Love it or hate it, the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota is shopping on steroids.

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The mall of America offers four floors of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. Plenty to keep you inside during of long Minnesota winters.

When I told my family and friends who were familiar with the Twin Cities about my upcoming  trip, they all suggested places to visit. None of them mentioned the Mall of America. When I would say the idea of visiting the MOA (as many locals call the mall) their responses were always something along the lines of “Why? It’s just a big mall.” Admittedly there is something a bit grandiose and perhaps over the top about the mall that doesn’t jibe with the laid-back sensibility of many Minnesotans. People from the state are known for their self-effacing reserve. It even has a name “Minnesota Nice.” Something as flashy as the largest mall in the United States almost belongs in a place more to its liking say Las Vegas.

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The mall has over 42 million visitors annually (over eight times the population of Minnesota). There are over 500 businesses established in the mall employing over 11,000 full and part-time employees. (Even more during the holiday season)

 

At the time of completion in 1992, the mall was the largest in the United States and the second largest in North America. ( The West Edmonton Mall in Canada is more massive). Since that time the title has come under dispute. The King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania has more leasable space, but the MOA is still larger based on square footage. (It is kind of the same nitpicking you see on skyscrapers. Everyone wants the superlative.)  Regardless it is a huge mall but has noticed some of the glory has faded over the last twenty years.  With the economic boom in Asia, a lot of much bigger malls have been built. And the mall now almost seems quaint in comparison.

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The Mall is a square shape with four floors on the east and south wings and three on the west and north. The fourth floor is almost entirely entertainment venues with a cinema and a live theater, comedy club, and many drinking establishments.

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Each of the four wings has a center courtyard. usually, there is some form of performance happening in the square. One had a singer another a DJ.

The Mall was built in 1992 on the grounds of the former football/baseball stadium. There is a plaque inside the mall honoring the home-plate in the old ballpark. The mall surrounds it’s most prominent feature: “The Nickelodeon Universe” . Named after the popular children’s television channel the park offers rides including roller coasters, a Ferris Wheel and a log flume. Many of the rides features characters made famous from the channel.

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In addition to the theme park there is an interactive  Lego-land and Crayola attraction as well as a Hard Rock Cafe.

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A transformer made entirely of Legos
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Booths allow children (and adults) to make their own Lego creation.

The rise of low cost mega-stores such as Wal-Mart the mall has decimated local malls in many american cities. Ones the paragon of malls, the MOA has almost now become a relic of a lost era. Finding a way to thrive in an ever-changing economic landscape has been a real challenge. While many malls have been scuttled, the MOA is actually expanding, with additional hotels and retail space being added. Despite the chagrin many of those in the Twin Cities may feel for the Bournemouth, the MOA is a survivor. 

The Mall of America can be found in Bloomington Minnesota next to the International Airport. It is conveniently located by I-494 and Highway 77

 

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