New kids play area is unveiled at mall
Posted: January 16, 2013
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — Local shopping just got easier for parents — and more enjoyable for young children.
Apple Blossom Mall officials unveiled a new children’s play area Tuesday in the Belk court area of the shopping center.
The 1,200-square-foot area is part of the mall renovations that began in June and includes new entrances, seating, flooring, lighting, restrooms and signs directing people to the mall.
Carmike Cinemas is also replacing its six-screen movie theater with a 12-screen cinema — which is on track to open in June, said Larry Nelson, the mall’s director of marketing and business development.
Some parents and children were already enjoying the play area Tuesday afternoon.
Ande Flagg was there with her 4-year-old and 2-year-old sons, and said it’s a good place to take the children to play when it’s cold or rainy outside — and do some shopping.
Flagg now lives in Fort Benning, Ga., but grew up in Winchester and used to visit the mall frequently.
“This is a vast improvement,” she said.
Gone is the dark red brick flooring, which has been replaced by light tiles. Modern lighting has also helped brighten the walkways and courts, and new bathrooms have been installed next to the enlarged food court dining area.
The mirrors have also been removed from ceilings. Nelson doesn’t think they’ll be missed, and was happy to see them go.
He recalled an event about 15 years ago involving the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They set up a four-sided dressing room but forgot about the fifth side — a roof. As the performers were changing into their turtle costumes, Nelson suddenly recognized how the children were watching them don their costumes in the ceiling mirrors.
“It was one of the low points of my career,” he said.
It was announced in May that the food court would gain two new vendors with the project, but that has been put on hold indefinitely, Nelson said.
Outdoor music, renovated entrances and signage directing people to the mall are a few of the items that are expected to be finished in the next two to three months, Nelson said.
It is the first makeover since the 440,600-square-foot mall, which is owned by Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc., opened in 1982.
Nelson was unsure of the total cost for the project.
Outdoor seating between the food court and the movie theater is slated to be complete before the cinema opens.
The new 12-screen movie theater will have a stadium seating-style auditorium with 3-D capability and a Coca-Cola machine capable of dispensing 125-flavor mixes.
— Contact Conor Gallagher at firstname.lastname@example.org