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Friday, April 18, 2014

Merlin Entertainments plc to open major new Sea Life Center Aquarium at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets

LONDON; Auburn Hills, Michigan -- Global visitor attraction operator, Merlin Entertainments plc (Merlin), has confirmed that it has reached agreement with the City of Auburn Hills, Oakland County, Michigan and Taubman, to develop plans for a 35,000 sq ft SEA LIFE aquarium.

SEA LIFE Michigan is scheduled to open in early Spring 2015, in Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, Auburn Hills, Michigan.
Located close to other family attractions and interstate highway I-75, Great Lakes Crossing Outlets is easily accessible both from the northern Michigan market and nearby communities in southern Canada.
“North America is a very important growth market for Merlin, and we believe that Michigan, and particularly Great Lakes Crossing Outlets is the ideal location for SEA LIFE. We are particularly delighted to be working with Taubman, and hope this will be just the beginning of a developing relationship with them.“

“We also really appreciate the cooperation and excellent working relationships we have established with the City of Auburn Hills, Oakland County, and the State of Michigan. These were key factors in our decision to come here. This support, together with our proven success in other similar projects nationwide, underlines our belief that Auburn Hills, and particularly Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, is a perfect location for a quality family-based leisure attraction. We are therefore delighted to be able to move our plans forward,” said Glenn Earlam, Managing Director of Merlin Entertainments’ Midway Attractions group.

SEA LIFE is the world’s biggest aquarium brand with 45 superb attractions across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. This will be Merlin’s seventh SEA LIFE Center to open in the USA, and SEA LIFE Michigan will highlight all of the qualities which have gained the brand the support and endorsement of marine experts worldwide. Initial plans call for more than 30 spectacular displays of diverse marine life for visitors to enjoy - everything from shrimp and starfish to seahorses, sharks and rays. In keeping with other SEA LIFE attractions there will also be a unique element reflecting the Great Lakes location based around the marine creatures most associated with the region. Finally, the stunning centerpiece will be a huge tropical ocean tank with a walk-through underwater tunnel.

The SEA LIFE focus is on quality of experience rather than scale, taking visitors on a seamless journey under the sea which entertains, inspires and teaches both young and old. The attractions offer everything from viewing windows, giving a glimpse into the ocean itself; to enlightening talks, feeding demonstrations and many other ways to interact directly with some of the creatures. Merlin calls the SEA LIFE experience ‘fun learning’.

Conservation is also at the heart of the business and visitors will see strong evidence not only of SEA LIFE’s exciting Breed, Rescue and Protect activities around the world, including new projects developed locally, but also the work of the SEA LIFE Marine Conservation Trust.

This is a registered charity established by Merlin to raise awareness of issues affecting the world’s marine life; to promote solutions, and where relevant, provide funding for valuable marine conservation work across the globe.

SEA LIFE Michigan will be the aquarium of the Great Lakes region. It will also add a new dimension to the existing family oriented shopping and leisure activities in Auburn Hills and Oakland County. Located close to other family attractions and interstate highway I-75, Great Lakes Crossing Outlets is easily accessible both from the northern Michigan market and nearby communities in southern Canada. 

Acknowledged as one of the region’s most important leisure and shopping destinations, it successfully combines quality big name outlet brands and retail stores, with some of the best and most exciting dining in the area, as well as high quality family entertainment like SEA LIFE.

“The SEA LIFE aquarium will be the perfect complement to all of the existing family oriented attractions both at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets and in the area, greatly enhancing the existing shopping and entertainment experience. We also look forward to bringing such a high quality attraction to the greater Michigan markets; and to extending our partnership with Merlin Entertainments plc in the future. We are confident that families will really enjoy the SEA LIFE experience, and revel in the deep sea wonders that the aquarium will bring, “said William Taubman Taubman chief operating officer.

Peter Auger, Auburn Hills City Manager, said, “We are delighted that a global leisure company as dynamic and successful as Merlin is coming to our city, and bringing such a great attraction. It will not only bring jobs to Auburn Hills but also be a showpiece for the entire region. We appreciate the strong cooperation we got from Oakland County, the Economic Development Cooperation, and the State of Michigan, and we know it is just the start of a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Merlin.”
Merlin has already proven the success of the SEA LIFE concept in the USA at LEGOLAND, California; the Mall of America in Minneapolis, MN; Arizona Mills in Tempe, AZ: Grapevine Mills, near Dallas/Fort Worth Texas; Crown Center Kansas City, MO and the recently opened Concord Mills near Charlotte, North Carolina. These developments underline consumer demand for the kind of quality family leisure experience that SEA LIFE offers.

Merlin already has twenty attractions and one hotel in North America. These include two stunning LEGOLAND Resorts – LEGOLAND Florida with its theme park and water park; and LEGOLAND California theme park with its water park, SEA LIFE aquarium and themed hotel; Madame Tussauds celebrity wax attractions in New York, Washington DC, Las Vegas and Hollywood; LEGOLAND Discovery Centers in Chicago; Dallas/Fort Worth; Kansas City Missouri; Atlanta, Georgia; and Westchester, New York; Toronto, Canada; and SEA LIFE aquariums in Phoenix, Arizona; Kansas City, Missouri; Dallas/Fort Worth; the Mall of America in Minneapolis and Charlotte Concord - underlining the company’s position as the world’s biggest global aquarium operator.

Plans and designs are already being drawn up for Great Lakes Crossing Outlets and construction will begin by June 2014, with the attraction due to open in early Spring 2015.


MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS plc is the leading name in location-based, family entertainment. Europe’s Number 1 and the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator, Merlin now operates 100 attractions,10 hotels/3 holiday villages in 22 countries and across 4 continents. The company aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its almost 60 million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global and local brands, and the commitment and passion of its managers and more than 20,000 + employees.

Among Merlin’s attractions are - SEA LIFE, Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND, The London Eye, Dungeons, Gardaland, LEGOLAND Discovery Centres, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, Blackpool Tower, Heide Park Resort, WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, Sydney Tower Eye and SKYWALK, Siam Ocean World and Busan Aquarium. All brands which are distinctive, challenging and innovative – and which have great potential for growth in the future. Visit www.merlinentertainments.biz for more information.

Taubman Centers, Inc. (NYSE: TCO) is an S&P MidCap 400 Real Estate Investment Trust engaged in the ownership, management and/or leasing of 27 regional, super-regional and outlet shopping centers in the U.S. and Asia. Taubman’s U.S.-owned properties are the most productive in the publicly held U.S. regional mall industry. Taubman is currently developing The Mall at University Town Center in Sarasota, Fla.; The Mall of San Juan in San Juan, Puerto Rico; International Market Place in Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii and shopping malls in Xi’an and Zhengzhou, China and Hanam, South Korea. Taubman Centers is headquartered in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and Taubman Asia, the platform for Taubman Centers’ expansion into China and South Korea, is headquartered in Hong Kong. Founded in 1950, Taubman has more than 60 years of experience in the shopping center industry. For more information about Taubman, visit www.taubman.com.

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