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Legoland M’sia to open by end-2012

JOHOR BARU: Asia’s first Legoland theme park is on track to open its doors to its first visitors by the fourth quarter of 2012, in time for the annual school break in November and December.

Located in Medini at Nusajaya in Iskandar Malaysia, construction for Legoland Malaysia on 76 acres of land will begin next month while contracts for construction will be awarded by end of this month.

According to Muhammad Zainal Ashikin, IDR Resorts Sdn Bhd CEO, about RM200 million worth of contracts have already been awarded for earthworks, primary infrastructure, service and administrative buildings, purchase of rights for the theme park and Lego models and consultancy costs.

Once completed, the RM720 million Legoland will have 40 attractions and rides similar to other Legolands around the world. Unlike other Legoland parks, Legoland Malaysia will feature covered walkways and year-round operation. The parks in other countries close during the winter months. Visitors to Legoland Malaysia can expect to see replicas of the Petronas Twin Towers and the Putrajaya mosque made from Lego bricks, among other expected attractions.

Zainal says  the entrance fee would be competitive. About a million visitors are expected to visit the theme park in its first year of operation. The park will target visitors from Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East.

Asked how long IDR Resorts would take to recoup its investment, Zainal said: “As soon as possible. It depends on the economic situation and the pricing strategy.

“This is a catalytic project. We also ask SMEs to take part in our project. It provides a lot of economic spin-offs. You have to look at Legoland as a catalytic development that helps tourism by increasing the length of stays. Hotels in Johor will benefit and their suppliers will also benefit.

“We are also going to recruit up to 950 people, so the spin-offs should also be looked at rather than just the park’s bottom line.”

A 14km coastal highway will link the theme park to Johor Bahru. Also planned are two hotels around the vicinity of the theme park to cater to visitors.
Visitors to other Legolands usually spend an average of between seven and nine hours in the park while some visit the park over two days.

Zainal also says that, as part of long-term development plan, other theme parks for Iskandar Malaysia are being looked at in the hopes of turning the region into another Orlando, Florida, which is famous for its theme parks.

“It is an exciting time for us. By that time, tourists will stay here at least five to six days. That is the objective… to increase the length of visitors’ stays in Johor in particular.”

Speaking about areas earmarked for Legoland’s expansion, Zainal says new attractions are often added to theme parks to create new interest. “Allocating an expansion area within the park allows us to introduce new attractions from time to time.”

According to Zainal, the rides for the theme park are currently being constructed in Germany.

There are currently four Legoland parks, one each in Denmark, Germany, the UK, and US. Another park is expected to be open in the US, in Florida, by the end of this year.

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