An Introduction to Mall of America
The opening of Mall of America’s Phase II in autumn 2015 crowned Mall of America (MOA) as the largest mall in the United States. MOA boasts some pretty impressive fun facts. Over 7,000 weddings have been performed in the mall, there is a 1.2 million-gallon aquarium at the SEALIFE Minnesota Aquarium, and over 170,000 Legos have been lost in the LEGO play area. Bring your walking shoes because one lap around the mall equates to .57 mile.
While these fun facts are interesting, they hardly offer the full scope of how large this shopping mall really is. However, the following visuals might help: Seven Yankee Stadiums can fit inside the Mall of America, as can 32 Boeing 747s, while 258 Statues of Liberty could lie down inside the mall. If Mount Rushmore were divided into individual monuments, a president could take over each of MOA’s four courts. Mall of America has reported that if a guest spends 10 minutes in each store, then the total time spent would be 86 hours. Finally, imagine 27 theme park rides in the center of the mall. Forget the average mall quarter rides. These are full-sized. Here’s the interesting thing: These fun facts only describe the original Mall of America space and don’t include the new 163,000-square-foot retail space, 180,000-square-foot office space, or the brand-new JW Marriott. Yes, there is plenty of space for MOA’s 40 million+ guests to enjoy.
At first glance, the colossal Mall of America appears, well, intimidating. The most confusing aspect is the original four-sided structure framing Nickelodeon Universe in the center of the mall. Besides the many sides and multi-levels, another reason shoppers get disoriented is because some brands have numerous store locations, turning even the most directional savvy people into spinning, confused shoppers. With this is in mind, let’s start with parking.
Mall of America’s East and West Parking ramps bookmark the appropriate sides of the main mall. If you drive and park in either of these extremely similar structures, it’s imperative that you remember whether you parked in East or West, what level, and what section you parked in (read more parking tips in Part 4 Arriving and Getting Oriented). Once you make it inside the mall, it’s best to know where the three anchors are located to help you get your bearings. The east side is where visitors will find SEALIFE and the large Rotunda where events are held. When entering or exiting Nickelodeon Universe, look for the Bronze SpongeBob statue.
Sears sits on the northeast corner, while Nordstrom occupies the northwest corner of MOA. These two department stores sandwich the new construction on the north side, referred to as Phase II, the same side as the new JW Marriott and luxury retail shops are found. The north side is also the location of the Nickelodeon Universe’s Ferris wheel that goes by the name of El Circulo del Cielo bearing Dora the Explorer and her buddy Boots faces.
On the south side of Mall of America, Macy’s fills the southwest section, while LL Bean, Forever 21, and temporary exhibit space have taken over what was the former Bloomingdales space on the southeast side. In between these two courts is the Radisson Blu hotel. When entering or exiting Nickelodeon Universe, the south side of the main landmark is the LEGO Imagination Center. You can’t miss the looming LEGO robot overhead. To sum up the west side, the western edge is dotted, again, by Nordstrom to the north and Macy’s to the south. Nothing remarkable is near the entrance from West Parking, but the PEEPS store is located at the entrance to Nickelodeon Universe.
Before attempting the mall, pick up a Mall of America map at any of the Guest Services found at each mall entrance.
The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America is the first of its kind. Never before has a guidebook been written about the Mall of America, and there is no better time than now!
About the author: Beth Blair knows Mall of America inside and out. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, co-owner of the award-winning TheVacationGals.com, and lives in Lakeville, MN.