Pa.’s only Le­goland com­ing to area mall

Pa.’s only Le­goland to de­but at Ply­mouth Meet­ing Mall

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Gary Puleo gpuleo@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mus­tangMan48 on Twit­ter

PLY­MOUTH>> The makeover of Ply­mouth Meet­ing Mall that gob­bled up much of the park­ing lot for a string of pop­u­lar restau­rants has now moved in­doors.

Some­time next spring a Le­goland Discovery Cen­ter Philadel­phia will de­but in the lower-level space once de­voted to the food court.

A trio of eater­ies — Sub­way, Main Street Pizze­ria & Grille and Sarku Ja­pan — will stick around to sat­isfy the ap­petites of a hun­gry mall crowd.

It’s all part of mall owner and op­er­a­tor PREIT’s grand strat­egy to rein­vent it­self as a multi-op­er­a­tional leisure-time des­ti­na­tion, noted PREIT CEO Joe Co­radino.

“When you think about the evo­lu­tion of this prop­erty, we re­ally needed to dif­fer­en­ti­ate our­selves so that some­one com­ing here would have a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence and that it didn’t sim­ply repli­cate King of Prus­sia or what have you,” Co­radino said. “We knew that din­ing and en­ter­tain­ment would dif­fer­en­ti­ate the mall from other shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences, and we also thought that bring­ing in an or­ganic gro­cer (Whole Foods) would be good, be­cause peo­ple who shop for or­ganic food typ­i­cally shop twice a week for food.”

As the mall’s Red­stone Amer­i­can Grill proved to be one of the top restau­rants in that chain, it ul­ti­mately con­firmed PREIT’s con­fi­dence in its tac­tics.

“So we started to take the mall in this dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion, but most of what we did is on the ex­te­rior of the mall,” Co­radino said. “We needed to bring some­thing into the prop­erty, to bring that cus­tomer in.”

En­ter Le­goland Discovery Cen­ter, built on the con­cept of

the Lego brick, which has been cap­ti­vat­ing kids since the Great De­pres­sion.

Owned and op­er­ated by global gi­ant Mer­lin En­ter­tain­ments and de­signed for chil­dren in the 3 to 10 age range, Le­goland Discovery Cen­ter of­fers an in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­ence cre­ated to keep fam­i­lies at the mall for hours.

“In many re­spects, Le­goland is a fan­tasy thing,” Co­radino said. “This will be only the ninth one in the coun­try, the 17th in the world. It draws cus­tomers from a sig­nif­i­cantly larger trade area, and since it’s not com­pet­i­tive with King of Prus­sia, Wil­low Grove, or Mont­gomeryville malls, it will draw cus­tomers from their trade ar­eas here.”

The de­mo­graph­ics are promis­ing: Co­radino pointed out that there are a mil­lion kids be­tween 2 and 12 within an hour’s drive of Ply­mouth Meet­ing Mall.

“All those kids have to have a mom or a dad or some­body take them here, so the ex­pan­sive area from which we draw will drive traf­fic to this prop­erty dra­mat­i­cally,” he said. “So that orig­i­nal thought we had to dif­fer­en­ti­ate the prop­erty with din­ing and en­ter­tain­ment — this is re­ally the cherry on top, if you will.”

Although Penn­syl­va­nia’s only Le­goland will not have a wa­ter park like the Cal­i­for­nia ver­sion, it will tempt cus­tomers with the ul­ti­mate in­door play­ground, noted Le­goland Discovery Cen­ter Philadel­phia man­ager Michael Taylor.

“The Discovery Cen­ter takes kids through a jour­ney, with a 4-D movie the­ater, with wind, rain and other spe­cial ef­fects, a Lego-themed ride and 10 dif­fer­ent play ar­eas that we call Lego ponds, where kids can build and play. The pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less,” he added. “We want to cre­ate those mem­o­ries for the par­ents and the kids. Even though it’s for ages 3 to 10, if they have an older or younger sib­ling, it’s per­fect for them as well.”

The re­vamped Ply­mouth Meet­ing Mall was a great match for a part­ner­ship with Mer­lin, which is billed as the world’s sec­ond largest vis­i­tor at­trac­tion op­er­a­tor, Taylor said.

“What’s great about Ply­mouth Meet­ing Mall and why they’re a great part­ner for us, it’s re­ally changed into a life­style cen­ter with all the restau­rants. At noon the park­ing lot is packed be­cause of the restau­rants.”

Although the cherry he al­luded to will be hard to top, Co­radino promised that the mall’s rein­ven­tion is far from com­plete.

“There’s more to come. We’re work­ing with other re­tail, din­ing and en­ter­tain­ment con­cepts to bring here in­side in the fu­ture,” he said.

GARY PULEO — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

PREIT CEO Joe Co­radino stands by a par­ti­tion that con­ceals con­struc­tion of Ply­mouth Meet­ing Mall’s Le­goland Discovery Cen­ter Philadel­phia, com­ing next spring.

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