It’s worth starting this out by saying that my friend and I saw only a small portion of this mall during our stay. On the bright side, it was good having my friend with me for company.
Since the Mall of America (MOA) is billed as the biggest mall in the nation, when I caught my first glimpse of it after getting off the freeway, I felt underwhelmed by it. After driving around for a few minutes, we started to get a sense of how massive in size it was. As my friend and I were walking around the parking lot trying to figure out where to enter, we were assisted by two teenagers who showed us where to go. Keep in mind that for thousands of Bloomington residents, they know this as ‘the mall.’ It’s the tourists and out-of-town visitors that see this as a massively sized mall.
We entered through Macy’s, which resembled any other. Once we stepped into the mall itself, it became apparently how large it is. If you factor out the aquarium and the amusement park, you could probably walk through and see the entire mall in about three hours. As my friend and I walked through both attractions, we both observed that it’s most likely a common thing that families will spend an entire weekend on them alone. Considering that we’d left my apartment at approximately 8AM and drive about five and a half hours (including the detour), it was already the middle of the afternoon. In my mind, I knew that we had another six hours going back. With no real agenda in mind, we just walked the mall like we would any other.
The amusement park proved to be a challenge to my senses. As much chagrin I expressed about the noise level while there, it was a kid-centric venue. While the majority of parents seemed to control their kids fairly well, it was still undeniable that it was rough on my senses. I was tolerant of the sound level for a good half-hour before I had to step away from it. Between the screaming of kids on the zip line and the roller coaster (which is expected), I had to distance myself from it. My friend just strolled along, which was good. While she was touring the park, I noticed and stepped into their M&Ms store.
No less than thirty seconds after I entered, I was greeted in true retail fashion. As someone who loves M&Ms, I was the adult in the candy store. If there was something that M&Ms Mars could brand to make some money, this store would have it. About thirty minutes into my browsing, my friend joined me, asking me how I was doing. My sense had mostly returned to normal. Typically, once I am able to step into an area of low noise, I feel better. Thankfully, my tolerance for loud noise has incrementally improved over time, but it has a long way to go.
We both engaged in some friendly conversation with the people working there, and she made a few purchases. After exiting, we continued through the mall and eventually found our way to the aquarium.
It had a guided tour section and a small area where you could peruse without paying for a ticket. We decided to tour the free section and see the various types of fish and marine life. I was somewhat thankful that despite the preponderance of children, all were mostly well-behaved. I could feel myself start to wear out slowly as we continued touring the two floors that composed the free area. We were looking at the pricing to take the full tour, but the price compared to our interest, made it cost-prohibitive.
At this point, we had only really seen one floor of this four story mall. We had probably seen one-third of this mall as we continued forward. Not to downplay the experience of the mall, but it has just about every store you can think of, and stores that I didn’t think existed. As I mentioned earlier, there are thousands of local residents who visit this mall on a regular basis, even just to visit one store.
Since our time walking the mall was spent comparing the MOA to other malls we’ve visited and complimenting the architecture, I’ll condense this part of the entry to some of the stores that we saw:
- I had heard many reviews of Microsoft stores, but hadn’t seen one until this trip. From the outside, it’s not much different than an Apple store, but with their products. Speaking of Apple Stores, directly across from the Microsoft Store was an Apple Store. I speculated how often people will go back and forth between store trying to figure out which device they would purchase. I’m not sure if it was intentional or accidental that these two store were in such proximity to each other.
- There was a store dedicated entirely to Crocs. It’s a shame that my arch-less foot won’t accommodate a Croc, but I would consider buying them for lounging around the house, or taking a quick stroll outside.
- While it wasn’t a store, they had a giant Lego store for the diehard enthusiast. I took a poke around, but I didn’t walk through the whole thing.
As entered hour number three of our tour through this mall, we had only seen two floors. If I were a blogger seriously intent on providing a thorough review of this mall, I would probably stay in a hotel and take the mall in sections. By hour number four, we had toured as much of the mall as one-day tourists would. I can tell you that as soon as I looked at my cellphone and saw 7:30PM, and I considered that we still had a long drive back.
We were on the other end of the mall, so we had to hike back to Macy’s, passing by the amusement park. It was 8PM and neither of us had eaten, so on our way back, we stopped by TGI Friday’s. The only major thing that stood out about this establishment was that the waitress we had was truly a local. In some ways, I still struggle to understand the Wisconsin accent, but the Minnesota one? I felt bad having the girl repeat things frequently, BUT it couldn’t be avoided.