Legoland’s Parent Buys SeaWorld And More

by The Editors on December 1, 2009

Blackstone GroupLegoland California owner The Blackstone Group (owners of Merlin Entertainment) has purchased 10 amusement parks from Anheuser-Busch InBev in a deal worth up to $2.7 billion according to as story on MSN’s Money Central.

Busch Entertainment Corp., the second-largest entertainment park operator in the United States after Walt Disney Co. with 25,000 employees and 25 million visitors a year, is now known as SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. . . The deal includes three SeaWorld parks in Orlando, Fla.; San Antonio, Texas; and San Diego, Calif.; and two Busch Gardens parks in Tampa, Fla., and Williamsburg, Va. It also includes Discovery Cove and Aquatica in Orlando; Sesame Place near Philadelphia, and water parks Adventure Island in Tampa and Water Country USA in Williamsburg.

We first mentioned this back in September. Guess this means we can say goodbye to cheap locals season passes at SeaWorld and hello to biometric profiling at Legoland. Epic.

[Link: Money Central]

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Herwig December 2, 2009 at 10:44 am

I read this opening phrase:

” Legoland California owner The Blackstone Group (owners of Merlin Entertainment)…………… ”

If this is not a lie, is it for sure a serious misinformation.
Journalists (wheter professional or hobbyists…) need to CHECK & DOUBLE CHECK before posting down 50% nonsense.

Now the FACTS :
1/ Blackstone has a – 48% SHARE in Merlin Entertainments. Which is the OPERATOR of a number of attractions, in the UK, Europe and (minor) the USA.
Blackstone is not “the parent of Legoland”. Legoland parks are ONE of the operational units within Merlin Entertainments.
2/ Legoland parks were brought into the Merlin group, to get a better management result. They were NEVER “sold” to either Merlin or Blackstone, as the owners of Legoland parks (KIRKBI A/S) brought in this division towards THEIR OWN SHARE of – 22%.
3/ SO, this division …
is under MERLIN management,
is not under “Blackstone ownership”,
is still under KIKBY shareholder ownership.
4/ California : The Legoland adjoining Sealife center from Merlin Entertainments, is of coarse as well under Merlin management, but part of “MIDWAY” attractions division, and THAT is a section where Blackstone capital came in.

Thank you very much.
You could have told this story yourself, if you respected your own “journalism” job….

The Editors December 2, 2009 at 11:45 am


While we appreciate your outlining all this business detail “nonsense,” and for suggesting that we don’t respect our own “journalism” we would like to point you to the Merlin Entertainments website:

There, on the “Our Company” page, you will find the following information about Merlin Entertainments:

–Formed in 1999 via a buyout of Vardon Attractions from Vardon plc. Majority owned by Blackstone since 2005.
–Acquisitions of LEGOLAND Parks (2005), Gardaland (2006) and Tussauds Group (2007), increased scale by over 10 times in three years.
–Today the Group comprises 57 attractions in 12 countries across three continents welcoming over 35 million visitors a year. These are managed through three Operting Groups – Resort Theme Parks, LEGOLAND Parks and Midway Attractions, supported by a Property and Development Group.

For Lego’s press release on the July 2005 transactions read this:

Which includes the following:

“In connection with the agreement, Blackstone Capital Partners buys the LEGOLAND Parks for €375m. Blackstone and management will take 70 per cent of the shares in the new Merlin Entertainments Group while the remaining 30 per cent will be held by the LEGO Group and Kirkbi A/S.”

On November 15, 2009 The Financial Times quoted Blackstone Senior Managing Director Joseph Baratta saying that the Blackstone Group owns “slightly more than 50 pecent” of Merlin and that they are planning on taking Merlin Entertainment public in the middle of 2010.

As much as we’d like to make all this stuff up, it’s all pretty much right there. Obviously the business is much more complicated than we’ve explained, but for the sake of our post and the comments we made we’re going take the companies at their own word.


The Editors.

HAHA December 2, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Oh snap!

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