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Merlin Entertainments Acquires Tallest Observation Wheel on the U.S. East Coast: The Wheel at Icon Park in Orlando

ICON Park’s Growth as Premier Entertainment Destination Augmented by Merlin’s Expansion

Merlin Acquires The Wheel

MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS ACQUIRES TALLEST OBSERVATION WHEEL ON THE U.S. EAST COAST: THE WHEEL AT ICON PARK IN ORLANDO

RENAMES 400-FOOT-HIGH ATTRACTION “THE ORLANDO EYE BY MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS”, CEMENTING GLOBAL BRANDING SYNONYMOUS WITH MERLIN’S WORLD-FAMOUS “LONDON EYE”
The Orlando Eye Joins Merlin Entertainments’ Family of Branded Entertainment Attractions in Florida:  LEGOLAND® Florida Resort, Peppa Pig Theme Park Florida, SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium and Madame Tussauds Orlando

 

Orlando, FL (Monday, March 25, 2024) – Merlin Entertainments, the global leader of branded entertainment destinations, is expanding its estate of popular attractions and theme parks in Orlando and Central Florida with the purchase of The Wheel at ICON Park, the tallest observation attraction on the U.S. East Coast. Renamed today as The Orlando Eye by Merlin Entertainments, the top visitor attraction located in the country’s tourism capital joins Merlin Entertainments other family-friendly attractions and theme parks in Orlando: SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium and Madame Tussauds Orlando, both located in ICON Park alongside the Orlando Eye, and nearby, LEGOLAND® Florida Resort and Peppa Pig Theme Park Florida in Central Florida.

The attraction is the first acquisition made under the leadership of Merlin Entertainments’ CEO Scott O’Neil and demonstrates the company’s strategic focus on expanding its Gateway ‘mega-clusters’ of attractions in leading tourist cities throughout the world. “Today’s acquisition of the Orlando Wheel in the vitally important tourist hub of Orlando demonstrates our Gateway strategy in action and serves to replicate our successful London Gateway formula, whereby we have clustered four of our branded attractions alongside the iconic anchor that is The London Eye,” states CEO, Scott O’Neil. Similarly, The Orlando Eye by Merlin Entertainments will become an unmissable stop on visitors’ itineraries, delivering an elevated experience with unobstructed 360-degree views of the ICON Park area and beyond. We look forward to connecting guests to our wider portfolio of premium attractions and resort theme parks in and around Orlando as well, including our SEA LIFE aquarium, Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND Florida Resort and Peppa Pig Theme Park” states Scott O’Neil, CEO, Merlin Entertainments.

ICON Park’s President and CEO Chris Jaskiewicz said Merlin’s expansion plans fit well with its own growth strategy of continuing to sign quality restaurant, live entertainment and attraction tenants to its 20-acre destination in the center of the Orlando Entertainment District on International Drive. “We successfully built and developed it into a famous Orlando landmark, and now welcome The Orlando Eye by Merlin Entertainments as one of our outstanding ICON Park tenants. We’re proud that Merlin recognized the global appeal of this attraction, and of ICON Park as a destination, in selecting us as the site to expand their popular brands in Central Florida.”

“Merlin’s newest attraction, The Orlando Eye by Merlin Entertainments, is located in the heart of Orlando where visitors will experience breathtaking 360-degree views of Central Florida, including nearby theme parks and attractions, downtown Orlando, and Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s east coast,” said General Manager of Madame Tussauds Orlando, Paul Gould. “We’ve brought together a wonderful mix of attractions within walking distance from each other to appeal to domestic and international tourists traveling to our city.”

Located in Icon Park, in the center of International Drive, the 400-foot-tall Orlando Eye by Merlin Entertainments features 30 air-conditioned glass capsules. Each capsule has room for up to 15 guests to enjoy a serene 20-minute journey above the scenic landscape where they can enjoy a sense of calm as they are lifted away in a bubble of serenity above the hustle and bustle of Orlando.

In 2023, 27% of guests who visited Merlin’s Orlando-based Madame Tussauds also visited Merlin’s SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium. Similarly to Merlin’s expanding cluster of Orlando-based attractions, the world-leader in branded entertainment destinations owns and operates several of London’s most iconic and popular entertainment attractions including the 443-foot-tall London Eye, SEA LIFE London Aquarium, Madame Tussauds London, The London Dungeon, and Shrek’s Adventure London. According to figures by VisitBritain and Merlin guest data, more than one quarter of tourists who come to London visit at least one of Merlin’s attractions.

Of the 16 U.S. states boasting Merlin attractions, Florida is now home to five attractions, and was the site of Merlin’s first Peppa Pig Theme Park, which opened in 2022. In 2023, Merlin announced the construction of America’s second Peppa Pig Theme Park, set to open in Dallas-Fort Worth in summer 2024; which is one of two Peppa Pig attractions currently under construction globally. Merlin’s three U.S.-based LEGOLAND Resorts in Florida, California, and New York are some of the most popular and most visited of Merlin’s 10 LEGOLAND theme parks open globally.

Tickets to The Orlando Eye by Merlin Entertainments are available at Icon Park, located at 8375 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819 and online. Visit TheOrlandoEye.com for information or to purchase entry to The Orlando Eye and Merlin’s other Orlando-based attractions, SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, and Madame Tussauds Orlando.

About Merlin Entertainments: Bringing World-Famous Brands to Life on a Global Scale   

Merlin Entertainments is a world leader of branded entertainment destinations, offering a diverse portfolio of resort theme parks and city-centre attractions across the US, Western Europe, China and Asia Pacific. Dedicated to creating experiences that inspire joy and connection, Merlin welcomes more than 62 million guests annually to its growing estate, which currently numbers over 140 sites across 23 countries.

An expert in bringing world-famous entertainment brands to life, Merlin works with partners including the LEGO® Group, Sony Pictures, Peppa Pig, DreamWorks and Ferrari to create destinations where family and friends can immerse themselves in a wide array of brand-driven worlds, rides and uplifting learning experiences.

The company’s resort theme parks include 10 LEGOLAND Resorts situated across the US, Europe, and Asia, plus the iconic destinations of Alton Towers, Chessington World of Adventures and Thorpe Park in the UK and Gardaland and Heide Park in Italy and Germany. Merlin’s portfolio of attractions includes branded attractions such as: Madame Tussauds, SEA LIFE aquariums, LEGO Discovery Centres and Peppa Pig Parks. Merlin groups its city-centre attractions to create must-visit hubs in thriving locations like New York, London, Amsterdam, Sydney, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Merlin’s 30,000-strong team of colleagues are the people who dream up the extraordinary experiences of tomorrow and bring them to life with next-generation technology, awe-inspiring physical construction and outstanding guest service. With an expanding portfolio of resorts, Merlin’s creativity extends to unique themed accommodations in its hotels, holiday villages and eco-lodges.

Positive social and environmental impact is intrinsic to Merlin’s purpose. With more than 180,000 animals in its care, Merlin partners with the SEA LIFE TRUST charity to protect marine life and habitats through a wide range of initiatives, including launching the world’s first beluga whale sanctuary in 2019. Merlin’s flagship social impact initiative, Merlin’s Magic Wand charity, creates magical experiences for children who need them most and supports thousands of families every year.

With new sites, attractions and formats launching every year, Merlin continues to grow towards its vision of being the global leader in branded entertainment destinations and the greatest place to work and play.

Privately owned and supported by equity investors Blackstone, KIRKBI, and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), Merlin Entertainments stands as a beacon for spreading joy and happiness globally.

For more information, visit MerlinEntertainments.biz and follow Merlin on LinkedIn. To explore and support Merlin’s charitable initiatives, visit MerlinsMagicWand.org and the SEA LIFE Trust.

About The Orlando Eye by Merlin Entertainments

Formerly known as The Wheel at Icon Park in Orlando, Fl., The Orlando Eye by Merlin Entertainments is a 400-foot-tall rotating observation attraction located in the heart of the city, offering breathtaking views of Central Florida. The Orlando Eye showcases 360-degree views of the region, including popular theme parks and attractions, downtown Orlando, and Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s east coast, all within the comfort of 30 air-conditioned glass capsules. Each capsule accommodates up to 15 guests to enjoy a serene 20-minute trip above the breathtaking landscape. Acquired in March 2024 by Merlin Entertainments, the global leader in branded entertainment destinations with more than 140 theme parks and attractions across the world, the Orlando Eye is a top attraction in the country’s tourism capital and joins Merlin Entertainments’ estate of family-friendly attractions and theme parks in The Sunshine State, including SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, Madame Tussauds Orlando, and nearby, LEGOLAND Florida Resort and Peppa Pig Theme Park Florida in Central Florida.

For more information, please visit TheOrlandoEye.com, Facebook @TheOrlandoEye, Instagram @orlandoeyeofficial, X @theorlandoeye and TikTok @theorlandoeye.

About ICON Park

ICON Park is a global leader in location-based entertainment in the most-visited destination in the U.S., attracting millions of guests each year with its unique collection of branded immersive experiences including attractions, restaurants, bars, live entertainment and shops.

ICON Park’s portfolio of 50+ tenants include globally recognized brands that appeal to both families and adults. The destination encompasses multiple, world-famous entertainment attractions, over a dozen immersive restaurants and bars, nightly live music, and an extensive shopping and outdoor marketplace – all anchored under the brilliant lights of The Orlando Eye by Merlin Entertainments. Just a few of the famous brands that call ICON Park home include Merlin Entertainments’ Madame Tussauds and Sea Life Aquarium, Blake Shelton’s Ole Red, Darden’s Yard House, Gordon Ramsay’s Fish & Chips, The Sugar Factory, Museum of Illusions, Shake Shack, Tin Roof, Uncle Julio’s and Build-A Bear Workshop. Open 365 days a year, ICON Park’s continual roster of activities, nightly live music, special events — plus free parking and no gate admission — make it a popular day and night choice for Orlando’s 74 million visitors and residents.

ICON Park is located at the epicenter of Orlando’s Entertainment District, surrounded by 150+ hotels, world-famous theme parks, the second-largest convention center in the United States, and 1,000+ restaurants, attractions and retail outlets.  The area is further expanding with $5 billion in growth investments including  Universal Orlando’s much-anticipated fourth theme park Epic Universe; $4 billion in new and expanding hotels, attractions, restaurants, convention space, entertainment venues and roadwork enhancements; hundreds of millions of dollars to further expand Orange County’s convention center; and a leg of the $1.75 billion high-speed rail line project, Brightline, which will directly link the I-Drive area to Orlando International Airport and the 50+ million passengers it serves annually.

ICON Park shares common ownership with 40 acres of adjacent hotel and retail properties and was developed by a partnership among New York City-based Flag Luxury Group LLC, Las Vegas-based Torino Companies, and Orlando-based Unicorp National Development.

About Madame Tussauds Orlando

STRUT WITH THE STARS! Come one, come all to the marvelous Madame Tussauds Orlando featuring the Justice League heroes! Dazzle your friends with the ultimate selfie. Sing and dance alongside Maluma and Bad Bunny, and become an action star alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson! Buy online to save at www.madametussauds.com/orlando.

About SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium

DIVE DEEP! SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium offers a wave of underwater adventures with sea creatures from around the world. Come face-to-fin with thousands of fish, sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, and many more. Prepare for a world of glittering scales, humongous tentacles, and razor-sharp teeth. Get ready to plunge deep into the oceans, explore our 360-degree ocean tunnel, meet our friendly rescue sea turtle, and touch exotic starfish and anemones. You can even jump behind the scenes and see all it takes to keep an aquarium running. For tickets and more information on this amazing sea adventure, go to VisitSeaLife.com/Orlando or follow us on social media @SEALIFEOrlando.

Photos and B-Roll:  https://bit.ly/TheOrlandoEyebyMerlinEntertainments
Courtesy: Merlin Entertainments

Merlin Entertainments Contact:
Brittany Williams, Senior PR Manager
Brittany.Williams@MerlinEntertainments.biz

DKC for The Orlando Eye
MadameTussauds@dkcnews.com

ICON Park Contact:
William Wellons, Wellons Communications
will@wellonscommunications.com, (407) 462-2718

ICON Park's Official Press Kit