Merlin Entertainments Group, a UK giant in theme parks and entertainment will move this autumn to Bangkok with the opening of Madame Tussauds’ Wax Museum. Bangkok will be Madame Tussauds’ first location in Southeast Asia and its third place in the Far East after Hong Kong and Shanghai. Madame Tussauds Group was acquired by Merlin in May 2007 and has contributed in 2008 to a jump of 28% in Merlin Entertainments Group or 35.1 million of visits. Merlin is now market leader in Europe and the UK and second only to Disney worldwide with a portfolio of 60 attractions in 13 countries.
The opening of Madame Tussauds in Bangkok will be the tenth location worldwide and will help to revive Siam Discovery shopping center, which has lately suffered from the competition of newer and glitzier shopping malls such as Siam Paragon and Central World. According to Chadatip Chutrakul, President and CEO of Siam Piwat Company Ltd, Merlin Thai partner and owner of Siam Discovery, the arrival of the famous wax museum is part of a vast renovation project due to turn the ageing Siam Discovery into a more fun and entertainment oriented shopping mall; “We are preparing a major renovation of both the interior and exterior of Siam Discovery, introducing an exciting element to the heart of Bangkok’s most prominent shopping area. We take pride in drawing large foreign investments to Thailand and contributing to the growth of the country’s economy and tourism.”
Siam Piwat plans also to add a 2,000-square-metre Ice Planet ice rink and a multi-purpose exhibition hall to replace the EGV movie theatres in the mall. Total investment for the project will stand at US$ 31 million with 15 million coming from Merlin Entertainments, 10.6 million from Siam Piwat and 5.5 million from Ice Planet. Renovation work at Siam Discovery will start in March and should be completed in October this year. According to Chutrakul, Madame Tussauds Bangkok should turn into a new magnet in the city centre as it alone would draw 8,000 tourists per day. “About 35% of visitors to Siam Discovery are now foreign tourists while 65% are Thais. With the opening of Madame Tussauds, we expect to increase foreign visitors by 25% and raise their share of overall visitors to 40%,” she said.
The Thai partners in the project are Siam Piwat, the owners of Siam Discovery, who are planning a major redevelopment of the complex, one of the leading shopping centres and busiest and most important malls in Bangkok. The new Museum will display in particular historical figures from Thailand but also the country’s top celebrities…
Madame Tussauds move to Bangkok is not the last one. In January, Merlin Entertainments announced the opening of a new location in early 2011 in Vienna. The Group has already announced that 70 Austrian celebrities will be presented. Mozart will finally be able to meet Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sigmund Freud!