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Crayola Experience is a museum-like attraction at the Mall of America. There are over 20 interactive exhibits, concessions, party rooms, a playground and tot spot, and a gift shop.
Different stations are geared to different ages, so there is something for everyone. While my toddler really enjoyed scribble square, my 11-year-old took off on her own and tried a little of everything. She came home with her art bag full. The 4-year-old and 6-year-old liked the Color Playground best, but also dabbled a bit in everything.
I think of the various exhibits throughout the Crayola Experience as "art supersized". Much of what you do there could be done at home on a smaller scale, but the fact that your creation gets to be part of a wall-sized interactive screen is pretty cool.
By far, the most popular attraction on the day we visited was the playground. It occurred to me that, for small families who live in the Bloomington Area, the Color Playground may be a good enough reason by itself to purchase an annual pass.
The Pros of the Crayola Experience
- Everyone, including mom and dad, had fun and found something they really loved doing.
- My kids came home enthused about art again. The least artistic of my kids asked to start homework time back up for the summer, so we could have art time.
- My kids tried a lot of different art techniques and supplies, and then left the mess there.
- My kids came home with ideas to build on what they learned. For instance, we are going to get out the iron and melt some of their drawings into the paper.
- I liked that it was not over-policed. For the most part, we were left alone to do what we wanted and to parent at our own comfort level. If I felt my kids were being too wild for an indoor space, I pulled them back, but I didn't feel judgment coming from either the staff or other parents for letting kids be kids, either. It was a very relaxed and creative atmosphere.
The Cons of the Crayola Experience
- It is expensive. My tickets were comped to facilitate this review, but I'm still very aware of the cost of things. I would have a hard time budgeting another family visit. Daily admission is currently $15.99 online or $19.99 at the door. For my family of 6 (with the toddler free), that is $79.95.
- I wouldn't do this with four kids again. While my tween didn't need supervision, she also didn't want to be saddled with a younger sibling. This left a 3:2 ratio of kids to adults. The space was big and open, and there was a lot to do. I was constantly losing track of kids. Therefore, I couldn't actually be creative, because I was always on duty. This would be more fun (and more affordable for a one-on-one date).
Tickets are not all-inclusive. You receive two tokens with your admission. Tokens buy one personalized crayon or one plum-sized lump of modeling clay. We blew our tokens in the Wrap It Up crayon-making station and then had to purchase more to get clay. I feel that, if every restaurant I eat at can toss each of my kids 4 crayons, Crayola Experience could have done 4 crayons and a lump of clay as part of our admission. Some other stations also have additional fees for take-home souvenirs. Obviously, food costs extra, however, we expect that on any outing.
- The kids are handed a black plastic bag to carry their creations. I found it ironic that they were handed a bag that looked like a mini garbage bag to hold their art. This bothered me because, 1) It's a choking hazard; 2) It's a suffocation hazard; 3) My kids couldn't personalize it, so it was hard to keep track of whose was whose. Perhaps a brown paper bag that the kids could decorate would have been more appropriate.
Birthday Parties at the Crayola Experience
Birthday Parties start at $279 and include refreshments. Outside food, except your own birthday cake, is not allowed.
We had a really fun day at the Crayola Experience. Although there are things I believe could be improved, it was an overall positive experience. I would recommend it for a special treat or, if you live really close to the MOA, an annual pass could be worthwhile. If going with smaller children (taking into account your own parenting styles), I'd try to keep the adult-child ration at 1:1.