Cadbury World - Merlin Take Over

evilcod

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Pirates of the Caribbean - Paris
I for one am excited to see Merlin expand this great British attraction with 100% original additions such the Bournville Judge scene where you are sentenced for crimes against chocolate and the Choco Chamber where they mime shoving a Toblerone up your... actually never mind.
 

Craig

TS Administrator
From everything that I have read (10 extrapolations of the same press release), this won't be owned by Merlin, they are the chosen operator.

Naturally someone has already updated Wikipedia to imply it's a purchase.

Yup, part of this agreement is basically similar to the deal for Blackpool Tower. Whereas Blackpool Council own the Tower, Merlin have a license to operate it for a period of 20 years. We don't see much of a difference between their other attractions, but the council do have a say in larger decisions and even stump up investment for new attractions. Certainly not something you'd see if it was completely Merlin owned!

The Cadbury deal appears to be for 50 years, so for significantly longer. I don't think there would be any chance of Mondelez selling off the attraction outright to Merlin as it's such a strong brand, so the licensing deal for this length of time is as close as they'll get. As it's stated Merlin also take responsibility for all operational decisions, and without seeing the full details, my gut feeling is it seems they have a bit more free rein compared to the Blackpool deal.

While one part of the agreement is very similar to Blackpool, there is another bit that caught my eye:

As part of the agreement, Merlin Entertainments will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the Cadbury World site, its employees, and all operational decisions, as well as holding brand usage rights for Cadbury World in the UK.

For a company such as Merlin who have been so obsessed with midway attraction expansion this could be a huge deal for them. Having the brand usage rights could mean they do something as small scale as "Cadbury World" branded shops in their attractions, right through to whole new themed Cadbury World areas in their theme parks. It's even not unrealistic to see new midways bearing the name Cadbury World in the likes of London. While I doubt Birmingham would be too happy with that prospect, I think it's a very real possibility to the point where it happening is pretty much inevitable.
 

jon81uk

TS Member
This definitly feels like it is a Mondelez worldwide decision.
Cadbury World always made Cadbury's feel a smaller operation than it is in a way, rooting the company in Bournville and the history of the brand. I know prior to the Mondelez (Kraft) purchase or Cadbury they were already moving production to Poland but it does feel like Cadbury is now just another brand of a bigger company, instead of a "British" company based in Bournville.

If Merlin does have a lot of control over new attractions etc it would be interesting to see what happens and how they tie in with the Cadbury characters (like Freddo).
Also there is the archive and "museum" style part of the attraction and I wonder if anything will change with that?
 

Craig

TS Administrator
This definitly feels like it is a Mondelez worldwide decision.

Without a doubt it's a Mondelez decision. They no doubt struggled to recruit like most leisure destinations in recent years, suffered due to pandemic and now see this as a prime opportunity to keep it operating but allow the risk to taken on by Merlin while still raking in case in the process.

My gut feeling is Birmingham won't see too many changes in the near term. The attraction still gets people through the door and will continue to do so without any substantial investment thanks to the established history at that site.

The brand license is the big win for Merlin here, and is where we'll see the biggest raft of changes. Managing the Birmingham attraction is probably seen as just a necessity for them in exchange for getting the ability to use the brand elsewhere in the UK.
 

jon81uk

TS Member
The brand license is the big win for Merlin here, and is where we'll see the biggest raft of changes. Managing the Birmingham attraction is probably seen as just a necessity for them in exchange for getting the ability to use the brand elsewhere in the UK.


If only there was somewhere at Alton Towers where they could add a boat ride through a chocolate factory...
 

RicketyCricket

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Taron
Correct me if I'm wrong but this seems a very dated attraction. Not been there since 2004, granted but there is a lot of potential there to modernise the experience.

It's certainly no Hershey's Chocolate World. Whack a Skyrush clone up please @nickvardy
 

Benjsh

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
We took our son there about 3 years ago. It was okay I suppose but wouldn't rush back.

The dark ride wasnt great. The queue was very long and the ride itself was a bit lacklustre for me. The 4d film was only average too.

It needs a lot of modernising and updating.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
Quick question here; would Merlin be able to call the shots on additions and/or expansion to the site and provide a budget for such additions, or would that boil down to Mondelez?

I only ask because they appear to be trying to move it away from solely being about the factory based on their recent history (for instance, the recent addition of the 4D cinema), and there's a surprising amount of space around the outdoor section according to Google Earth, with at the very least two car parks that don't appear to be guest car parks right by it that could be ripe for some sort of expansion; here's the entire site, for some perspective:
Cadbury-World.png

So while I'm not going to suggest for a second that they turn it into Britain's Hersheypark or anything; could we see some sort of small-scale theme park expansion at Cadbury World under Merlin? Maybe something similar to the Tony Chocolonely project that was planned in the Netherlands, which was to be a small indoor theme park joined onto a chocolate factory? Those 2 car parks have a combined area of around 15,000 square metres, which is a good few acres; no small amount of land by any stretch!
 

jon81uk

TS Member
I only ask because they appear to be trying to move it away from solely being about the factory based on their recent history (for instance, the recent addition of the 4D cinema)
They’ve made lots of changes and additions but most were about 10-15 years ago now with the addition of the bean dark ride and the cinema building.
It’s never been a factory tour, you only see a tiny part of the packaging plant and always has been that way since the 90s. There is small scale production of items only sold in the gift shop to give an idea on how things are made. But it’s mainly multimedia displays and shows and always has been.
 

Craig

TS Administrator
I doubt (and indeed I wouldn't want) the place to move away from being a "factory" tour and interactive museum style experience. It's nice to have the ride systems to assist in the story telling, but I don't think you could ever imagine anything "indoor theme park" style at Bournville. I can see some updates coming in with the existing space used, but certainly no large scale expansion.

The problem you have is that first and foremost it's still a working site and I believe many of the buildings are listed anyway. If you're looking at building additional attractions on car parks, then you need consideration for where to park the additional guests that such an expansion brings.

Large scale investment isn't really something we've seen from Merlin when it comes to their Midway attractions, so I can't see this one being any different. A tidy up and refresh in places yes, but I still see the main reasoning behind this partnership in being the brand license acquisition for other locations over operating the Birmingham site.
 

EuroSatch

TS Member
Let’s also not forget the Bournville Village Trust are *very* prescriptive as to what can and cannot be done in the area. I don’t know how far it extends to commercial operations, but I highly doubt they would approve anything to be built beyond the footprint of existing facilities
 

rob666

TS Member
Quick question here; would Merlin be able to call the shots on additions and/or expansion to the site and provide a budget for such additions, or would that boil down to Mondelez?

I only ask because they appear to be trying to move it away from solely being about the factory based on their recent history (for instance, the recent addition of the 4D cinema), and there's a surprising amount of space around the outdoor section according to Google Earth, with at the very least two car parks that don't appear to be guest car parks right by it that could be ripe for some sort of expansion; here's the entire site, for some perspective:
Cadbury-World.png

So while I'm not going to suggest for a second that they turn it into Britain's Hersheypark or anything; could we see some sort of small-scale theme park expansion at Cadbury World under Merlin? Maybe something similar to the Tony Chocolonely project that was planned in the Netherlands, which was to be a small indoor theme park joined onto a chocolate factory? Those 2 car parks have a combined area of around 15,000 square metres, which is a good few acres; no small amount of land by any stretch!
But where would people park if you have stuffed a theme park on their car park?
 
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