Mall of America has always been big, and now it's getting even bigger. The famous mall, home to more than 520 stores, 50 restaurants, a theme park and an aquarium, is adding another 150,000 square feet of retail space that will bring in 50 to 75 new stores as part of a major expansion project. In addition to the new shops, a luxury hotel, family attractions, upscale food court, and innovations in guest services are among the highlights in store for visitors to the famous mall, which celebrates its 25th birthday in 2017.
Three big brands recently opened up shop on the mall's north side: a two-story Zara, a flagship Anthropologie store, and Minnesota's first Toms location, offering shoes, eyewear, apparel and other accessories.
Opened in late 2015 on the northeast side of the building, the 14-story, 342-room JW Marriott is Mall of America’s second on-site hotel (the other is Radisson Blu). The new hotel features a full-service restaurant and bar, fitness center, pool and meeting space, as well as direct access to the mall.
MOA’s popular indoor theme park, Nickelodeon Universe, is home to 27 attractions and counting. Some of the newest include the Bubble Guppies Guppy Bubbler, the longest indoor zip line in the country, and a nightly light show.
One of the mall's newest attractions is FlyOver America, which simulates soaring over national landmarks. The seats move and swing gently, creating a sense of flying. The immersive experience will feature wind, mist and scents to enhance the images on the screen. Also new, Smaaash features a multi-level go-karting track, virtual reality games, sports simulators, and a dining area serving locally sourced food and drinks.
Families can also explore the Minnesota Children’s Museum “pop-up” play space on the north side of the mall, which features rotating exhibits from the St. Paul museum. At Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, the Pacific Northwest touch pool and Stingray Adventure have been expanded to allow for even more interaction with the critters.
The new 60,000-square-foot Crayola Experience is one of the mall’s largest attractions. Kids will find 25 hands-on activities like naming and wrapping their own crayons, as well as a retail store.
A new third-floor food court, called Culinary on North, features a dozen fast-casual restaurants, with food served on real plates with real silverware. Guests can dine on grilled cheese, tater tots and milkshakes at Melt Shop; enjoy tasty burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, custard and more at the popular chain Shake Shack; and get made-to-order wraps and salads at Piada Italian Street Food.
Other newcomers are Cantina Laredo, a full-service Tex-Mex chain with a full bar specializing in margaritas and sangrias, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville and Tim Hortons, a popular Canadian cafe and bakery.
To assist shoppers navigating the mall or connecting to social networks, the mall recently introduced free Wi-Fi throughout the building. Valet parking, formerly available at Nordstrom and the Radisson Blu, now includes the option for shoppers to drop their car off on one side of the building and pick it up on another. Most recently, the mall has partnered with Uber.