A record 67 million people visited Merlin Entertainments’ attractions and theme parks last year.

This represented a rise of 1.4% on 2017, with a continued strong guest satisfaction scores.

Pre-tax profit rose by 4.9% year-on-year to £285 million as revenue went up by 5.2% to £1.65 billion.

The company described its 2019 outlook as “positive”.

CEO Nick Varney said: “Around the world, leisure spend continues to grow as disposable incomes rise and ever greater value is placed on good quality, shared experiences with friends and family.”

The 2018 figures included resort theme park revenue up by 9.1% helped by good weather and a strong Halloween period.

Legoland organic revenue was up by 6.4% with the opening of 644 hotel rooms offsetting a “broadly flat” performance over the previous year.

The group’s Midway Attractions saw revenue growth of 1.1% with a continued recovery in London trading. This came as the company addedPeppa Pig World of Play and The Bear Grylls Adventure as two new brands.

Accommodation revenue grew by 28% to represent 21% of combined Legoland Parks and Resort Theme Parks revenue.

Merlin reported “continued progress” towards the construction of Legoland New York, targeted to open in 2020, and agreement to open Legoland Korea by 2022.

The company disposed of its non-core ski resorts in Australia to Vail Resorts for A$174 million following the year end.

Varney said: “2018 saw improved momentum across most of our businesses reflecting the strength of our diversified portfolio and geographic spread.

“Resort Theme Parks benefited from successful product investment such as ‘Wicker Man’ at Alton Towers; Legoland Parks growth was driven by record levels of accommodation openings; and, in addition to the contribution of seven new attractions, Midway saw improving trends in London.” 

He added: “We continue to seek to mitigate ongoing external cost pressures and expect to deliver up to £35 million of annualised savings by 2022 through a number of initiatives.

“Not only will this help underpin our financial outlook, it will better enable our people to deliver what matters most to our guests: fantastic memorable experiences.”