Woman down. Third floor, Mall of America. There’s a tire track near the body, a suspicious bag of white powder at her side, and—ew—a fly on her cheek. Grab a pen and clipboard. You figure out whodunit, and why.
This is CSI: The Experience, now open, next door to Barbie, in the new MOA Exhibit Center. If you watch the crime show yelling at the screen that you could have solved it faster, or better, this is your chance to find out. For $16.99.
The interactive exhibit invites visitors to solve one of three crimes, leading them through crime scene analysis, forensics, and clues that help to frame the backstory. Along the way you gain some insight as to how investigations really work—175 actual investigators worked on the stories for the exhibit.
If you love a juicy murder mystery, this experience should be a lot of fun. I could imagine doing it with a teenager, or as a date night alternative to the usual movie. You really have to engage and play along (lot of reading) to make it worth the ticket price. The experience is entirely focused on solving a crime (three crime stories to choose from). If you're expecting mementos or scoop from the TV show, you'll be disappointed, although some of the actors show up on videos throughout the exhibit. Plan on spending about 30 minutes playing detective—no less, but not much more. And leave the kids home (or send them to Barbie)—between the bodies and the blood, this really is aimed at a more mature audience. The mall is advising 12 and up, although there is no restriction.
If CSI: The Experience sounds familiar, that could be because the traveling exhibit was here several years ago, at the Science Museum. There’s also a permanent version at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. CSI will be at the mall for about six months. And Barbie won’t be its only neighbor for long: a Star Trek experience is moving into the MOA Exhibit Center in the next couple of months. So, crime junkies, Trekkies, and little girls in pink. Should be quite the diverse crowd on the third floor of the southeast court. Perhaps they can work out their differences over a Pink Fizz at the Barbie Café.