LEGOLAND owner Merlin Entertainments may purchase part of SeaWorld parks

in Busch Gardens, SeaWorld, Theme Parks

Theme park operator Merlin Entertainments could be interested in purchasing part of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., according to reports.

Merlin runs LEGOLAND parks across the world as well as Thorpe Park Resort in southern England. The company reportedly made a partial bid for SeaWorld, but SeaWorld would prefer to sell itself as a whole. Other companies are interested in SeaWorld as well, but the details remain private.

It’s possible Merlin is seeking to only to purchase Busch Gardens since their corporate policy does not allow them to keep dolphins, whales, and other large marine mammals in their parks, though they do own Sea Life Aquariums. In addition, Merlin owns Madame Tussauds and the London and Orlando Eye attractions.

SeaWorld is currently valued at $1.3 billion. The company owns SeaWorld parks in Orlando, San Antonio, and San Diego, Busch Gardens parks in Tampa and Williamsburg, VA, and Sesame Place near Philadelphia. SeaWorld also owns Discovery Cove in Orlando and five water parks around the world.

Attendance at SeaWorld has been declining in recent years. The company could raise as much as $1 billion by selling regional parks such as Busch Gardens, which could help fund the main aquatic-themed parks.

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