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Merlin Entertainments unveils major expansion plans in Orlando

When you think of theme parks in the Orlando area, your first thought is probably of the giants at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort. By next year at this time, however, you may add another name to that list; Merlin Entertainments. On Wednesday, April 16, the worldwide theme park giant announced that The Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds and SEA LIFE aquarium will open in Spring 2015 at I-Drive 360 on International Drive.

SEA LIFE aquarium opens in Spring 2015 at I-Drive 360 on International Drive.
SEA LIFE aquarium opens in Spring 2015 at I-Drive 360 on International Drive.
Merlin Entertainments

Merlin is the second largest visitor attraction operator in the world, and already has a foothold in the Orlando area with popular LEGOLAND Florida which opened in 2011. With the opening of the much anticipated LEGOLAND Hotel in early 015, the entertainment company will be able to provide a one stop experience, similar to the other big name operators in the market.

“The success of LEGOLAND Florida has underlined to us the potential for Merlin’s high quality global attractions in Central Florida; and particularly in Orlando, undoubtedly the best and most exciting location for family entertainment anywhere in the world,” said Nick Varney, Chief Executive of Merlin Entertainments PLC. “We believe that this is an exceptional group of attractions which will not only provide three quite different new experiences for visitors; but also together add an exciting new dimension to what is already available in the region.”

The Orlando Eye, the cantilevered observation wheel at the heart of the complex, will be a little sister icon to London’s world-famous landmark, providing breathtaking views of Central Florida in all directions within fully enclosed, air-conditioned glass capsules.

Madame Tussauds, the world’s most famous celebrity wax attraction, provides visitors with the ultimate fame experience and its signature red carpet treatment. Madame Tussauds showcases incredibly detailed and lifelike wax figures that lovingly pay tribute to the most influential celebrity and historical figures of our time.

SEA LIFE Orlando will offer a new wave of underwater adventures with beautiful displays of colorful fish, sharks, jellyfish, sea horses and more, that turn the traditional aquarium observation on its head. Winding tunnels, floor-to-ceiling tanks and bubble aquariums provide an immersive experience for children and adults alike. Additionally, the aquarium, known for its strong conservation efforts, will have unique educational components for young marine life enthusiasts.

“We are very excited to be bringing some of Merlin’s best-loved global attractions to International Drive. SEA LIFE and Madame Tussauds have already proven their popularity with audiences across North America; and in Europe and Asia,” added James Paulding, Head of Openings for North America, Merlin Entertainments. “From 2015, these two, together with the unique views from the Eye will become must-do experiences for every visitor to Orlando.”

When the complex opens, it will feature convenient shuttle service to and from LEGOLAND Florida, and will help to redefine and revitalize the International Drive corridor. With attractions on par with some of the other themed operations in Orlando, it will also raise the level of competition, and hopefully provide higher quality for the millions of visitors to the world's vacation destination.

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