Our newsfeeds have been buzzing over the past days about LEGOLAND, Merlin Entertainments, and the privatisation of the theme park company. What this means is that LEGOLAND will be back in private hands after going public as part of Merlin in November 2013. Let’s take a journey through the history of LEGOLAND, reflecting back on the ups, downs, and changes of ownership that have led us to today.
The parent company of The LEGO Group, Kirkbi A/S, has reached a deal to purchase Merlin Entertainments for 6 billion pounds, or more than 7.6 billion USD. Merlin Entertainments operates eight LEGOLAND theme parks from California to Dubai, dozens of LEGOLAND Discovery Centers, as well as other famous attractions such as Madam Toussad’s and the London Eye, all of which will now come under control of LEGO owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, the grandson of LEGO’s founder.
Yesterday it was reported by Reuters that Kirkbi, the company under which the Kristiansen family organize their holdings, is joining with two other investment groups, Blackstone Group LP and Canadian pension fund CPPIB, to purchase a 50 percent stake in Merlin. LEGO sold the majority stake in its theme parks to Merlin in 2005 during its financial crisis in an effort to focus more on the core brick product. Now as the largest toy manufacturer in the world with the financial crisis firmly behind them, the company is looking to diversify its holdings once more and the LEGOLAND brand was the natural place to start. Along with the 30 percent stake that Kirkbi retained in Merlin, the new deal will grant a controlling interest in the theme parks that bear their most famous product’s name.
Merlin Entertainment announced plans today to build a third LEGOLAND park in the United States, located in Goshen, New York. The park will be the ninth LEGOLAND theme park in the world and will only be open seasonally from April 1 to November 1 when it opens for business in 2020.
The park, located an hour and a half’s drive north of New York City, will be situated in the small town of Goshen near the US Military Academy at West Point and is expected to attract between 1.5-2.5 million tourists a year. The facility will also include a themed hotel and aquarium.
There are currently three full-time positions open, in Ryan Wood’s department, at Merlin Studios Carlsbad, where they build Miniland. One is a permanent Model Builder position and the other two are temporary Model Designer positions that could lead to permanent slots. Don’t have a lot of experience with Miniland scale? Not to worry. They are willing to train the right people. If you are interested, click on the links above to begin the application process. Click on the LEGOLAND banner to go to Ryan’s photostream for more information.
This weekend saw the grand opening of the Legends of Chima water park at LEGOLAND California. The layout and design of the park looks awesome. But instead of having to pore over a mere 2D map of the place, wouldn’t a brick-built 3D version be even more awesomer-rer? Well that’s what LEGOLAND master builder Joel Baker thought, so he designed one!
Joel was actually pool-side as he relayed some cool facts to us about the creation:
“This was built in one week by myself and four other master builders. It weighs 60 lbs and has roughly 55,000 pieces. It is currently part of a media tour and has made it’s way through several cities including New York, Boston, Texas, and Arizona. I hope it ends up in the park, as it would be our first brick built map – I believe the kiddos would enjoy figuring out where they are and where they want to go by pointing at LEGO instead of the usual (but still cool) paper!”
Once every two years, the Danish Ferrari owners club have a meeting in LEGOLAND Billund. Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, the former LEGO CEO and current owner of the LEGO Group, may have something to do with this, as he is known to have a soft spot for these Italian beauties. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of his own cars were present. However, this blog is about LEGO rather than about cars. Fortunately, Stephan Sander, whose movie cars were a major inspiration for my own, combines a passion for the famous cars with the prancing horse with a passion for LEGO.
He was there displaying his impressive collection of LEGO Ferraris, photographed here in front of the LEGOLAND model of the Amalienborg Palace. The collection is built to the 1/20 scale used for LEGOLAND cars and includes models of classic Ferraris such as the ultra-rare 1962 GTO and 1970 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 LeMans. My favourite, however, is his model of the much newer 2009 Ferrari 458 Italia.
I love how he has painstakingly sculpted the vehicle’s extremely curvy shape by using clever combinations of half-stud offsets, curved bricks and slopes (and am more than a little jealous of his collection of rare trans clear elements).
Harlem Shake. Apparently, it’s a thing. I suspect this will amuse many of you.
Mark Larson has been no stranger to readers of The Brothers Brick. Mark is now working for LEGO as a Master Modeler. One of his recent projects has been working on the new Legoland hotel, set to open in April at Legoland California.
Mark recently did an interview with Huffington Post Travel and answered many questions about his work on the hotel, his job with LEGO and how to get a dragon in a bathtub to talk (spoiler alert: it’s secret LEGO magic).
Click on the picture to read the interview.