Location-based entertainment company Merlin Entertainments has partnered with the Shanghai Jinshan district government, Chinese content creator CMC and Danish holding and investment company Kirkbi (which owns 75% of The LEGO Group) to develop a Legoland resort in Shanghai, China.
Under the agreement, the companies will form a joint venture company and contribute about US$640.8 million in funding to the construction and development of the resort, which is expected to open in 2023.
When it’s completed it will be one of the largest Legoland resorts in the world with 250 rooms, according to LEGO. The Danish brickmaker chose to build in Shanghai because of its large population (approximately 26 million people). The LEGO Group has focused on expanding in China in recent years and plans to have 220 stores open in more than 50 cities by the end of 2020, the company said.
Merlin has been leading the charge in live and location-based experiences in kids entertainment and is launching Legoland resorts in New York and Korea in 2020 and 2022, respectively. The event company operates 13 attractions in China—including Legoland discovery centers—and in 2018 it partnered with Toronto-based prodco Entertainment One to launch Peppa Pig World of Play. In September, Merlin’s shareholders approved the US$7.5-billion sale of Merlin to Kirkbi-owned Motion Acquisition. The deal is expected to close in Q4 2019 and will once again make the entertainment company private.