Mallstalgia: Sweet Rides – Mpls.St.Paul Magazine
This article is the first in a series by Mpls.St.Paul Magazine to celebrate 30 MOAe birthday. Join us as we go through some of our favorite memories from the past 30 years.
Some say it takes a brave parent to venture into Mall of America with the sole intention of guiding the little ones in your life through the Heart of the Beast, otherwise known as the Nickelodeon Universe. But we see you, dear parents, and we salute you. The memories your kids will make of the bounty of the rides and the smiles you’ll catch while doing it are all worth it. But first, to understand the grandeur of a theme park right in the center of our nation’s largest mall, it’s important to grasp its history and understand how clever and utterly unique this outing is. for you and your children.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Knott’s Camp Snoopy
When construction began on the Mall of America, organizers turned to local comic book artist Charles M. Schulz Peanuts characters as the basis for the seven-acre theme park. The park was designed in a wooded spirit, with Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus and Lucy. After more than a decade of rides spotlighting the charming white dog, his lovable but uncertain owner, and all manner of comedic entertainment, the mall parted ways with the franchise in 2006. (Cedar Fair, a company based in Ohio, which operates theme parks nationwide, holds the exclusive rights to use Peanuts characters and failed to reach a new deal at the end of their contract.)
A new name
The mall renamed the area “The Park at MOA” until 2008 when it was renamed Nickelodeon Universe. And what a successful rebrand it was. Cue the orange! Characters! Mud ! Now known to kids and parents alike, the powerful and entertaining space features all the variety of characters kids love – Paw Patrol, SpongeBob, Bubble Guppies, Dora, and more – with a mix of new rides and a refresh of many iconic originals. With an average of around 8.5 million rides per year, it’s no wonder that a specific plan is almost a necessity to reach all the attractions the notoriously fun theme park has to offer.
Now here are our tips for a successful Nickelodeon Universe adventure…
It might seem obvious, but knowing which rides you want to do will make the whole park feel less overwhelming. Thrill-seekers won’t want to miss the Spongebob Squarepants Rock Bottom Plunge, which features a 90-degree climb followed by loops, twists, and free-fall turns. The more cautious should try the Pepsi Orange Streak, which still offers the novelty of a rollercoaster ride in a mall, but doesn’t offer the same drops and flips as Spongebob. Meanwhile, little ones can lay their eyes on the Guppy Bubbler for fun as it floats up to the mall’s ceiling.
Tuesdays are a great day to visit if you have a toddler, as the mall celebrates Toddler Tuesdays at 11am. This weekly event includes free entertainment and the occasional but oh so exciting character appearance, so you won’t want to miss it. . As a bonus for your patience, discounts aimed at toddlers and their caregivers are available.
By planning ahead, you can also determine if an all-day wristband is a more economical option than just buying individual passes. Most rides cost between three and six points.
We also suggest you nominate what other kid-friendly attractions in the mall — think the Crayola Experience and the Lego Store — pique your interest so you can allocate your time accordingly.
To make sure your plan isn’t upset, the mall also issues a maintenance schedule for when each ride is shut down for repairs and fine-tuning. Check it out to make sure you (and your kids!) aren’t taken by surprise.
Coordinate a meeting place
Losing a child is every parent’s worst nightmare. Luckily, the mall has phones throughout the facility that connect directly to security, so help is just a phone call away. Nickelodeon Universe also has a circular shape in the center of the mall, so it’s harder to lose your bearings. However, if you have a wanderer, and many parents do, it’s wise to have a pre-determined meeting place.
The Carousel ride is an oldie but a well-known goodie. He’s also in plain sight, making him easy to spot if you lose team members. One last bonus: it’s a great photo op, so once you’re together you can smile in relief for the cameras.
Check the senses
The rides, lights, noise and mayhem are all part of the amusement park package, but the mall is also a very sensory destination for all families. It is the first place in Minnesota to become a Certified Autism Center, which means its staff and surroundings are equipped to provide families with children with autism and other sensory disabilities an enjoyable visit. Each park attraction has an overview of how a child with sensory processing issues may be affected, so be sure to check the scale and see how you and your family might be affected.
Discuss rides (and height requirements) ahead of time
No kid likes being told they’re too small, so if your kid sets out to ride the tallest, meanest, craziest roller coaster – only to find out on top of file that they are too small – collapses can abound. Instead, take a look at this listing and determine in advance which rides are best suited to your child’s height and abilities. Then, spend the days leading up to your adventure as the fashionable man of this ride. Bad surprises avoided, good surprises celebrated. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Mall of America staff know how to clean up quickly when a kid throws their cookies. (We speak from experience.) But if stomach upset can be avoided, it’s certainly advisable. As the delicious scent of cookies from the Nestle Toll House Café wafts over the park and snack kiosks dot the outskirts, we suggest a promised treat to end your Nickelodeon adventure. Did someone say Sugar Factory? Alternatively, try the old adage of swimming and avoid rides for half an hour after eating. The kids will have plenty of time to digest and you might be able to score a few extra minutes of shopping.
If you’re resting on one of the park’s many benches while your little ones tackle Adventure Bay with the Paw Patrol, see if you can get your hands on a map of the mall and pick which store is home to the wonderful gift of your future- you will acquire to be the first rate parent that you are. Consider it an added bonus.