- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Visit the Mall of America
The staff at Mall of America know how to make you happy. A full-time comedian helps train employees, and the workers I asked for help were all super friendly (it might be a Midwest thing too). On top of that there’s a phone number listed on all the directories that you can text if you have or find a problem, and the proper authorities will respond within minutes. For example, if one of the bathrooms is dirty or out of toilet paper you text them and they will send a cleaner out right away.
I think the only thing they need to work on is a better parking system (I heard it’s a challenge during peak times). I suggested they set up a system like they have at Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica where each parking space has a monitor so you know how many parking spots are available on each level, and there’s a red or green light in front of each spot so you know if it’s available without having to creep around.
Radisson Blu Mall of America
The Radisson Blu Mall of America is the only hotel physically connected to Mall of America and it’s a darn nice one too. With 500 guest rooms and suites, it opened last March as only the second Radisson Blu hotel in North America (the first is in Chicago). There are 230 Radisson Blu hotels worldwide but they’re just now breaking into America. They do an amazing job creating an exciting and inviting ambiance with individual interiors. The hotels have free high-speed internet and fashion-inspired rooms with Anne Semonin bath products. After spending two nights there, it’s now one of my favorite conference hotels since everything I could ever imagine and more is all right there.
Good to know: Rack rates begin at $137 a night.
Mall of America is basically a city within a city. At 4.2 million square feet of total area it’s the largest mall in the United States and the nineteenth in the world. And you can fit seven Yankee Stadiums inside! When it opened in 1992 it was the world’s largest and in 11 years it could be back on top because the owners plan on adding 5 million more square feet by 2025.
There’s a full-on amusement park in the mall! When I turned the corner from the Radisson Blu I almost spit my Caribou Coffee out (they have six locations in the mall; that’s how humongous it is) when I spotted the three roller coasters, a Ferris wheel and 20 other rides that kids and adults can enjoy at Nickelodeon Universe. It’s a one-of-a-kind theme park that covers seven acres.
The first day I was there, the place was packed because the mall had announced on Twitter and Facebook that morning that they were offering free rides since schools were closed due to the intense cold. The following two days, meanwhile, it was like a ghost town during school hours, and so for the first time I rode rides all by myself—including the Pepsi Orange Streak, the Log Chute, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shell Shock and more. I’m usually not a big amusement park kind of guy but the rides struck a perfect balance between too intense and too wimpy. They were just what I like, and with no one else around, I spent some time feeling like a kid again.
Nickelodeon Universe isn’t the only attraction in the mall—not by a long shot. There’s the 70,000 square foot all-new SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium which features 10,000 sea creatures, including the most sharks in captivity anywhere and a 300-foot glass underground tunnel that was voted by Animal Planet as “the best shark exhibit on the planet.” There’s also a giant LEGO Store with play tables to inspire kids, a comedy club, a movie house with 4 theaters and much more, including a new Barbie Dreamhouse Experience that’s opening on February 14, 2014.
Good to know: MOA hosts around 100 celebrities a year for events, book signings or concerts. They’ve had everyone from Hillary Clinton to Taylor Swift.