Get Your Thrills at an Indoor Mall Amusement Park
Get your thrills without a road trip at these indoor mall amusement parks. Race go-karts, battle in bumper cars, dual with aliens and zombies in a 4-D motion theater, tag in laser tag, play arcade games and more.
The largest indoor theme park in North America opened this year at the American Dream mall. It houses a DreamWorks water park, Nickelodeon Universe, Big SNOW (North America’s first indoor snow park) and more.
Whether you’re in the mood for dizzying spins or a scream-inducing drop, these indoor theme parks have got your thrills covered. Perfect indoor mall amusement park for a rainy day, winter vacation or kids who get cranky in the heat, these indoor amusement parks offer high-speed thrills that are worth a visit.
Located inside the American Dream mall in Rutherford, New Jersey, Nickelodeon Universe stretches over 8.5 acres and features rides and attractions for kids of all ages (like Diego’s Rescue Rider bus or the Backyardigans Swing-Along) and grown-ups (like Sandy’s Blasting Bronco roller coaster). Guests can also meet their favorite Nickelodeon characters.
Both the Mall of America and Nickelodeon Universe earned the Certified Autism Center designation in 2019. Staff receive special training in areas like sensory awareness and communication, while both locations offer a quiet space for guests with sensory issues featuring dimmable lights, soundproof walls and interactive wall displays.
The West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta, is the biggest mall in North America and the home to a massive indoor amusement park. Rides include a soaring double-looped roller coaster, the world’s largest triple loop and a giant Ferris wheel. Other attractions include a 3-level playground, bumper cars and an arcade with more than 140 games. The ice skating rink and Big Snow—North America’s first year-round indoor ski resort—are also available to enjoy.
Family Entertainment Centers
Family entertainment centers, or FECs, are small amusement parks that provide fun for the entire family at a lower cost than outdoor amusement parks. They typically have a variety of gaming options such as arcade games, redemption machines and children’s rides, along with edutainment experiences, virtual reality/augmented reality zones, skill-based game play and physical activities. They also host birthday parties and corporate events.
The global market for family/indoor entertainment centers is booming thanks to favorable youth demographics and continuing investments in FECs with new and improved games, food/beverage integration, and loyalty programs. Rising disposable incomes in the emerging markets also fuel growth in this sector.
Many of the biggest indoor amusement parks feature a combination of classic rides and modern games. They also offer quality food and beverage to boost profits and keep customers in the park longer. While some of the best indoor amusement parks in the world are run by massive chains, others are privately owned and operated.
Some of the biggest family/indoor entertainment centers in the world are part of large malls and attract a diverse group of visitors. For instance, the Mall of America houses a Nickelodeon-themed indoor amusement park with thrill rides like a log flume and roller coaster, as well as kiddie rides and an arcade. Another big draw is the massive indoor go-kart park at the Polaris Fashion Center in Columbus, Ohio, which has a variety of rides and games that cater to all ages.
Amusement Parks Without Rides
While the idea of a shopping mall amusement park is not particularly new, the number of these family-friendly attractions has grown significantly in recent years. One factor is that it’s often much cheaper to build an indoor amusement park than a massive, standalone facility in the middle of nowhere. Another is that it can be more convenient for busy families to find a nearby indoor amusement park than a drive to an out-of-the-way outdoor park.
Les Sandler and his son Jonah founded Scene75, which specializes in turning vacant warehouses, big box stores, old Kmarts and other retail space into family-friendly entertainment centers with activities like blacklight mini golf courses, archery tag (foam arrows) and interactive batting cages. The company also operates a handful of indoor parks that cater to kids and teens with rides, games and activities like trampolines, laser tag, wall climbing and arcades.
Nickelodeon Universe at American Dream in Rutherford, NJ is the largest indoor amusement park in North America with 35-plus rides, including the looping SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shellraiser. Kids can meet their favorite characters in the Nick indoor mall amusement park Live Show area and take a spin on the wacky Fairly Odd Coaster. The mall complex is also home to an NHL regulation-sized ice skating rink and will soon open Big Snow, North America’s first indoor real-snow ski and snowboard park.
There are plenty of high-speed thrills, dizzying spins and scream-inducing drops to experience at indoor mall amusement parks. Many are perfect for a day of fun during winter vacations or spring break, while others make for an exciting centerpiece of a weekend getaway or family road trip.
The Adventuredome at Circus Circus Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas is home to one-of-a-kind thrill rides like Canyon Blaster, which boasts a double-loop, double-corkscrew design. There’s also a wacky Fairly Odd Coaster and a roller coaster starring Shredder from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, plus kiddie rides, arcade games and more. Families with kids two-years-old and younger can purchase point passes that allow them to enjoy all the fun without paying full admission prices for rides labeled as “thrilling.”
New York’s Empire Adventure Park recently signed a 10-year lease at Samanea Mall, offering over 10 impressive interactive attractions that range from trampolines to augmented reality games. A rep shared that the park is expected to open sometime between September – December of this year.
Located in the American Dream mall in Rutherford, NJ, Nickelodeon Universe is the largest indoor theme park in North America. Travelers love this park for its variety, saying it offers rides from ultra-thrilling to tot-friendly. Little ones can roll and climb their way through the Slime Zone while older kids can test themselves on Sandy’s Blasting Bronco roller coaster, which has a 52-inch height requirement.