Former president of Merlin Entertainments USA joins Zip World as CEO

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

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

Zip World is best known for its flagship adventure Velocity 2, the world’s fastest zipline, located in Bethesda, North Wales. Reaching speeds of over 100mph, this adventure has made Zip World a world-class destination, and with over 22 other adventure events spanning multiple sites across the UK, the company has seen exponential growth since it opened 10 years ago in 2013. Zip World now plans to open more sites in addition to the current seven sites, with Jones playing a key role in managing and shaping the company’s future.

The new role sees Jones move from the US to the Conwy Valley, North Wales, after spending the better part of two decades abroad. Jones began his journey across America in 2004 as CEO of Madame Tussauds Las Vegas. He went on to lead the opening teams for the first Legoland Discovery Center in Chicago around 2008, Hollywood’s Madame Tussauds in 2009, and then spent ten years at Legoland Florida. There, he oversaw the transformation of the theme park into a resort offering with the development of new rides, attractions, a water park and two hotels. He became president of Merlin Entertainments USA in 2017, overseeing more than 30 attractions, including iconic brands such as Madame Tussauds, Sealife and LEGOLAND Discovery Centers. He also served as chairman of Visit Orlando, the largest marketing organization (DMO) in the US.

Jones’ extensive experience in brand development, commercial strategy and managing operational growth is an ideal fit for Zip World, which recently acquired the new Tyn-y-Coed Hotel, Capel Curig, as well as two adventure parks in England. The growth plans don’t stop there, with bids planned for many other UK sites under submission and several new attractions in development.

Jones said:

“I am very excited to be joining the Zip World team at such an important 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 the perfect platform for growth as we look to expand our existing sites and develop future opportunities. That, combined with moving to such a beautiful part of the world, made this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I simply couldn’t pass up.”

Sean Taylor, Founder and President of Zip World, added:

“Adrian’s appointment signifies Zip World’s intention and ambition to continue its growth path. We are very fortunate to have Adrian on board – his exposure to the big brands in this space will add experience that will help shape the future of Zip World.”

Already based at Zip World Basecamp headquarters in Llanrust, Conwy, Jones is well on his way to leading Zip World through this period of growth, as well as celebrating its 10-year anniversary in 2023 and over 500 staff at peak season, his getting to know the company came at the perfect time.

Leave a Comment