Record visitor numbers for Alton Towers owner
Alton Towers owner Merlin Entertainments saw pre-tax profits rise by 4.9 per cent to £285 million for its last financial year.
For the 12 months to December 29 visitor numbers to all its attractions, including Madame Tussauds, were up 1.4 per cent to a record 67 million.
Revenue grew by 5.9 per cent to £1.68 billion for Merlin, which is Europe's leading and the world's second-largest visitor attraction operator.
Resort theme parks, including Alton Towers, saw revenue grow by 9.1 per cent driven by successful product investment, favourable weather and another strong Halloween period;
The year also saw the launch of The Bear Grylls Adventure at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre site.
There was continued progress towards the construction of Legoland New York, which is targeted to open in 2020 and agreement was reached to open Legoland Korea by 2022.
Chief executive Nick Varney said: "2018 saw improved momentum across most of our businesses reflecting the strength of our diversified portfolio and geographic spread. Resort Theme Parks benefited from successful product investment such as 'Wicker Man' at Alton Towers."
Mr Varney added that Merlin expected to deliver up to £35 million of annualised savings by 2022 through a number of initiatives.
"Not only will this help underpin our financial outlook, it will better enable our people to deliver what matters most to our guests: fantastic memorable experiences.
"Around the world, leisure spend continues to grow as disposable incomes rise and ever greater value is placed on good quality, shared experiences with friends and family. Our continued investment, new market opportunities and our evolving position as a unique, multi-format international operator of strongly branded and IP-led location based entertainment, give us the confidence that we are well placed to deliver long term growth and returns," he said.
Merlin is continuing to developing its theme parks into destination resorts with 644 new rooms opened in 2018 and 372 expected to open in 2019, including the Stargazing Pods at Alton Towers.