Today (July 1), the new Crayola Experience opens at the Florida Mall in Orlando, to entertain families. Yesterday, my family and I had a chance to preview the Crayola Experience during a media event.
I was unsure what to expect as this is a new experience in Orlando. The original Crayola Experience, however, has been open for over 18 years in Easton, Pennsylvania, and this Orlando location marks their second location. So we went with an open mind, as well as a lot of excitement. Who doesn’t love Crayola, right?
The experience itself is upstairs, accessible by a staircase or elevator. The history of Crayola is on the wall to the right. Immediately in front of you is the “Wrap It Up” area. Here you name a crayon and the machine prints it on a label. It was funny to hear what we all came up with. From there we made ourselves into coloring pages which were then printed. We brought them home to color another time.
We then moved on the virtual world of Crayola, using tablets mounted to tables. We chose a picture to color and when we had completed our creative masterpeices, they were then projected onto a wall for all to enjoy! This is good for kids of all ages. Some of the cutest images were from the youngest artists. You can do as many of these as you want, but I can see this area being very busy.
We then came back to the modeling and molding area. One token gets 1 small package of Model Magic clay. This is similar to other modeling doughs or clay, but it is lighter and softer. You can also write on it with markers, and is fully re-usable. If you wish to keep your creation, it does harden if left out for 72 hours approximately.
We could have spent much longer here, but there was still so much to see! For us, that meant a “Doodle in the Dark” stop. UV backlight boards with special markers were the items for creativity here. This is a small area and I can see that there would need to be sharing of boards when it’s busy. It wasn’t busy when we stopped in, so each child had their own.
The climbing structure playground for bigger kids was up next for us. This large structure is surrounded with benches for parents to rest and enjoy seeing their kids be the little monkeys they are. The climbing and physical movement is good after doing the more mental activities. This playground can handle up to 300 lbs, in case an adult needed to rescue a child or accompany them, but it is meant for 5 – 12 yrs olds. There is a Toddler playground area also. It’s located near the restrooms and drinking fountains. I should mention the restrooms — the boys and girls are very large. There is also a family restroom, and a nursing mother’s room. There are even changing table facilities in both the men’s and ladies’ restrooms. There are four drinking fountains there, too.
After the playground, we continued to the “Crayola Magic” area where you color a picture, scan it into the program, which brings it to life. You can even be in the picture. It then emails you the picture. This is an app that is available from Crayola. Go to crayola.com/coloralive to check it out.
Dip Art, you say? The title of this area was very intriguing. A new take on spin art. Instead of paint, you use melted crayon. The effect is very cool. The 3D of it makes this good for older kids. You insert the color of your choice in the top area, close the door, and you’re off to being creative and amazed.
The molding area uses melted crayons, as well. You insert the color of your choice into the top chamber, it heats it up and it is deposited into a mold. You can chose a car, a seahorse, a shark, or a ring. A note for both of these areas, there is some residue from the color before you, so don’t be surprised when you purple seahorse has some yellow in it. For me, it made it even that much cooler, but I can see that it might be a problem for some guests. The mold has to be removed by an employee with a special tool as to not damage your molded crayon. It is a bit tricky to do, too. That may take a while as sometimes the molds do not come out as easily as they should.
Next up was painting with melted crayons. A bit difficult to do, but very cool. Colors are limited a bit to basic colors, but they do offer a few shades of each. Again, each completed artwork has a bit of 3D to it. I know people that could spend all day in this area alone. Of course, they are uber creative, and I am not. And I’m ok with that.
Our last stop was where you can color a car or truck or clothing outfit of your choice, take it a system to be scanned in, and a few minutes later, it shows up on screen. The concept is great, but it did not work as smoothly as it should, yet. I guess that is why the technicians were there working on each one. Once we were able to scan in the images, the computers made the cars and trucks appear digitally on screen, and put the outfits on models on screen. It was exciting to see the kids’ creations come to life, and drive or walk around, once they got it working.
They also have a short (about 15 minutes) show demonstrating the factory process of making Crayola crayons. It’s informative and fun. Spanish and Portuguese subtitles are available on two monitors, one for each side of the room. The show is hosted by two Crayons and one human helper. There is lots of color humor, and I think it would be good for all ages. We thought it was fun, including my children, ages 7 and 10.
The Crayola Experience does have a small cafeteria with snack foods, including pizza and Pepsi products. We did not sample anything today since they seemed to have a limited variety to offer, but that may be as they open today. The prices did not seem outrageous either for where it’s located. They also have birthday party rooms and offer a couple of options. Both kids expressed interest in having a party there. We’ll see when it gets closer to their day.
We arrived at 2pm and didn’t leave until 5:30. This experience will take a good afternoon, if not longer when they are busy, so keep this mind while planning your day. Re-entry is permited when you get your hand stamped.
All around the attraction are different areas to color or scribble or be creative. Some involve physical movement, some creativity, some silliness. I found this experience someplace to forget about being an adult. This is a place for adults to stop adulting and to just have fun with the kids. Turn your phone off, and leave the outside world, outside. I did not have great reception inside anyway, so it was not a big deal for me. I want to encourage you to turn off the phone, and play with your kids. Half the fun of this place is be a kid again. Color, paint, be silly. It’s all good.
Admission is $19.99 for both adults and children buying tickets on the day of your visit. Advance tickets may be purchased online for a $3 discount, and an annual pass is available as well, for only $29.99 a year. If you think you will visit more than once, the annual pass is the way to go. Tickets can be upgraded on the same day, as well.
The Crayola Experience Orlando opens today (July 1) at 10am. It is located at The Florida Mall at 8001 S. Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando. It has an external entrance that is easy to spot. For more information, visit crayolaexperience.com/orlando.
Thanks to Crayola and the Crayola Experience for inviting us out!
Disclaimer: I attended a media preview of the attraction for review purposes. As always, my opinions are my own.
[Photos by Kirk Garreans for CitySurfing Orlando]
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