One of the coolest things about Mall of America® is the indoor theme park… very key in a winter state like Minnesota! The theme park has had a few sponsors over the years, but none as awesome as Nickelodeon Universe®. They have redone every ride, added new ones, and redone the food court and gift shops for a complete Nickelodeon immersion experience.
Just like at Universal Studios, there’s something for all ages here… without the long lines! The Mall has free parking, several restaurants outside the park, and no admission fee (you just pay for rides), so already you’ve just saved a ton of money!
The rides are all based on height with a two-tiered system: one height for riding with a chaperone, and one for riding alone. One nice thing is that if your child is tall enough to ride, but not tall enough to ride alone, an adult chaperone rider is free and does not require a ticket.
Speaking of tickets, there are many ways to play. You can buy an unlimited ride wristband, you can build your own attraction pass (unlimited rides plus your choice of attractions), or you can do a points pass. The only benefit to doing a points pass, in my opinion, is if you have several people who only want to ride one or two rides each. Otherwise, the unlimited wristband is the best deal for a full day of play. Each rider will need their own writstband at around $30 each. Discounted tickets are available on Toddler Tuesdays, online, and after 5pm.
One of my son’s favorite things at the park has always been the character meet and greets. He loves to get his picture taken with Spongebob. They also have Squidward, Patrick, Dora, Diego, Linny, Ming Ming, Jimmy Neutron, Pablo, Tyrone, Uniqua, and more at various times and dates. These photo ops typically happen on Saturdays, with a few on Sundays and Fridays during the school year, and all week long during the summer. Check the website for actual appearance times.
Back to the rides. That’s what we’re really here for anyway, right? So I’ll break it down by age group, but you can always check the website to see about any changes before you go, too.
Children under 36″ tall can ride these rides only with a chaperone:
- Big Rigs (mini coaster, but kids ‘drive’ semis)
- Blue’s Skidoo (flying Blue and friends) (see picture above)
- Dora’s La Aventura de Azul (train ride featuring Azul the blue train from the show)
Children 36″ tall can ride these rides alone:
- Big Rigs
- Blue’s Skidoo
- Dora’s La Aventura de Azul
- WonderPets Flyboat (mini frog-hopper and super fun!)
- Pineapple Poppers (bounce house in the shape of Spongebob’s pineapple house – this has a max height of 58″)
For the Rugrats Reptarmobiles (kid-sized bumper cars) your child must be at least 39″ to ride.
Children 42″ can ride these rides alone (if they are under 42″, they must ride with a chaperone):
- Back at the Barnyard Hayride (small coaster featuring Otis and other characters from Barnyard movie)
- Balloon Race (go around and up and down in a hot air balloon basket and get a great view of the Mall)
- Carousel (a contemporary version of the classic merry-go-round, with stationary and moving animals)
- Diego’s Rescue Rider (like a mini ferris wheel, but in Rescue Pack as a bus)
- El Circulo del Cielo (real ferris wheel – 7 stories high – awesome views!)
- Ghost Blasters (interactive ride where you help rid a haunted mansion of its ghosts and rack up points)
Children must be at least 42″ to ride these alone:
- Danny Phantom Ghost Zone (a thrill ride ghost hunting adventure, but with Danny Phantom)
- Splat-o-Sphere (frog-hopper-type family thrill ride nearly 60 feet high!)
- Swiper’s Sweeper (race cars that whip around the track)
Then it starts getting into the more thrilling rides… once they reach 47″ they can ride these alone:
- Backyardigan’s Swing-Along (flying swings that can go 27′ high. Kids 39″ can ride with a chaperone in the double swings)
- Fairly Odd Coaster (43″ with a chaperone, fast coaster with hairpin turns, plummeting spirals and speeding tracks)
- Jimmy Neutron’s Atomic Collider (like the Scrambler – on steroids.)
- Log Chute (36″ with a chaperone, water coaster that travels through a cavernous mountain ending with a 40 foot drop… prepare to get wet!)
- Pepsi® Orange Streak (42″ with a chaperone, fast coaster, but just twists and turns – no loops or spirals… my personal favorite)
Once your child is 48″ tall, he or she can ride everything! Although these rides really are aimed at teens and adults, if your child is adventurous, now they can add:
- Avatar Airbender (like a giant skateboard – you spin around while you go up and down the 70-foot ‘half-pipe’, trust me, it’s so cool!)
- Crazy Cars (adult-sized bumper cars with a rock-and-roll theme)
- Spongebob Squarepants Rock Bottom Plunge (like the roller coaster in the Fist-o-Pain episode – intense loops, spirals and 90° turns)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shell Shock (NEW – each movement of the controls will cause you to flip, fly and twist through the air at dizzying speeds)
You have to know your child to help him choose which rides are best for him. My 7.5 year old is 48″ tall, for example, but he is nowhere near ready for the 48″ rides. I’m still trying to get him to go on the Pepsi® Orange Streak and Log Chute with me. Maybe this summer.
The Flying Duchman Ghostly Gangplank Ropes Adventure Course and Anchor’s Drop spiral slide, are not technically rides, but are thrilling none-the-less. Kids must be 48″ to climb alone, 42″ to climb with a chaperone, and 40″ to go on the slide. It may take an hour or two to get through the ropes, but it’s super-fun!
When you need a break from the rides, you can grab a snack in the food court right in the park, or shop at nuSTUFF near the East Entrance – a store dedicated to unique and exclusive products for Nickelodeon Universe… you won’t find this stuff anywhere else! More great shopping can be had in the park at the Nickelodeon Store near the North Entrance for your favorite Nickelodeon character merchandise, including hard-to-find items, and the American Girl Store near the East Entrance that features a cafe and doll salon. Don’t miss Toys near the South Entrance, the largest toy store in Mall of America and home to both Nickelodeon characters and other friends.
If you are a Nickelodeon Universe fan, please share your stories and photos with us either in the comments below, or on our Facebook page!