Always Upping the Ante
There’s something about catching a glimpse of the Ferris wheel as you round the corner from Victoria’s Secret, or hearing the rumble of a rollercoaster as you step out of Tucci Benucch that never gets old. Twenty-five years after Mall of America® shattered the traditional “center court” by building an entire theme park in the middle of the Mall, Nickelodeon Universe is still one of a kind in the United States. And it continues to push the boundaries of indoor entertainment.
“We’re always figuring out how to up the ante with the park,” said MOA spokeswoman Sarah Schmidt. “People would be amazed by what we can still do.”
When it seemed there was no more space to build out, they built up. The SpongeBob Rock Bottom Plunge coaster sweeps riders 70 feet high—higher than the girders that frame the glass ceiling. The Dutchman’s Deck Adventure Course takes climbers 56 feet above the park, which set a record for indoor ropes courses when it opened. Nickelodeon Universe boasts the longest indoor zip line in the country.
Of course, the most popular ride in the park is the original rollercoaster, the Pepsi Orange Streak.
“What’s amazing to me is it touches almost the entire park and goes through other attractions,” said Brian Spielman, Nickelodeon Universe director of attractions. “It still impresses everyone.”
The second most popular? The Log Chute, another classic, which culminates with a 40-foot drop, and a major splash.
From Snoopy to SpongeBob
For 16 years, the park was known as Camp Snoopy—especially fitting since Peanuts creator Charles Schulz was born in Minneapolis and grew up in St. Paul. When that licensing agreement ended in 2006, it seemed hard to imagine the park without Snoopy.
That is until SpongeBob, Dora, and their crew from Nickelodeon moved in two years later.
With the TV network as a partner, the park, Nickelodeon Universe, has become more immersive—from character-driven rides to fog and other special effects.
“The mindset changed,” Spielman said. “It was like stepping up to the major league.”
Newer attractions play up the thrills. Shredder’s Mutant Masher catapults riders toward the sky on a spinning device. Avatar Air Bender rocks back and forth like a giant skateboard, reaching heights of 70 feet while spinning.
And it’s not just the rides that have evolved. The park closes each evening with Universe of Light, a musical light show that uses lasers, strobe and smoke effects. Coming up later this month: a brand new light show themed around—you guessed it—our birthday! Catch Universe of Light at the south entrance to Nickelodeon Universe Monday-Saturday, 9:30 p.m.; Sunday, 7 p.m. (Oh yeah, it’s free.)
Nickelodeon Universe by the Numbers
- 4 hours: Time spent each morning to inspect rides before opening
- $5: What you’ll save by purchasing ride tickets online
- 7 acres: Total size of the park
- 27: Number of rides in the park
- 43.5 mph: Top speed on SpongeBob Rock Bottom Plunge
- 97 degrees: Drop on SpongeBob Rock Bottom Plunge
- 1,318 feet: Length of the Fairly Odd Coaster
- 9,625: Lamps on Jimmy Neutron’s Atomic Collider
- 320,000: Gallons of water in the Log Chute
- 9 million: Number of rides taken at the park each year