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Popularity of Lego's learning-through-play fuels building boom

Updated:2021-12-24 10:58:19   China Daily

Legoland Resort, operated by Merlin Entertainments, the large, United Kingdom-based attractions company, has plans to step up its expansion in China, banking on the popularity of Lego brand toys and their learning-through-play philosophy.

Merlin recently announced construction of the Legoland Shanghai Resort in Jinshan district, set to open in 2024. The resort, located in Fengjing, is on the southern side of the Jinshan North train station and north of Tinglin-Fengjing Highway. The $550 million development is expected to become one of the world's largest Legoland resorts.

It is the first Legoland park to have a section based on the famous Chinese story-"Journey to the West" and the 500-year-old legend of the Monkey King. The section is designed to connect Chinese children with their heritage and unleash their creativity, said the company.

The resort, on some 31.8 hectares, is a joint investment of Shanghai Jinshan Urban Construction Investment Group; KIRKBI, a private holding company representing the Kirk Kristiansen family, owners of the Lego brand; Merlin Entertainments, and CMC Inc, a large Chinese media and entertainment company.

Merlin also plans to build a Legoland Resort in Sichuan province, one of the economic development centers in western China, making it the first province in the region to have an international family entertainment theme park.

Lego Sichuan Resort is to cover an area of about 570,000 square meters and will be operated independently by Merlin Entertainments and developed by its local partners, Global Sunac Exhibition&Tourism Group and Zhongjun Tianxin Culture Co Ltd, with an investment of about 5.5 billion yuan ($862.4 million).

Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainments, which currently operates 13 midway attractions in China, including four Legoland Discovery Centres, five Madame Tussauds and two SEA LIFE Centres, said the resort is designed for kids aged 2-12 and their families.

"Benefiting from the strategic location and the fast development of the area, we will expect to receive visitors from western China including Sichuan, Shaanxi and Yunnan provinces," he said.

The resort will feature a theme park, a water park and two themed hotels with 500 rooms. There will be about 100 interactive rides, shows and attractions.

In August, Legoland began construction in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, of what is to be its largest resort worldwide. Covering about 580,000 square meters, Shenzhen Legoland will be operated exclusively by Merlin, with Hazens Holdings real estate company as its local partner. The project investment is expected to be more than $1.08 billion and the park is due to open in 2024.

Varney said the project in Shenzhen reflects the size of the opportunities in the country and their commitment to developing business in China.

The company said the resort will have innovative designs, new themed areas and rides, and immersive shows launched for the China market. The park will integrate the history, culture and ecology of the city and the country, and it will also be a smart park that celebrates technological innovation, imagination and creativity in Shenzhen, it said.

Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, executive chairman of the Lego Group, said Chinese families and the Lego brand have bonded during recent decades, and this has helped create a positive impact on the development of Chinese society with learning-through-play experiences.

The Lego Group opened its largest global flagship store in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, in October. The 721-square-meter, two-story store is based on the "retailtainment" concept, which author George Ritzer described as the "use of ambience, emotion, sound and activity to get customers interested in the merchandise and in a mood to buy".

The group's China unit said recently they plan to continue to accelerate their investments in China by increasing its retail stores to 300 by year's end while enhancing digitalization in the market.

The Chinese market has posted strong growth in recent years, the company said. Lego has opened six flagship stores in China, two in Shanghai and one each in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

Keywords:   Lego