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Owner of Legoland, Madame Tussauds and Peppa Pig theme parks to roll out Uber-like surge pricing – following Wendy’s controversial bid to do so

The owner of Legoland, Madame Tussauds, Peppa Pig theme parks and Sea Life has revealed plans to charge more during peak times to compensate for the drop in visitor numbers.

Scott O’Neil, CEO of Merlin Entertainments, said the company will introduce a so-called dynamic pricing model for its top 20 global attractions by the end of this year, and for its major US parks by 2025.

Theme parks are the latest sector to look at dynamic pricing after fast-food giant Wendy’s caused a stir in January after announcing it would adjust burger prices based on demand.

Although hotels, airlines and taxi services such as Uber have long used this pricing model, it is increasingly being adopted elsewhere.

Merlin has about 25 parks across America. The new system would charge visitors more during busy summer weekends or holiday seasons than on rainy off-season weekdays, O’Neil told the newspaper. Financial times.

The owner of Legoland, Madame Tussauds and Sea Life has revealed plans to charge more during peak times

Merlin Entertainments operates 141 attractions in 23 countries. It is the largest amusement park operator in Europe.

The dynamic pricing model will allow the company to adjust prices at certain times in response to shifts in supply and demand using machine learning, the Financial Times reported.

However, the company did not clarify how much prices could rise under the new model and whether there would be a cap on increases during times of peak demand.

The parks already offer lower admission prices during off-peak hours, but this new model can process more data and adjust prices faster.

But some disgruntled users took to social media to express their anger over the new pricing model.

‘Rising prices? Sounds more like greed pricing to me,” one user wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“Surge pricing is taking our wallets,” wrote another.

But during an interview with CNBCO’Neil said dynamic pricing is not the same as peak pricing.

He said it actually “protects the guest experience” by helping the parks, which have limited capacity, reduce overcrowding by better managing fluctuating demand.

“You don’t want to go to Legoland Florida or Legoland New York or Legoland California or Madame Tussauds and wait in line for hours,” he said.

“You increase prices, which keeps the numbers at a reasonable number,” he added.

Scott O'Neil, CEO of Merlin Entertainments, said the company will introduce a so-called dynamic pricing model at its major U.S. parks in 2025.

Scott O’Neil, CEO of Merlin Entertainments, said the company will introduce a so-called dynamic pricing model at its major U.S. parks in 2025.

Merlin Entertainments operates more than 25 locations in the US (Photo: Actor Matthew McConaughey meeting his wax figure at Madame Tussauds in New York City in 2023)

Merlin Entertainments operates more than 25 locations in the US (Photo: Actor Matthew McConaughey meeting his wax figure at Madame Tussauds in New York City in 2023)

The idea is that the park can also reduce the entrance fee on less busy days.

While O’Neil declined to specify what kind of price changes visitors could expect under the new model, he suggested that guests attending on off-peak days could potentially get a 10 percent discount or “a little more.”

A spokesperson for Merlin Entertainments told DailyMail.com: ‘This change brings us into line with competitors and the wider holiday industry who have similar pricing structures, benefiting guests who choose to book outside peak times.’

Although Merlin Entertainments reported record revenues in 2023, the company said attendance numbers have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Some 62.1 million visitors went to the global attractions last year – a 13 percent increase from 2022, but still below the 67 million in 2019.

It comes weeks after DailyMail.com revealed how Wendy’s had announced plans to introduce an ‘Uber surge-style menu’ with different prices depending on the time of day.

Wendy's suffered a major setback after DailyMail.com reported on its plans to introduce 'dynamic pricing' in restaurants by 2025

Wendy’s suffered a major setback after DailyMail.com reported on its plans to introduce ‘dynamic pricing’ in restaurants by 2025

Pictured is a slide in Wendy's fourth-quarter 2023 earnings presentation that told investors that dynamic pricing would

Pictured is a slide in Wendy’s fourth-quarter 2023 earnings presentation that told investors that dynamic pricing would “support margin expansion”

CEO Kirk Tanner said it would begin testing in 2025 and rely on “digital menu boards,” in which it will invest $20 million.

This pricing plan implied that At busy times such as breakfast, lunch and dinner, the prices on this digital menu would be higher, and at quieter times they would decrease.

This announcement caused many reactions online.

“Wendy’s is hardly worth it as it is,” one X user wrote in response to the news. “Who is going to pay the high prices for a mediocre burger?”

Another wrote on Reddit: “The opposite of Happy Hour?”

But following DailyMail.com’s reporting, the company quickly reversed its plans, insisting it never intended to increase prices when demand was high, but only lower them at “slower times of the day.”

This was despite Tanner assuring investors that the dynamic pricing model would “leverage technology to support margin expansion.”

Despite initially ignoring a request for clarification on the dynamic pricing plans, a Wendy’s spokesperson said prices would only drop to increase traffic during slow times.

“Digital menu boards could allow us to change menu offerings at different times of the day and more easily offer discounts and great value offers to our customers, especially at slower times of the day,” they said.

However, the company would not comment on the earnings presentation.