It has been “long in gestation” with years of delays, but Merlin Entertainments has announced a deal for a “full-scale” resort.
South Korea’s first Legoland theme park is scheduled to open by 2022, Merlin Entertainments has confirmed, and local sources will provide “significant funding and infrastructure support”.
Merlin has entered into a partnership agreement with the Gangwon provincial government to build the park based on the famous interlocking plastic bricks created by Denmark’s Lego Group.
Legoland Korea will be situated entirely on the island of Hajungdo in Chuncheon, about one hour east of Seoul and within a two-hour drive time of nearly 24 million people.
It will be UK-based Merlin’s tenth Legoland Park, following Legoland New York which is scheduled to open in 2020. Advanced discussions are also in process on a number of sites for Legoland parks in China, and Merlin sees opportunities for 20 parks around the world over time.
The “full-scale” resort in Korea will incorporate a Legoland Hotel and will employ 1,600 people overall.
Years of delays
Legoland Korea has been beset by seven years of delays and financial troubles, entertainment news site Blooloop reports.
The project began September 2011, but several years later construction came to a halt after extensive prehistoric ruins were discovered on the site.
Legoland Korea will be twice the size of Legoland Japan, which is now planning an extension after failing to meet initial revenue targets. The Korean site will include around 40 attractions plus a hotel, water park and retail complex.
The total cost of the resort, including the on-site accommodation, is expected to be KRW 290 billion (€225 million), KRW 210 billion of which will be invested by Merlin itself, which will fully own and operate the resort.
The remaining KRW 80 billion will come from LL Developments, the investment arm of Gangwon Province. Additional funding for necessary infrastructure adjacent to the resort is emerging from national, regional and local governments.
“It’s been long in gestation, but I’m delighted that we are now in a position to move forward with opening Legoland Korea Resort,” said Nick Varney, Merlin’s chief executive.
“We know Koreans love theme parks and love Lego, and together with the Gangwon authorities we have already established an attractive and well-connected site in Chuncheon.
He added: “We remain excited about the potential of Legoland Parks, the roll out of which is a strategic growth driver for Merlin, and we continue to look at opportunities for further sites around the world.”
Lego was introduced to South Korea in 1984 and quickly established itself as one of the country’s best loved toy brands. South Korea is now Lego Group’s third largest market in Asia Pacific. Merlin, meanwhile, already operates a Sea Life Centre in Busan, South Korea.