Jun 06 2011
Living less than two hours from the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, we visit often enough that we sometimes think of it as just another mall. In many ways it is: you’ll find your favorite stores there, along with several that are unique, as well as restaurants, coffee shops, and kiosks.
There are a few things that set Mall of America apart from other malls however: the sheer size of it, an indoor aquarium, a Lego play area, and an amusement park.
That’s right, there’s an amusement park inside Mall of America.
We’ve been to Nickelodeon Universe several times over the years, dating back to my college days. Usually when we’re there it’s a busy weekend or spring break day so my time is spent trying to keep tabs on everyone. Our most recent visit, however, was a quiet Tuesday, and it gave me a bit of time to reflect on the amusement park while I was waiting for my five-year-old to go on the mini roller coaster for the ninth time in a row.
These are my thoughts on Nickelodeon Universe:
- It’s big. Think of the size of a baseball field, and add a bit. After all, the former Met Stadium’s home plate is in one corner (its actual stadium location) and Harmon Killebrew’s long run is marked on one of the far walls.
- The rides are real amusement park rides. It isn’t just some county-fair round-and-round ride setup. There are three roller coasters (only one of which I’m brave enough for) and a log chute, plus several other thrill rides that you won’t catch me standing in line for. While they may not be the biggest or the fastest on record, they’re big enough that ride lovers will enjoy them.
- The area is compact. The coaster tracks intertwine each other, and the use of space is efficient. The benefit: you can skip around the park and ride in any order you want without putting a lot of extra miles on your feet.
- It’s kid-friendly. There are a lot of little-kid rides, including tot-sized bumper cars, a roller coaster, and other small versions of some of the bigger thrill rides. In addition, some of the grown-up rides have lower height requirements than other parks have. If you’ve got a kid who’s yearning to ride the big rides but is still too short for them at a park like Valleyfair, he might just be allowed on some of the fun rides at Nickelodeon Universe.
- It’s climate-controlled. You can visit in the cold of winter or the heat of summer and leave your coats and spray-mist bottles in the car. I actually enjoyed basking in the sun coming through the skylight-ceilings.
- You pick when and where you eat. There aren’t any restaurants right inside the park, but you can choose any of the mall eateries when you’re hungry. How much time you take off and how much you spend are completely up to you. Snacks and beverages are available inside the park, but you can bring in your cup of coffee or ice cream cone from another location if you wish.
- There are times when it’s very busy (school vacations, weekends) and times when it’s very quiet (weekday mornings). During the busy times, you’ll wait in line but all the rides will be operating at all times. On quiet days, several rides will be closed at intervals so you may have to wait to ride the one you want.
- Parents may not need an unlimited-ride wristband. If you’re the required chaperone for a small child, you’ll ride free, and if your kids like to ride the kiddie rides by themselves, you’ll spend a lot of time parked on a bench. If you’re not fond of heights or spinning in circles, you’ll put the brave ones on the big rides with their dad. There are days when we’ve spent the whole day in the park and I’ve only used 8 or 10 points on rides.
- You can spend the whole day there. It takes our family 5-6 hours just for everyone to ride once on all the rides they want to try. If we want to repeat any, it takes even longer. You can also add the ropes course or mini golf for more fun.
We’ve found Nickelodeon Universe to be a pleasant diversion in the midst of winter, and our kids have enjoyed every trip there, whether it was one ride at the end of a shopping trip or a full day of riding the rides.
Tickets for Nickelodeon are available as all-day wristbands, or points purchases. The park is usually open during Mall of America operating hours.
Our family received complimentary wristbands for our most recent visit to Nickelodeon Universe. All opinions are my own, based on all of our visits to the park over the years.