Move over princesses, the crayon is moving in.
Disney World may be what brings tourists to Orlando, Fla., but Crayola is banking on the crayon to lure them to a new experience there.
The Forks Township crayon-maker is opening a new family attraction in Orlando next summer that will be similar to its Crayola Experience in Easton, the company announced Tuesday.
The 70,000 square-foot Crayola Experience Orlando will feature 25 hands-on attractions at the Florida Mall, including the popular crayon wrapping that allows children to wrap their own crayons and name the color. It also will feature a store housing the biggest assortment of Crayola products in the world, the company said.
The new location puts the iconic brand in one of the Sunshine State's top family destinations and in close proximity to Walt Disney World Resort. With 250 stores and restaurants, the Florida Mall attracts 20 million visitors each year.
The private company did not release specific investment details.
The Easton location attracts 400,000 visitors each year, mostly coming from within 100 miles. The Florida location should attract even more guests because it will serve the local population as well as families visiting Orlando, Crayola CEO Mike Perry said. The company would like to open additional Crayola Experiences around the country, he said.
"I think there are a lot of markets that could support a Crayola Experience," Perry said.
Retail is a key component of the attraction, since visitors will be able to use products before they purchase them, making it different than most other retail operations, Perry said.
It is the latest step in Crayola's efforts to redefine itself from a maker of back-to-school supplies to an everyday brand with more than 1,500 proprietary products and technologies. The Crayola Experience is a place where visitors can use the company's products in different ways than they would at home.
Arts and crafts is the second-fastest growing segment of the toy industry, behind youth electronics, according to the Toy Industry Association. Spending on arts and crafts toys in America reached $1.16 billion in 2013, up 14 percent from the previous year, according to the association, which is based in New York City.
Building in new locations where families can experience Crayola products is an ideal way to boost brand loyalty and sales, especially for a company that sells products meant to inspire creativity, said Adrienne Appell, a toy trend specialist with the toy association.
"An experiential retail destination becomes more than just a shopping trip for families," she said. "It's a chance for families to immerse themselves in a brand."
Crayola opened a visitors center, the Crayola Factory, in Easton in 1996 as part of efforts to revitalize downtown. It featured one floor of activities, including arts and crafts. The attraction was redesigned and reopened as the Crayola Experience last year.
Visitors to the Orlando destination will be able to wrap their own crayons, star in their own coloring page and enjoy new attractions that will debut at the facility. There will also be a store offering Crayola products and souvenirs.
Crayola is a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, a private company based in Kansas City, Mo.
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