Merlin Entertainments, the company behind the upcoming LEGOLAND Florida theme park, confirmed plans today to bring some of its best known global attractions to Orlando including Madame Tussauds and the Orlando Eye, a 425-foot high wheel.
In a partnership with entertainment company Circle Entertainment, Inc. and developer Unicorp, the attractions will be part of I-Walk Orlando, a new development featuring retail stores, restaurants, bars and entertainment facilities scheduled to open in 2013 on International Drive at the former Mercado location.
Madame Tussauds has several locations throughout the world featuring lifelike wax figures of celebrity and political personalities. Most recently, several different wax sculptures of the mega-popular musical artist Lady Gaga were unveiled at different Madame Tussauds locations:
(Yes, these are wax figures, not photos of the real Lady Gaga!)
Of more interest to the theme park crowd visiting Orlando would be wax figures such as Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean films:
No specific celebrity names have been announced to be included in the Orlando version of Madame Tussauds, but these examples offer an idea of what the attraction could feature.
Merlin Entertainments’ CEO Nick Varney commented, “I-Walk Orlando is destined to be a ‘must visit’ destination for Orlando’s millions of visitors. With this project we believe Merlin, Unicorp and Circle Entertainment will be bringing an exceptional group of new attractions to what is undoubtedly the best and most exciting location for family entertainment any where in the world. More than that, in October we are opening LEGOLAND Florida in Winter Haven, our second LEGOLAND theme park in the USA and fifth in the world underlining the importance of North America, and Florida in particular, as key development areas for Merlin.”
It’s been more than two years after the similar Great Wheel project was announced for Orlando and ultimately suspended due to lack of funding. But Merlin, owners and operators of the London Eye wheel in the UK, is confident this project will be completed. Paul Kanavos, President of Circle Entertainment, added “Circle Entertainment is committed to building and owning the Orlando Eye at I-Walk Orlando.”
Unicorp President Chuck Whittall also commented, “We waited patiently for four years to create the ideal retail and entertainment destination. This is it and will be a world wide destination. I-Walk Orlando has secured all necessary zoning and entitlements.”
Here’s a look at the full I-Walk Orlando concept artwork: