June 26, 2008

7 Things Caruso Could Learn from Disney

Tale of 2 Towers
MANY TIMES (like here and here and here) I’ve read this appraisal of Rick Caruso's new shopping extravaganza, The Americana at Brand: "It wasn't Vegas that came to mind when I set foot in the Americana. It was Disneyland."

As basis for real-life comparison -- and for other reasons better left unnamed -- I visited Disneyland (4 times) and the Americana (4 times) in the last month. And I must conclude, the Glendale mall is most certainly not the Anaheim theme park.

But if Caruso did want to be more Disney, here are 7 things the Americana could try:
  1. Gateways. Have one. Or two. Don't just jam people in from Glendale’s crosswalks and those overstuffed parking elevators. Ever see the jigs pedestrians have to dance to avoid knocking skulls in front of H&M?
  2. Crowd Flow. Get some. By the time they survive the square dance, shoppers are walking too hard to look at window displays. I wouldn’t want to pay rent on any slot between the entrance gauntlets and the central lawn.
  3. Planter Boxes. Level them. Flowers and soil don't do well on slopes. (Even if it never rains.) They look like an afterthought.
  4. Finished walls. You know those empty spaces above Katsuya? Do something with them. Theme them with whatever “Americana” is. They look like the architects went home early.
  5. Ground cover that isn't sod. Or just put the grass where people don’t want to walk. Unless it's more fun to keep replacing it. And replacing it.
  6. Rights to replicate the Eiffel Tower. Get some. If for no other reason than to avoid having a publicist call it a "top spire ... not intended as any kind of recreation of any other tower.”
  7. Flexible hours. On weekends the Americana gets hopping at 10:00pm, just as retailers close. Missed opportunity. Is it a Glendale ordinance? Shop managers' preference? One would think Caruso influence could change that.
On the other hand, there are at least 3 things Disney could learn from Caruso:
  • Bathroom Attendants. A dollar for a spotless restroom? Sold.
  • Condos. Who wouldn't want to live in Cinderella's Castle?
  • Coffee. Let in the chain-store baristas already!

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