Mall of America, Minnesota
Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know … ?
- It would take 86 hours to spend 10 minutes in each Mall of America store.
- There are 4.3 miles of total storefront footage in Mall of America.
- America’s first suburban shopping mall, Southdale Center, opened in Edina, Minn., in 1956.
- Mall security personnel reunite more than 3,700 lost children and their parents each year.
- Thirty-two Boeing 747s could fit inside Mall of America.
Shop ‘n’ ship
The Mall of America is, as the name suggests, a shopping mall; it’s the largest enclosed mall in the U.S. But it was conceived as something more, as an entertainment complex and as a tourist destination. It’s those things, too. Indeed, but for the fact the hotels are off premises — though not far away — Mall of America has a certain resemblance to a self-contained resort, albeit a resort with a lot of stores.
Forty percent of the facility’s visitors are tourists, and all those stores are a prime motivator for their visits. Besides, Minnesota does not impose a sales tax on clothing. The total annual visitation, 40 million, is more than the combined populations of Canada plus a handful of low-population U.S. states.
The shopping and entertainment complex, which sits on 78 acres, is in Bloomington, Minn., a few miles from the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. A light rail service operates directly from the airport to Mall of America and downtown Minneapolis. More than 50 hotels offer free shuttle service to and from the airport and to and from the mall.
Mall of America accommodates more than 520 stores offering a very wide range of goods and services. Further, the place is papered with eateries to ensure every store customer can get sustenance. The mall’s Web site provides a pre-arrival directory, a help in locating preferred shopping venues and determining where to park if driving to the mall.
The mall is a meeting and event site, too, and has accommodated more than 7,000 weddings since opening day in 1992. On-site entertainment ranges from a comedy club and movie theaters (14 of them) to miniature golf and a flight simulation experience.
But the two big entertainment components are Nickelodeon Universe and SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium. The Nickelodeon theme park covers seven acres at the center of the mall and offers 27 rides and attractions, as well as some unique retail shops of its own. The aquarium, promising both education and entertainment, offers interactive experiences with sharks and stingrays, among others. Behind-the-scenes tours let visitors learn about the animals and understand how an aquarium fulfills its mission.
Things to do for Venturers
- Fly a modern F/A-18 Hornet jet or one of the World War II fighters — in simulation — at the A.C.E.S. Flight Simulation attraction. You will be in control of flight simulators that duplicate those used to train military pilots.
- Test your creativity at the LEGO Store.
- At the mall, you can buy just about any product or service that is legal. Interested in body piercing or facial threading? Both are on offer.
- If scuba certified, swim with the sharks at the mall’s SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium.
- Have dinner at Dick’s Last Resort for an evening of sarcastic service.
- Take the kids to Nickelodeon Universe and sample some of the rides with them. See if you are as brave as they are.
Things to do for Centrics
- Be a mall walker. Many locals use the mall as an exercise venue, partly due to the guaranteed inside climate.
- Shop and ship. Or shop for luggage, too.
- Use a Web service called Malltip to discover bargains at Mall of America.
- Visit FlyOver America for simulated flight over the greatest sights to be seen across the U.S. The experience, using virtual flight technology, also includes wind, mist and scents during the “flights.”
- Touch and feed stingrays at the Ray Pool inside the SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium.
- Be amused watching stand-up comedians at Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy.
Things to do for Authentics
- Attend a book signing. Mall of America stages around 400 events a year, including the signings. Look for what interests you.
- Play 18 holes at Moose Mountain Adventure Golf.
- Book a shopping package that includes hotel and may include a Mall of America Coupon Book and/or discounted or free access to selected attractions or activities in the mall.
- With kids in tow, or on your own, see if you can find your way through a maze of mirrors and glass at the Amazing Mirror Maze.
- Listen to singing or instrumental groups perform in the mall, as part of the MOA Music Series. The performers are school groups or members of community groups who perform for free.
- Participate in a SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium Behind-The-Scenes Tour to learn about medical care and rehabilitation care for the marine animals and more.
For more information, consult the Mall of America at www.mallofamerica.com