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Marvel’s elite superheroes power up a Niagara Group retail-tainment venture

Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and the X-Men have all enjoyed a larger-than-life presence on the big screen and in theme parks like Marvel's Super Hero Island at Universal Studios Orlando of late. And this month, the Canadian Niagara Group is looking to duplicate that large-scale presence in the retail sector.
June 1, 2003

Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and the X-Men have all enjoyed a larger-than-life presence on the big screen and in theme parks like Marvel’s Super Hero Island at Universal Studios Orlando of late. And this month, the Canadian Niagara Group is looking to duplicate that large-scale presence in the retail sector.

Marvel Adventure City is a 30,000-square-foot structure with rides, games and a store offering exclusive, high-end Marvel toys and collectibles. The center is set to be the cornerstone attraction of the 20-acre Falls Avenue Complex in Niagara Falls, Canada.

The Niagara Group also operates a 4,000-square-foot World Wrestling Entertainment store and ride, a 7,000-square-foot Hershey Store, and restaurants like Planet Hollywood, the Hard Rock Café and the Rainforest Café. ‘How the Niagara Group manages entertainment’ was what attracted Marvel Enterprises, says the company’s VP of consumer products and retail development Paul Gitter.

While the concept of retail-tainment isn’t new, Gitter believes that this type of branded destination – combining interactive entertainment elements with an exclusive merch depot – will bring the Marvel name and portfolio to a truly innovative level at retail.

To keep the level of innovation up to Marvel’s standards, the company is working closely with the Niagara Group across all business disciplines to ensure that Adventure City reflects the core values of the Marvel brand. In fact, Canadian construction company Forrec, the same group that created Super Hero Island, was contracted to design and build the park.

‘We don’t go with second-tier players,’ says Gitter. ‘And we get involved heavily with helping [our licensees] understand our brand and its platform prior to executing product so that there are no surprises.’

Niagara Falls, which averages more than 16 million visitors a year, is the first of several planned Adventure City locations. The Niagara Group is looking to roll out the format into the U.S. over the next three to five years.

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