Legoland to Outsource Food Operations to Aramark

January 31, 2022, 2:35 PM · The Legoland theme parks in California and Florida will be outsourcing their food operations to Aramark, parent company Merlin Entertainments announced today.

The multi-year contract also will include food and beverage operations at Alton Towers Resort, Chessington World of Adventures Resort, Thorpe Park Resort, Warwick Castle, and Legoland Windsor Resort in the United Kingdom, in addition to the two U.S. theme parks.

"At Merlin Entertainments' resorts and hotels across the seven locations, Aramark will be introducing food and beverage programmes that offer family and guest favourites, fresh concepts, fun themes and engaging events, coupled with industry-leading technology solutions to make it easy and convenient for visitors to navigate the varied choices," the company said in its press release. "Each resort and hotel will have its own unique portfolio of food and beverage offerings based on the personality of the location."

Aramark provides food service operations and hospitality management at colleges, sports stadiums, hospitals, and attractions around the world. The switch to Aramark operation will happen by this March at the UK parks and by the end of March 2023 in California and Florida. The move will mean that food and beverage employees at those theme parks no longer will work for Merlin but for Aramark.

"Merlin Entertainments and Aramark will work closely to ensure that food and beverage employees are supported as they transition to employment with Aramark," the press release said. I have reached out to a Legoland representative for more information on the employment situation. (Update below.)

"Building an innovative and high-quality food and beverage offering for our guests is part of our continued business strategy to deliver the very best guest days out and short breaks," Merlin CEO Nick Varney said. "Aramark's accomplishments in driving world-class hospitality programmes at many of the most prestigious sporting events, iconic locations, and leading destinations in the world makes them a great partner to elevate our food offering as part of the magic and memorable experiences we offer our guests."

Update: A Merlin spokesperson forwarded this comment from Aramark in response to my question:

"Aramark values the experience of Merlin's food service staff and is excited to offer them the opportunity to join the company in comparative roles and with comparative compensation packages. Aramark is working side by side with Merlin and are committed to a seamless transition for our employees. Moving over to Aramark, a global food service provider, will offer increased professional development and career pathing for the Merlin team."

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Replies (10)

January 31, 2022 at 3:02 PM

I just can't understand why you'd outsource a key part of your guest experience. Surely that would be something you want in your direct control.

January 31, 2022 at 4:05 PM

It's been a common practice to have third party vendors of Merchandise and specialty F&B offerings in and around parks. To surrender the entire F&B operations to an outside vendor seems like a real leap. I guess only time will tell.

January 31, 2022 at 7:11 PM

I can't believe an entire theme park chain would stoop to this level. On top of it, they hired one of the absolute WORST F&B vendors in Aramark, who continually gets poor reviews from their stadium and event pavilion operations. I've been to MLB stadiums around the country, and the ones with the most boring, cookie cutter offerings are undoubtedly serviced by Aramark.

Hopefully this is not the start of a trend.

January 31, 2022 at 7:17 PM

Does this deal with Aramark go the other way, too, and mean that we will see Granny's Apple Fries at stadium concession stands now, following Universal's trend with the Toothsome milkshake stand?

Seriously, though, I've had some good barbecue at Legoland California, but little else stands out for me on the F&B front there. But this seems a huge step in shaking things up. I just hope that the Model Citizen employees don't end up getting a bad deal here.

January 31, 2022 at 7:48 PM

I agree with Robert, the food at Legoland (and Thorpe Park for that matter) was nothing to remember, and this is a great way to ensure it stays that way.

February 1, 2022 at 9:11 AM

Food workers will no longer be employees of Merlin? I would imagine the limited labor pool will do a lot of comparing of benefits. If you're a food service employee, wouldn't you start the process of switching to rides/admissions to keep your present benefits (I'm sure for part timers the benefits are limited to begin with)? Ongoing, I could see a lot of hopping between the two companies based on which is paying more and has better perks at any given time.

February 1, 2022 at 9:40 AM

Aramark is the most steretypical example of mega-corporation with the cheapest/crappiest products and services, paying their employees the least amount of money with bad customer service, but still gets business just because they are huge and can use that scale to have the low bid. Lets be serious we all know the executives at employeers/hospitals/schools/prisons etc all just bid Aramark and Sodexo against each other and go with the lower bid.

February 1, 2022 at 1:30 PM

Frozen cooked meals thawed to the delight of no guest - do yourself a favor and pack a light lunch, snacks and soft drinks - you’ll be more satisfied and save$

February 1, 2022 at 7:02 PM

I don't know about California, but Legoland Florida is smack dab the middle of an ordinary town. So there's no shortage of great places to eat right down the road.

Aside from the apple fries of course.

February 2, 2022 at 8:07 AM

@FormerYogi Merlin’s UK staff should be protected from any magic changes at least in the short term. Our TUPE law ensures that most terms and conditions are protected… but it’s a bit of a paper shield.

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