Merlin Entertainments is to open a Sea Life aquarium in Kansas City, its fifth such outlet in the USA, which will open next spring on the first floor of Halls department store at Crown Center.
The $15 million attraction is being developed together with Crown Center Redevelopment Corp, a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, and will and will be built without any tax incentives.
Initial plans call for a two-storey aquarium housing more than 30 displays of diverse marine life. A centerpiece of the attraction will be a huge tropical ocean tank with a walk-through underwater tunnel. Reflecting the local area, visitors will enjoy an enthralling two to three hour journey from the fresh waters of the Missouri River into the mighty Mississippi River then out into the warm blue coral strewn waters of the Caribbean Sea, ending in the deep dark abyss of the Atlantic Ocean.
“North America is a very important growth market for Merlin,” says the company’s managing director of “Midway” attractions, Glenn Earlam. “Our belief that the Kansas City metropolitan area, and particularly Crown Center, is a perfect location for a quality family-based leisure facility. We are therefore delighted to be able to move our plans forward.
Crown Center is already acknowledged as one of Kansas City’s most important retail and entertainment locations, combining big name retail stores with dining, hotels, office space and residential development. Sea Life is the world’s biggest aquarium brand with more than eight million visitors a year at 30 attractions in Europe, USA and Asia Pacific.
As well as Sea Life, Merlin’s other attractions in the USA include Madame Tussauds outlets in Hollywood, Las Vegas, Washing DC and New York, plus Legoland-branded venues in California, Chicago and soon Florida.