In my early 20’s, while living back in the Chicagoland area, I had a friend that actually made a vacation out of visiting- not Minnesota- but rather “Destination: Mall of America.” She, her brother and his girlfriend drove here and spent a week of paid time off in a hotel adjacent to MOA where they could wake up and immediately hit the mall scene. I still chuckle to this day thinking of them. Each to their own, but it’s definitely not my idea of “vacation.” How ironic that I would live so close to MOA now. My friend and I no longer are in contact- oh, how she would be envious!
After moving to Minnesota, the first question one of my teen students that I taught dance to asked was, “How close are you to MOA?” I’ve always viewed a mall as a mall. I guess it is neat though to have so many things under one roof. Especially, when the temperatures dip and being outside is not an option. This is why this became one of our fun destinations while Nishad was on break from school.
When I do go to MOA, I like to park in the same area which is the lot right outside of Macy’s. This enables you to walk right in. It’s especially nice with kids and a double stroller. This is a popular spot to park, so I find myself stalking people, with a smile of course, as they exit the mall in hopes of their parking spot.
We left the house about 10:45AM and made it there by 11:30AM. MOA isn’t only about stores, it’s about enteratinment. They actually have an indoor amusement park. For 18 tickets, it was roughly $19.00. Nishad wanted to go on some rides first, so we spent an hour on the 36-inches and under rides (he isn’t quite 42-inches yet for the next level of rides offered). Then we headed to made reservations for lunch at the Rain Forest Cafe. I wasn’t expecting the barrage of people in front of the restaurant, waiting to do the same exact thing. The next available reservation was at 1:50PM. Being that it was only 12:30AM, a snack was in order! Late lunch today…which was fine. After all, that is what break is all about. Who needs schedules? We headed directly to the “Healthly Express” and loaded up on fresh squeezed orange juice and a snack. After, we took the elevator a level below and stood in line for the “Underwater Adventures.” After we paid $28.00 for one adult and one child’s ticket (Arun was free and this was in combination with a $4.00 off per adult ticket and $2.00 per child ticket coupon) for our wrist bands (you can come and go as you please for the entire day), we had 15 minutes to spare before our lunch accommodations. Up the elevator we went with wrist bands in hand. Nishad exclaimed, “We’ll be back sharks!” as I feverishly pushed the stroller through the crowd.
The last time I went to the Rain Forest Cafe was actually in Chicago, during a Co. Dance Convention. Myself and a bunch of the kids ventured out of our hotel and walked to the popular little strip that includes the 50’s Mc Donald’s, Hard Rock and Ed Debevic’s just off Ontario. At the time, I ate beef, so I believe I ordered a hamburger. Nothing “that” great, but I did recall what I ordered, so it couldn’t have been too bad. Nishad and Arun shared the children’s marinara while I ordered a simple chicken sandwich. We didn’t plan on Arun’s reaction to the periodic rain and thunder storms though as I had completely forgotten about that aspect of dining here. Needless to say, he was not fond of the thunderous BOOMS! Honestly, neither was I. How are you to properly digest your food with all that rumbling? Our tab was $30.00 with tip.
Off to the “Underwater Adventures” that honestly, I didn’t have very high expectations for. However, I was delightfully surprised! I thought it was a wonderful exhibit and really gave you the opportunity to see things up close in a setting that was not only aesthetically beautiful, but educational. Nishad was chit chatting to everyone and anyone that would listen, even pointing out to them when sharks were above their heads. He was very excited! He even made up stories about the fish we saw, “That fish over there is sad, so the other fish is going over to him so he feels better.” Such a compassionate soul! Arun was pretty excited too! His eyes were wide and filled with wonder. A few times he became so elated that he stood up in his stroller and pointed “fishy!” There is a conveyor belt sidewalk through the aquarium, so you simple stand and roll along. This was a welcomed break from pushing the stroller.
After we headed to the Apple Store to check if they had something for Daddy’s IPOD Touch, but no such luck. It was probably as good thing as well because the line for the register was literally out the door. We looked for another animal ornament for Nishad’s animal themed tree, but we didn’t like any. So, without hesitation, it was back to riding some rides!
We left at 2:30PM, which milk and a treat in hand. It didn’t take long before both of my babies were sound asleep in the back of the car. I really thought traffic would be a nightmare, however, we made decent time back.
MOA may not be my idea of a vacation destination, but as a fun destination to while on school break, it’s A-OK!