Children with autism cheered at Shanghai ocean park

Hu Min
Merlin Entertainments chief executive Scott O'Neil hosts youngsters as he explains attractions with Chinese characteristics.
Hu Min
Children with autism cheered at Shanghai ocean park
Ti Gong

Merlin Entertainments CEO Scott O'Neil joins the company's young guests to explore an interactive exhibit at Shanghai Changfeng Ocean World.

A group of children with autism enjoyed a unique ocean world experience at Shanghai Changfeng Ocean World in Putuo District on Tuesday.

They learned about marine life and explored the magic ocean world on a guided tour, playing games and receiving gifts from Merlin Entertainments, owner of the Ocean World attraction.

The entertainment giant is hosting a series of charitable tours for families of members with autism and rare diseases to help make their dreams come true in experiencing the magic of Merlin's attractions in China.

The Ocean World has been awarded as one of the most popular science education bases in Shanghai for more than 20 years.

Merlin also has three Legoland projects under construction in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, and Meishan City, Sichuan Province.

"The Chinese Legoland parks are set to be our biggest parks," Scott O'Neil, chief executive of Merlin Entertainments, told Shanghai Daily on Tuesday while attending the charitable event.

As the first family-oriented international IP-based theme park resort in the Yangtze River Delta area, Legoland Shanghai Resort is designed to provide children aged 2-12 and their families with unique theme park experiences which integrate local Shanghai features and traditional watertown elements, O'Neil explained.

Children with autism cheered at Shanghai ocean park
Ti Gong

Scott O'Neil (left) receives a painting as a thank-you gift from one of the young guests who attended the charity event.

Shanghai would also be the first Legoland Park to have an attraction themed on a famous LEGO product line inspired by a timeless Chinese legend. Based on the classic novel "Journey to the West" and the legend of the Monkey King, Monkie Kid™ is designed to connect Chinese children with their heritage and inspire their creativity. Based on the popular story, the resort will feature a unique Monkie Kid zone that draws inspiration from traditional Chinese architectural style and China's iconic nature landscape.

"Our Chinese parks will include Chinese landmarks such as the Great Wall and the Summer Palace, alongside our famous Dragon rollercoaster. In addition to these classic features, each park will have its own unique attractions," O'Neil said.

"While maintaining the authentic Legoland experience, there will be innovative designs, new themed areas, rides and immersive shows launched for the China market," he added.

"We are excited and focused on the three Legoland projects which are already under development and we have ambitious ideas for growth and development in China," he said. "China represents a key pillar of Merlin growth strategy."

"Merlin remains positive that the market for location-based entertainment and themed experiences in China will continue to recover; particularly with the Chinese government's ongoing supportive policies and the refreshed desire by consumers to spend quality bonding time with families and friends."

"Bookings have been very strong for the upcoming May Day holiday, and we have observed more frequent short trips and more spending among tourists," he said. "We are anticipating that domestic trips during the May Day holiday will be very robust."

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