To my family, Mall of America is like the Midwest’s Disney World. My kids go out-of-their minds with excitement for MOA’s rides, attractions, stores, and food court. With all of the new stuff they’ve added in recent years, a weekend in this suburban Minneapolis Xanadu is barely enough time to do it all.

Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom There are new rides at Nickelodeon Universe, along with other new attractions at Mall of America.

There are new rides at Nickelodeon Universe, along with other new attractions at Mall of America. Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom

What’s New at Mall of America

If you’re like me, and haven’t been to Mall of America in a few years, it’s time to get yourself back to Minneapolis (actually, it’s in suburban Bloomington, Minnesota).

What makes MOA like no other mall in the world is its giant indoor amusement park, Nickelodeon Universe. The colorful, clean, amusement park is only one of the entertainment options. One of the newest, Fly Over America, is my favorite attraction.

Here are some of the cool, new things to do at Mall of America:

Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom Fly Over America, at Mall of America, is similar to Soarin' at Walt Disney World, only better.

Fly Over America, at Mall of America, is similar to Soarin’ at Walt Disney World, only better. Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom

Fly Over America

Have you ever been on Soarin’ at Epcot in Walt Disney World? This is the same type of ride, but better. You sit (and get buckled in) to a ski lift-like seat, which lifts up and puts you in front of an IMAX movie screen that soars over different scenes in the United States. You literally feel like you’re flying over America. There are some 4-D effects, too, like when mist or water sprays at appropriate scenery. We even loved the America trivia contest in the waiting area.

This ride got big thumbs up from everyone in our group, which included kids ages 7-13, and two suburban moms.

Tickets are $16.95 for ages 12 and up, and $12.95 for kids, but you can save a few bucks off each ticket if you order them in advance online. Fly Over America also has special holiday-themed “flights” which sounded cool.

Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom There's an American trivia contest while you wait to experience Fly Over America at Mall of America.

There’s an American trivia contest while you wait to experience Fly Over America at Mall of America. Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom

Fly Over America at Mall of America

Photo purchased by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom You can buy photos of yourself in front of a green screen before going on Fly Over America at Mall of America.

Crayola Experience

Have a creative child who loves art, or coloring? They’ll love the new Crayola Experience. Geared more toward little kids – although there were a few things older kids might like– discover this brightly colored and buzzing-with-activity massive area. Filled with rooms, each are designated for different interactive, art-related activities.

My favorite things at this Mall of America experience were using a touchscreen computer to make my own custom made crayon wrapper (placed around a take-home souvenir crayon), and melting crayons into an object of my choice. I made a crayon shaped like a giant diamond ring, which I got to keep.

It was crowded during my Saturday afternoon visit, and a bit pricey ($19.99 per person for ages 3 and up). Buy tickets online in advance and you can save a few bucks off the price of each ticket.

Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom The Crayola Experience is great for younger kids who love to color and create.

The Crayola Experience is great for younger kids who love to color and create. Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom

Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom The Crayola Experience is great for younger kids who love to color and create.

The Crayola Experience is great for younger kids who love to color and create. Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom

SMAAASH

It wasn’t yet open during our visit, but this place looks awesome! SMAAASH is a new “arcade on steroids,” as a report in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune called it, that will open on Christmas week, 2016. The 40,000 square foot space takes up the entire 4th floor of the mall, and will have a multilevel go-cart track, virtual reality and video games, and a restaurant and bar. While there are other SMAAASH locations around the world, this is the first one in the United States.

New Mall of America Rides – and Ziplining

The rides you probably remember most are still there, including that insane SpongeBob rollercoaster that goes straight down. But in recent years, they’ve added a ropes course, a ziplining-across-the-park feature (you get to go across, and then back again), and a new Ninja Turtles-themed ride, Shell Shock.

An all-day wristband is $34.99 per person, but you can save money by buying them online, and consider buying a package deal if you want to try some of the other attractions.

Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom Ziplining is a new attraction at Mall of America.

See the kid in the red hoodie up near the rafters? That’s my 11-year-old ziplining across Mall of America. Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom

Universe of Light

Every night, near the mall’s closing time, people line the areas around Nickelodeon Universe to watch a show of lasers, strobe lights, music, and smoke effects called “Universe of Light.” They were having some technical issues with it and canceled it during our visit. But people who have seen it say it’s worth sticking around to watch.

“The Malt of America” at Shake Shack

This concrete mixer dessert is exclusive to the new MOA Shake Shack restaurant. The $4.59 treat (for a small size) is made with vanilla custard, peanut butter sauce, crumbled sugar cone cookie and malt powder. It’s sweet … and delicious.

To help alleviate your guilt about eating this high-calorie treat, know that 5 percent of the proceeds are donated to Open Arms of Minnesota, which provides meals for people living with life-threatening illnesses in the Twin Cities.

Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom The Malt of America, from Shake Shack, is exclusive to its Mall of America restaurant.

The Malt of America, from Shake Shack, is exclusive to its Mall of America restaurant. Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom

Shopping at Mall of America

One of the best things about Mall of America, to me, is that there is no sales tax on clothes. Zero. As one who lives in a county with 10 percent sales tax, it’s still shocking to pay exactly the price on the price tag and not a cent more. Besides the instant savings, this mall offers shoppers every store you can imagine. With stores like lululemon, Ugg, North Face, Garage and Nike, it was teenage girl heaven. And all of the kids loved the bright yellow Peeps store, that was filled with every imaginable variety of the bunny-shaped marshmallow treats, Mike & Ikes candy, and Hot Tamales.

Some of the newly added stores include Toms, Tory Sport (a Tory Burch store), Fabletics (we found some GREAT deals on workout clothes here), Versace and Altar’d State.

Where to stay at Mall of America?

We loved the Radisson Blu Mall of America, attached to the mall. It’s a great hotel for families. Read my review here.

What's New (and Fun!) at Mall of America