Tourism: $25M Worth of Improvements Ahead, Mostly to Create Attractions
CARLSBAD,Seated in the head office at Legoland California, Mark Germyn talked about the difference between infants and toddlers.
As Legoland’s new president and general manager, Germyn wasn’t discussing target markets , he was explaining the park itself.
Still in its inaugural year ending this March, the children’s theme park is settling into a new industry stance and marketing approach, said Germyn, who started his position Jan. 10.
“Last year was the birth,” he said. “At this stage of the park, we’re working to implement programs that will take us to the next level of operating efficiency.”
Over the next two to three years, the park will invest $25 million into infrastructure and, primarily, new attractions, Germyn said.
There will be a suspended roller-coaster ride that rates “pink-” vs. “white-” knuckle, he said. The park will triple the capacity of its “Kids Power Tower” ride. The park will also step up its cooperative marketing with San Diego’s tourism industry, he said.
In the three- to five-year range, Germyn expects to develop the park’s additional land. In particular, he mentioned a hotel project.
Legoland currently takes up 128 acres, most of which is parking space. However, the park sits on a 400-acre site that includes allotments for an outlet shopping mall, office space and two hotel sites. Legoland owns one of them.
When it opened, Legoland California had a first-year attendance projection of 1.8 to 2 million visitors. The park doesn’t release attendance figures, but Germyn pointed out an industry report that said Legoland passed the 1.5 million-visitor mark in its first nine months. He described the numbers as “accurate.”
From July 19 through Labor Day, Legoland reduced its adult admission price from $32 to $25. Germyn attributes the move to a highly competitive marketplace.
“The competition got very aggressive with above-ground and in-your-face discounting, which certainly had an impact,” he said. “It had an impact on us.”
Although Germyn is seated in the president’s office for interviews, he had yet to officially move in.
He’s taking over a role shared in the park’s first year by Bill Haviluk and Bob Montgomery. Last fall, both Haviluk and Montgomery were promoted within Billund, Denmark-based Lego Co.’s theme park division, Global Family Attractions (GFA).
GFA operates two other parks, in Billund and Windsor, England, and is building a fourth in G & #252;nzberg, Germany.
Haviluk, the park’s former president, was promoted to GFA’s chief operating officer and president. Montgomery, who was Legoland’s general manager and vice president of operations, was named the division’s vice president of development and operations.
Although Haviluk and Montgomery will move off the Legoland site, both will remain in Carlsbad where GFA is headquartered.
Germyn’s roots in the hospitality industry began 30 years ago in Vancouver, British Columbia, shoveling snow as a ride operator.
It was a leading ski resort, and as it developed, Germyn began taking on management roles, he said. He eventually worked with the World Expo when it came to the city.
In 1987, he immigrated to the United States to work with Universal Studios and later coordinated a $100 million flower show in Columbus, Ohio, a three-year project.
The father of a 7-year-old and a 15-year-old, Germyn spent the past seven years with Warner Bros. , five at its flagship “Movie World” theme park on Australia’s Gold Coast, then two as managing director of its theme park and studios in D & #252;sseldorf, Germany.
When Germyn was tapped for the head position after a six-month international search, it was the second time Legoland had approached him.
“Very coincidental and ‘everything happens for a reason,'” he noted, “but when I had just made the commitment to Warner Bros. to take up the newly created GM position in Australia, a recruiter was doggedly trying to get me to go set up the Legoland park in Windsor.”
He laughed. “Here we are, seven years later, full circle,” he said.