On Wednesday, January 13 Merlin Entertainments, parent company of LEGOLAND Florida Resort, waived their magic wand and "cut" the ribbon on their brand new Merlin Magic Making facility, and I quote, the "First, biggest and best hub [of its kind] in the whole world." Mark Fisher, Chief Development Officer for Merlin Entertainments addressed the small crowd of dignitaries, economic developers, model builders and Merlin team members describing how all of this is possible because of the welcome, assistance and collaboration of those in attendance.
Merlin Magic Making (MMM) is the creative heart of Merlin Entertainments. Tasked with designing and delivering world-class attractions, hotels and other major projects around the globe, MMM provides the thrills, spills and excitement that keep our customers coming back for more. At the Lakes Wales facility their focus is primarily (for now anyway) LEGO model design and construction. They have hired over 50 associates to date. I had a chance to talk to several throughout the night. They range from someone who relocated from Chile, to several students from Full Sail University in Winter Park, to two AFOL (a new term I learned - Adult Fan of LEGO) who quit their jobs in other fields and relocated to follow their passion and take this position (one from Canada!) Suffice it to say they are a young, creative and energetic group of artists, inventors and engineers.
Adrian Jones, General Manager of LEGOLAND Florida Resort and Vice President of Merlin Entertainments Inc. USA said, "Let's be under no illusions . . . This is a big deal for Merlin Entertainments. This is the US creative hub."
This facility is located in Lake Wales off of Highway 27 in the building some will recall as the former Harley Davidson dealership. The facility will not be open to the public. As eluded to by Mark Fisher, the location of this facility is one that Merlin had been researching around the globe for several years. Adrian Jones would be the first to say that this location was made possible because of the cooperation and collaboration of the Winter Haven Economic Development Council's Bruce Lyon and the Lake Wales Chamber/EDC's Kevin Kieft along with Enterprise Florida, the state's economic development agency.
See the video below of the short ribbon cutting ceremony and photos from the event.