2014 Road Trip Photos #9: Another Hick in the Mall, Part 2

Nickelodeon Universe!

Welcome to Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America! Also, there are stores.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Each year from 2003 to 2013 my wife, my son, and your humble writer headed out on a long road trip to anywhere but here. Our 2014 road trip represented a milestone of sorts: our first vacation in over a decade without my son tagging along for the ride. At my wife’s prodding, I examined our vacation options and decided we ought to make this year a milestone in another way — our first sequel vacation. This year’s objective, then: a return to Wisconsin and Minnesota. In my mind, our 2006 road trip was a good start, but in some ways a surface-skimming of what each state has to offer. I wanted a do-over.

Readers who followed along last summer with the remastered edition of our 2006 travelog may have been disappointed at the dearth of photos in the Mall of America chapter. The great and powerful Mall is an enormous structure with hundreds of places to visit and acquire stuff, but last time we just didn’t think to use our cameras much because shopping and photo ops are two activities that tend to be mutually exclusive activities in our minds.

On our way to the Mall, bright ‘n’ early at the start of Day Three, we grabbed breakfast at Bruegger’s Bagels. At the time we didn’t know it’s a chain because they have zero Indiana locations, so this may seem too commonplace to mention here. For me it was a milestone because their Sriracha Egg Sandwich was my first time trying sriracha on anything ever. To be honest, I remember the pain more than the taste.

Bruegger's Bagels!

Fortunately their coffee was a tastier, happier kind of hotness.

We had specific plans at the Mall of America and arrived half an hour before the stores opened. If you’ve ever dreamed of having the Mall of America all to yourself, Monday mornings are the prime time to pin on your calendar.

Mall of America!

The place was so deserted by Mall standards, we could’ve shot a movie there, assuming we could convince any actors to report to set that early.

Mall of America Art!

Some art to contemplate while you’re pacing back and forth and waiting for someone to fire the Mall of America starter pistol or ring the Mall of America market bell or whatever.

Eventually the stores opened and shoppers showed up to enjoy four stories’ worth of clothing, food, electronics, Minnesota souvenirs, Mall of America souvenirs, oxygen-bar oxygen, and more.

Mall of America!

Monday morning was far from hectic, but I can think of one dying Indianapolis mall that would love to have this many visitors at one time.

Forrest Gump suit!

The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. was here last time we visited, and still seems to be going strong. We ate a few times at their Kings Island location until it lost its licensed name a few years ago. Standing outside their MoA location is an authentic Forrest Gump suit and props. Maybe Kings Island would still have their version if they’d kept Lieutenant Dan’s wheelchair in a display case for good luck.

Moose Mountain!

Tired of shopping? Hate amusement park rides? Ate before you arrived? Not in the mood to join a topical protest demonstration and appear on the evening news? You still don’t have a reason to be bored at the MoA, thanks to Moose Mountain miniature golf!

In the center of the Mall is their world-famous park. Until 2006 it was Camp Snoopy; for the next two years it was the unremarkably named Park at the Mall of America. In 2008 the whole thing was rebranded as “Nickelodeon Universe”, adding several famous faces to the rides and decorations.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

After the Eastman/Laird comics but before the 2014 movie produced by Michael Bay, there was…Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: the Ride!


For the fans: Leonardo v. Shredder! Just because.

We remember the LEGO Store from our 2006 visit, but the giant-sized dioramas had been razed and rebuilt into new shapes since last time.

Mall of America Legos!

Everything is awesome! / Everything is cool when you’re having a ball!/ Everything is awesome / When you’re shopping at the Mall!

Lego Armor!

I’d love to think this was a prop from an upcoming Lego Aliens video game. I can dream.

We looked around a few shops. We skipped the pricey designer items and found a couple of affordable clothing articles. We later grabbed lunch at a meat-scoops-on-rice chain called Ruby Thai, where my thumbs-up combo platter of chicken curry and lemongrass chicken was nowhere near as incendiary as my earlier sriracha sandwich. But none of these side quests were as special as our primary objective at the Mall that morning.

To be continued!

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]

2 responses

    • Thanks, and likewise to you ‘n’ yours!

      Your comments about the Mall remind me of my own experience with the Indy 500: whenever out-of-towners ask us about our fair city, they always assume everyone here attends the race every year, and their faces always fall a little when I tell them I’ve only seen seen two Indy 500s in person, and the last one was 20 years ago. Not every local loves every local attraction…


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