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Work begins on Merlin's £20m Bear Grylls attraction

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Construction is underway for Birmingham’s Bear Grylls Adventure – with Merlin Entertainments already planning a global rollout after the UK launch.

Opening in 2018, the first Bear Grylls attraction will be based at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre (NEC), targeting the adventure-based experiences market.

The attraction will be split up into five areas – Dive, Fly, Climb, High Ropes and Basecamp – with each offering a different set of activities.

For Dive, visitors will take on “the ultimate dive experience”. In Fly, trained experts will teach skydiving skills inside a giant wind tunnel.

Climb will allow users to choose and conquer a route inspired by famous terrains and the High Ropes section will see visitors zipline from a helicopter before taking on a high ropes course.

And Basecamp is made up of a selection of four mental, physical, group and individual challenges designed to help teach the core skills needed for survival and exploration.

McGoff Construction is leading building works on site, having worked with Merlin on a number of previous projects including the Castle Hotel at Legoland Windsor and the CBeebies Hotel at Alton Towers.

Covering 8,000sq m (86,000sq ft), the £20m (US$26.7m, €22.8m) attraction’s development is now underway, with work starting on ground clearance and the installation of external and dividing walls which will house the adventure activities.

Following the initial construction phase, the Merlin Magic Making team will work on theming for the attraction, creating an immersive wilderness experience.

“This attraction has been years in the planning with the team from Merlin and Bear himself,” said the attraction’s general manager, James Thomas.

“The team has worked very hard on the theming of the attraction and we will be taking delivery of a huge number of authentic artefacts of all shapes and sizes over the coming months – ranging from a Chinook helicopter to a light aircraft, army vehicles and Bear’s equipment from his own adventures.”

The new attraction is only the start for Merlin, with Nick Varney revealing in October plans to take the Grylls-branded attraction worldwide.

“As we started talking to Bear Grylls, it turned out that he and his team had already begun thinking about a similar product themselves, so in a way, this was a marriage which happened because we met in the middle to develop this brand concept,” said Varney.

“Bear Grylls is a truly international brand. As well as earning recognition in Europe, he is extremely big in the US and in China, which are the two big markets we're focusing on.”

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Construction is underway for Birmingham’s Bear Grylls Adventure – with Merlin Entertainments already planning a global rollout after the UK launch.
VAT,PHR
Attraction general manager James Thomas on-site during construction / Merlin Entertainments

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