Ole Kirk Christiansen started making wooden toys in his small workshop in Billund, Denmark in 1932. Two years later, Ole Kirk decided upon a name for his toys and his workshop - LEGO®, a contraction of the Danish words 'leg godt,' meaning 'play well.' Coincidentally, it was later learned that LEGO in Latin means "I put together" or "I assemble."
In 1947, the company bought its first plastics injection-molding machine and in 1949 the forerunner to the LEGO brick was introduced, under the name "Automatic Binding Bricks".
Inner tubes on the bricks were introduced in 1958, which significantly increased the number of possible building combinations. In 1967, the larger DUPLO® bricks for pre-school children were introduced, and LEGO TECHNIC for older children debuted in 1977. LEGO DACTA®, now know as The Educational Division, was set up in 1980.
It was the increasing interest in the fantastic LEGO masterpieces displayed at the factories that triggered Godtfred Kirk Christiansen's idea of exhibiting the models outside. He originally envisioned just a little garden, where various LEGO models and figures could be displayed, but when work began on the project, it developed and became much larger.
In June 1968, LEGOLAND® Billund opened for the first time on a 9 acre site. All buildings, landscapes and vehicles were built using standard LEGO bricks, and the park's success exceeded everyone's expectations - in the first year alone, 625,000 happy visitors were guests at the park!
LEGOLAND California is a 128-acre park geared specifically towards youngsters ages two through 12. With over 50 family rides, "hands-on" attractions and shows, LEGOLAND California provides education, adventure and fun in this first park of its kind in the United States.
MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS is the leading name in location-based, family entertainment, and has seen the most successful and dynamic growth of any company in the sector over the last five years. Europe's Number 1 and the world's second-largest visitor attraction operator, Merlin now operates 87 attractions, six hotels/two holiday villages in 19 countries and across four continents.
The company aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its 46 million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global and local brands, and the commitment and passion of its managers and more than 17,000 employees. Among Merlin's attractions are - SEA LIFE, Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND, The EDF Energy London Eye, Dungeons, Gardaland, LEGOLAND Discovery Centres, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, THORPE PARK, Chessington World of Adventures Resort, Blackpool Tower, Heide Park, Sydney Aquarium, WILD LIFE Sydney, Sydney Tower Eye and SKYWALK, Siam Ocean World and Busan Aquarium. All brands which are distinctive, challenging and innovative - and which have great potential for growth in the future. Visit www.merlinentertainments.biz for more information.
Merlin currently has twelve attractions in the USA including the stunning LEGOLAND Florida theme park which opened in October 2011; LEGOLAND California theme park with its exciting Water Park, and SEA LIFE aquarium (a hotel will also open in 2013); Madame Tussauds attractions in New York, Washington DC, Las Vegas and Hollywood; LEGOLAND Discovery Centers in Chicago and Dallas/Fort Worth; and SEA LIFE aquariums in Phoenix, Arizona; Dallas/Fort Worth; the Mall of America in Minneapolis, underlining the company's position as the world's biggest global aquarium operator. Four more Merlin attractions are also already scheduled to open in the USA in 2012 - a SEA LIFE and LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Kansas City; Missouri; LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Atlanta, Georgia, and a Water Park in LEGOLAND Florida.