With 60 attractions in 13 countries and 38.5m visitors in 2009, Merlin Entertainments is now the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator after Disney. Based in Poole, Dorset, the Blackstone-backed Merlin’s portfolio includes the 27 Sea Life attractions, four Legoland parks, nine Madame Tussauds and five Dungeons. The company is also behind well-known attractions such as the London Eye, Alton Towers, Chessington World of Adventures, Thorpe Park and Warwick Castle, and has recently been given the go-ahead to open a fifth Legoland park in Florida. Nick Varney, the chief executive, has overseen three buyouts since 1998, as well as the company’s 2009 turnover of £769m.
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