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Former Merlin Entertainments US President Joins Zip World as CEO

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Adrian Jones, previously US president of Merlin Entertainments, the world's second-largest visitor attraction operator, has joined North Wales adventure company Zip World as CEO.

Jones has over 30 years’ experience in the visitor attraction sector and played a key role in Merlin’s aggressive growth in the USA from 2007-2019. He draws on extensive experience in marketing, sales, and strategic partnerships as he takes the helm at Zip World, joining the company at a pivotal time amid ambitious growth plans.

Zip World is best known for its flagship adventure, Velocity 2, the world’s fastest zip line, which is based in Bethesda, North Wales. Reaching speeds of over 100mph, this adventure has established Zip World as a world-class destination, and with over 22 other adventure activities spanning across multiple UK-based sites, the company has seen exponential growth since its opening 10 years ago in 2013. Zip World now plans to open more sites on top of its current seven, with Jones playing a key role in guiding and shaping the company’s future.

The new role sees Jones relocating from the US to the Conwy Valley, North Wales, having spent the best part of two decades overseas. Jones began his journey in America in 2004 as general manager for Madame Tussauds Las Vegas. He went on to lead the opening teams for the first Legoland Discovery Centre in Chicago circa 2008, Madame Tussauds Hollywood in 2009, and then spent a decade at Legoland Florida. There, he oversaw the transformation of the theme park into a resort proposition with the development of new rides, attractions, a water park and two hotels. He became president of Merlin Entertainments USA in 2017, overseeing 30+ attractions, including well-known brands such as Madame Tussauds, Sealife and LEGOLAND Discovery Centres. He also served as chairman of Visit Orlando, the largest destination marketing organizations (DMO) in the US.

Jones’ extensive experience in brand development, commercial strategy and managing operational growth is perfect for Zip World, which recently acquired a new hotel, the Tyn-y-Coed, Capel Curig, as well as two England-based adventure parks. The plans for growth don’t stop there, with planning applications for multiple other UK sites currently in submission and several new attractions in development.

Jones said:

“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to be joining the Zip World team at such a pivotal time in the company’s existence. Having the opportunity to work on an incredible portfolio of outstanding brands and alongside such a talented and dedicated team is a perfect foundation for growth as we look to expand our existing sites and develop future opportunities. This, coupled with a relocation move to such a beautiful part of the world, made this a once in a lifetime opportunity I simply could not pass up.”

Sean Taylor, Zip World’s founder and president, added:

“The appointment of Adrian signifies Zip World’s intent and ambitions to continue on its growth journey. We’re very fortunate to have Adrian onboard – his exposure to big brands in this space will add a layer of expertise which will help shape Zip World’s future.”

Having already settled into Zip World’s Basecamp head office in Llanrwst, Conwy, Jones is already on his way to guiding Zip World through this growth period, and with the celebration of its 10-year anniversary coming up in 2023 and over 500 staff during peak season, his introduction to the company has come at the perfect time.