As a parent, there's certain objects that become a part of your daily life - accessories that are always close at-hand to help nurture the creativity of your little ones. Things like crayons. And, when it comes to crayons, there is no brand more iconic than Crayola, who in 1903 launched what would become an Empire of fun with the release of their original box of eight wax crayons, then-sold for just 5 cents! In Easton, Pennsylvania stands the birthplace of Crayola - and in 2013 the former Crayola Factory was rebirthed as THE CRAYOLA EXPERIENCE - a 60,000 square-foot home of colorful adventure where kids of all ages can immerse themselves in a vibrant world of imaginative play. As part of our first Great American Road Trip series, my wife and I packed up the girls and headed for Pennsylvania, where THE CRAYOLA EXPERIENCE was a must-visit location...
With four floors of fun, "where to start?" was a looming question. There's live entertainment like the "Silly Show" on the Cafe Stage, and roving "Crayonologists" to talk all-things crayons, but the big live presentation we had to check out is "The Crayon Factory" - a full-on, interactive display of how crayons are actually made. Starring digital versions of Scarlet and Turk (two of the anthropomorphic crayons) and an in-the-flesh Crayonologist, kids and grownups alike are captivated in a live theatre setting as they learn a lot, and get a little souvenir to take home.
We did Art Alive, Be A Star, visited Big Blue (the World's Largest Crayon), had lunch at Cafe Crayola, played in the Color Playground (an indoor park), did Doodle in the Dark and made some Drip Art, made our own markers at Marker Mania, made custom shaped crayons at the Melt and Mold, painted with wax at Meltdown, did crafts with clay at Modeling Madness, let Little Finley run free in Toddler Town, played in the 85-foot educational water table at the Water Works, and made our own custom crayons at Wrap It Up!
I heartily recommend making a day out of a trip to THE CRAYOLA EXPERIENCE as we opened and closed the place, getting there at 10am and leaving just before they locked the doors at 6pm.
Before we left, we put the cherry on top of the adventure with a stop at The Crayola Store for some exclusive goodies. We got a die-cast truck featuring Big Blue, a "vintage" style cap for me, stuffed Crayon Guys (both pink), some coloring pages and a bracelet for Finn.
For more information or to plan your trip to THE CRAYOLA EXPERIENCE, check out the official site. And, in 2015, THE CRAYOLA EXPERIENCE comes to Orlando, Florida with a second location at The Florida Mall (a Simon Center).
Disclosure: While the folks at THE CRAYOLA EXPERIENCE knew that we were coming and were kind enough to hook me up with family passes for the day, we bought quite a few add-ons and souvenirs that enhanced an already-fantastic experience.
About James: A work-from-home Dad with a pair of daughters (Released in 2009 and 2012) - James Zahn is THE ROCK FATHER™.
Bringing over two decades of experience in the entertainment industry into the family realm, Zahn is an Illinois-based Entertainment Writer, Media Personality and Commentator.
He serves as a PBS KIDS VIP (Very Involved Parent), has made guest appearances as a member of the Sprout Kindness Crew, was featured in the Father's Day issue of Lake County Magazine, and is a former contributor to Chicago Parent.
Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for the likes of FEAR FACTORY, DIRGE WITHIN, PRODUCT OF HATE, ARCANIUM and others, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands.
James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Blogcritics, Fangoria, Starlog, The River Cities' Reader. Slowfish, Oil, and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360, and in 2013 he's been quoted on CNN, Babble, The Huffington Post, and The Good Men Project, in addition to making appearances on ABC News and WGN.
Learn more here.