Merlin Entertainments plc (‘Merlin’), the world’s second biggest visitor attraction operator, acquired The Wharf Mooloolaba and the adjacent UnderWater World aquarium as part of its acquisition of Living and Leisure Australia (LLA) in 2012.
Over the past two years, Merlin has invested heavily in UnderWater World SEA LIFE Mooloolaba, introducing an exciting range of new exhibits and marine conservation programs, reinvigorating and relaunching it to align with Merlin’s SEA LIFE global network of aquariums and bolstering its presence as a must-see Sunshine Coast attraction.
While the company’s primary focus has been UnderWater World SEA LIFE Mooloolaba, it has also continued to invest resources to ensure The Wharf Mooloolaba remains open for business, supporting traders, growing The Wharf Twilight Markets, and undertaking cosmetic upgrades, such as the new decking space and new signage.
Globally, Merlin operates 104 attractions – including 13 in Australia and New Zealand, as well as hotels and holiday villages. As the world’s largest aquarium operator, while UnderWater World SEA LIFE Mooloolaba is a key part of Merlin’s attraction portfolio, The Wharf Mooloolaba, as a retail precinct and marina, is not a core focus for the business in the future.
Merlin was approached early in 2014 by Evans Long Pty Ltd (‘Evans Long’) a Sunshine Coast based company with an outstanding track record in commercial development and the capability to develop The Wharf’s undoubted potential as a retail precinct and marina.
Following consultation with a number of interested parties, Merlin has now entered into an exclusive agreement for sale of The Wharf to Evans Long and the due diligence process is now underway.
UnderWater World SEA LIFE Mooloolaba is, and will remain a core part of the Merlin business in the region and is not part of The Wharf sale. The company remains committed to continuing to invest in the aquarium and delivering a world-class attraction for both locals and tourists to enjoy.