There are some places on Earth that kids are just drawn to. The kids see or hear about a place and immediately know that they must get there somehow, because it looks and seems so exciting and awesome. They may suggest it to their parents, or perhaps they may simply dream and plan the trip on their own, as they drift off to sleep each night filled with wonder and hope. And then those kids may grow up, having never been to this place, and so drag their own kids off to it in an attempt to vicariously fulfill a lifelong childhood dream of their own. Such a place, indeed, is the Crayola Crayon Factory.
For anyone in my generation (or even in a neighboring generation) who grew up watching Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, there are several cultural touchstones that we can all relate to, and seeing that crayon factory has to be on the top of that list. When Mr. Rogers went to the Crayola factory and we saw those machines making those crayons, it changed us. We had to get there someday. And so, this past Friday, my wife and I took our children to the most colorful place on Earth.
Now, the first thing that we noticed when we arrived was that the Crayola Factory is no longer a Crayola Factory. It is “The Crayola Experience.” There is still a factory where they make crayons I suppose, but a tour of that place was not what we were going to get, which was a little disappointing. But only for a minute. Because when we arrived we were right on time for the “show.” My wife and I herded the kids into a small theater where they had all of those machines from the video laid out before us in a mini assembly line! And a girl came out and made crayons right in front of us! It was awesome, and all our childhood fantasies immediately came true and we lived happily ever after.
But wait! There’s more! This place was incredible! They had a two story play structure! They had a water table! They had tons of hands-on activities! I made my own puzzle! I made a marker! I made my own crayon!
There are giant virtual walls that will display pictures that you have drawn. There are motion sensor crayons that will dance around as you control them with your body. You can have photos taken of yourself and put onto coloring pages. It was fantastic! The kids loved it, the adults loved it, and it was far better than just seeing some smelly old production floor. And everything there was so creative and inspiring that the kids just wanted to come home and draw! And make things! Good job Crayola Experience. You made me nervous, but you pulled it off and made a whole family of kids very happy.