2017 marks the 25th birthday of Mall of America®. To celebrate, we’ll be sharing 25 stories during the 25 weeks leading to August 11 (our official opening day). Stay tuned to this blog, our website and the conversation (#MOAturns25) for more moments from the Mall and to learn about all the great surprises we have in store this year.
There were doubts. There was disbelief. Imagine the sheer moxie that goes into building the largest mall in the country, spanning 78 acres, more than four miles of corridors, room for hundreds of stores, restaurants, attractions, and an entire amusement park in the middle of it all. In Minnesota, of all places!
First Day Jitters
Even a few people involved from the onset of this groundbreaking project admit to some first-day jitters. Maureen Bausch, the very first publicist of Mall of America®, says that until opening day on August 11, 1992, she wasn’t entirely sure how the public would respond to this unprecedented shopping and entertainment mecca.
“I remember walking towards the entrance the morning we opened and seeing all these faces pressed up against the glass,” said Bausch. “That’s when I knew for certain it was going to be super successful.”
Bausch went on to become the Mall’s Executive Vice President of Business Development and did her best to convince the naysayers.
No fewer than 150,000 people showed up that very first day, and they’ve been pouring in from all over the world ever since—more than 42 million every year, from pop stars to politicians; dignitaries to documentary film makers.
You Have to See It to Believe It
Nearly 2,500 members of the media from all around the world came to Bloomington, Minn. to cover the opening of Mall of America. The Twin Cities’ own Don Shelby, lead anchor for WCCO-TV was there, and while he initially balked at his station devoting an hour-long special report to the Mall, he now completely understands.
“There’s no question it was a news story,” said Shelby. “A gargantuan news story. One of the largest local news stories in my 30 years.”
Shelby says he needed a couple of hours just to take in the Mall before he could go on camera. He stood in the middle of what was then Camp Snoopy, watching rollercoasters roar past eight acres of skylights thinking, “It’s impossible!”
“I had a hard time containing myself,” he says of that first view. “My reaction was the same as if I were suddenly transported to the Alps, or the Great Wall of China. I had to just walk around and absorb it. Get the excitement out of my system.”
The wows kept coming. And the Mall keeps growing.
Come along with us as we recount some of our favorite moments—and make new ones—on the countdown to our 25th birthday. It’s been a wild ride! (And we’re just getting started.)