Interview Synopsis

Merlin Entertainments & the US amusement park sector

  • Multi Asset
  • Consumer
  • North America

Disney’s seamless business model and the promise of an unforgettable experience has made it difficult for any other attraction or theme park to gain significant market share or customer following, according to a former executive at Merlin Entertainments.

The Highs and Lows of Struggling Legoland Franchises

In an interview with Third Bridge Forum, the former divisional director said the US Legoland franchises struggled significantly as a result of poor customer satisfaction, largely due to capacity issues that resulted in long wait times for the rides and experiences. 

Another difficulty, she explained, has been securing repeat visits. The US Legoland Discovery Centres, for example, had 29% repeat visitation, while for the theme parks it was closer to 40%. In an attempt to boost numbers, she said Merlin changed the annual pass programme so that those who purchased it would only need to visit one and a half days for the cost to have been covered. 

The logic was that while the business wasn’t earning substantial amounts on the price of the pass itself, more money could be brought in via secondary spend. This includes green screen photo opportunities that were impossible for parents to recreate, as well as Lego merchandise. 

After the Lego movies hit the big screen both visits and customer spend on merchandise relating specifically to the films saw a significant increase. In some cases, same-day shipments of stock were being completely wiped out in almost every location as spending rocketed. 

However, the executive admitted that even this wasn’t enough. Compared with other branded attractions, which operated at a 50-60% margin on merchandise, the Legoland Discovery Centres and theme parks had margins of between 16% and 20%. 

To access all the human insights from Third Bridge’s Merlin Entertainment Interview, click below to view the full transcript. 

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