Mall of America may be going after luxury retail, but the latest big openings are decidedly more Disney than designer. On the heels of a new flight simulation attraction, Crayola Experience is scheduled to open next month, and that’s after the recent (albeit temporary) addition the Minnesota Children’s Museum. The multitude of entertainment options is great fun for a family vacation. Of course, with every attraction comes another admission fee. Attempting them all over the course of a weekend would cost a family of four more than $600. (That’s without food, hotel room, souvenirs, or a trip to American Girl.) Here’s the breakdown, and some ways to save.
Bang for the Buck: Solid. The experience is around 20 minutes (not counting lines) and the film/flying time is just 8 minutes, but it is memorable. This is a fully immersive experience that makes you feel like you are truly flying and the scenery, form all corners of the country, is stunning. Best of all, it’s something the whole family could do together. Tip: Buy timed entry tickets online. The price is the same, but it guarantees your entry within a 30-minute window
Online offer: Save $5 by purchasing online
Special Offer: Costco members, stop at the warehouse club on your way to get two unlimited ride wristbands for $39.99!
Bang for the Buck: Big (especially on a quiet day with no lines). You could cover all of the rides in a half day (if the lines aren’t too long), but they’re fun enough that kids will keep going until you drag them away.
Dutchman’s Deck Adventure Course
Bang for the Buck: Big. It takes around an hour to get through the ropes course without any monkey business, and kids can climb for a couple of hours easy before getting wiped out. There’s no limit to how many times you can go down the big slide at the end of the course (if my children are any indication: MANY). The zipline is a one shot deal, back and forth.
SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium
Admission: $24.25 for adults; $17.25 for kids
Online offer: Save up to 25 percent by ordering online
Bang for the Buck: Moderate. This is a legitimate aquarium showcasing thousands of sea creatures. The hands-on stingray exhibit is a highlight, as is the 300-foot-long ocean tunnel. But you could see and touch everything and still be done in an hour, or 90 minutes, which may leave some visitors feeling like they overpaid.
Minnesota Children’s MuseumAdmission: $7.95 per person (ages 1 to 101); free for members
Special offer: Get a coupon for $2 off admission
Bang for the Buck: Big—for toddlers. Older children are apt to get bored quickly—especially if they’re used to roaming the full museum in St. Paul. This one room pop-up features two exhibits. It’s not elaborate, but there are plenty of interactive elements.
A.C.E.S. Flight SimulationAdmission: $19.95 for a 20 minute flight; $29.95 for 30 minutes; $44.95 for 60 minutes
Bang for the Buck: Moderate. You get to fly an air combat mission against your friends in a flight simulator, or upgrade to the new surround view, which feels and sounds like a real flight. It’s cool. And then it’s over.
Moose Mountain Adventure Golf
Bang for the Buck: Big. A round of mini golf (18 holes) takes about an hour without crowds, and 90 minutes or more on a busy Saturday. It’s fun for all ages, with great views of Nickelodeon Universe, and plenty of time to take it all in.
Amazing Mirror Maze
Bang for the Buck: Moderate. It’s one of the less expensive attractions, but the novelty wears off within around 15 minutes. At 2,500 square feet, with endless hallways and reflections, they call it “one of the largest mirror mazes in the world,” and most kids do get a kick out of it. For an afternoon of amusements that doesn’t cost as much as a Nickelodeon Universe all-day ride wristband, this can be a good add-=on after mini-golf, which is nearby on the third level.
Online Offer: Buy three, get one free or get $4 off each ticket ordered online, or, get a coupon for $5 off general admission tickets
Bang for Buck: Big. Twenty-five hands-on attractions and shows, a climbing structure, coloring areas and cafe, lots of high-tech marvels to delight kids (and parents).
MOA Entertainment Pass: $45.99 for an all day Nickelodeon Universe ride wristband plus + SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium admission (must use same day)
The Big Ticket: $89 for a three-day bundled attractions pass to Nickelodeon Universe, SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, Water Park of America, Minnesota Zoo, Science Museum of Minnesota and the Great Clips IMAX Theatre. A 30 percent savings on all six attractions in and beyond the mall