Belgium’s Earth Explorer science centre has been sold by Merlin Entertainments to the German company Blueprint Entertainment.
Opened in 2004 as Merlin’s next “Midway” (short stay) attraction concept, it was once earmarked for expansion alongside the group’s Sea Life and Dungeon brands, yet it never made it any further than the city of Ostend (Oostende). Merlin, of course, has grown massively in recent years, both through acquisition and new attraction development, choosing instead to add alternative Midway formats to its portfolio including Madame Tussauds and Legoland Discovery Centre.
Based around a concept conceived in conjunction with Belgian astronaut Dirk Frimout, with backing from the Frimout Foundation and various local and regional authorities, Earth Explorer offers a unique and exciting way for families to experience how the four elements of nature – wind, fire, water and earth – have shaped our world, using simulators, a boat ride and various interactive experiments.
Blueprint Entertainment already runs two other science centre attractions, the Odysseum in Cologne and Explorado in Duisburg, Germany. The addition of Earth Explorer makes it a leader it the leading European independent operator in the sector. The Ostend attraction is currently closed but set to reopen soon.
“With the acquisition of Earth Explorer we have implemented another step in our expansion strategy,” says Blueprint chairman Andreas Waschk, “and we are delighted to be able to ensure that such an exciting attraction will be maintained in the future.”
Merlin’s links with Earth Explorer will be maintained as the new owners will work on joint marketing opportunities with the group’s remaining attractions in the area, including Sea Life Blankenberge.