Legoland builds in 'surge pricing' for visitors

Legoland at Windsor is one of Merlin's most popular UK attractions
Legoland at Windsor is one of Merlin's most popular UK attractions Copyright olsoncorp/
Copyright olsoncorp/
By Lulu Sinclair
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Merlin joins in criticism of the UK government for failing to bring back a tax cut for overseas visitors, saying it makes it hard to plan big investments.


Prices at some of the UK's most popular tourist attractions are set to rise for peak-time visits.

Merlin Entertainments, the company which owns Legoland, Sea Life and Madame Tussauds, says it is building a "dynamic pricing model" that means charges will be higher at peak times.

The model – also known as surge pricing – will be brought into play worldwide at Merlin's top attractions by the end of 2024.

A Merlin Entertainments spokesperson told Euronews: "To ensure we continue to deliver the best value and experience for our guests, we regularly review our pricing structure and admission prices in line with the marketplace and we reduce them in off peak periods.

"The peak vs off-peak pricing is not new for Merlin or other leisure operators and has been in place for many years. As we gather and use more data, we are now looking to drive better demand ...

Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey is a popular draw
Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey is a popular draw© Mikael Buck / Chessington World of Adventures/ Mikael Buck / Chessington World of Adventures

"This also makes sure that the peak period experience is optimised by avoiding overcrowding. This approach clearly works because our guest satisfaction is at an all-time high. This change brings us in line with competitors and the broader holiday industry that have similar pricing structures, which benefit guests who choose to book off-peak."

The more popular the time, the pricier the entry fee

Merlin Entertainments CEO Scott O'Neil earlier told the Financial Times the idea was "very intuitive" as he explained how it worked.

"If [an attraction] is in the UK, it's August peak holiday season, sunny and a Saturday, you would expect to pay more than if it was a rainy Tuesday in March," the head of Europe's largest theme park operator said.

The company is trying to get back the visitors it lost from the COVID-19 pandemic – figures are lower than before lockdown.

"Guests seem to be choosing fewer attractions but spending more," O’Neil told the FT. From an operator's point of view, he explained: "There is a tug and pull in what you do in terms of volume and price and how you manage that."

UK government under attack over taxes on overseas visitors

Merlin has joined other companies in criticising the UK government for failing to bring back a tax cut for overseas visitors.

It was becoming increasingly difficult to make big investments in the UK, Merlin's CEO was reported as saying by Bloomberg.

The uncompetitive business environment meant the "tourist dollars seemed to be moving elsewhere", he said.

Merlin saw 62.1 million people visit its attractions in 2023 as it reported an 8% rise in revenue to £2.1 billion (€2.4 billion).

The company employs more than 7,500 staff in the UK. Its attractions also include Chessington World of Adventures and Alton Towers.

The company changed hands in 2019 in a £6 billion (€7 billion) takeover deal. It is now under the ownership of private equity group Blackstone, Canadian pension fund CPPIB and Kirkbi, an investment vehicle run by the family that created Lego.

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