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Monday, December 15, 2008

Work on RM750m theme park to start 2010

JOHOR BARU: Work on the RM750mil Legoland theme park at Bandar Nusajaya in Iskandar Malaysia will start in 2010 and the opening slated for 2013.

The park, to be built in the city centre of Nusajaya, will have a 5.5 million sq ft of gross floor area within the 58.679ha land dedicated for the lifestyle-theme development.

Merlin Entertainment Group Ltd managing director for Legoland Parks, John Jakobsen said the theme park would create about 1,000 job opportunities in the park itself and it could reach up to 5,000 during construction period and indirectly upon the completion of the project.

Sectors which would benefit from the opening of the park would include retail, hospitality, services and food and beverage to cater for tourists and visitors.

“We want to position our Johor park not only as a leading tourist attraction in Malaysia but also in the region,’’ he said.

John Jakobsen

Jakobsen said the park was expected to attract between one and two million visitors yearly.

“The figure is based from our four existing parks with revenue between US$40mil and US$100mil per park,’’ he said.

Merlin, which is controlled by Blackstone Group of New York, an investment and advisory firm, has 70% equity in Legoland theme parks while Lego Group holds 30% stake.

Legoland has four theme parks.

The park in Billund, Denmark opened in 1968, Windsor, England (1996), California (1999) and Germany (2002) and in Dubai, which will open in 2011.

Other theme parks under Merlin stable include Madame Tussauds, London Eye, Thrope Park, Sea Life Sanctuaries, Dungeons in Europe, 28 aquariums and six hotels across the world.

“We have considered coming to Malaysia about four years ago and we started seriously looking into it about eight months ago,’’ he said.

He said the company’s investment decision in Iskandar was based on the development activities to be implemented.

Jakobsen said the Legoland park in Johor would not only attract visitors from other parts of Malaysia and Singapore but visitors from other countries in the region.

He said visitors from other countries in this region would find it more convenient to come here than going to Europe or North America.

Jakobsen said Malaysia offered a strategic location in Asia with 60% of the world’s population.

“Legoland park is different from other parks as our attractions are made to appear as if they are built out of Lego bricks,’’ said Jakobsen.

He said Legoland park targeted at children aged from two to 12 years old accompanied by their parents or grandparents and not teenagers and young adults which was the main focus of the other theme park operators.

By The Star (by Zazali Musa)

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