John Jakobsen

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Chief New Openings Officer

John heads up Merlin’s newest Operating Group – New Openings - responsible for all new attraction openings and the integration of acquisitions.    The creation of this dedicated  Group ensures maximum focus on delivering Merlin’s dynamic growth plans which includes the accelerating roll out of Merlin’s Midway attractions, as well as the development of new LEGOLAND Parks.  John and his  New Openings team are responsible for these developments from Board approval through to their integration into the wider business after at least one year’s trading from opening or acquisition.    To achieve this New Openings works closely with both the unique Merlin Magic Making creative and development team, and their colleagues in the three other operating groups to ensure that new sites reflect the values and design of Merlin’s core global brands from Day 1.

After completing a Business Degree John joined the LEGO® Group, taking on the challenge to expand the LEGOLAND franchise outside of its homeland in Denmark.  Having first worked on projects in the UK (LEGOLAND Windsor opened in 1996) he project managed the first US LEGOLAND Park, based in California; before moving into general Park management first in Germany and then back in California.   

John joined Merlin’s senior management team as part of the company’s acquisition of LEGOLAND Parks in 2005, and as Managing Director LEGOLAND Parks oversaw both the continued development of the company’s existing LEGOLAND Parks into successful short break resorts for families with young children; and the identification and planning for new LEGOLAND Parks around the world, including the opening of LEGOLAND Resorts in Florida and Malaysia.      In New Openings he is now using the skills learnt on these projects not just to the benefit of other LEGOLAND projects, but also to spearhead Merlin’s fast moving Midway rollout.