Merlin Entertainments’ first new standalone attraction in the UK for almost 10 years will open in the northern city of Manchester in time for next Easter. Located inside the Trafford Centre shopping mall, the £7.5 million (€8.7m/$12.8m) development will be the country’s first Legoland Discovery Centre (LDC), one of two opening worldwide in 2010.
Based on the ever popular Lego brick, Legoland Discovery Centres provide a range of interactive experiences including a 4D cinema, Model Builder master classes, Miniland models and a Legoland ride. Each outlet also features party rooms for birthdays and other celebrations.
Merlin’s experience shows its short stay “Midway” attractions enable, for example, dad to keep the children amused for two to three hours while mum is shopping – or alternatively chosen as a destination for time-starved families to enjoy. Combining quality retail and leisure experience will play an increasingly important part in the group’s future growth strategy.
Existing LDC attractions can be found in Berlin and Duisburg, Germany, and Schaumburg near Chicago. Another US outlet is planned in New Jersey, but the Manchester venue will now open ahead of it.
“The Trafford Centre is already a high footfall ‘destination’ for the family – and the inclusion of a quality leisure attraction like LDC will, we believe, deliver significant incremental business to both parties – and to Manchester as a whole,” says Glenn Earlam, managing director of Merlin’s Midway Attractions Operating Group.
One of the largest British cities after London, Manchester has an excellent transport network bringing people into the city from a very wide area. The Trafford Centre itself is located next to the M60 ring road and attracts 35 million visits a year.
Merlin’s last new standalone attraction in the UK was the Edinburgh Dungeon, which opened in 2001. This spring the group also unveiled a Dungeon attractions at its Warwick Castle property in the Midlands and a Sea Life Aquarium at Alton Towers Resort.