The deal includes the 247-room Gardaland Resort Hotel. The three million annual visitors to the park push Merlin’s total attendance across its 37 sites to over 16 million, making it the largest in Europe and the sixth largest globally.

The company plans to add both a Sea Life Centre and a Legoland Discovery Centre as second gates.

"Gardaland is exactly what we have been looking for – a high quality business and brand – with excellent staff and on-park attractions," said Merlin CEO Nick Varney.

"It provides a natural extension to our existing customer base, attracting high volumes of young adults and teens as well as our traditional family market. This will offer tremendous opportunities for joint promotion and development activities in future."