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Legoland Set for Phipps Plaza

4:43 PM, Feb 15, 2011   |    comments
(Courtesy Legoland)
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ATLANTA -- Move over Tiffany & Co., here comes Legoland.

Legoland Discovery Center, an indoor attraction and retail store of the iconic plastic brick, is coming to Phipps Plaza, known for its upscale retailers like Gucci, Giorgio Armani and Versace.

The 32,000-square-foot attraction is expected to be built in the food court of the Buckhead mall, according to a building permit from the city of Atlanta.

Phase one of the $450,000 project will require demolition of some food court tenants, the permit indicates.

Food court tenants currently at Phipps Plaza include Subway, Moe's Southwest Grill and Johnny Rockets, and the permit does not indicate which food court tenant may be affected by the new store construction.

Local officials with Simon Property Group Inc. (NYSE: SPG), owner of Phipps Plaza, did not return several calls for information about the store, such as when it might open.

Merlin Entertainments Group, Legoland's United Kingdom-based parent company, said it does not comment "on any project until it was finally approved with all key stakeholders," spokeswoman Sally Ann Wilkinson. "While we are looking at various potential projects in the Atlanta area none of them are yet at that stage."

Merlin Entertainments has been scouting the Atlanta market for nearly two years.

Other sites under consideration were the North Point Mall area in Alpharetta, Midtown's Atlantic Station and the downtown area.

Inside a Legoland Discovery Center is a 4-D movie theater, a play area, a Dragon Castle Ride, a Build and Test area, and other interactive stations, all built with and around the iconic plastic bricks invented by a Danish company.

Lego is a contraction from the Danish phrase "leg godt," meaning "play well."

Growing family

Merlin Entertainments Group is the world's No. 2 visitor attraction operator - behind the Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) - and its properties include Madame Tussauds, Sea Life, Legoland theme parks and Legoland Discovery Centers, and The London Eye.

Currently there are five Legoland Discovery Centers, including ones in Chicago and Dallas, which is set to open March 30. Others are in Manchester, England, Berlin and Duisburg, Germany.

The company also has two of its theme parks in development: Legoland Florida at the former Cypress Gardens park, due to open in 2011, and Legoland Malaysia, due to open in 2012.

Merlin Entertainments has been making a push into the North American market.

It Feb. 9 it plans to develop a $15 million Sea Life aquarium in Kansas City, Mo., scheduled to open in spring 2012.

The addition of Legoland Discovery Center to the market adds to the other family-friendly destination attraction/retailers that have or are entering the market, including American Girl at North Point Mall and the recent announcement of Disney adding its new interactive prototype store at Perimeter Mall.

The new Disney store is expected to open March 30.

"I think a position in the heart of Buckhead in one of the two major malls makes a lot of sense [for the new Legoland,]" said Ray Uttenhove, managing principal of SRS Real Estate in Atlanta. "They will be a destination and bring a very unique shopping experience."

Although Phipps Plaza might be known more for some of its upscale brands, that doesn't leave out offerings to younger shoppers, she said.

"They've got Justice, Belk, the children's department at Saks [Fifth Avenue,]" Uttenhove said.

The retail portion of Legoland Discovery Center is open to the public without charge, while the attraction portion of the store does charge admission.

In Chicago admission runs $19 for adults and $15 for children, but offers midweek specials that drop ticket prices to as low as $8.50.

In Dallas, ticket prices are listed at $20.57 per adult and $16.24 per child, but the center also offers online discounts and other specials.

Merlin's magic

Atlanta's Legoland Discovery Center, like its sister stores, will have a scale-model city skyline, built by Lego model makers over five to six months, using 250,000 to 300,000 Lego bricks.

The attraction part of the store is all about interaction with the customers.

In the Dragon Castle Ride, families ride through a medieval castle with animatronic characters made out of Legos.

The Jungle Expedition allows explorers to follow an adventure trail, filled with Lego animals, as they search for a lost jungle city.

Merlin Entertainments Group even makes its own animated movies for its 4-D theater, which includes rain, wind and snow that come out at audience members.

At the Build and Test Center, kids can build race cars out of Legos, then race them against one another.

It makes sense for Merlin Entertainments to put a Legoland Discovery Center in Atlanta, said Nima Samadi, who covers theme parks for IBISWorld, a market research firm.

Atlanta may not be a destination the way Orlando or San Diego are - areas where the company is opening the larger Legoland theme parks, he said, "But these Discovery Centers have to have high population areas."

The 32,000-square-foot attraction is expected to be built in the food court of the Buckhead mall, according to a building permit from the city of Atlanta.

Phase one of the $450,000 project will require demolition of some food court tenants, the permit indicates.

Food court tenants currently at Phipps Plaza include Subway, Moe's Southwest Grill and Johnny Rockets, and the permit does not indicate which food court tenant may be affected by the new store construction.

Local officials with Simon Property Group Inc. (NYSE: SPG), owner of Phipps Plaza, did not return several calls for information about the store, such as when it might open.

Merlin Entertainments Group, Legoland's United Kingdom-based parent company, said it does not comment "on any project until it was finally approved with all key stakeholders," spokeswoman Sally Ann Wilkinson. "While we are looking at various potential projects in the Atlanta area none of them are yet at that stage."

Merlin Entertainments has been scouting the Atlanta market for nearly two years.

Other sites under consideration were the North Point Mall area in Alpharetta, Midtown's Atlantic Station and the downtown area.

Inside a Legoland Discovery Center is a 4-D movie theater, a play area, a Dragon Castle Ride, a Build and Test area, and other interactive stations, all built with and around the iconic plastic bricks invented by a Danish company.

Lego is a contraction from the Danish phrase "leg godt," meaning "play well."

Growing family
Merlin Entertainments Group is the world's No. 2 visitor attraction operator - behind the Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) - and its properties include Madame Tussauds, Sea Life, Legoland theme parks and Legoland Discovery Centers, and The London Eye.

Currently there are five Legoland Discovery Centers, including ones in Chicago and Dallas, which is set to open March 30. Others are in Manchester, England, Berlin and Duisburg, Germany.

The company also has two of its theme parks in development: Legoland Florida at the former Cypress Gardens park, due to open in 2011, and Legoland Malaysia, due to open in 2012.

Merlin Entertainments has been making a push into the North American market.

It Feb. 9 it plans to develop a $15 million Sea Life aquarium in Kansas City, Mo., scheduled to open in spring 2012.

The addition of Legoland Discovery Center to the market adds to the other family-friendly destination attraction/retailers that have or are entering the market, including American Girl at North Point Mall and the recent announcement of Disney adding its new interactive prototype store at Perimeter Mall.

The new Disney store is expected to open March 30.

"I think a position in the heart of Buckhead in one of the two major malls makes a lot of sense [for the new Legoland,]" said Ray Uttenhove, managing principal of SRS Real Estate in Atlanta. "They will be a destination and bring a very unique shopping experience."

Although Phipps Plaza might be known more for some of its upscale brands, that doesn't leave out offerings to younger shoppers, she said.

"They've got Justice, Belk, the children's department at Saks [Fifth Avenue,]" Uttenhove said.

The retail portion of Legoland Discovery Center is open to the public without charge, while the attraction portion of the store does charge admission.

In Chicago admission runs $19 for adults and $15 for children, but offers midweek specials that drop ticket prices to as low as $8.50.

In Dallas, ticket prices are listed at $20.57 per adult and $16.24 per child, but the center also offers online discounts and other specials.

Merlin's magic
Atlanta's Legoland Discovery Center, like its sister stores, will have a scale-model city skyline, built by Lego model makers over five to six months, using 250,000 to 300,000 Lego bricks.

The attraction part of the store is all about interaction with the customers.

In the Dragon Castle Ride, families ride through a medieval castle with animatronic characters made out of Legos.

The Jungle Expedition allows explorers to follow an adventure trail, filled with Lego animals, as they search for a lost jungle city.

Merlin Entertainments Group even makes its own animated movies for its 4-D theater, which includes rain, wind and snow that come out at audience members.

At the Build and Test Center, kids can build race cars out of Legos, then race them against one another.

It makes sense for Merlin Entertainments to put a Legoland Discovery Center in Atlanta, said Nima Samadi, who covers theme parks for IBISWorld, a market research firm.

Atlanta may not be a destination the way Orlando or San Diego are - areas where the company is opening the larger Legoland theme parks, he said, "But these Discovery Centers have to have high population areas."

 

(Atlanta Business Chronicle)

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