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Megamalls: All-Day Experiences, Entertainment, and Dining

Caroline Wu
Jul 21, 2023
Megamalls: All-Day Experiences, Entertainment, and Dining

Although the U.S. has one of the highest per-capita ratios of mall square footage per person, there are plenty of places around the globe where the actual square footage of a shopping center boggles the mind.

In Dubai, Dubai Mall is the largest in the world, covering more than 5.4M square feet of retail floor area, and situated right next to the stunning Burj Khalifa. There, one can engage in ice skating and visit the Dubai Aquarium and Zoo, entertain kids with edutainment concept Kidzania, and choose from over 200 places to eat. In Thailand, along Rama I road, there are more malls and shopping areas in a contiguous location-including CentralWorld (2M square feet of retail floor area), Siam Paragon (4.3M square feet of retail floor area), MBK, Siam Discovery, and Siam Center--than one might find in entire countries. An elevated skywalk connects multiple malls at the Siam transit stop, allowing shoppers to easily access experiences as varied as a Studio Ghibli immersive exhibit, thousands of food stalls, international luxury shopping, state-of-the art movie theaters, bowling alleys, karaoke bars, and a Van Gogh exhibit. Lucky visitors staying at the Siam Kempinski can literally shop until they drop next door at Siam Paragon. Granted, Dubai and Bangkok can also have searing temperatures, perhaps one reason why megamalls in the Middle East and Asia are popular ways to beat the heat and can be daylong excursions. However, as malls in the U.S. begin to participate in a survival of the fittest race, we continue to see increasing turns towards reshaping them as lifestyle/destination centers, with many proposing hotel, office, or residential developments nearby for a true mixed-use experience:

  • Roosevelt Field--designed by I.M. Pei--is the largest shopping mall on Long Island at 2.4M square feet of gross leasable area (GLA). It includes anchors such as Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, and Primark. Glowgolf is one of the many entertainment options available at this center, and nearby the premises is a Residence Inn by Marriott that allows convenient access to the mall.  After a slight dip in visits in February, we are seeing steadily increasing visits into the summer for this location.
  • The name Mall of America says it all. Based in Bloomington, MN, this mall has 2.5M square feet of GLA and entertainment as its middle name. It hosts Nickelodeon Universe, one of the largest indoor theme parks in the country with over seven acres of attractions, FlyOver America, and a SeaLife aquarium.  In conjunction, there is also a Radisson Blu and a JW Marriott offering easy access. (We also more closely examined how Mall of America's tenant mix changed post-pandemic in a piece last year).
  • King of Prussia Mall serves greater Philadelphia with over 450 stores and 2.4M in GLA.  Most recently, this mall hosted the immersive “Friends” experience to live out the classic '90s sitcom.

Below, we've presented indexed visits for five U.S. megamalls (Mall of America, American Dream, King of Prussia, Roosevelt Field, and Destiny USA).

American Dream, with 3M square feet of GLA, has seen the largest uptick in year-over-year visitation. The latest megamall developed by the same owners as that of Mall of America, it includes an indoor water park, a Ferris Wheel, and even an indoor ski and snowboarding park called Big Snow.

Destiny USA rounds out our group of megamalls with 2.4M square feet of GLA, and with its unique entertainment offerings like an antique carousel and an indoor ropes course at WonderWorks, it’s no surprise that almost half of its visitors come 2+ times.  For out-of-towners, there is an Embassy Suites nearby.

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Caroline Wu

Director of Research,

Caroline brings expertise in retail, CRE, entertainment, media, CPG, and tourism, and specializes in synthesizing broad datasets into actionable recommendations for growth. She has worked as the US Director of Consumer Insights at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, VP of Retail Insights and Intelligence at Omnicom, and Senior Director at Kantar. Caroline holds an MA in Sociology from Stanford University and a BA in International Relations from Stanford University.

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