Shopping Center Business

MAY 2015

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306 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • MAY 2015 and other prominent personalities, in an interactive and immersive setting. Each Madame Tussauds reflects the "face of the place" focusing on that region's personality. Merlin's latest brand expansion in North America involves its Dungeons brand. The Dungeons attractions create themed tours of fictional dungeons that exist in the city in which they are located. While the dungeons may be fictional, the facts and stories that guides tell are not. The Dungeons are an entertaining way for locals and visitors to learn more about the city, bringing history to life with live ac- tors serving as the guides. Merlin operates nine Dungeons around the world; its latest opened in San Francisco next to Madame Tussauds at Fisherman's Wharf. The San Francisco Dungeon has been so success- ful that Merlin is now considering expan- sion to other North American cities. Each of Merlin's Midway concepts are designed to allow the average family to get through the experi- ence in about 90 minutes. "They are a great alternative to spending the entire day at a theme park," says Johnson. "They are long enough to provide value through entertainment, but short enough that you can combine it with other nearby leisure offerings, including a meal at a restaurant or movie, for a longer experience." Merlin also works closely with school groups, as there is an educational value to all of the company's con- cepts. For example, LEGO products are on the curriculum in many states for learning, especially spe- cial needs children. In Florida, every Polk County second grader is allowed to come for free to LEGOLAND, and every teach- er in the state receives a free annual pass. "About 10 percent to 15 percent of our visitations are built around groups of school children," says Johnson. "That helps our traffic on slower weekdays while encouraging valuable learning skills. It also expands the 'presence' of a project in the marketplace." As it has done with Madame Tussauds and The Dungeons of San Francisco at Fisherman's Wharf, Merlin has tradition- ally tried to co-locate its concepts in adja- cent or nearby spaces. It will be opening a LEGOLAND Discovery Center adjacent to the existing SEA LIFE Center at Arizo- na Mills, and across from the SEA LIFE Center at Great Lakes Crossing. "Cluster- ing two or more attractions in one loca- tion allows us to collectively market one destination," says Samuels. "It provides operational benefits and expands the mar- ket potential for both the landlord and the tenant." That said, each Merlin brand has its own site-specific criteria. Madame Tus- sauds and Dungeons are geared toward tourism traffic. They are generally located in iconic locations that draw lots of pe- destrian traffic. LEGOLAND Discovery and SEA LIFE Centers are more in tune with family visits and encourage repeat- able regular visits. Locations that work for those concepts are high traffic regional and super-regional centers with theaters and a lot of restaurants and complemen- tary entertainment uses. "We like landlords who will take the time to understand these concepts and who will work with us closely," says Samuels, who cites the company's great relationships with national landlords like Simon, Taubman, Forest City, and Triple Five. "We're targeted our site selection cri- teria on finding the right site at appro- priate economics for an entertainment attraction," says Johnson. "We want to own and operate the best attractions in the market that we enter, and having a great relationship with the landlord is a key to that success." Merlin has never closed an attraction, so keeping that track record going is im- portant to the company as it continues to expand. In the U.S., Merlin prefers to locate in city centers, or large shopping LEGOLAND at Federal Realty's Assembly Row near Boston. Merlin Entertianments likes to locate LEGOLAND in an envirronment that is a regional draw and that has complementary entertainment tenants. Contact: Keith D. Kite 772-231-9333 | An independent afliate of RETAIL ADVISORY GROUP Experience | Integrity | Excellence Building Relationships Delivering Results Exclusively Representing Owners, Investors, Developers of Net Leased Retail Properties Courtesy of Federal Realty

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