Merlin Entertainments plc is a global leader in location-based, family entertainment. As Europe’s Number 1 and the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator, Merlin now operates over 100 attractions, 13 hotels and 5 holiday villages in 24 countries and across 4 continents. The company aims to deliver memorable experiences to its more than 60 million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global and local brands, and the commitment and passion of its c.27,000 employees (peak season).
Merlin operates two distinct products: ‘midway’ attractions are high quality, branded, indoor attractions, with a typical 1-2-hour dwell time, located in city centres or resorts. There are over 100 Midway attractions across 21 countries, with five established chainable brands: SEA LIFE, Madame Tussauds, The Eye (observation attractions), The Dungeons and LEGOLAND Discovery Centres.
Merlin’s theme parks are larger multi-day outdoor destination venues, incorporating on-site themed accommodation. These include LEGOLAND Parks and Resort Theme Parks (in the UK, these are Alton Towers, Chessington World of Adventures, THORPE PARK and Warwick Castle).
In South Bank, Merlin operates a cluster of attractions which include Coca-Cola London Eye, SEA LIFE London Aquarium, The London Dungeon (which moved to South Bank’s in 2014 from its former location in London Bridge) and – as of 2015 – Shrek’s Adventure.
The opening of the Coca-Cola London Eye (formerly known as Millennium Wheel) in 2000 played a key role in transforming South Bank into the success story it is today. A must-do attraction for visitors to the UK Capital, at 135 meters high, Coca-Cola London Eye is the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel and an iconic part of the London landscape. Built in less than 16 months, the London Eye is an international structure, involving the teamwork of various European engineers, and British designers Marks Barfield Architects.
Since it officially opened to the public on March 9th 2000, Coca-Cola London Eye has become the UK’s most popular paid for visitor attraction. It has welcomed over 50 million visitors and has won over 40 awards for national and international tourism and engineering achievement, as well as numerous people’s choice awards. In a short period of time, it has become a 21st century symbol for modern Britain and a global icon.
David Sharpe, Divisional Director of Merlin Entertainments, is the current chair of the South Bank Employers’ Group Board.