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The Future of the Indian Mall Industry: From shopping centres to FECs

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Shopping centers are traditional destinations for families. However, retail by itself appears to no longer suffice as a draw for leisure experiences. Yes, families still come to traditional shopping centers to buy what they need, but new entertainment destinations such as urban entertainment centers and location-based entertainment centers are appearing, many with retail as a significant part of their mix.

The consumers’ ambitions to reach global standards in lifestyle, coupled with high disposable incomes, are aggressively scripting a radical change in the business viability of organised retailing.

While movie theaters and malls have been pairing up for years, today shopping center operators are increasingly shifting focus to entertainment options, particularly in the last few years. This is in line with the new and modern strategies they are formulating to keep up with changing consumer dynamics – with changing shopping habits and online buying options growing more easier than ever, consumers are shifting to spending on experiences.

Malls are transforming into community spaces, bringing to the discerning consumer the best of brands, food, and entertainment. They’re hubs where people go to rejuvenate, socialise and entertain – they are Family Entertainment Centres (FECs).

Leading The Way

Delhi-NCR is way ahead of the Tier I & II cities in providing FECs. The city has everything –from amusement parks to water parks, from rides to the sports arenas, gaming zones and even kids’ entertainment centres. Moreover, most of these options are present in shopping malls which makes these malls an even more popular hangout places. Millennials, new age parents who are completely into the concept of FECs and the elderly love the idea of quality family time in these FECs.

The concept of FECs first grew outside the mall in India.
These were either amusements parks or water parks like Appu Ghar, Amusement Island and Essel World. The idea of adding entertainment mix in malls only gained rapid popularity over the last few years. Several new malls have been constructed around the country, with substantial square footage allocated to FECs. Malls like DLF Mall of India, Pacific Mall, The Great India Place and The Grand Venice Mall have allocated huge spaces to create entire entertainment cities including multiplexes and foodcourts. Here’s a look at the few very popular FECs centres across big malls in and around Delhi.

Entertainment City, Noida

Entertainment City Noida is one of the most renowned social sanctuaries for the people living in and around Delhi. Spread over an area of 147.48 acres, The entertainment City is house to around five hundred premium Family Entertainment, Retail, Movies, F&B, and Hospitality brands. With a monthly footfall of around 6 million people, Entertainment City keeps enhancing its services and infrastructure and with every passing year in order to become a bigger and better entertainment destination.

The project, since its inception in 2002, has been developed in three phases. Phase I of the project consisted of The Great India Place Mall, and Teen Zone of Amusement Park. Phase II was Gardens Galleria Mall, Arrival Village, Family Zone, Lake WOW and Water Park of the amusement park component. Phase III is still in the development process.

The Great India Place Mall opened its doors in 2007, followed by Worlds of Wonder. In 2015, Wonder Speedway, North India’s largest go-karting track at Worlds of Wonder was inaugurated, along with the opening of Gardens Galleria mall. Consequently, 2016 brought the indoor theme park, KidZania: the park which blends reality with entertainment to provide kids with a platform to discover, explore, and learn about the realworld.

Worlds of Wonder: Worlds of Wonder is a world-class destination offering people the perfect getaway which includes international standard Adventure Park, Water Park and Go-karting track. 20 TÜV Nord certified rides, 26 world class slides, the largest go-karting track in North India, along with rain dance, largest man-made lake for an exquisite boating experience, 360-meter lazy river, and a beach themed wave pool.

The Amusement Park has two zones, Roadshow and La Fiesta, suiting different types of guests looking for escapism from the everyday. There are especially dedicated rides as well as parks for the little ones like bird nest, some high speed rides like big beat for youngsters and adults alike.

The water park is an ideal destination to beat the heat and enjoy a chilled out day. The entire park is decorated with exotic trees and plants to transport the visitor to a paradise like world. One will find a wide variety of slides to indulge in some healthy competition. People are sure to get the feeling of being a professional racer at the gokarting track. It is well supervised by Marshals on as well as off the track and provides services for amateurs and professional gokarters alike.

Worlds of Wonder is equipped with international safety and security norms. They have TUV NORD German safety standards for all the rides which is being monitored and inspected time to time.

Playbox : Playbox is an extremely engaging facility primarily catering to children between the ages of two and nine. Built around an area of 14,000 sq. ft, Playbox offers a space where kids could come to explore, engage, express and entertain themselves. Playbox comprises of two separate areas, My Burrow and My Maze – one for 2-4-year old kids and one for 5-9-year-old kids. Both the age groups have been consciously provided with separate play areas since older children are at more advanced strength and maturity levels and the brand’s prime focus is playing in a safe environment.

Along with this, there are two attractive party rooms– Party Box 1 and Party Box 2 – custom designed for birthday parties.
Snackbox is the other highlights a boutique café which caters primarily to parents and kids, with menus that are very child-friendly but at the same time, tasty and fun enough for adults as well. The last attractive feature of Playbox is ShowBox, which is a performance, activity and workshop area. This is where various workshops are held, ranging from Active Crossfit programs to Zumba, Yoga and even Pilates, to craft-making, and fun with science experiments. These workshops are specially designed for both children and their parents too. The main purpose of these workshops is to provide activities that children and their parents can do together in line with Playbox’s concept – to encourage parents to bond with children and to promote social and peer interaction, cognitive development, creativity and imagination.

Playbox provides a safe indoor play zone for children. Being a wholesome play area for children to explore, jump on the trampoline, slide down and crawl through the infinite maze, Playbox has a completely different standard of safety,security as well as a whole new superior level of operation standards. They have whole foam padded area which ensures safety for children.

The play area is designed to a very high international standard and almost every component conforms to European safety and construction norms. It is mapped with security cameras, so parents feel very secure leaving their kids in the play zone if they want to do a spot of shopping, assured that their kids are fully monitored.

KidZania : KidZania is a 75,000 sq. ft. global indoor entertainment and learning Center for families that emulates the workings of a real city built-to-scale for kids. It is a safe, unique, and interactive Indoor Entertainment and Learning Center that aims to empower, inspire & educate kids from 2 to 16 years of age through 100+ activities.

“Presently, the place is widespread in 147 acres of land and owns the largest KidZania franchise in Asia- Pacific, Decathlon along with the finest amusement destination, Worlds of Wonder, The Great India Place and Gardens Galleria Mall. Entertainment City is a joint venture between Appu Ghar and Unitech. In fact, Metro Walk and Adventure Island are also a part of the same group,” says Mahim Singh, Mall Head, Gardens Galleria and The Great India Place.

Entertainment City employs more than 1,700 people. Around 50 percent of them are on a contractual basis and a large part of these employees take care of the multiple FEC zones. All the staff and operators are duly trained as per ‘TUV Norms and Standards’ and regularly checked and updated for the same.

DLF Mall of India, Noida

Smaaash: Smaaash is a perfect family entertainment place that offers everything from Virtual Reality gaming, bowling, skykarting, simulated sport to dining. It is a perfect entertainment zone for people of all age groups.

Even a 60-year-old person can also take a hang of his favorite gaming activity (if any) at Smaaash. It is that hottest destination that caters to anyone between 8 to 80. Smaaash has the country’s premiere urban sports park boasts of the world’s first 360-degree cricket simulator where one can experience firsthand facing cricket legends like Dale Steyn, Wasim Akram and of course the master blaster Sachin Tendulkar. Football fans can take a shot at the game by participating in the challenges such as Super-sonic goalkeeper as well as Super Keeper and other football skill games.

Smaaash Sky Karting offers a world-class racing track by a Spain & Germany based firm Protex Karting, the renowned creators of protective barrier suitable for indoor and outdoor Karting circuits. The electric karts provide much superior acceleration compared to engine powered karts.

Spread over an area of 8000 to 10,000 sq ft. space, Smaaash has 33 centres pan India with most of them are situated in shopping malls i.e Ambience Mall, Mall of India, Cyber City etc.

Ski India: Ski India at DLF Mall of India is Delhi NCR’s first ski resort and a perfect place for a snowybreather. Spread over 60000 sq ft area with thousands of tons of snow, Ski India offers everything from skiing, to slope tobogganing, bobsled, snow sledging, ice skating, snow carousal, snowfall dancing; all in one stop, a breathtaking experience for family and kids. Situated at the level 04,05 and 06, Ski India houses exclusive and un-matchable scope of activities at a refreshing -10 degrees of arctic, frosty weather. The key highlights is a Snow Cavern filled with characters walk through, and heading up to the upgrade station for an adrenaline-charged ski experience, jumping on the toboggans for an exhilarating ride with a lot of bumps or spinning around as you slide down the 30-meter long Tube Run. Fun for all ages, Ski India is the ultimate, enriching social experience.

Select CityWalk, New Delhi 

Hang Out: With rapid urbanisation and a dearth of play areas for children, it has become imperative to provide other forms of educative entertainment for children, entertainment which exercises not just their muscles but also their brain cells.

Understanding the gap and stepping into it was one such FEC, Hang Out. Hang Out, which has been operating for eight years in Select CityWalk Mall, New Delhi, is a pioneer in family entertainment. It’s a one-stop-shop for all things fun, food, and entertainment. The space is neatly divided into a multi-level gaming arcade, a bowling alley, 4D rides, a special fun zone for kids, and even a dining area.

Hang Out prides itself on being a is a comprehensive center for family fun. The aim of the centre is to promote family interaction, quality family time and understanding preferences of children entertainment as per their ages. Their slogan – we cater to ages 2 to U2 – defines them precisely. They have something for everyone – from toddlers to tweens, parents to grandparents.

“Our USP is personalised services, understanding and meeting the parental needs and psychology of parents, taking care of their children like our own, giving them the assurance and comfort to leave their children at Hang Out for their shopping convenience and/or spending quality time with them,” explains Shalini Vij, Director, Hang Out.

Its offerings of edutainment toddler areas, arcade games, 4D Virtual Roller coasters,3-level playgrounds and hourly musical performances make it a kid magnet, pulling them back for more fun. The brandis constantly upgrading its games and rides with the newest technologies available, to keep its offerings fresh. Hang Out also works on growing with kids and their needs.

“The initial Hang Out kids is a jungle themed cafe, we tried to stay as close to nature as we could, understanding the dearth of well-maintained parks and weather restraints in India.We converted all pillars into trees and used a lot of foliage, leaves to give a natural shade, with grass turf, grass-coloured carpets, animal murals, animal shaped furniture at our Zoo Café,and leopard print hanging lights were just some of the elements we added,” says Vij.

DLF Place Mall, Saket, Delhi 

Federation of Gamers: Federation of Gamers (FOG) is a gaming arena which offer unparallel gaming experience by fusing reality with gaming, constant innovation, technical upgradation and a unique service mix.

It aims to provide a social destination for the youth with video game at its heart. The gaming arena has PCs, consoles, Xbox, PS3, Wii, Kinect, Gameware, Med Station etc with good foo and music to play games and spend quality time in a relaxed ambience.

Pacific Mall, Subhash Nagar 

Lock ‘n’ Load Paintball: Lock ‘n’ Load Paintball is one of the most enjoyed games and is gaining popularity among Millennials. Out of different paintball centres in and around Delhi NCR, the Lock n Load Paintball at the Pacific Mall, Subhash Nagar is definitely the place to be. Situated on the third floor in the mall, Lock n Load Paintball is one of the key highlights at the mall.

No matter how long you play for, you are never tired. At Lock ‘n’ Load Paintball consumers can experience some serious action with colours. Players compete in teams and the aim is to eliminate opponents using a paintball gun. The game can be played in both indoor and outdoor fields which are scattered with natural and artificial terrain. The fun zone promises to provide gaming junkies with a solid adrenaline rush.

Omaxe Connaught Place 

Oh! Max: Omaxe Connaught Place offers several unique entertainment options. The mall houses, Oh!Max, the country’s largest indoor theme Zone that has attractions which are unique in their own way. Some of the key attractions include Land of Dinosaurs, The Secret Chambers of Taj, Jungle of Amazon, Chocolate Factory, The Unsinkable Titanic and Treasure of Tut among others. Each of these attractions are unique and different from each other. For instance, the Land of Dinosaurs displays various species of Dinosaurs both large and small one, which excites, entertains and educates everyone, particularly children. The same is the case with The Secret Chambers of Taj, which via the musical play and special movies make the visitors aware about ‘The Taj’ in a very entertaining and engaging manner. Other attractions like Jungle of Amazon, Chocolate Factory, The Unsinkable Titanic, Treasure of Tut are also sure to edutain and excite everyone.

Ambience Mall 

Funcity: Funcity is an extremely popular gaming zone amongst people of all ages. The zone prides itself on providing games that kids as well as adults can indulge in – from the ages of 5 to 40. Dashing cars, bull rides, shooting games, bumper cars and kiddy rides for those looking for the rough and tumble. For kids, there is soft play as well as numerous other attractions.

There’s also bungee jumping for kids on the ground floor at Ambience Mall. For indoor game freaks, there’s the Underdogg Sports Bar & Grill which offers foosball, table tennis and snooker to name just a few. Aside from this, the play area offers some amazing finger food, so people don’t really have to go anywhere.

On important match / game days, they project live games on TV on gigantic screens.

Ambience Mall also offers Bluo for bowling aficionados, a PVR enterprise. Aside from this, there is an ice skating rink – the only one of its kind in Gurugram.

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