LEGO owners acquire Merlin Entertainments

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BBC News reports that Merlin Entertainments, the current owners of all LEGOLAND parks and Discovery Centres, has been purchased by the Kirk Kristiansen family's private holdings and investment company, KIRKBI.

This transaction is worth £4.8bn and will return control of LEGOLAND parks and Discovery Centres to the owners of The LEGO Group. I think this acquisition is likely to result in certain alterations at the parks within the next couple of years, although no information about future plans is currently available.

What changes would you like to see at LEGOLAND parks and Discovery Centres, if any? Let us know in the comments.

60 comments on this article

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By in United Kingdom,

wow cool love LEGOLAND parks

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By in United States,

Well well well, how the turntables...

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By in United States,

This is just fine with me. They built a LEGOLAND Discovery Center about 300 feet from an existing LEGO Store here in Columbus, Ohio. I wondered what would happen, since it just doesn’t make sense. This news seems to solve that issue.

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By in United States,

This is HUGE news. For years I've felt like Legoland (And Legoland Windsor in particular) has been a stain on the Lego name. The neglected, dilapidated state of the park, along with a surprising lack of actual Lego (vs. things made to look like Lego), meant that, for me at least, the experience was supremely disappointing.

I guess Lego buying Merlin Entertainments outright means they're serious about bringing control of the parks back within the fold.

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By in United States,

Never went; but from what I've heard Merlin really let the LEGO parks go down. Hopefully, with return of control back to LEGO; they are fixed up.

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By in United States,

Nice to see that LEGO started cutting costs of the printing of minifigures and the quality of bricks to save up several billion dollars / pounds / euros / whatever to buy back the theme parks.

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By in United States,

Huh. The LLDC outside of Chicago just got a makeover in some areas. They've done some nice stuff, but overall I think they could do better. For me, I'd prefer some kind of rotating Lego experiences instead of the two large rides they have there. However, my 3 and 6 year old love it and keep asking to go pretty much every weekend, so maybe they don't need to change as much as I think.

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By in United Kingdom,

I've been to Windsor and Billund, both were not in the best shape, especially Billund which is right on Lego's doorstep and you'd think they a would want it looking better. So the parks coming back to the Lego group is a good thing, hopefully they will be improved, especially the minilands which look really run down.

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By in United States,

Short-term I'd like to see the VIP program accepted at all locations. It was always kind of weird that they never made that happen.

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By in Netherlands,

Hopefully the Dutch Discovery Centre will get an official Brand Store contrary to earlier reports

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By in United Kingdom,

I was on a student work placement in the admin building at Windsor when the original sale of the parks was announced. I remember everyone being very anxious about their jobs... I wonder how many of the people I knew there managed to stay on. It was an amazing place to work then, I hope it will be again.

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By in United Kingdom,

Certainly being able to use our VIP cards when purchasing lego sets at Legoland parks would not go amiss...

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By in United States,

Never been to any of the parks or Discovery Centers, but have wanted to take the kids to LEGOLAND Florida one day. Hoping this will lead to improvements. I'm wondering, for those who think this is a wasted investment, what other ventures they think LEGO should be exploring? Perhaps securing future shares of their supply side, such as further investment in renewable/biodegradable plastics?

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By in United Kingdom,

Along sides LEGOLAND parks they also own Alton Tower and Chessington park plus others so maybe Lego might sell items at these other parks or maybe open LEGO stores in these parks

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By in United Kingdom,

Yipee complete control and no external tampering!

Whilst we're on the topic of lego parks I would love to see the return of the pick a brick cups and not those small overpriced bags to fill.

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By in United States,

My family went to Legoland Florida last year and it was a horrible experience. Employees were not very friendly, place was not well kept, and no one seemed to know what the rules were regarding weather and ride stoppages. The rides could use some upgrades and a general refresh of the experience would be nice. I might consider going back if there are improvements made.

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By in Netherlands,

A new Discovery Centre is finally opening in my country next year, so technically that's the first LEGO Store in The Netherlands.

Now if it's actually being owned by LEGO again, that should hopefully mean it makes the sets sold there even more in line with an official LEGO Store + LEGOLAND sets on shelves.

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By in United Kingdom,

@Minifig290, Or turn Chessington and Alton Towers into Legolands. That would be great!

Alton Towers has had a tarnished reputation anyway since the accident in 2015 when two people lost their legs.

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By in United States,

I haven't been to any of the Legoland Parks in 14 years or so now so I really have not a lot to go off for my opinion here. Admittedly Legoland California was always sort of the odd duck out in the theme park scene there (hence why I have only been once). Disney is the all ages park, with attractions for every age group. Sea World is the animal centered park, Knotts and Six Flags the roller coaster parks, and Universal the 'experience the movies' type of park. Legoland always felt like the "great for six year old kids park," without the level of detailing to draw in adults like Disney and Universal, and a lack of thrill rides like Six Flags of Knotts to bring in the thrill seekers. Although Miniland is an awesome experience for AFOL's, its hard to justify paying a full day ticket to walk around to see some neat models in Miniland with all the attractions focused on just young kids.

I don't know if Lego re-purchasing the parks will change any of that attitude. It seems Legoland is happy with its place in the themepark world as a kids park at heart, but I would personally like to see it expand its attraction base to be more of an all ages type of park than it is now.

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By in United States,

It really makes me wonder if in 15 years we'll be watching YouTube videos explaining Lego going out of business/being acquired by Disney/being acquired by Hasbro and if this will be one of those moments they point to as "the beginning of the end of the Lego empire." I'm not saying I think Lego is in that kind of the trouble or this is a sure disaster, I'm just saying this is exactly the kind of thing that is showing up in those "Why Toys R Us Closed Its Doors" videos.

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By in United Kingdom,

Wasn't moving away from their core products (including opening the parks) one of the things that nearly sunk the company in the early 2000s? Hope this isn't history repeating.

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By in Canada,

Legoland options at food courts in malls.
Legoland stuff at Lego Stores and online shop.
Smaller parks and park space.

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By in United Kingdom,

Hoping it will improve things, Been to Windsor the last 2 year (going back AGAIN!!!!, this year as daughter loves it). But my list of improvements would be:

1. Better information on closures, last year the Olivia house (which was 1 of my daughter’s favourites the year before) was closed and not 1 of the staff could say why. Only found out a couple months later that it had been closed so they could make a sensory room.

2. Better price food and drink within the park, a small bottle of water (about 200ml) cost £1.20 last year

3. Better information regarding menus and price of the food in the park

4. General clean up (particular some of the models, some of which look very dirty and part of Mini land looks as if it has not been touch in since 2005), tidy and some of paint

5. Getting someone into sort out the food and menu in the buffet restaurant in the Resort hotel (food ok, but very same each night and some items not very good quality)

6. Access to VIP program (Lost a lot of points the last 2 years, that I could have used to get more LEGO for my daughter) :)

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By in United States,

xboxtravis7992 I agree with what you said about the age group. I went to Legoland for one day on my honeymoon and felt that it would have been a lot better with some small kids with me. It would be nice if they had more adult oriented attractions which I think they would be keen to do as they have been doing with their Lego sets lately.

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By in United Kingdom,

Good news. I took the family to billund for 4 days last year even though we have Windsor in the UK. There were hardly any queues and the whole experience felt a lot more relaxed.

If there were to make changes, I would say to make it slightly more affordable and offer options around the queues, particularly at Windsor where the Q bot is way too much. I would also suggest more interaction with Lego itself like they have in the Lego House, if they’re can combine some elements of the Lego house in the parks I’m sure it would be a winner.

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By in United Kingdom,

This is huge news. I'd always hoped that Lego would buy back their theme parks at some point. Merlin really hasn't shown a huge amount of care for the brand. Whilst things have improved a bit recently, the miniland at Windsor has looked a bit worse for wear for years, with few of the models still working, and lots needing updating.

Hopefully this will also mean that Lego can start to phase out some of the other brands which have crept into the parks. Perhaps they'll even look again at the aggressive commercial model of q-jumping which annoys a lot of guests.

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By in United Kingdom,

More lego at Windsor would be top of my list

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By in United States,

I’m looking forward to this as I love visiting Legoland Florida. It also looks like they’re acquiring ALL of Merlin

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By in United States,

I hope one comes to Puerto Rico, I wonder if LEGO themselves see in a position to both mantain and operate the parks now.

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By in United States,

A Tilt-a-Brick ride would be great! (Tilt-a-whirl)

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By in United Kingdom,

Always felt it was shocking that I couldn't use VIP card at Legoland...so that has to change Day1, else totally pointless in my view

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By in United States,

I'm very glad to hear this. I've been an AFOL for many years now, and the only real negative experience I've had with LEGO was in connection to a visit to the Discovery Center in Chicago. I sent Merlin a message and felt like they blew me off. I then message TLG to tell them that these guys were bringing their name down, and again felt blown off. I hope (and, frankly, expect) that they'll turn these parks into a Disney-level experience in terms of quality, cleanliness, presentation, and customer service. I'm looking forward to visiting Legoland in Florida hopefully next year!!!!

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By in Singapore,

can we also have a Discovery Centre in Singapore?

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By in United States,

Living in the northeast of the United States without the means to fly to other regions of the country just to visit an amusement park, I have never been to a LEGOLAND Park. If I were to fly to Florida or California to visit a theme park, my preference would be a Disney park over a LEGO park. The images I see of the LEGO parks just don't inspire me at all. With the opening of the New York LEGOLAND Park less than a year away (a park that is only a day trip for me) I really hope that LEGO's reacquisition of the parks improves them such that I'll actually want to visit. What I'd love to see is more of an emphasis on amazing models of all scales. More of a garden than an amusement park.

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By in Switzerland,

AT L E A S T !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A GREAT NEWS
Years of dilapidations are away !
but now , GO UP again !
NOW, it's IMPORTANT to rebuild Miniland in Parks
after all those years of no repair !!!
Adult AFOLs are very Important too for Parks !

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By in United States,

I remember trying to buy age of ultron sets with a gift card at Legoland, but they didnt accept it. I'm glad that this seems to be an issue of the past now.

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By in United States,

More LEGO and less carnival! LEGOLAND California Resort has become littered with (extra cost) carnival games that block the beautiful landscaping, and squeeze the walkways to the point of being uncomfortable.

And certainly improved maintenance of the LEGO models, fences, railings, etc.

And also bring back the monthly LEGO building contests.

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By in United States,

This is great news! I live by Legoland California and have been disappointed with how the park is kept. The legos have been baking in the socal sun for 20 years and aren't looking too great anymore (replacement has not kept up with decay imo) . Hoping Lego group will put their best foot (legos) forward a bit more than Merlin did.

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By in United States,

Hershey Park in Hershey, PA has set a high water mark for me since visiting last year. Great rides, pretty decent prices, chocolate everywhere, not as crowded as Disney, but the BEST part was the service. Everyone seemed very happy to be there and genuinely trying to serve your needs as a guest. It was a great experience and I hope this year is just as good.

LEGO should strive to meet those standards. At Disney the employees are just as nice and great, but everything at Disney costs an arm and a leg.

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By in United States,

I've been to a couple legolands and I've found the experience is just not interesting for me but I will visit the shop when I get the chance. I hope this means they will stop overcharging for sets at the shops and will also start giving out points on purchases.

I also wish they would add a separate entrance for the shop seeing how it is typically right by the park entrance. I drive by legoland a few times a year and would probably visit the shop (and purchase) if the process of getting in and out wasn't so time consuming.

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By in United States,

I loved LEGO as a child. My dark ages were long, lasting more than 30 years. I have been an AFOL for 17 years now, but have never been to a Legoland because I live way too far away. I was planning on taking my adult daughter to Legoland California next month. After reading the comments above, I am now rethinking that plan. What I cannot understand is how there can be Legoland exclusive sets if the parks are not owned by LEGO and don’t offer VIP benefits. Is there any chance LEGO bought the parks back just to protect the brand from association with an inferior product? If so, the parks may be in for a complete overhaul or, in some cases, shuttering.

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By in United States,

I wonder how they will change the annual pass discounts on merchandise purchases. Currently at Legoland California, they give annual pass holders a 10% discount on such purchases. On LEGO brand store double VIP days, you got a 20% discount. I'd take either over VIP points at LEGO brand stores any day.

Unfortunately for the past two, maybe three years, they marked up CMFs and most polybags by a $1 and the more expensive sets (I think > $125 MSRP) by 10% to more or less negate the annual pass discount. Hopefully this practice will end.

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By in United States,

KIRKBI who own TLG acquired Merlin Entertainments, not TLG so I doubt the funds used for the acquisition affect TLG's budget. It will probably be run as a separate entity to TLG, one hopefully with all the benefits and possible improvements that come from association with TLG that people are wishing for.

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By in Australia,

Im just hoping to see VIP points available at the LLDC in Melbourne, since currently no physical store in Australia uses them, and without them there's no sense in buying any sets there, since pretty much every other store reliably discounts Lego, and with exclusives at least you get SOME VIP points from buying online. The whole store is basically a glorified PaB, and not even a particularly good one.

As for the parks... eh Im probably not going to visit the US or Europe any time soon so I dont really know/care what's going on with those.

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By in United States,

Cautiously optimistic here - twenty years ago TLG's investment in the parks was a major liability, and divesting them was an important step in keeping the company alive, but the general consensus now seems to be that years of mismanagement by the current owners has made them a big liability again, so re-investing seems plausible as the right move to get the parks back in tip-top shape as ambassadors for the Lego brand. Hope TLG has the resources to make it work, so these billions aren't just wasted!

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By in United States,

Sounds good initially but we shall see what comes out of this big sale. My sons love Legoland more than Disneyland because of the Lego. I'd love to use my VIP points, would welcome a refresh of rides and not just the 4D theatre, and also more Legoland exclusives or Lego selection at the Big Store.

As far as some comments regarding cleaning the Miniland section, I understand it does need attention but one should also keep in mind they sit outside in the weather with sun, wind, rain, or even some underwater. This is bound to take a severe beating on Lego regardless if the park clear coats the models. Maybe standards would be tightened up with the sale acquisition.

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By in Latvia,

Sounds great! But we'll have to see how this changes the parks and centers

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By in United Kingdom,

You need to read the article carefully its Kirkbi that now owns 50% of merlin rather than the 30% it owned before it is in with Blackstone and not TLG. They are moving it from the scrutiny of the public markets and making it private rather that being publicly listed on the stock exchange etc.
I think it hopefully is a good move. I have been to LEGOLAND in Windsor a few times and every time i go back Miniland looks worse than ever! - they give some things a fresh lick of paint over the winter season when it is closed but that is about it.
We used to have a great technic rollercoaster which got removed for the Atlantis ride. It is now in the florida park. As much as I love doing the dragon coaster mainly as the castle bit is quite fun.

I also went to LEGOLand in Dubai a couple of years ago and loved the miniland as it was indoors and you could stay in their all weather. Maybe doing something like this to parks in Europe will protect the models from the harsh winter elements. Dubai's park was rather strange with the lands being off different doors to Miniland which was the centre piece of the park. The dragon coaster in Dubai was more fun that the UK version but wasn't themed as much. The Atlantis ride and the shooting rides are fun.

I'd like to see them open the parks up a little. They are great for young LEGO enthusiasts but not so fun for the Adults that go with them so are not really 'family' parks in the right sense of the word. It makes it feel like LEGO are saying you can play with the brand up till around your teenage years then don't anymore and that goes against the grain of their philosophy.

The customer service the last time was lacking however in the UK that is because at any of the theme parks that open in March and close in November the staff are all seasonal and when its coming to end of their contract don't really care what kind of service they provide or this is how it feels as you walk around the park.

The VIP bit above is a great idea to be able to do that would be fantastic. Id' certainly make a purchase at the park if that was the case. i normally buy park exclusive but I am not going to buy the latest D2C unless I can collect my VIP Points.

It will be interesting to see what they do with the rest of the Merlin assets like Chessington, Thorpe Park and Alton Towers. It would be nice to see investment where they open a new land or a couple of different rides at once rather than once big massive ride which then means queues for that are just ridiculous.
interesting times ahead.

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By in Netherlands,

Thoroughly update Billund Park, as it's a run down shell of its former self. And lose the weird 3rd party sponsorships, like Seat cars and a dilapidated room full of Nintendo DS's.

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By in United States,

@Librarian1976 a new Legoland is coming to New York (near Goshen, i think) opening in in the next year. i've never been to one either (fellow northeast usa) so looking forward to this one

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By in Canada,

The only thing I want to see at LEGOLAND now is access to the VIP program. Any and all purchases at Legoland including admission, food, toys etc will now give VIP points. Do that, and I'll be happy.

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By in United Kingdom,

Windsor gets a lot of negativity on parenting forums and trip advisor etc. The biggest complaints are that the queues are just too long, rides often close for random and unknown reasons, food is too expensive, it's grubby and rundown and has a wasp problem. Personally I don't enjoy these type of places in general but I would sometimes maybe like to go for specific events but the cost is too high. I have often thought there should be a lower price for people not going on rides. Have different coloured wrist bands showing if you have paid for rides or not.

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By in United States,

I just hope that the place is more well done. My parents always complained about the carnivals and disorienting colors and how 1/2 the stuff has nothing to do with lego. Also, it needs renovating and a new area for teens and afols(star wars or space?). I also think the waterparks were wasted space

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By in Norway,

I echo Mr W’s comment. The Billund park is generally looking shabby and run down. Urgent need to renovate.

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By in Ukraine,

Great news!

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By in United States,

great news....last time my family went to Legoland it looked like and felt like it was run by those people who run those ghetto fairs that come to town. There was no visible security around and nobody checked my backpack when we entered the park

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By in United States,

This is great news! Lego needs to spend some serious money bringing the parks up to where they need to be, considering they carry the LEGO brand. The Orlando park lacks a great deal, it needs many more rides and attractions and overall seems like a cheap experience. The main gift shop is small, and not befitting Lego, and lets not talk about not accepting VIP cards.

The shows are very cheaply put together and teh pirate show doesn't even incorporate Lego branded/themed speedboats, its like they hired the nearest speedboat for each show. The park just lacks real branding, and that theme park feeling. The Hotel is great (if you have kids), but the park itself falls flat in comparison, considering it just south Orlando where you are competing with Disney the holy grail of theme parks its falls very very flat.

The mini land figures and models have been there for years and it shows, that whole area is really in dis-repair/its sun faded and in really bad shape. I really hope Lego will improve that, as a fan of Lego, this area should be mind blowing with lights/and movement with and out of this world models, but its not. I understand its in Florida, so its blasted with sun all day, but some really cool partially blocking large shades could be easily added overhead to give them a longer life span. Let alone make it more bearable to look at in the Florida heat. But seeing how bad the condition of the Lego models are, outside the LEGO store in downtown Disney, FL. I won't hold my breath!!

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By in Australia,

I can think of many alterations. But the most important one is... Legoland Australia!

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By in United Kingdom,

Does this mean that now LEGO own LEGOLAND, the VIP points can be used / gained within the theme parks?
[At present, this is NOT the case, so if you are a family member, buy your sets online!]

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By in United States,

Everything good can come from that!

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