This week’s blog topic is the largest shopping mall in the United States. Yes, that’s right online shoppers, I said mall. And although online shopping has taken a huge bite out of brick and mortar revenue, this 5.6 million square foot ‘market on steroids’ attracts millions of people yearly. My point is, even if a quarter of US malls are doomed in the next 3 to 5 years(as analysts project), the Mall of America is, most likely, not going anywhere.
The Mall of America’s construction began at the end of the 1980’s. I felt I should mention that, since the 80’s were the height of mall popularity. As a matter of fact, approximately 16,000 shopping malls were erected from 1980 to 1990. However, this ginormous shopping hub, enhanced with fun filled activities and amusements, is somewhat symbolic of a past well before the 80’s, being that a nearby Minneapolis suburb played home to the first enclosed two-story shopping mall, which debuted in 1956. Despite being conceived in the 80’s, the MOA opened its doors in 1992.
That being said, I’m really not one for shopping. I mean, I like to go to a store and find something I absolutely would love to have. But I couldn’t play the role of one who peruses, prices and carefully goes through items one by one for hours on end. I’m saying this because my girlfriend absolutely can, and it drives me nuts. So my view on this week’s post is entirely an overview, not an insightful blog uncovering every nook and cranny of this massive retail building.
Here’s my experience at the Mall of America
It’s a balmy Saturday in the middle of September. And as I’ve survived Twin Cities traffic, scampering towards the Mall of America entrance, I sense a fear I should have anticipated hours ago. “What if I forget where I parked?” I think to myself as I scan the East Parking Garage’s uniformity, searching for a profound land mark. I find none, but I don’t spend much time searching for one-I have to use the boy’s room this instant! Finding the right garage shouldn’t be a problem anyways, considering there’s only an east and west ramp.
I’ll mention briefly that there are many nearby hotels that offer shuttles to the mall. A quick google search should render some decent options. Quite a few hotels, considering the lodging accommodations, are very reasonable. However, I didn’t take a shuttle and am a bit worried, since I can forget where I parked in a mall five-times smaller.
When I enter this tourist destination, Sea Life’s entrance is dominating my view. That’s a good omen. Even if I couldn’t mark my spot in the garage, which I do believe had numbers with corresponding rows, I’ll at least remember this. But I don’t have time for pause, and scurry towards a Starbuck’s. I talk to a girl behind the counter and she points me towards the Barnes and Noble restroom. The bathrooms may have not been out in the open, but they’re nearby and I make it in time.
When I’m finished, I’m ready to take in this expansive structure of shopping and entertainment. What really, really catches my eye is Nickelodean Universe. As a matter of fact, there are quite a few spots where the 7-acre amusement park is visible in the mall. It looks awesome, but I’m by myself so I don’t feel like partaking in the fun. I do snap a ton of photos.
It’s nearing one-thirty and I haven’t eaten since seven this morning. So, as I’m gaping at giant LEGO sculptures, the iconic Hard Rock Cafe sign catches my eye. However, as I walk toward it, I find it’s closed at this point. No matter, there’s a giant food court on the level just above the themed Restaurant. I’m sold on this, even if it is kind of the average food court, because it has an awesome view of LEGO Land and the amusement park. All told, there’s around fifty restaurants in this place.
After eating a rather expensive lunch, I set out to see if anything tickles my fancy. I’m not going to scope out every establishment. I’ve read that there are 520 retail stores and services in this place. Of course, with that many to choose from, there are a few that pique my interest.
For starters, there’s one known as Goldy’s Locker Room. And when I enter, I find University of Minnesota attire( Goldy being the university’s mascot) thrown in with some local professional team gear. There’s some cool stuff here, but it’s pricey. In my wanderings through the mall, I find more than one store that goes by this name. When I leave MOA, I stop back at the first floor store and purchase a cool cap with Goldy embroidered on it.
Here, in this mall, there’s any store I can think of. Goldman Sach’s, Nordstrom and Macy’s are all here. There’s also a ton of other smaller shops.
Not only is there shopping; fun entertainment experiences abound. I’ve already mentioned Sea Life, which boasts Minnesota’s largest aquarium. And I’ve also mentioned the amusement park Nickelodeon Universe. Yet, there’s 4D theatre’s, the Crayola Experience, Mini Golf, an Escape Room and tons more on three gigantic levels orbiting the theme park.
I check out the mundane, the cool and the weird. After about an hour and a half, I’m set to return. I just wanted to check out the vibe, considering the recent opening after the pandemic scare. What I found was everybody complying with the face mask ordinance, and casually keeping their distance.
The mall was absolutely humming, and I felt the festive vibe one might find at a carnival or fair-without the weird food, animals and live music of course. And after a lap around, I find the Sea Life entrance exactly how I left it. Believe it or not, considering the enormity of this landmark building, I had an easier time finding my car than a Walmart parking lot.
In closing, I must be getting old. I remember a time when going to the mall was the absolutely coolest thing in the world. Or at least it was one of the cooler places a teenager could go on his or her off time. Now, the need for them is waning. Yet, somehow, I see the sights and sounds of Minnesota’s mega mall possibly surpassing my life span. Maybe? Possibly? Who knows? I can say this, even if I believe the attractions to be kind of overpriced, Mall of America is definitely a fun family excursion.