MINNEAPOLIS — The biggest mall in the United States celebrated its 25th anniversary Friday with cupcakes and party hats.
The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, attempted to set Guinness World Records for the most people wearing conical birthday hats and the most people simultaneously decorating cupcakes, the Star Tribune reported .
The 5.6 million square foot mall, which has more than 520 stores and 11,000 employees, generates $2 billion in economic activity and has more than 40 million visitors every year. That's more visitors than Florida's Disney World.
The mall's success is increasingly looking like the exception in aretail field. This year has seen more brick-and-mortar store closures than any in a decade. About 80,000 fewer people work in retail now than at the start of the year, according to data from the Labor Department.
Now, fearful of losing even more foot traffic, many malls in the U.S. are rebranding and investing money to become more experiential destinations, adding elements like fitness clubs, specialty grocery stores and even community meeting spaces.
The Mall of America's attractions include an amusement park, an aquarium, an indoor zip line and a mirror maze. It also holds fundraisers, dance-a-thons, tribute concerts and celebrity appearances. The mall, its retailers and events raise about $12 million for nonprofits annually.
"As we look ahead beyond our 25th birthday, we expect to include more entertainment in our retail mix, and continue to integrate digital tools to help enhance the guest's stay," said Greta Anderson, a spokeswoman for the mall. "We've succeeded in leading the retail and entertainment space for 25 years, and it's been a great ride."
The anniversary celebration also included a one-of-a-kind cake from Bartolo "Buddy" Valastro of TLC's reality TV show "Cake Boss." Valastro's family-owned business, Carlo's Bakery, is planning to open a location at the mall by the end of the year. Anderson said an upscale CMX Theater would also open at the mall later this year, with a high-end bar and gourmet food.
Multiple Guinness World Records have previously been set at the mall. Records include largest number of people playing in a handbell choir, the most Ninja Turtles in one place and the largest number of people tying their shoes at the same time.