Malaysia and Singapore: The Orlando of Southeast Asia?

Malaysia and Singapore: The Orlando of Southeast Asia?

With the opening of Asia's first Legoland, one developer says the region is on its way to becoming theme park central
Asia's first Legoland opened to packed crowds on September 15 in Johor Bahru. It's the world's sixth Legoland theme park.

Orlando, Florida. A magical city filled with pricey theme parks, tacky souvenir shops and hysterical children driving their parents to madness with sugar-induced temper tantrums.

Not to mention highly lucrative if you're one of said theme park's investors. 

No surprise then that England-based Merlin Entertainment Group is keen to see southern Malaysia and Singapore emulate the United States' city's tourism success.

In a recent article in Malaysia's Business Times, the company's chief executive officer, Nick Varney, dubbed the region the future "Orlando of Southeast Asia".

Orlando, nicknamed "Theme Park Capital of the World," is home to the Walt Disney World Resort (which has several separate theme parks including Epcot, MGM Studios and the Magic Kingdom Park), the Universal Orlando ResortSeaWorldGatorland and the Wet 'n Wild Water Park.

More on CNN: Disney to serve alcohol at the Magic Kingdom Park

Merlin, an investor in the just-opened 750 million ringgit (US$243 million) Legoland Malaysia, is now looking to expand further in the Asia-Pacific region, which includes seeking opportunities in Malaysia and Singapore, says the Business Times report. 

"We see Singapore-Malaysia as a nexus for, I think, of what could become the most powerful tourism market in the world," said Varney.

"I think this would be the destination of choice for families not only from Malaysia and Singapore, but (also) from big markets like China, India, Indonesia and Australia." 

Legoland Malaysia is actually just an hour's drive over the border from Singapore, which hosts its own theme park behemoth, Universal Studios. 

More on CNN: Asia's first Legoland opens in Malaysia

Though Varney didn't offer specifics, he said the region would see the opening of at least one other big theme park plus other smaller ones in the years to come.

The Merlin group oversees more than 80 attractions in 19 countries across four continents, including Madame Tussauds, London Eye, Gardaland, Alton Towers Resort, Legoland Discovery Centre, Warwick Castle, Thorpe Park, Blackpool Tower, Heide-Park, Wild Life Sydney Zoo, Siam Ocean World and Busan Aquarium.

Does Southeast Asia need more theme parks? Tell us your thoughts in the comment box below.