of 2 to 12 and are based on the popular LEGO toy brand. LEGOLAND Parks feature hands-on interactive activities where the whole family can have fun together. There are currently five LEGOLAND Parks – the first LEGOLAND was built in Denmark in 1968, followed by LEGOLAND Windsor in the U.K., LEGOLAND California in the U.S., LEGOLAND Deutschland in Germany and the most recent, LEGOLAND Florida which was opened in October this year. The sixth, LEGOLAND Malaysia in Iskandar, is now under construction and it is due to open in 2012. A number of other development sites are also under consideration around the world. 

Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She reports on design and technical design, production and project management, industry trends and company culture. From 2005-2020 she ran communications and publications for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA and publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association, and has contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a BFA from Pratt Institute. She has lived in Detroit, New York, Oakland, and now Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts community.

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