(Reuters) - UK-based theme park operator Merlin Entertainments Plc (MERL.L) has approached marine park operator SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (SEAS.N) about a potential deal, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Merlin, which runs Legoland parks worldwide and owns Madame Tussauds, has made a bid for part of SeaWorld, but SeaWorld's preference is to sell itself whole, the source said.

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SeaWorld has also received indications of interest from other parties, the source said.

"We do not comment on speculation or rumors", SeaWorld said. Merlin could not be reached for a comment outside business hours.

Merlin's approach for SeaWorld was first reported by Bloomberg earlier on Wednesday.

Shares of Orlando-based SeaWorld were trading up nearly 5 percent after the bell on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Martina D'Couto)