Pa.’s only Legoland coming to area mall
Pa.’s only Legoland to debut at Plymouth Meeting Mall
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.
PREIT CEO Joe Coradino stands by a partition that conceals construction of Plymouth Meeting Mall’s Legoland Discovery Center Philadelphia, coming next spring.