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Your Guide To Fun In The Minneapolis-Saint Paul Area

Family Fun

What’s New at the Mall of America

Courtesy of Explore Minnesota

Mall of America has always been big, and it’s not done growing. The famous mall, home to more than 520 stores, 50 restaurants, a theme park and an aquarium, continues to add trendy shops, exciting entertainment options, restaurants and big events that bring 40 million visits through its doors each year.

New in 2018, CMX Market Cinema is the first of its kind in the country. The high-end movie theater offers plush, reserved seating in 13 theaters, and an upscale market that offers everything from made-to-order burgers and gourmet popcorn to a full bar with specialty cocktails and fine wines.

MOA’s popular indoor theme park, Nickelodeon Universe, is home to 27 attractions and counting. Some of the newest include the Bubble Guppies Guppy Bubbler, the longest indoor zip line in the country, and a nightly light show. Opened in fall 2018, the new Paw Patrol attraction recreates the animated world from the wildly popular TV show.

Adjacent to Nickelodeon Universe, FlyOver America simulates soaring over national landmarks. The seats move and swing gently, creating a sense of flying. The immersive experience features wind, mist and scents to enhance the images on the screen. Next to FlyOver, the 5D Extreme Attraction gives riders the choice between a wild ride through a mystery mine, or a trip underwater with prehistoric beasts. On the mall’s fourth floor, Smaaash features a multi-level go-karting track, virtual reality games, sports simulators, and a dining area serving locally sourced food and drinks.

Sea Life Aquarium

At Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, the Pacific Northwest Rockpool and Ray Lagoon allow for safe interaction with the critters, and the 300-foot ocean tunnel gives visitors up-close views of sharks, sea turtles, sawfish and other impressive species. Another family favorite, Crayola Experience offers kids 25 hands-on activities like naming and wrapping their own crayons, as well as a massive retail store.

Opened in late 2015 on the northeast side of the building, the 14-story, 342-room JW Marriott is Mall of America’s second on-site hotel (the other is Radisson Blu). The hotel features a full-service restaurant and bar, fitness center, pool and meeting space, as well as direct access to the mall.

Three big brands recently opened up shop on the mall’s north side: a two-story Zara, a flagship Anthropologie store, and Minnesota’s first Toms location, offering shoes, eyewear, apparel and other accessories. Other newcomers include the Crochet Store, a new H&M, Walgreens and Morphe Cosmetics.

In addition to the country’s biggest chains, the mall also features many local merchants. Of particular note is Fourpost, a collection of more than two-dozen local brands selling everything from apparel to furniture to food, all in one immersive space.

Culinary on North, an upscale food court on level three, features a dozen fast-casual restaurants, with food served on actual plates with silverware. Diners can dig into gourmet grilled cheese at Melt Shop, smothered French fries at Disco Fries, and burgers and milkshakes at Shake Shack. Other new eateries include Wahlburgers, Carlo’s Bakery (of “Cake Boss” fame), Chick-fil-A, and City Works Eatery & Pour House, which has 50 craft brews on tap.

To assist shoppers navigating the mall or connecting to social networks, the mall offers free Wi-Fi throughout the building. Valet parking, formerly available at Nordstrom and the Radisson Blu, now includes the option for shoppers to drop their car off on one side of the building and pick it up on another. Most recently, the mall has partnered with Uber to extend its many transportation options, which also include various hotel shuttles and direct bus and light rail access to and from the airport and downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. There’s also a Tesla rental outlet.

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