Mall of America (MOA) has long served groups as one of the most exciting and action-packed shopping destinations in the world. With 520 retail stores, no sales tax on clothes and shoes, over 60 restaurants, and endless experiences and one-of-a-kind attractions, it’s no wonder the retail and entertainment center in Bloomington, Minnesota, welcomes more than 12,000 groups through its front doors every year.
We spoke with Samantha Sommers, tourism account executive at Mall of America, to find out about top group experiences at the shopping and entertainment mecca.
Q. Can you talk a little about Mall of America’s history and how group experiences have changed at MOA in recent years?
A. Mall of America has never been your average shopping mall. Since opening its doors in 1992, Mall of America has revolutionized the shopping experience for tens of millions of visitors each year. We provide visitors with the most exciting, unique, and entertaining experience unlike any other shopping center in the world. That’s always been the goal at Mall of America. Since our beginning, it’s what has set us apart from other malls in general.
Our differentiated experiences and attractions open the gateway for groups to actually interact and experience the product, spaces, and brands like never before. Mall of America is more than a mall—it’s a shopping experience you won’t find anywhere else.
Q. Tell us about some of the premier group experiences at Mall of America?
A. We can’t describe a perfect trip to the Mall of America without talking about shopping. No visit to Mall of America is complete without some retail therapy! Pre-registered groups are eligible to receive complimentary VIP Shopping Packages upon arrival at the mall, which includes an MOA Coupon Book and a souvenir shopping bag ($16.95 value).
To add some extra excitement to the itinerary, group leaders should consider booking tickets to experience one (or a few) of the many attractions MOA has to offer.
Some of our groups’ favorite experiences within the MOA include:
- FlyOver America – One of the most popular group attractions at Mall of America, this flight simulation ride takes guests on a breathtaking aerial tour of some of the greatest landmarks and regions throughout the United States using virtual flight technology. The attraction, which even seniors love because it’s so gentle, is a fully immersive experience including wind, mist, and even scents.
- Sea Life Aquarium – Step inside a true water wonderland at Minnesota’s largest aquarium. Groups can go nose-to-nose with sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, jellyfish, seahorses, and many more aquatic animals as they peer inside the aquarium’s 1.3-million-gallon tank. Another popular highlight of the aquarium is the 300-foot-long ocean tunnel that gives guests a 360-degree view of the aquarium and sea life all around them.
- Nickelodeon Universe – The nation’s first Nickelodeon theme park is full of beloved characters and exciting games, experiences, and entertainment including Moose Mountain Adventure Golf, Dutchman’s Deck ropes-climbing course, and the Barnacle Blast Zip Line. No matter their age, groups love this park for its exciting rides, endless entertainment, and experiences that bring on a full wave of nostalgia throughout the entire experience.
Q. Mall of America now offers an all-new Official Behind the Scenes Tour. What will groups see and do during this experience?
A. This new experience is a tour unlike any we’ve offered before and is a very special way for groups to get a look at the ins and outs of one of the largest malls you’ll find anywhere else in the world—and the largest in the United States.
In 2022, we launched the all-new Official Behind the Scenes Tour, which includes a 90-minute walking tour that starts at the north entrance of the mall and takes visitors behind the scenes of some of the lesser-seen destinations within the mall. It’s led by a mall expert that gives groups a peek behind the curtain of some of our great attractions inside the mall. So, for example, groups can go into “secret” places like Nickelodeon Universe behind the classic Log Chute ride or into the mall’s holiday decor storage area that’s unbelievably massive and really a sight to see.
To join the all-new Official Behind the Scenes Tour, group leaders must register their group at least two weeks in advance by emailing email@example.com.
Q. The brand-new M&M’S Mall of America opened recently. Can you tell us what groups will see and experience there?
A. Yes, it’s an amazing experience! This store is a two-level location right at the entrance of Nickelodeon Universe. They call this store an M&M’S destination store because of its size and unique experiences for groups that you really can’t find anywhere else. Visitors love that this location’s decor has a one-of-a-kind Minnesota theme paying homage to our Minnesota and Midwest culture. Groups will also get to see the classic and iconic wall of chocolate that you’ll find in other M&M’S stores around the country. Visitors also love personalizing their own M&M’S inside this location as well.
Q. What should groups consider when planning a trip to Mall of America?
A. Well, I want to start with a quick fun fact: If a visitor spends 10 minutes in each store at Mall of America, it would take them a total of 86 hours to get through the entire mall!
So, especially with this surprising stat in mind, I always recommend groups budget at least four hours in the mall. One lap around one level of the mall is 1.1 miles, so as you can imagine, it’s an enormous space to take a walk and shop. We see some groups easily spend up to two days at the mall if they’ve never been here, so considering what length of time and experiences visitors want to have is key for group tour planners when planning a visit.
Make sure to allow visitors the time they need to experience the mall because it’s such a portal to experiences, entertainment, and fun that makes it hard to leave when the time comes.
Q. How can group tour planners learn more and connect with MOA for a visit?
Article by Erica Zazo
Mall of America
Credit: Mall of America