What Can Malls Learn From Disney World?
The Mall Of America in Bloomington, MN, already one of the largest malls in the U.S. at 4.2 million square feet, plans to add up to another 5.6 million square feet to make it even more of a tourist attraction, particularly for high-end spenders.
The expansion, according to Mall of America’s website, will add:
- A 20,000 square foot event space to host community events, celebrity appearances and more;
- Up to 8,000 additional parking spaces;
- Unique lodging options such as boutique, business, family and premium hotels;
- Museum-quality exhibit space for booking popular traveling exhibits, including one coming for Princess Diana;
- The state’s largest water park and an NHL-sized indoor skating rink;
- Nightlife, entertainment options, and state-of-the-art movie theaters.
"The overarching goal is to always keep the attraction fresh and continue to enhance it," Maureen Bausch, Mall of America’s executive vice president, told the Pioneer Press. "That’s what Disney and all the great attractions do. You never keep it the same."
The expansion is expected to particularly attract additional upscale customers with an estimated annual household income of more than $100,000, as well as families with older children, according to Mall of America’s website.
The Pioneer Press said the mall has become a shopping destination for wealthy tourists from Asia and Europe. International visitors have been known to spend up to 2.5 times more than domestic shoppers.
Beyond a focus on luxury boutiques, upscale additions include spas and a wellness center, valet parking, and a second luxury hotel to join the Radisson Blu hotel, which opened this past spring. In the existing mall, the food court will be replaced with an upscale food hall, skylights will be added to the corridor, and the carpet removed as part of an overall streamlining the overall design.
"The philosophy of designers has changed," Ms. Bausch told the Pioneer Press. "In 1990, it was all about ‘theming,’ so people knew where they were. … Now the school of thought is, you give them a white palate, a canvas, and you let the retailers provide the color."
Phase 2, which is expected to cost about $2.5 billion in total and take ten years to complete, is expected to draw up to an additional 20 million visitors annually — nearly 60 percent from outside 150 miles.
With 40 million annual visitors annually, Mall Of America claims to already be the country’s second most-visited tourist attraction after Florida’s Walt Disney World
- Future Expansion – Mall of America
- Mall of America set for super-sizing – Pioneer Press
- Just when you thought Mall of America had it all, soon you could swim, skate, stay longer – Pioneer Press
- Travel Scene: Megamall eyes 10-year expansion plan – Post Bulletin
Do you see parallels between Mall of America’s “attraction” strategy and that of Disney? What can smaller regional malls borrow from the Mall of America to draw bigger crowds? Do other mall properties have the potential to position themselves as tourist destinations?