On the Crayola Experience, or Welcome to Kiddie Thunderdome

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I am not joking.

The path to the Crayola Experience in Easton, PA, is lined with crayons. The commitment to the bit really is to be commended.

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It is a brilliant marketing extravaganza. Here they literally attempt to bombard you with their product. The orange and blue crayons on the right, in the picture below, aren’t sneaking in. They’re breaking out for a cig break because too many people and too much noise given them anxiety.

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Don’t let the happy faces of the worker bees fool you…

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… That guy has a cup of emotional support coffee for a reason.

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The Crayola Experience is a four-story marketing-slash-edutainment space that really is a cool place. Brick walls and exposed ductwork abound and give the Experience an interesting industrial style. The building itself should be noted as part of the attraction. Curatorial and exhibition staff make good use of the Crayola archive as facsimiles of old advertisements are found throughout the public areas.

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Encouragement to dive into imagination is everywhere. If you’re the creative, artistic, or imaginative type who minds neither a constant din nor large crowds, and you don’t have debilitating hypochondria (kids + hands-on = GERMS!!), this is the place for you.

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Not into crafts, construction paper and paste? Then you’re screwed. But try your hand at digital art anyway. Why, yes, I did make a sparkle stripper unicorn at the digital art station. And, yes, I am proud of myself.

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There’s an area called Doodle in the Dark that looks like a toddler rave.

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Kids can dance around in a dark room on an interactive floor that changes patterns every few minutes…

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… And can be quite trippy.

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There are life-sized crayons that mimic the movements of guests standing in certain spots. This poor guy wasn’t moving as my daughter liked, so she proceeded to punch the crap out of him as he made this sad “eh” gesture.

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When the Crayons are otherwise confused by the requested movements (think spastic toddler dancing) they do this weird sparkle jizz thing.

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And now onto Kiddie Thunderdome.

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It’s a massive play space with a rope bridge, a hilly tunnel, swinging ball things, a TWO-STORY twisty slide in the frigging dark (seriously, you can take air at the end of this thing if you’re light enough or wearing the right fabric), and children. Lots of children. Lots of children running at full speed with reckless abandon, ready to mow down anyone in their paths (these pictures were taken towards the end of the day when the place clears out; usually it’s PACKED). Adults usually try their hand once, then never go in again, unless they have to chase a baby or extract a problem kid.

Parents mill about at the bottom trying to figure out which pink-bedecked or Spiderman-shirted blur is their theirs or which high-pitched screaming voice belongs to their spawn. When four dozen kids yell “MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!! LOOK AT MEEEE!!!!!” at the same pitch, decibel, and time, they all sound alike.

Claustrophobia exists within the confines of mesh netting.

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The view from the second level down to the parent waiting area below, where  craft stations await.

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Also from the second level, looking towards the fourth floor of the Crayola Experience?

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You guessed it — more crafts!

Here I am attempting to cross the rope bridge. This is painful for grown-up feet.

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Adults are welcome to chase their kids through Thunderdome — in fact, they’re required to do so for kids younger than 3. Yes. Parents let young toddlers through here, where obstacles like this hard speed bag from hell awaits them.

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That’s not a blurry picture of my son below, nor is that a flash reflecting off a random kid’s glasses. All children turn into speed demons with flashing eyes of doom when they go in this thing.

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Don’t believe me? Tell a six year old that he’s got one more minute in there before it’s time to go to lunch.

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7 thoughts on “On the Crayola Experience, or Welcome to Kiddie Thunderdome

  1. As fun as this looks, it looks like a mad house for moms as well. Great post. I laughed as I can relate on many levels. Thanks for sharing your experience

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      1. My daughter quite hasn’t hit the field trip age, but its going to be interesting when she does. I imagine I’ll be posting similar stories in the future!

        Like

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