THE chief executive of Poole’s leisure giant Merlin Entertainments says a planned Legoland New York will be the company’s biggest ever investment in a single theme park.

The business, whose brands include Alton Towers, Madame Tussauds and the London Eye, is to spend 350million US dollars – around £265m – on the attraction in Goshen, Orange County.

Legoland New York, 60 miles north-west of New York City, will include a 250-bedroom Lego-themed hotel and will be on a site of more than 500 acres, within a two-hour journey of 23m people.

Merlin chief executive Nick Varney and Empire State Development president Howard Zemsky made the announcement in Goshen. Planners approved the park after nearly a year and a half of meetings and hearings.

Mr Varney said: “Legoland New York is the first new major theme park in the North East of the US for several decades, and is perfectly located for visitors from New York, Boston, and Philadelphia and beyond.

“At 350m US dollars it is our largest investment in a single park to date, and our third Legoland Park in North America, the world’s largest market for theme parks and the Lego brand.

“This investment reaffirms our commitment to further diversifying Merlin’s portfolio of attractions internationally and is an important milestone in our global Legoland rollout programme.

“We look forward to starting the building project and working closely with the people of Goshen to establish a fantastic short break destination for families in the New York and surrounding areas.”

The resort is expected to generate more than 1,000 jobs in the area, as well as 800 construction jobs during its development.

Merlin operates Legoland Windsor, as well as Legolands in Denmark, Germany, Florida, California, Malaysia, Dubai and Japan.

Merlin, based in Market Close, Poole, is the second-largest operator of visitor attractions in the world and the biggest in Europe. It has more than 100 attractions, 15 hotels and six holiday villages in 24 countries, with around 29,000 staff in peak season.

Last month, it revealed that its British attractions had experienced a “difficult” summer after the spate of terrorist attacks in the UK. It said its London attractions were likely to remain under pressure for the “foreseeable future” and announced plans to redirect £100m of investment.

It also announced plans to roll out new Peppa Pig attractions worldwide.