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Legoland Florida: Merlin Entertainments reveals details of new Winter Haven park

Legoland FloridaCentral Florida will be home to the world's largest Legoland by the end of 2011, Merlin Entertainments Group said Thursday.

The park, which is planned for the former site of Cypress Gardens, is expected to include between 40 and 50 main attractions. In addition to Lego's signature attractions -- such as kid-powered rides and giant Lego brick models -- some of Cypress Gardens' top draws are expected to stick around. The historical gardens will stay intact, according to Nick Varney, Merlin's chief executive officer.

Merlin said it plans to keep the popular Splash Island Waterpark operating, although it will be a separate, ticketed admission. Cypress Gardens' water ski shows and one of its two wooden roller coasters will probably be integrated into the new Legoland as well, Varney said.

The details of Florida's newest theme park were announced at a news conference this morning that was attended by government and tourism officials, including Florida Governor Charlie Crist.

Officials hailed the capital investment -- which Crist said would be hundreds of millions of dollars -- and the fact that the park will create more than 1,000 jobs.

Legoland Florida"Obviously in these challenging economic times, these jobs are fabulous," said Florida Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales.

Varney kicked off Thursday's event by calling Legoland Florida's "worst-kept secret," referring to the fact that details of today's announcement leaked out Wednesday, after an email surfaced confirming that it was indeed Legoland that was coming to Central Florida.

Merlin said it scouted multiple locations in the Orlando area, but eventually chose the out-of-the-way Polk County spot because of the value of its existing infrastructure.

Renovating a pre-existing theme park, instead of building from scratch, will help Merlin shave years off the development timeline, allowing it to get the park up and running in less than two years.

"If we'd gone anywhere else it would have taken 4 or 5 years," Varney said. He added that the company eventually hopes to turn Legoland Florida into a resort by adding an on-site hotel.

Legoland FloridaIn exchange for building a Legoland in Winter Haven, Merlin Entertainments will receive $5 million in incentives from Polk County over a 10-year period. The package includes $150,000 per year for job creation and $350,000 per year in marketing support, Polk County economic development officials said. The company said it has also talked with government officials about improving road links between Orlando and Winter Haven, but did not provide specifics.

The Florida park is Legoland's second U.S. location, after Legoland California in Carlsbad, Calif. The addition of a Legoland in the Sunshine State is part of a broader push into the U.S. for Merlin.

"We see it as a big development market for us," Varney said. Lego, Varney said, "is without question one of the strongest brands in the world."

Merlin did not provide attendance projections for the Florida park, but said its other Legolands draw between 1.5 million and 2 million people a year.

 

Lucy Clark

Marketing Director and Photographer for Realtors, Jane and Alan LaFrance

'Mickey Homes - Central Florida Real Estate Agents - Your source for Homes for sale near Disney World'

Back to www.MickeyHomesFlorida.com

 

Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2010 4:24 PM by Mickey Homes

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