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The Crayola Experience

THE CRAYOLA EXPERIENCE, MALL OF AMERICA

BLOOMINGTON, MN
VISIT WEBSITE

As a kid, I wanted my grown-up job to be “the person who names all the crayons.” I mean, Razz Matazz, Mauvelous, and Wild Blue Yonder didn’t just name themselves. They needed a creative genius in the marketing department to sit down, stare at the crayon, and come up with something mind-blowing that kids will love and remember forever. Well, as we all know, that dream did NOT come true (wa-waaah). However, thanks to The Crayola Experience at the Mall of America, the kid in me got to have a little taste of that runner-up dream and it was absolutely awesome (and I named my pink crayon “Flapinkgo” for those who were dying of curiosity).

As a huge proponent of the arts and someone who believes creativity strengthens the brain, I (and my kids, of course) absolutely fell in love with this new attraction the second we walked in the door. Everything was high quality, clean and colorful! We spent five hours here and discovered there is something for everyone. Of course, the artists will appreciate the hands-on coloring and painting, but the engineers can create race cars, the doodlers can go crazy with sidewalk chalk, the techies can bring their pictures to life, the chemists can melt and mold their own crayons, and the crazies can burn off their extra energy in the play area. Oh, and the wannabe-crayon-naming moms can spend all day printing off labels that read “Flapinkgo” and adhering them to pink crayons because, hey, it’s never too late to live the dream.

What is it?

The Crayola Experience is one of the largest attractions at the Mall of America located in the southeast corner, next to Rainforest Cafe and Margaritaville. It is 60,000 square feet of bright, bold, hands-on fun for the whole family and is an easy place to spend many hours during those cold or rainy Minnesota months. With 25 unique exhibits, there is certainly something to keep everyone busy, including a gift shop that is open to the non-admission-paying public. Some of our favorite stops included:

  • Art Alive: Create a design on a tablet and send it to the wall screen to see it projected largely and interactively. Here’s a sneak peak of it:
  • You Design: Design an outfit for the runway or a vehicle for the track and then scan and project it virtually.
  • Melt & Mold: Exactly as it sounds – melt a crayon and watch the wax turn into a shape of your choosing using a metal mold.
  • Modeling Madness: Purchase your favorite color modeling clay from the vending machine using your free token and go to town with their tools and markers molding and shaping all sorts of cool stuff.
  • Color Playground: Just your classic indoor 2-story play area. Except it’s shaped like a giant crayon.

crayola experience

If I’m being honest, all of the exhibits were amazing, and we didn’t even GET to them all! Be prepared to stay a good long while (they say 3-4 hours…I’d say even longer). Or you can do what we did and purchase an annual family pass to come as often as you’d like. Thank you, Crayola Experience, for your role in boredom prevention this winter!

crayola experience

Fit for what ages?

This is the perfect place for all young ages – “young” being the key word. There is a medium-sized play area stating it’s for ages 3-12 and a Toddler Town section intended for ages 2-4, so all ages have a place to run and play. As far as the exhibits go, I would say ages 3-9 would be pretty ideal as far as understanding how things work and following instructions goes. Some activities, such as Scribble Square and Rainbow Rain, are a nice fit for toddlers as well as bigger kids. I have a feeling, unless they are really artsy, this might not keep the attention of kids ages 10+ (or at least not make it worth the money, since it isn’t necessarily cheap). But every kid is different, so you make the call. Just know that imagination is key!

For me, I had a 4, 5, 7 and 8-year old with, and they all really got into it…especially the 4 and 5-year olds. And, yes, I did have the baby along as well. There is a ton of space for littles to crawl around and it’s definitely wide enough so strollers aren’t an issue.

crayola experience

How much are we talkin?

I know this is where some people might get scared off, but for our family, it was just so worth it! It brings out the creative side of everyone. Money well spent, in my opinion. So, here’s the deal on cost:

Daily admission price is $19.99/person if you pay in person at the mall. If you order online, it’s $15.99/person. Saving $4/person is definitely worth it, so pay online before you go. Kids and adults are the same price, but those under 3 are free.  Re-entry is available for the same day, so you can play in the MOA then come back for more.

May I suggest something? Just get the annual pass. It’s usually $34.99/person for unlimited visits for a full year after your purchase date, but right now, you can get a family 4-pass for $99.99. I mean, I know I’m no mathematician, but if you plan on going two times at the least, you’re already saving money with the annual pass.

SOME GOOD DEAL IDEAS: Right now (August 2016), there is a fantastic Groupon deal where you can get two passes for the price of one (so $19.99 for two admission passes). You can also pick up a pass through Twin Cities Frugal Mom’s affiliate link for $13.99/person. Simply click here and enter code TCFM.

What else will you need money for? Locker rentals are available near the ticket counters and they accept credit cards. There is also a gift shop (sarcastic gasp) with some pretty cute items and the Crayola Cafe sells food if you’re there over mealtime, such as pizza, chicken fingers and burgers. A kids meal will set you back around $8. In the middle of the attraction, there is a small retail area that sells pucker powder, fudge, sand art, candy and more. Obviously, none of this is cheap, so we simply bypassed it and I promised them a treat from the food court.

Want some tips?

This place is a popular destination, so plan accordingly. We went on a Monday and it was much quieter than a weekend, when every hour is equally as bust as the next. If you’re able to go during the week, aim for “naptime hours” (so like 11am-3pm) or evenings after 5pm. We got there at open and watched the demise of all the little nappers around us, basically clearing the place out by noon. The line was long already, only 15 minutes after they opened, so buying tickets online is definitely the way to go.

Plan on staying a long time. Like, a long long time. We made it 5 hours and didn’t even get to everything. A coat room and lockers are available (for a fee) in the ticketing area.

Upon entering, each ticket is exchanged for a plastic bag and two tokens. The tokens will get you one personalized crayon and a small pack of modeling clay (you can also purchase additional tokens for $.50). Here is when I was very grateful for my stroller hook. As the art projects poured in and their bags filled up, it was nice to just hook them on and not need to carry them around or worry about projects getting squished or crinkled.

Need restrooms, food, or garbage cans? They are all located at the very back of the exhibit. The Crayola Cafe has a ton of tables and some decent looking food, but if you want to save money, I still suggest packing food and enjoying it in the mall area. Since you can come and go as you please (just get your hand stamped), this is an easy way to take a break and save cash. Unfortunately, the cafe doesn’t allow outside food or beverages.

Lastly, do beware of field trips and birthday parties. Parties start at $279 and use the area at the same time as the public, so could definitely add to the chaos on already-busy days.

As far as individual areas go, here are some pointers on those:

  • Wrap It Up is the area right inside the entrance where you can choose your crayon color and add your own name to the wrapper (use your token). Something we did know: When your wrapper comes out of the machine, don’t stick the sticker on yourself. They have machines against the wall that do that for you, and the stickers go on MUCH tighter. {the more you know}
  • Be A Star is where you can get your photo taken and put onto its own coloring page. This was really cool, but there are only four booths, so busy days might not be the best for this exhibit.
  • Modeling Madness is where you use one of your tokens to buy modeling clay from the vending machine. There are only two machines, so expect a small line, but once you have it, there is plenty of room on the long tables and lots of cookie cutters and design tools to play with.
  • Art Alive was the kid’s favorite room! This one is good for all ages. There are seats with tablets, and you color the design on the tablet then hit Done to project it onto the huge wall. The fun part is looking for it and tapping it to make it interactive. Toddlers and big kids alike (and adults…like me) thought this was a sweet place!
  • There were definitely lines for the Melt and Mold and the Drip Art sections. Not a ton of machines and limited workers when we were there, but after standing in line, the kids wouldn’t stop talking about how cool it was. Try saving these sections for the quietest time of the day, if possible.
  • Color Magic and You Design were cool for all kids because you actually see your designs come to life – whether you were making a fairy fly or designing a truck for the race track, all children love seeing their flat designs become a 3-dimensional reality.
  • Both play areas (one being for ages 2-4; the other for older kids) were small but did the trick. There’s just so much other stuff to do, this was a nice break to just let the kids run and play and be loud. There are shoe cubbies and no posted rules about needing to wear socks or not.
  • Scribble Square and Rainbow Rain are perfect for the littlest ones. I mean, being able to literally draw on ANYthing in Scribble Square is basically a toddler’s dream. And Rainbow Rain is just pretty.

Hours and Location

300 South Ave, Level 3, Mall of America  |  Bloomington, MN 55425

First things first: If you don’t feel like navigating the entire Mall of America, I suggest parking in the EAST Ramp, level “Florida” to be exact. You can stroll right in to the Crayola exhibit. Parking is free.

As far as hours go, the Crayola STORE is open whenever the Mall is open, but the hours for the actual Experience differ from that. It is open 365 days a year. Fall/winter hours differ from spring/summer hours, so just be sure to check their online calendar before heading out.

Overall, hours are like this:

Fall/Winter:
Monday-Saturday  10am – 8pm
Sunday 10am – 7pm

Spring/Summer:
Monday-Saturday  10am – 9pm
Sunday 10am – 7pm

But do yourself a favor and CHECK THE CALENDAR FOR SPECIFICS.

Follow the Crayola Experience on Facebook page to see hot discounts, special events, giveaways, news stories, photos and more.

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