Plenty of Kids Activities at Mall of America
Smart marketers have realized that the best way to draw the parent crowd is to provide kids activities for the youngsters. Books are best (we know that for a fact), and Barnes & Noble scored one of the best locations in the mall. The huge store is located on Level 1, right off the Rotunda, where large events, concerts, and group activities—including Toddler Tuesday—are held. The store includes a Barnes & Noble Café and an interactive children’s section with a stage for story time. Story time is often coordinated with Toddler Tuesday (starting at 11 a.m.) and is also offered other times. Check the store’s calendar on its website to see what kids activities are coming up, so you can plan your day.
The wonderful world of Disney—including the Disney Store at Mall of America—never lets parents down. In addition to all the Disney-themed clothes and toys lining the shelves, a big screen plays Disney favorites, and a table with coloring sheets is always awaiting the next great artist. Princesses may try on their next ball gown in the castle, which has a three-way mirror inside.
As a store that has kids in its name, it’s no surprise that the Creative Kidstuff floor is teeming with hands-on toys for tots to play with while parents shop. We’re talking dollhouses, baby dolls with strollers, games, and other interactive toys.
The American Girl store is what girly-girl dreams are made of. The two-story store has three entrances: Nickelodeon Universe, Level 1 Rotunda, and Level 2 Rotunda. Complimentary personal shoppers are available, but an appointment is recommended. The store itself is a treat. Special events range from free to a heftier $28–$38 (per person) date with mom or dad. This location has a Doll Hair Salon, complete with stylists, and an American Girl Bistro with a view of the theme park.
The newly remodeled and more efficient Build-A-Bear Workshop is around the corner from American Girl. Fans can expect the traditional warm and cuddly environment that Build-A-Bear offers. The original process followed eight stuffed animal–making stations: Choose Me, Hear Me, Stuff Me, Stitch Me, Fluff Me, Dress Me, Name Me, and Take Me Home. Today, enjoy an all-in-one experience with two 7-foot-tall stuffing machines, each with a spinning bear on top. If you’ve never partaken in this experience, expect the accessories to add up in price quickly. The $12 bear can easily end up costing $50–$60.
Lotus Beads and Jewelry is a make-your-own jewelry shop that appeals to adults but is also a fun activity for older kids. School-age children to teens have fun creating their own ensembles. Consultants are on hand to assist with your creations.
Every Tuesday, 10 a.m.–noon, is Toddler Tuesday. The themes and events change weekly but often include kids activities such as arts and crafts, story time, movies, character meet-and-greets, and giveaways. Nickelodeon Universe joins the fun by offering the Nickelodeon Universe Toddler Tuesday Rides Deal: a 5-hour toddler wristband for $11.95 plus tax. Occasionally there are even meet-and-greets with famous cartoon characters such as Dora or the Cat in the Hat.
As family-friendly as Mall of America is, parents of babies and young children will discover one typical indoor mall staple missing: a padded play area. We can’t help but wonder if this is to keep parents in stores or in the theme park to spend money. LEGO does have several kid-size tables of various heights, with buckets in the middle filled with LEGO blocks. Older siblings can play here, but this area can be dangerous for babies and toddlers because LEGOs can be a choking hazard for little ones who want to put anything and everything in their mouths (as you know). But there isn’t any place that parents or guardians can sit back and relax while kids go wild. With that said, Mall of America still has plenty to offer families.
More Kids Activities at Mall of America
When the kids are on the verge of bouncing off the walls, invest a few dollars and let the kiddos literally bounce off the Pineapple Poppers (must be 36″–58″ tall) walls in Nickelodeon Universe (west side). The downside with this choice is that you have to pay (3 points worth), and it’s only 3 minutes! Plus, you may have to wait in line.
In fall 2015 Minnesota Children’s Museum opened a temporary pop-up play exhibit space in MOA while awaiting the expansion and remodeling of the downtown Saint Paul–based museum. The MOA’s 4,440-square-foot temporary museum is full of interactive exhibits and a great tease for the permanent location. Cost: $7.95/person; members, free. The MOA location plans to close April 2017.
Free family flicks are shown at the Theatres at Mall of America every Saturday morning at 10 a.m. on a first-come, first-serve basis. Free Sensory Flicks, ideal for families affected by autism or other developmental disabilities, are provided at the same time. The Sensory Flicks have lower sound, a lighted theater, and additional concessions staff. Attendees in this setting will not be hushed if they dance, sing, or move around in response to the film.
Last but not least, characters roam the mall from time to time—mainly Sharky from Sea Life Aquarium and Shrimp Louie from Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Nickelodeon characters often appear inside Nickelodeon Universe.
For complete coverage of all there is to see and do, pick up a copy of The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America by Beth Blair.
LEGO store: By Baseball Bugs at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
American Girl store: Travis Bryant
All other pictures are courtesy of Mall of America