Towards the end of winter, I decided to take Lexi with me to Minnesota for a week. I wasn’t sure what we would do there but I wanted to go somewhere with her and since I was already planning a trip there, I took her along. My one goal for the trip was to show her snow. She had been asking about it and we just hadn’t had a chance to make it to the north that winter, so this trip came in handy.
She did see snow and actually managed to get on skis and do some snow tubing which was an absolute blast, but the most unexpectedly memorable experience was Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America.
I am not sure what I was expecting… I guess being spoiled by Disney just three hours away, I didn’t think some indoor amusement park was going to impress me. Or Lexi, for that reason.
But wow the Mall was fun!
Here are the 5 things that Lexi and I both loved at the Minneapolis’ Mall of America
Oh boy! That spells both danger and glorious moments of freedom. The Lego Store at the MOA is equipped with tables full of random legos and at any time you can see crowds of kids sitting at the tables assembling Legos with their bored parents staring off into the distance. I made the mistake of taking Lexi there before dinner and needless to say, I could not get her out. If you’re planning on visiting the mall, make sure that you bring your laptop or a book and go there right after a meal. This way your lego obsessed kiddo can happily ignore you while building with all the other kids and you will actually be able to relax and do something for yourself while watching from the side.
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Wow! This was really cool. For any girl, whether she is interested in dolls or not, whether she is an American girl fan or not, this experience is a MUST. Lexi has never been into dolls and she certainly didn’t know what American Girl dolls were (in fact, the only toy she picked out was a kitty, out of the whole store of dolls). Despite that, she was in 7th heaven.
Who doesn’t want a little friend having lunch with them? She sat at the table and quietly played with her doll, feeding her cupcakes (the doll gets food too), and talking to her and enjoying their lunch together. No entertainment required, I was kind of a third wheel. Once in a while she would get up from the table and start dancing with her doll, but then sit back down and continue eating.
The make your own cupcake desert activity was really fun too. I seriously just sat there watching her play on her own and taking pictures while she enjoyed the experience. The food was really tasty. A little too oily for what I am used to, but tasted really really good. Lexi had salmon which she loved (and I did too) and I had shrimp scampi.
Think of these rides as gateway drugs to the rollercoaster world. If you have a kid who is like mine, who LOVES excitement and thrills but due to young age can still be tentative about something that is a little bit too jarring or scary or even exciting, then these two rides are perfect.
Pepsi Orange Streak is like a hybrid of fast adult coasters (fast, smooth, exciting), but small enough with average drops where a 4 year old will have no problem handling the excitement (unless you have a particularly cautious 4 year old). Lexi asked me to ride it 3 times in a row. Luckily, at Nick Universe, most bigger rides allow the parent to go in for free to accompany a little kid.
Splat-O-Sphere is an entry into the drop rides. I was concerned Lexi would be scared (but then who am I kidding, the girl cried when she found out she couldn’t go on Dr Doom’s Fall at Islands of Adventure), and she was nervous at first, but quickly the excitement of the drop overpowered any fear she had and just like Pepsi Orange Streak, she asked to go on it 3 times. I love that she was able to experience somewhat adult rides that were toned down for kids who outgrew the lack of excitement of the true kiddie rides.
And then, of course, for those needing way more excitement ( height restrictions apply), there is always the Mutant Ninja Turtles ride
Now this is brilliant and I wish more parks would get a clue and do something similar.
Every Tuesday the Mall of America provides events, free entertainment and discounts for toddlers. Special character appearances, crafts, and story time are all available. Kids eat free at the participating restaurants and you can buy a Toddler Tuesday ride special for only $11.95 plus tax (good for 5 hours which is plenty to ride EVERYTHING their heart desires). Only toddler rides are included and they can ride them unlimited number of times.
5. Number of Kiddie Rides
This park is DESIGNED with small kids in mind. While there are a few more exciting adult rides around Nickelodeon Universe, this is a mecca for preschoolers. I counted 15 small kid rides plus 6-7 more that braver souls can venture on (and those who are in the higher percentile for height). One day is NOT enough here, but it’s better than nothing. I would recommend planning for at least 2 days, because you will want to return. I want to go back now, but I am probably not taking Lexi to Minnesota until later this year.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO MALL OF AMERICA? If so, what is your favorite experience there?