Location: Bloomington, MN
A theme park that is open year around in Minnesota would be called crazy, but in the middle of The Mall of America, such a place exists. In that place, the world of Nickelodeon comes to life. In the beginning, there was no Sponge Bob, nor was there Dora the Explorer and her backpack. Let's all take a look back and see how a mall was turned into a universe of fun for everyone.
The time was 1992 and The Mall of America opened in Bloomington, Minnesota and in the middle of this mall was Camp Snoopy. The park opened with the mall on August 11, 1992. Camp Snoopy was created without a direct theme to the Peanuts, but more with an outdoor summer camp like atmosphere. It originally opened with 27 plus rides catered mostly to children. As with most parks, as years went on, the thrill rides slowly crept their way into the mall. The Pepsi Orange Streak roller coaster was the original thrill ride there to take riders speeding throughout the park. Snoopy was top dog around the woods until January 9, 2006 when he and the rest of the gang were told the camp was closing. With the generic name, The Park at MOA, it continued to move along. In July of 2007, new tenants came to the mall, and the characters of the popular NickToons quickly moved in. On March 15, 2008 Nickelodeon Universe blasted into the mall with a vengeance. The name change included new rides and more thrills. The park was transformed into something bigger. They built two new coasters, and rebranded others. Sponge Bob Squarepants Rock Bottom Plunge is a custom Euro-Fighter built by Gerstlauer that takes riders on a visit to Rock Bottom. With a few twists and turns, and a couple of surprises thrown in, it is a short, but very thrilling ride. Avatar Airbender was a brand new half pipe coaster built by Intamin. Coasting back and forth like a skateboarder, while spinning in circles with yours legs free to swing around leaves you with a floaty and surprisingly not too nauseating feeling, The Timberline Twister began thrilling guests starting in 2004, but had a name change when Nick moved in, to the Fairy Odd Coaster. Granted, the name had changed, but the spins are still there for all to enjoy. Back to the Barnyard Hayride, is a dragon coaster that finishes the coaster lineup. There are also a few flat rides such as, BrainSurge, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shell Shock, and Splat-O-Shpere that people who don't enjoy coasters or maybe even younger riders of appropriate height can enjoy.
The park is only 7 acres, but within that 7 acres packs a punch of something for everyone. There is one final unique ride, but it is not unique because of the type of ride it is, but because of the massive amount of theming. The Log Chute originally opened with the park as Paul Bunyan's Log Chute. As you go through the ride, you are literally included in an adventure where you see Babe the Blue Ox and his buddy Paul towering above you with a smile. It's the amazing theming that makes such a simple ride so much better.
As you're there, immersed in the universe, it will be hard to notice that you are in the middle of one of biggest malls in the world. Whether there is rain, sunshine and heat, or 20 feet of snow on the ground, be sure to go inside for an hour or two and just play. Just think happy thoughts, and know that Sponge Bob is there to join in on the fun.
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