Merlin gets leg up from Lego movie

The Lego Movie sprinkled its magic dust on Merlin Entertainments, the theme park operator behind the London Eye, Alton Towers, Madame Tussauds and Legoland.

The popularity of the film, whose theme tune repeatedly claims "everything is awesome", sent visitor numbers at US Legoland centres soaring, Merlin said. Its Legoland in Windsor, and other European sites, couldn't immediately cash in as they close for winter. Overall, however, Merlin's sites lured 12 per cent more visitors in the 18 weeks to 3 May, helped by warmer weather in northern Europe.

Merlin cautioned, though, that comparisons were distorted by extremely cold weather in northern Europe in the same period last year, which left roller-coasters empty.

Nick Varney, the chief executive, told the City to leave annual forecasts unchanged, adding: "The strong summer trading in 2013 will mean that like-for-like growth will be considerably more challenging over the coming quarters."

Later this year Merlin is opening branches of Madame Tussauds in San Francisco, Beijing and Singapore. A Legoland is set to open in 2016 in Dubai.

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