Ironic hey, go to a mall to do no shopping?! But believe me, it’s possible to spend a whole day at the Mall of America in Bloomington Minnesota without even entering one of the 500+ stores (…actually that’s a lie, the parking lots enter the mall through shops…so maybe you’ll have to go into just one store…!). Especially on a rainy/dull/cold/blizzard day the Mall is a perfect attraction, everything is under one roof! Putting its size into perspective, because you know me, I can’t resist a British comparison, you can fit 441 Big Bens into the Mall of America! Here are some of my favourite things to do at Mall of America!
Disclosure: My visit to the Mall of America was hosted by the Roseville Visitors Association. As always opinions are my own!
Things to do at Mall of America
You can’t visit without going on at least one of the Mall of America rides!! Nickelodeon Universe is the largest indoor theme park in the USA. Despite the name, it’s not just for small children, there are several rides where you have to be over 48″ (122cm/4ft). Some of the rides include:
Pepsi Orange Streak – If you’ve visited Disneyworld, I would compare the Pepsi Orange Streak to The People Mover, in the way that it coverages a large section of Nickelodeon Universe and goes through into other rides. It really lets you appreciate just how big of an area this theme park covers!
(Disclosure: my camera is fully secured to my arm *no sarcasm*)
SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge – This is the most ‘extreme’ of the Mall of America rides, the lift hill almost reaches the roof which then plunges you face first down a vertical drop. There are lots of loops and twists and turns and it is a bit of a brain shaker!
Log Chute – This is the one that surprised me the most! A full blown log flume…INSIDE OF A MALL!!! Water splash and everything! The scenery is pretty cool too, it’s built around and through a mountain (the Pepsi Orange Streak passes through the same mountain). I also discovered that all the plants in the Mall of America are real! I assumed they were just props (well the ones in Nickelodeon Universe), but they actually act as natural air purifiers in the Mall! Back to the Log Chute! It has 2 drops, the highest being a 40ft drop!
As adults visiting the Mall of America, the chances are all the rides you’ll want to go on are of a 6 point value (the smaller ones are 3 points). Rides work either with an ‘All Day Unlimited Wristband’ or a ‘Point Pass’. If you plan on going on 6 rides or more, it’ll be worth getting an unlimited wristband. I bought an 18 point pass (3 rides) for $20.99, the wristbands are $35.99. I could have easily gone on more than 3 rides but I wanted to explore as much of the Mall as possible!
Dutchman’s Deck Adventure Course
The Dutchman’s Deck Adventure Course is made up of 3 different elements which can be experienced altogether for $15.99 or bought individually. The Ghostly Gangplank Ropes Course is the tallest Sky Trail ropes course in the world at a height of 56ft. The Sky Trail is slightly different from some ropes courses in the way that you are NEVER detached from the course, you can walk around everywhere and your static line will automatically follow you. As an adrenaline junkie it takes a lot for me to get the butterfly feeling but I found it by going RIGHT to the top of the course, it looks like a dead end, but there’s an actual gangplank where you walk out over the top of Nickelodeon Universe…it’s high and there’s nothing to hold on to! It’s fine until you have to turn around and walk back!
The Barnacle Blast Zip Line is the longest indoor zip line in North America. It’s 405ft long and you whizz 55ft above Nickelodeon Universe! You start at the Dutchman’s Deck Adventure Course end, climbing the staircase right to the top. First you zip one way across the park, landing on a platform before taking a 2nd zip line back to the main course. Me being a geek that worked a season as a high ropes instructor, thought it was cool how the static line and the zip line were all in one! Just like the Ghostly Gangplank, you are never detached from the course. If you are doing both parts, you do have to change static lines between zip lining and the main course…the main course has more slack.
To get down from the Ghostly Gangplank course, you take the Anchor Drop tube slide. There are 2, a longer one and a shorter one. I did read somewhere that at one point it was the longest indoor tube slide in the USA! Once you leave the course to go on the slide, you can’t return onto it, you can however have as many turns on the slide as you want. Your harness is removed and you slide down on a mat. The top of the tube is see-through so you can see Nickelodeon Universe as you slide down!
Play Mini Golf!
Mall of America is home to not one but TWO 18 hole mini golf courses. Rock of Ages is a rock music themed back lit course (dark with UV lights/glow in the dark paint) or Moose Mountain which is a more logging/Canadian type theme. I played Moose Mountain which overlooks Nickelodeon Universe. Entrance to the course is on the 4th floor of the Mall, so even though you can buy packages that include mini golf and the rides, the 2 aren’t actually connected!
Another AWESOME mini golf course nearby is Can Can Wonderland in St Paul!
Relive your childhood with Lego and Crayola!
Ok, so I did go in 2 stores but for good reason! The Lego store is located next to Nickelodeon Universe and has a display of large models made from Lego, the robot is 34ft tall! I found that these were better viewed from higher up on the food court floor. There are also play tables for kids to play with Lego…I tried to play with the Duplo because a small child came along, I used to have the house building set as a kid but now there’s a playground set! I tested out the slide but the little lego man went tumbling down…it didn’t really look like a smooth ride!
The Crayola store is connected to the ‘Crayola Experience’ with 25 hands on activities that looked amazing, you can even design your own label and personalise a crayon! It is expensive though, costing $20.99 regardless of whether you are an adult or a child. The website says that a visit can take between 3 – 4 hours and on top of all the other Mall of America rides and attractions we just didn’t have enough time to warrant paying the entrance fee as we wouldn’t have been able to get our moneys worth. The Crayola store has lots of cool items in though, including being able to choose what colours you want in your own pack of crayons or markers! As Crayola is all about colours, there’s even a Dylan’s Candy Store section where you can buy pick and mix sweets/candy by colour!
Other Mall of America rides and attractions
As if all of the above wasn’t enough to keep you busy, the list of attractions goes on! We wandered around SMAAASH, which has an indoor go-karting track (!!!) and a whole arcade of virtual reality simulators. I’ve never seen anything like it but the VR masks sometimes make me feel like I’m going to puke so I gave it a miss! It takes regular fairground simulators to a whole other level!
Flyover America is more like the traditional simulator, which shows a 10 minute movie where you fly over the top of different landmarks and landscapes across America. Adult admission is $18.95, children are $14.95.
Get this, you can even GO SNORKELLING at the Mall of America at the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium! The snorkelling experience only happens 3 times a day and only at the weekends (unless you are a group). Groups with children can even spend the night at the aquarium and sleep in the 300ft underwater viewing tunnel (Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago has a similar programme but both places don’t take adult only bookings)!
There’s also an Escape Room game. I love these things, I’ve done 3 now. You get locked in a room and have to solve clues and problems to escape within 60 minutes! I will say this though, it seems that Escape Rooms in the USA will stick groups together rather than just let you pay and go in as a smaller group. As someone that’s quite quiet I don’t think I’d like being in with strangers, I’m more confident speaking up in front of people I know!
On the same floor as the Escape Room is a Mirror Maze…I don’t have much to say about it as it’s pretty much exactly what it says on the tin! The same type of thing you may have seen at a fair!
And if you still have time to kill, you could go to the regular movie theatre (cinema for us Brits)! I haven’t even scratched the surface of things to do at Mall of America, for example you can get a 3D model of yourself printed! They regularly have events too, including a nightly light and music show at Nickelodeon Universe, book signings, character meet and greets, music and competitions.
No matter what you feel like eating, you’ll probably find it at the Mall of America. Every ‘big named’ themed restaurant is here: Rainforest Cafe, Hard Rock Cafe, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, Dicks Last Resort, Hooters, Margaritaville…to name a few.
I went to Dough Dough, a local Minnesota company that sell edible eggless (the flour has been pre cooked too…) cookie dough by the spoonful!! I had 2 scoops which took me THREE DAYS to eat!!! Good, but very filling!!! They have several permanent flavours as well as some rotating seasonal options.
Finding your way around the Mall of America
As you may have already guessed, the Mall of America is pretty damn big. If you were to walk around the perimeter of just one level, you would have walked a mile. One lap of Nickelodeon Universe is 0.35miles alone! They even have schemes where you can track how long you spend walking around the Mall! But don’t fear! They have lots of electronic information stations which act like ‘GPS’ maps. You can browse or type in a store/restaurant/attraction and it will literally point you in the right direction, tell you when you need to turn/go up an escalator, exactly how far of a distance it is away from you and how long it’ll roughly take you to walk there!
Parking at Mall of America
Mall of America has 2 free parking ramps, an east and a west that are connected to the Mall by sky bridges. Each level has a different State name (I parked in Indiana), hopefully making it easy for you to remember where you parked! There is enough space for 12,750 vehicles (lots of hotels in the area offer shuttles too). Before I visited, we were told not to even try parking on the lower levels, just go straight to the top. But on a Friday lunchtime we found that there was plenty of space on every floor…it was a different story when we left though, there were definitely a lot more cars! Heading to a higher level may be worthwhile in the evenings and at weekends.
How eco friendly is the Mall of America?
One thing I love about being a blogger, is researching a place to find out more than just what you see at face value. I was so surprised by how eco friendly the Mall is! So not only do they have the live trees and plants, but the temperature of the Mall of America, year round, is 21C/70F (leave your coats in the car!) and it DOESN’T use a central heating system. It’s heated by over a mile of solar panels on the roof! With all the restaurants and food outlets on site there is obviously a lot of food waste, but 2400 tons is recycled and sent to hog farms each year, which is the equivalent of feeding over 1 MILLION piggies! You can find out more about their ‘Green initiatives’ on the Mall of America about page.
If you want to check out more facts about the Mall of America, the fact sheet on their website is really interesting too!
Where to stay
My visit to the Mall of America was hosted by the Roseville Visitors Association. I stayed at the Residence Inn by Marriott, which is 20 minutes from the Mall of America! Roseville is in a good central location for visiting various attractions within the Twin Cities area. Their visitors guide is great for giving you inspiration during your stay, and includes a great coupon book to make the pennies last longer! The Roseville Mall of America coupons include: $2 off Moose Mountain, $4 off a Nickelodeon Universe all day wristband, Flyover America $2 coupon, 50% off the Mall of America coupon book and $5 off an adult or child entrance to the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium.