Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America

Indoor Theme Park in Minnesota

Robyn Correll / © TripSavvy

More than a place for locals to shop, the oversized, frenetic Mall of America is a tourist destination in its own right. It makes perfect sense therefore (sort of) that a theme park is plopped into its cavernous middle. We're not talking about a couple of kiddie rides and a cotton candy machine. This is a full-fledged amusement park with multiple roller coasters, a giant Ferris wheel, and a slew of other thrill and kiddie rides.

Granted, the coasters don't come close to breaking any records, and the rides are fairly standard (although there is a nifty log flume ride and a fun shoot-em-up dark ride). But the rides offer plenty of fun. And I don't know about you, but I'll take a spin on a Ferris wheel over a spree in Macy's any day. Speaking of Macy's, while hanging around the entrance to the department store, it's pretty weird to hear riders screaming and feel the floor rumbling from the coaster at the nearby park.

The Knott's folks used to operate the park (it was originally known as Knott's Camp Snoopy), but it now sports a Nickelodeon theme and features characters such as Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants. The theme is largely decorative in that the rides are mostly off-the-shelf models that bear the names of Nickelodeon characters and include some perfunctory logos and artwork.

SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge coaster at Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America
MOA Entertainment Company

Coasters and Rides Rundown

The park features five roller coasters, one of which, SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge, offers extreme (although not too extreme) thrills. It climbs 75 feet and hits 44 mph as it descends a 97-degree, beyond-vertical drop. The SpongeBob ride includes two inversions. More tame, but still thrilling rides include Avatar Airbender, a launched ride that travels forwards and backwards on a horseshoe-shaped track, and Fairly Odd Coaster, which includes spinning cars. Two “family” coasters, Back at the Barnyard Hayride and Pepsi Orange Streak, round out the lineup.

High-thrill spinning rides include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shell Shock and Brain Surge, both of which turn passengers upside down. There are toned-down rides for younger kids also, including Guppy Bubbler, Blue’s Skidoo, and Rugrats Reptarmobiles. Extra-charge attractions include mini-golf and a ropes/adventure course.

Characters, such as Patrick the Starfish and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, greet visitors

What’s to Eat?

Unlike most amusement parks, food is not featured at Nickelodeon Universe. Then again, most amusement parks aren’t located in mega-mall that are jammed with restaurants. Among the many places to eat within the mall are Hard Rock Cafe, Wahlburgers, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., and Buffalo Wild Wings.

Admission Info, Operating Schedule, and Location

The park sells a two-hour unlimited ride pass as well as a discounted non-rider pass. It also offers a combo pass that includes mini-golf and admission to the nearby FlyOver America flying theater experience along with park admission.

Because it's indoors, the park is open year-round whenever the mall is open, which is pretty much all the time.

Nickelodeon Universe is inside the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota (near Minneapolis). The mall is located at the intersection of I-494 and Highway 77. It is about 15 minutes from both downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul and a few minutes from Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport.

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