On any given day, visitors to Mall of America come upon the unexpected: It could be a celebrity sighting, an impromptu concert—or a group of people breaking a world record. One of the Mall’s missions is to surprise and delight, and MOA has certainly delivered over the years with more than a dozen records taking place under its expansive roof.
Imagine coming down the corridor and seeing giant circles of pizza dough flying more than 20 feet in the air in the Mall’s Rotunda. That happened in 2006, when Mall of America teamed up with the Food Network during the filming of Guinness World Records Week. That week, foodies set records for Highest Pizza Toss (21 feet, 5 inches high), Largest Pizza Base Spun in Two Minutes (33.2 inches wide), Tallest Sugar Sculpture (a replica of the Empire State Building measuring 16 feet, 4.3 inches), and Tallest Cooked Sugar Sculpture (a replica of the John Hancock Building measuring 12 feet, 10.4 inches).
Planning Makes Perfect
Of course, people didn’t just meander into the Mall and start spinning pizza dough. There’s quite a bit of planning that goes into the process. The Mall has PR and events teams that work with outside partners (sometimes national ones, like the Food Network) or community nonprofits to come up with these record-making, or record-breaking, ideas. “Our teams work with these organizations from the very start to make sure it’s an event that makes sense and is achievable,” said Dan Jasper, vice president of communications. “We’re also looking to create a unique experience for our guests while providing an opportunity for our partners to share a story or promote a cause.”
Plus, making it official with Guinness World Records requires a strict vetting process that can take some time. Organizations can either find an existing record to break in a specific category or get Guinness’s approval for a new record. Then, at the event, a Guinness adjudicator needs to be on site to count, time, or measure the record. “Guinness has been very receptive to our ideas and events,” Jasper said. “And they’re honest about what would work or what would qualify. They want us to accomplish our goals as well.”
Most Bicycles Donated to Charity in 24 Hours (5,512) for Free Bikes 4 Kidz in 2015.
To smash an existing record, you go big or go home. In the same year, Mall of America had a giant gingerbread house built within its walls. Although planners knew they had the space and could get the materials, they needed an expert. They hired the current record-holder at the time, Roger A. Pelcher, to break his own record of Largest Gingerbread House with a new one that had an internal volume of 36,600 cubic feet. It took 14,500 pounds of gingerbread, 4,500 pounds of frosting, 2 tons of candy, and weeks of construction. People around the world heard about the endeavor (even before the days of social media), and more than 350,000 people visited it. The icing on the gingerbread house? It brought in $150,000 for a local nonprofit, St. Therese Nursing Home.
Since then, other nonprofits have teamed up with Mall of America to add to the list of memorable records, including Most People Tying Their Shoes (252 participants) for Lace Up for Diabetes in 2015, Most Bicycles Donated to Charity in 24 Hours (5,512) for Free Bikes 4 Kidz in 2015, Largest Handbell Ensemble (664 participants) for the kickoff of the Salvation Army’s kettle drive in 2016, and Largest Epilepsy Training Session (272 participants) for The Anita Kaufmann Foundation as part of The Purple Day Walk for Epilepsy & The Brain Games in 2017.
Largest Handbell Ensemble (664 participants) for Salvation Army’s kettle drive in 2016.
Whether it’s to support an organization or simply for fun—the Mall also set a record for Largest Gathering of People Dressed As Ninja Turtles (836 participants) to celebrate the opening of its Shell Shock ride at Nickelodeon Universe.
Become part of Mall history during the 25th Birthday Celebration on August 11. Who knows, maybe there will be another record broken at the big event!