Legoland owner buys Mall of America aquarium

December 11, 2008, 3:21 PM · Just got the press release:

Merlin Entertainments, the world’s second largest visitor attraction operator, today announced the acquisition of the Underwater Adventures Aquarium in Minnesota, USA, from The Minnesota Aquarium LLC, for an undisclosed sum.

Underwater Adventures is located in the iconic Mall of America in Minnesota and currently welcomes more than 600,000 visitors a year to its impressive displays of living marine creatures.

This acquisition underlines Merlin’s expertise in the operation of marine attractions. The company is already the world’s leading operator of aquaria through its SEA LIFE brand which welcomes over 10 million visitors a year to its 28 sites including its recently opened site at LEGOLAND in Carlsbad, California – the company’s first SEA LIFE location in North America.

Normally, I wouldn't pay much attention to this sort of thing. We don't cover aquariums, and even Mall of America's Nickelodeon Universe theme park isn't big enough to draw much attention on the site.

But, given the current state of the economy, I felt the need to shout: "Hey, look! A theme park company that's BUYING something instead of TRYING TO SELL!"

Yeah, that's all we got now. But, hey, Merlin, there's this other attraction company that does aquariums that you might want to take a look at....

Replies (6)

December 11, 2008 at 4:48 PM · Have any of you ever been to the Mall of America? Its actually pretty nice! The "theme park" is pretty good too (well, being in in a Mall, but how much does this ever happen).

I say its a great thing! MOA, in my opinion, is a good deal!

December 11, 2008 at 5:20 PM · I've actually been looking at MOA for a "cheaper than Orlando" vacation next year. Since the mall is only about 8 hours from my house, we could keep the trip short and avoid expensive stays in hotels along the way. Furthermore, Cedar Fair has a park, ValleyFair, just 25 miles from MOA, so I could kill two birds with one stone! Sure, it wouldn't be like going to WDW, USF, BGE, or CP, but it would be something new....

As for the aquarium, everything I have read about it suggests it is a bit pricey for what you get....maybe Merlin can make it better?

December 11, 2008 at 6:20 PM · I would love to get more trip reports and photo galleries from TPI readers who visit Nick Universe. But the overall attendance for that park has never been enough to justify giving it a full attraction listing on the site. Maybe the new Nick theme, and visitors like James, will help bring the numbers up.
December 11, 2008 at 11:22 PM · I'm from Minnesota and the Mall of America still is a great destination place. Nickelodeon Universe is a lot better looking than "Camp Snoopy" was. The Underwater Adventures could be a little better (But keep in mind, it's underground beneath a mall....Very nice concept for what it has to work with) I took my 2 & 1/2 year old to it a few weeks ago and she was amazed!! I am still an annual pass holder to both Disney World & Universal Studios, but with 2 kids under the age of 3, this is a great alternative that is inexpensive.
For those of you traveling to Minnesota for a cheaper vacation, Valleyfair is only a half hour away and a great themepark (Only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day for obvious reasons...Not many of us would dare ride a coaster in below zero temps!!) MOA is right across the street from both the Minneapolis/St.Paul Airport & and great hotel that has an indoor water park (Water slides that go from inside to outside to back inside!!!)
Anyone thinking of a cheaper vacation than WDW or Universal should consider MOA. (& Valleyfair in the summer). I will work with Robert to get some pics up if people would like.
December 12, 2008 at 12:20 AM · Pictures always welcomed: e-mail me at themeparkinsider - at- if you can't post directly to an attraction or park listing page (links on the right).
December 12, 2008 at 9:28 AM · The park inside MOA I would agree is actually not too bad. When I was younger, part of my young life was here in the Twin Cities and we use to go here all the time.

Now I have not been here in a while but from what I remember, I use to love this place when I was young so for all those parents with young ones out there who lives near MOA and can't afford a trip to Orlando, I would recommend it. They have quite a few attractions that are great for the little ones.

I have fond memories of the rides there as most were my first ever on any type of rides. These include the log flume and my first ever coaster, the Pepsi Orange Streak. I still have family up there and they tell me the park has added quite a few new attractions including more thrill rides so hopefully I could check it out once again someday.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Buy Tickets

Plan a Trip

Get News, Discounts