Merlin Entertainments


  • Nick Varney (CEO)
  • Soltau 900 employees
  • Günzburg 750 employees

The Merlin Entertainments Group is a British operator of 87 leisure facilities, which are visited each year by about 46 million visitors. Overall, Merlin employs 13,000 people in 12 countries.


In the early 1990s founded the British company " Vardon " from the newly purchased recreational attractions London Dungeon, York Dungeon and the Sea Life in Oban the subsidiary " Vardon Attractions". When Vardon in 1998 again focused on other business areas, guests were offered for sale. Then it came in January 1999 at a by Apax Partners and the Bank of Scotland -based management buy -out for £ 47 million sterling, the new group traded from now on under the name " Merlin Entertainments Group ". A year later, the dungeons have been opened in Hamburg and Edinburgh. 2004 there was a second buy-out, which was financed by the private equity " Hermes ".

In May 2005, Merlin has been adopted by the U.S. Blackstone Group for 102 million pounds sterling. Blackstone enlarged the group through the acquisitions of the Legoland Theme Park (August 2005), the Gardaland (October 2006, 500 million euros ) and the Tussauds Group (March 2007, 1.5 billion euros ). So Merlin grew within a few years the second largest operator of visitor attractions to Disney ( in visitor numbers measured).

With the acquisition of Tussauds Group 20 % of Merlin went to Dubai International Capital, the previous owner of Tussauds.

In July 2007, sold Merlin parts of the former Tussauds Group for 622 million pounds to the investment firm Prestbury to finance the purchase of Tussauds and to secure the investment program. In return, Merlin rented the properties sold back to 35 years to it to continue running.

In April 2008 in Duisburg opened a second LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, a third followed in August 2008 in Chicago. 2008 The London Aquarium was purchased and opened as " SEA Life London ". In 2009, the Big Wheel The Pepsi Globe Observation Wheel, a second LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in the U.S. and " Madame Tussauds " were opened in Hollywood in New Jersey. In 2010, a second hotel for the Italian Gardaland was planned.

In an alliance with Tatweer, a member of Dubai Holdings, creates a new Legoland in Dubai. The 28 -acre park is a part of Dubailand and should be opened in 2011. Currently, the park is located in the building freeze.