LOS ANGELES: The UK's Merlin Entertainments has joined forces with China Media Capital to build a Legoland Resort near Shanghai. The deal has the backing of Lego brand owner, Danish firm Kirkbi, and the Shanghai Jinshan government.
To be located in the Jinshan District in south west Shanghai, the new park is expected to be one of the largest Legoland resorts in the world and will include a 250-room themed hotel.
The location has a catchment area of 55 million people within two hours travel time. The region comprising Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui has an estimated population of 220 million and is already home to Shanghai Disneyland, which opened in June 2016.
"All parties will form a joint venture company and contribute funding to the construction and development of Legoland Shanghai. The total project investment is expected to be approximately £500 million (US$625 million)," the companies said in a statement.
"The schedule for the project is still to be determined, but the project is not expected to open until after 2023."
Merlin is one of the world's largest players in location-based entertainment and operates Legoland theme parks, Madame Tussauds waxwork museums, and Dungeons attractions.
It already has 13 attractions in China including Legoland Discovery Centers, Madame Tussauds, Sea Life Centers, Dungeons, Peppa Pig World of Play and Little Big City. Five, including the world's first Peppa Pig World of Play in Shanghai, and Little Big City in Beijing, have been opened since the beginning of 2018.
Headed by Li Ruigang, CMC is one of China's largest and most diversified media investors.
Its holdings include a controlling stake in Hong Kong's Television Broadcasts through its subsidiary Young Lion; business news publication Caixin, and a range of film assets, including production company Gravity Pictures, sales agent and distributor CMC Pictures, and Pearl Studios, formerly Oriental DreamWorks, which recently completed animated feature "Abominable."
"With an accelerated evolution in consumer taste among younger generations, we've committed ourselves to become a key player and trailblazer within the sector of premium entertainment across on- and offline media, kids and family, and themed entertainment," said Li at an event in Shanghai on Tuesday.
Merlin is also planning Legoland theme attractions in New York, scheduled to open in 2020, and South Korea, scheduled to open in 2022.