Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

Merlin breathes new life into Oberhausen

Following the closure in 2010 of CentrO Park (pictured), Merlin Entertainments is to open two new attractions in the German city of Oberhausen.

A Legoland Discovery Centre (LDC) and Ocean Adventure Park are planned as part of a €15m investment at the CentrO mall, the country’s largest shopping centre. The latter will replace the amusement park opened by showman Oscar Bruch in 1996 and is described as the next step in the evolution of Merlin’s Sea Life brand. A Sea Life aquarium already operates in Oberhausen adjacent to the CentrO site. LDC, meanwhile, will be the latest mini Legoland outlet in Germany, replacing the existing Legoland Discovery Centre in Duisburg.

“Our strategic masterplan, as Europe’s leading retail developer, is to take the retail/leisure experience to a whole new level,” reveals CentrO director Frank Postges-Pragal. “We have been looking at options for CentrO Park for some time. We didn’t want a quick fix but a high quality long-term solution. In our view Merlin is one of the world’s most innovative and creative operators of visitor attractions and the ideal partner with which to develop this project.”

Merlin took over the CentrO Park site in March last year, and the first phase of development is already well under way. The new Ocean Adventure Park will include an Antarctic-themed attraction combining a ride and aquarium featuring Gentoo penguins. Visitors to Merlin-operated Legoland Billund in Denmark can already enjoy a penguin encounter on the rollercoaster Polar X-plorer.

Offering a fun, interactive and educational two to three-hour indoor experience for families with children aged 3 to 10, Legoland Discovery Centre will feature

a 4D cinema, play areas, Lego models of local landmarks, Lego building opportunities and more. By moving 17km from Duisburg to Oberhausen, the new LDC will offer many commercial and managerial benefits to Merlin, as well allowing it to offer joint ticket deals with the other two attractions on site.

“Merlin Entertainments has been operating in Oberhausen very successfully with Sea Life since 2004,” notes Sabrina de Carvalho, the company’s head of ‘Midway’ attractions in Germany. “Now we are investing more than €15m on what will be a brand new leisure destination combining three high-quality attractions. It is a great project and we have no doubt that it will be very well received.“

“This is a major investment for Merlin but one in which we have enormous confidence,” adds the company’s managing director of Midway attractions, Glenn Earlam. “Our experience has shown that bringing together an exciting mix of retail, dining, and quality leisure attractions delivers significant incremental business to both the shopping centre and the area as a whole. Such projects also play an important part in Merlin’s future growth strategy for our ‘Midway’ and indoor city centre attractions.”

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