Shopping Center Business

MAY 2015

Shopping Center Business is the leading monthly business magazine for the retail real estate industry.

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304 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • MAY 2015 Randall Shearin Merlin Entertainments is the world's second largest attraction-based company, with more than 100 attractions around the globe. Several are expanding in the U.S. Entertaining Places B ased in the United Kingdom, Merlin Entertainments has been actively expanding its entertain- ment concepts around the world over the past several years. Known mostly in the U.S. for its indoor "Midway" attrac- tions of LEGOLAND Discovery Centers, SEA LIFE Centers, and Madame Tus- sauds, the company has more recently brought its popular Dungeons concept to the U.S., as well as its themed obser- vation wheels. The company, which also owns the LEGOLAND theme parks in Orlando and Carlsbad (and developing new parks in Dubai, Japan, and Korea), is continuing to expand and has committed to open seven indoor Midway attractions globally per year, with two to three indoor Midway attractions in North America. Shopping Center Business recently caught up with David Johnson, director of site selection for Merlin Entertainments for the Americas, as well as Howard Samu- els, Merlin's exclusive advisor/broker, to learn more about the company and how their location based entertainment works in shopping centers. Merlin Entertainments has doubled in size since 2008. The company currently operates 106 attractions around the globe, including 11 hotels, three holiday villages and numerous entertainment concepts in 23 countries. Behind the Walt Disney Co., it is the world's second largest attrac- tion based company with nearly 63 mil- lion visitors worldwide in 2014. Merlin's portfolio of location based entertainment concepts is diverse, but all tied around the theme of high quality fam- ily attractions. The company is the larg- est aquarium operator in the world and presently has seven SEA LIFE locations in North America. The approximate 25,000-square-foot interactive aquariums are based around education and con- servation about the ocean and the seas. This month, it opens a new SEA LIFE aquarium in Orlando. Currently, the com- pany operates SEA LIFE aquariums at Arizona Mills in Phoenix; Mall of Amer- ica in Bloomington, Minnesota; Grape- vine Mills in the Dallas/Fort Worth area; Crown Center in Kansas City; Concord Mills in Concord, North Carolina; at the LEGOLAND theme park in Carlsbad, California; and the recently opened Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills, Michigan that has been sold out for its first three months. Merlin plans to open one SEA LIFE aquarium in North America per year for the next few years. LEGOLAND Discovery Centers of- fer family entertainment based around the hugely popular LEGO brand. This 30,000 to 35,000 square foot concept have been located in super-regional malls/ outlet centers, and lifestyle centers. For this concept, Merlin likes projects that have a large regional draw, since there will not be a LEGOLAND Discovery Center in every city. There are currently seven LEGOLAND Discovery Centers in North America: at Grapevine Mills (Dallas/Fort Worth), Texas; The Streets of Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg (Chi- cago), Illinois; Assembly Row in Somer- ville (Boston), Massachusetts; Westches- ter's Ridge Hill in Yonkers, New York; Vaughan Mills near Toronto; and Phipps Plaza in Atlanta. Two more will open in 2016: at Great Lakes Crossing in Au- burn Hills, Michigan, and Arizona Mills in Phoenix. Merlin Entertainments' initial entry into the U.S. was in the 1990s with its Madame Tussauds wax museum concept in Las Vegas (at The Venetian) and New York City (Times Square). Presently the company operates five Madame Tussauds in North America besides NYC/Las Ve- gas: Hollywood, California; Washington, D.C.; and its most recent addition at Fish- erman's Wharf in San Francisco. There are 18 Madame Tussauds worldwide to- day, building on the original location in London since 1884. The brand dates back to the French Revolution, and the attraction features wax portraits of enter- tainment and political figures, athletes Promotion for Merlin's attractions in Orlando. Merlin Entertainments prefers to cluster its venues so it can easily operate and market them to similar audiences.

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