As shopping centers are becoming the prominent gathering place for families, one important question is how to make the mall experience engaging and interesting? In some cases, shopping is an activity which some children may loathe; when dealing with large crowds and long wait times. If there were only a way to keep the despair at bay, then shopping ordeals might be bearable or even enjoyable for them. Well, shopping centers are no longer overlooking this type of reaction and in fact, they are eager to cultivate richer experiences for the whole family by creating new and exciting atmospheres inside and outside the mall. Families are an important consideration for shopping centers, and efforts to redesign and create new entertainment destinations will retain customers for longer periods of time and drive more frequent visits to the mall.
In this age of advanced touchscreens and wireless connectivity, shopping centers are making the visit more fun and attractive with a focus in aesthetics, style, and a plethora of things to do for all audiences. Companies such as Playtime have been designing play areas for years, using custom-themed indoor and outdoor play areas using simple technology and designs. They have been employed by major retail developers such as Taubman, CBL Properties, Simon, AEON, Lotte, and many more, even worldwide. They continue to innovate by enhancing the aesthetic of the property, integrating technology to inspire kids’ imaginations, and by even creating new opportunities with sponsorships and local advertising.
As there are more developments in creating the right atmosphere at malls; there are more events and activities to pique interest for families to spend time there. The mall is adapting in areas to make the experience more enjoyable and memorable with activities such as bowling, ice skating, go-kart racing, indoor sliding, and more. Take for example the incessant rainfall in Seattle, in which shopping centers and malls in that area have almost a necessity to create activities to allow children to not only have fun, but to make activities interesting and intellectually stimulating; for families who find learning the focal point of their children’s interactions. They are able to achieve this with story-telling, arts and crafts, and interactive science experiments; which not only provide fun, but also long term engagement.
One center we, here at the Directory of Major Malls, have watched grow since its infancy is the Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack, NY, less than 3 miles from our offices. We have seen many changes such as a major renovation in 2013, which updated common areas from entrances, ceilings, floors, tiling and lighting. Common areas were updated with soft seating areas designed for comfort with the availability of Wi-Fi. At the time Palisades Center Director of Marketing, Leemarie Dell’Acchio said, “We want our 24 million annual visitors to be happier than ever.” In more recent tenant changes, they added Dick’s Sporting Goods as a major anchor, which provides a much needed big-box presence at the rear entrance of the mall. One of the more eye-catching entertainment destinations here for the under 12 crowd is the indoor playground Billy Beez, which spans 26,000 square feet with many climbing and sliding opportunities throughout the venue.
There is the Palisades Climb Adventure, which is the tallest indoor ropes course in the world, which soars 85 feet in the air through the center atrium and is visible from several levels.
If that isn’t enough to whet your children’s appetite for fun, the Palisades Mall just opened ImDeepXp which offers a “7D Turbo Ride” which uses virtual reality and built-in special effects that include wind, water mist, strobe and bubbles amongst others. And most recently, a new race track destination has arrived, called the Autobahn Indoor Speedway, which brings the thrill of racing in their 43,000 square feet state-of-the-art facility, which was formerly a Sports Authority store. Why wait to go to Disneyland when you can get a fully engaging and immersive experience near home?
It is becoming quite apparent that retail by itself is no longer enough to draw leisure experiences for the whole family. Urban entertainment centers and location-based entertainment centers are becoming a significant part of the mix at shopping centers. Commercial retail property owners realize it is crucial to successful businesses at their shopping centers to add entertainment and educational play areas to appeal to consumers. How will your major shopping center innovate to continue thrive as online shopping continues to nip at your heels in an attempt to dominate consumer’s dollars?