Britain's Merlin to open $350 million Legoland in New York state

FILE PHOTO: Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainments stands in front of the Grand Carousel at Legoland Florida during its grand opening celebration in Winter Haven, Florida October 14, 2011. A symbolic 50 millionth Lego brick was snapped in place on Friday on a giant red octopus at Legoland Florida, as the theme park -- the fifth and largest Legoland in the world -- prepares to open to the public this weekend southwest of Orlando. REUTERS/Pierre DuCharme

(Reuters) - A third North American Legoland theme park celebrating the distinctive multi-colored toy bricks is to be built in New York state in a $350 million investment by Britain’s Merlin Entertainments, the company said on Thursday.

The park dedicated to the children’s toy favorite will be built in Goshen, Orange County, 60 miles northwest of New York City and serving a catchment area of 23 million people.

Merlin, which operates attractions such as London’s Madame Tussauds waxworks museum, said the new Legoland was planned to open in 2020 and would welcome customers between April and November.

It will be built along with a 250-room Legoland hotel, open all year and decorated with hundreds of Lego models made from its toy building blocks.

The park, which joins Legoland parks in California and Florida, is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs, as well as 800 construction jobs as it is built.

“Legoland New York is the first new major theme park in the North East of the U.S. for several decades, and is perfectly located for visitors from New York, Boston and Philadelphia and beyond,” Chief Executive Nick Varney said.

“At $350 million it is our largest investment in a single park to date, and our third Legoland Park in North America, the world’s largest market for theme parks and the Lego brand.”

Reporting by Elisabeth O’Leary in Edinburgh; Editing by Kate Holton and David Holmes