Color me impressed: the new Crayola Experience at Mall of America is engaging and entertaining. I’d go so far as to say it’s Disney-esque in caliber…and price. At $24.99 per person (ages 2 and up), it is now the most expensive attraction at the mall, other than an unlimited ride wristband to Nickelodeon Universe. By comparison, the Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul is $9.95 for kids and adults.
So, it’s an investment, but one I think most visitors in a touristy frame of mind will feel pretty good about by the time their journey past 25 interactive stations, a climbing structure, café, and live shows deposits them, inevitably, in the bright and shiny Crayola store.
The experience begins with personalizing your own Crayon—naming it, choosing a label design, and wrapping it up. From there, the technical marvels begin: at one station, you can insert yourself into a coloring page, which prints in an instant. You can make Crayons dance on an interactive screen and make drawings come to life. There’s a live (15-minute) show in which animated characters demonstrate how crayons are made. A second show reveals “magic and science” behind Crayola products. Yes, it’s 60,0000-square-foot advertisement—just like the Legoland theme parks. But then, few other products are as ubiquitous and timeless as a box of crayons. The most fascinating thing I learned during my preview of the attraction: Crayola manufactures 80 percent of the world’s crayons at its headquarters in Easton, Penn.
A visitor’s center in Easton was re-imagined as a tourist attraction just three years ago, and in 2015, Crayola Experience opened where all major branded attractions go: Orlando. Fla.. “The Midwest was the next natural step,” spokeswoman Kelly-Anne Suarez says. “This is the heart of American creativity.”
The average visit to Crayola Experience is four hours, Suarez says. That’s a serious chunk of time—more than twice as long as it takes my family to complete a thorough trip through the mall’s Sea Life Aquarium ($14.99-$17.99 per ticket). But, let’s remember: nothing holds a kid’s attention quite like a screen, and there are many at Crayola Experience. There are also areas to color with crayons, markers, and chalk, and there are massive climbing structures for little kids and bigger children, up to around 10. A Crayola café serving up pizza, chicken nuggets, and snacks like soft pretzels and popcorn.
Yes, I’m a sucker for a good store, but truly, the Crayola store is a destination in and of itself (no cost to visit!). It features the largest assortment of Crayola merchandise you’ll find anywhere—from vintage crayon boxes to toddler swimsuits. You can pack your own crayon box (much like pick-a-brick at Lego), and every single Crayola color is available—with a sign pointing to the year each color was added to the Crayola family (nice to meet you, Macaroni & Cheese!). For a traveler’s token, I like the Minnesota-themed box of 96, complete with references to the Spoonbridge and Cherry and Paul Bunyan.
And this is sweet: for the first time, Crayola has teamed up with famed New York candy shop Dylan’s Candy Bar. The store features a wall of colorful treats available by the pound or in packaged sets.
If you go, be sure to take advantage of the current online promo: buy three tickets and get one free. For big Crayola fans, annual membership is the best value at $34.99 per person. And, yes, birthday party packages are available.
Crayola is located on the third level of the southeast wing at MOA.
Compare Crayola admission prices to other MOA attractions, and get tips on how to save, at Ali Shops Mall of America