| GEO World|
| Malaysia's Legoland theme park to open in 2012|
| Updated at: 0714 PST, Friday, December 04, 2009|
KUALA LUMPUR: A Legoland theme park will open in Malaysia's south in 2012 at a cost of 700 million ringgit (206 million dollars), one year earlier than scheduled, developers said Thursday.
Iskandar Investment Berhad (IIB) president and chief executive officer Arlida Ariff said the theme park covering 26 hectares (62.4 acres) in Johor state, which neighbours Singapore, is now slated to open in April 2012.
"The selection of Legoland is very deliberate. The (planned) theme park in Singapore by Universal Studios is for young adults. Our is for families. It will be complementary rather than competition," she said.
The Malaysian attraction will be the first Legoland in Asia.
IIB is an investment holding company linked to the 17.7 billion ringgit Iskandar Development Region (IDR), a major infrastructure project in Johor.
The IDR, launched in November 2006, will be 2.5 times the size of Singapore when completed, including up-market residential homes, a logistics hub, a waterfront city, a medical hub and an educational city.
In 2008 IIB signed an agreement with Merlin Entertainments which operates various attractions globally including Sea Life, Madame Tussauds and Legoland.
Merlin Entertainments will design and operate the theme park of which it will be a 20 percent shareholder, with a consortium led by IIB owning the remainder.
Arlida said the theme park will offer 40 interactive rides, shows and attractions targeted at families with children aged between two and 12 years.
Legoland Development general manager John Ussher told the Star newspaper that the main concerns in developing the theme park in a tropical region were the "sun and rain."
Extensive use of shades and trees will be deployed to cool the park and make visitors more comfortable, he said.
Malaysia has long harboured ambitions of turning Johor into a major metropolis to rival gleaming Singapore, which lies across a narrow waterway.