Killeen Mall Play Area

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Killeen Mall Play Area

Killeen, TX All Indoor Themed
KILLEEN MALL PLAY AREA

Killeen, Texas, is home to Fort Hood, the largest military base in the United States. The installation’s vast population includes active-duty military members, retirees, family members, survivors and civilian contractors.

Many Fort Hood inhabitants rely on the nearby Killeen Mall to serve their shopping needs. Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), the mall’s owner and developer, decided that a play area would be ideal for enabling the people living on the base to have fun and enjoy some quality time away from the stresses of military life. The mall called upon Soft Play® to design, construct and install the new play area.

The Vision

According to Mardi Peaster, Killeen Mall’s Senior Marketing Specialty Leasing Manager with JLL, serving the families of Fort Hood is a responsibility and an honor. The mall’s management team also recognized that a significant portion of the base’s population consists of young kids.

“We have a lot of little children!” said Peaster. “We have 47.6% more kids under 5 years old than the national average.”

While the mall offers an assortment of kids’ programs and a good mix of retail for younger kids, teens and adults, it didn’t have a dedicated play area to serve families’ recreational needs.

The project’s goal was to develop a fun area that would excite the kids and use a theme to create a buzz and promote positive word-of-mouth advertising. The Killeen Mall’s management staff turned to Soft Play to help transform their vision into reality.

The Challenge

The project planning team understood the challenges of developing a theme that would appeal to such an expansive population base. They also recognized that if they missed the mark, the new play area might not be popular with the kids and fail to produce the desired return on investment.

The developers and owners ultimately decided that the best way to ensure the best results was to let the Fort Hood and Killeen communities select the play area’s theme. They set up an online contest on Facebook where people could vote for their favorite idea. They also accepted in-person votes from mall shoppers.

The Contest

The project team knew that Soft Play had the capabilities to develop custom theming elements that could bring any brand or idea to life. The team narrowed the themes down to three options — woodsy, Southwest and transportation.

The voting occurred over a three-week period. It became apparent early in the process that the race would be between transportation and woodsy themes, as the Southwest choice quickly fell by the wayside. The outcome wasn’t decided until the final day, with transportation prevailing by a scant 10-vote margin.

Peaster believes that the combination of online and in-person voting encouraged participation and contributed to the contest’s rousing success.

“It was cool to see parents bring their kids in so that they could vote, too,” she said. “Otherwise, most kids wouldn’t have been able to vote on Facebook.”

The Installation

After the voting, it was time for Soft Play to get to work. The construction began during the last week of October. Besides creating a transportation-themed playground, the work included an altered mall entrance featuring a First Cavalry soldier standing at attention next to a list of rules for the play area. This change from the original design, which included a police officer, occurred due to feedback from the community.

Soft Play completed the project in time for an October 31 opening. The event attracted numerous kids dressed in their Halloween costumes. However, some families soon lost interest in trudging through the surrounding Killeen and Fort Hood neighborhoods to fill their bags with candy. Peaster recalled hearing some kids say they would rather stay and play instead.

The Outcome

The new play area at the Killeen Mall has been a big hit with the Killeen community, Fort Hood, and the mall’s owners and developers. It has also resulted in a substantial increase in shoppers visiting the mall. Peaster says the play area has benefitted from great word-of-mouth marketing, and retailers are happy with the increase in foot traffic from families who are returning to shop and play again and again.

Let Soft Play Transform Your Play Area

At Soft Play, we create custom spaces that provide an imaginative alternative to traditional play areas. We can transform playgrounds in shopping malls, fitness centers, parks and other facilities, making them more enjoyable for kids of all ages. As the world’s oldest and most experienced contained provider, we can design a play area that works for your business or organization.

Contact a Soft Play representative today to learn more about our products and discuss your project ideas and goals. You can also submit our online quote form to request pricing information.

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