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Merlin's Nick Varney: Shrek will 'mark a new level' for IP attractions

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Merlin Entertainments CEO Nick Varney has revealed the latest developments for the Shrek-themed attraction set to open in London next year and believes it will “mark a new level in the way location-based entertainment and intellectual property work together.”

Speaking at the company’s London Dungeons attraction on the eve of the 9th TiLEzone London seminar, he said the Merlin Magic Making team are already working closely with Dreamworks Animation to create entirely new content, including fresh storylines, scripts and animation.

Despite the Dungeons’ macabre setting, complete with blood-stained walls, chains and live rats, Varney seemed eager to ensure his short, punchy speech was the one thing that didn’t make the audience think of torture.

He said the Shrek attraction – of which Merlin plans to roll-out five further sites worldwide between now and 2023 – would be situated at County Hall on London’s South Bank, slotting in next to the Dungeons, Sea Life Aquarium and London Eye to form a formidable phalanx of Merlin attractions.

“This is not just a standard licensing agreement where we pay some money and then have someone dressed up as Shrek or Kung-Fu Panda,” he said. “As well as all the traditional and new types of technology and special effects on the rides that we put into it. It will mark a new level in the way that location-based entertainment and intellectual property work together.”

The 2,000sq m (21,500sq ft) attraction will be based around a completely new story written by the DreamWorks team and will include characters from Shrek, as well as others from Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon. In addition, there will be a rotating exhibition area for various DreamWorks releases and a branded retail outlet.

Varney and the Merlin team were the subject of an in-depth and exclusive profile in the Q1 edition of Attractions Managment entitled How to build a $6bn company. To read the piece, click here.

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Merlin Entertainments CEO Nick Varney has revealed the latest developments for the Shrek-themed attraction set to open in London next year and believes it will “mark a new level in the way location-based entertainment and intellectual property work together.”
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