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Merlin Entertainment Is Making Changes from Dynamic Pricing to New Attractions
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Icon Park - Orlando, FL
Photo Courtesy of Merlin Entertainment

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Merlin Entertainment is introducing some changes this year, both in terms of a new pricing plan and added attractions. The company reported record revenue last year and has recently announced both a pricing change and its acquisition of Icon Park's Observation Wheel in Orlando.

The pricing change will take place at all Merlin attractions, an expansion on its current peak and off-peak pricing model. Merlin has been utilizing that strategy for a year. But by the end of 2024, the company will be implementing what it calls “dynamic” pricing, which is essentially surge pricing.  

The pricing is demand-based, increasing by how much demand consumers have for any goods and services during a given period. It's a model that airlines use. From Merlin's standpoint, visitors to its Legoland and Sea Life Aquarium will find they are paying more during a peak period, such as summer weekends. The company asserts that the pricing model allows greater flexibility for guests who are looking for discounted price dates, and also helps to avoid overcrowding during peak visitation periods as well.

According to CEO Scott O'Neil, having introduced the pricing structure in 2023, Merlin then experienced “the highest guest satisfaction scores in the history of the company, and seven million additional guests…we're definitely getting the signal that our processes are moving in the right direction.”

O'Neil believes that this pricing model assists with improving and protecting guest experiences during busy times of year at all the locations Merlin owns. He stresses that “It is not a new concept, but our focus is on two things that matter most; the guest experience and making sure that we are accessible and value-based for families.”

Apparently, Merlin is doing something right: the company's 141 theme parks and visitor attractions world-wide welcomed in 62 million guests last year. That number represents a seven million person increase over the 2022 fiscal year. Revenue increased by 8 percent.

Along with the pricing change, Merlin is also changing up its attraction offerings. The company just purchased the Orlando, Fla. observation wheel located in Icon Park. Rising 400-feet in the air, the attraction has now reverted to its original name, The Orlando Eye.

That was the attraction's moniker when it was first opened, during which time Merlin previously managed it, between 2015 - 2018. It also marks the attraction's fifth naming in under ten years. Most recently it was known as The Wheel.

The Orlando Eye is one of many attractions owned by Merlin in the Orlando area, from the Legoland Florida Park and Resort to the Sea Life Orlando Aquarium and Madame Tussauds Orlando. Both the aquarium and Tussauds are in Icon Park where the Orlando Eye is located.

O'Neill states that the newly renamed Ferris wheel will “become an unmissable stop on visitors' itineraries, delivering an elevated experience with unobstructed 360-degree views of the Icon Park area and beyond.”

The Orland Eye offers 360-degree views of the ICON Park area.  There are 30 cars in all that can each hold up to 15 riders for a 20-minute ride. The cars are enclosed and air-conditioned. The ride's encompassing view includes a look at the Kennedy Space Center, downtown Orlando, and area theme parks.

Icon Park's CEO and president, Chris Jaskiewicz, says he is working to grow the park, a growth he feels Merlin Entertainment supports. Jaskiewicz goes on to note that the park continues to sign on “quality restaurant, live entertainment and attraction tenants” to the join the offerings presently at ICON Park. He adds that “We successfully built and developed it into a famous Orlando landmark, and now welcome the Orlando Eye by Merlin Entertainment as one of our outstanding Icon Park tenants.”

ICON holds over 50 tenants including restaurants, bars, shopping, and nightly live music. It is open year ‘round, and in addition to the attractions offered by Merlin, includes the Museum of Illusions, and a Build-A-Bear workshop. There's no admission fee to the park, and parking is also free.

“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,” Jaskiewicz states.

The purchase of big wheel was the first acquisition under the leadership of Merlin's new CEO O'Neil. It is one example of the company's expansion of multiple attraction clusters positioned in tourist meccas worldwide.  

“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,” O'Neil says. Like it's London counterpart, The Orlando Eye will be unmissable to Orlando visitors. “We look forward to connecting guests to our wider portfolio of premium attractions and resort theme parks in and around Orlando as well,” he adds.

London's London Eye Wheel

Last year, 27% of visitors to Merlin's Madame Tussauds also visited their Sea Life Aquarium, both located in ICON Park.

Merlin continues to launch new locations and attractions yearly, as it expands as a global entertainment leader. The company offers 140 different attractions spread over 23 countries.

O'Neil notes that Merlin intends to “continue our growth momentum by driving an increasingly premium position at Legoland resorts, making calculated investments in resorts with outsized potential, and growing our Gateway attractions division, strengthening our presence through ‘mega-clusters' in the world's most important tourist cities that show long-term visitation growth.”

Legoland Florida, owned by Merlin Entertainment
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