Where is the Crayola Experience?
The Crayola Experience is located in Easton, Pennsylvania. It's easily accessible from Rt. 78 and even easier from Rt. 22 if you live in the Phillipsburg area. Look for directions on the Crayola website or use your navigation system. The hardest part about the drive is the weird circle thingie that you have to maneuver around at the center of Easton. I never can comprehend those Pennsylvania lights. Anywho...there is a parking garage right in front of the entrance to the Crayola Experience. It cost us about $8.00 to park on a Monday in June, and we stayed about four hours (as of the publication date of this entry). The Crayola Experience website states that parking in the garage is $2 an hour, but I have heard conflicting reports about this fee, so you might want to call ahead or read the signs carefully before you park. There is also metered parking available on the streets of Easton.
It's Not Just The Crayola Factory Anymore!
If you've been to the "Crayola Factory" in the past, you will find it significantly improved since your first trip. Renovated and reopened at the end of May, 2013, it's freshly painted and renamed "The Crayola Experience," because it's far from being a factory! The first thing you'll notice is the paint job on the outside of the building. There is NO mistaking this building, and little ones get sooo excited when they see their colorful crayon pals creeping all over the walls! Great photo ops here now, too, as the kids can pose in front of their favorite colors.
Admission and Fees
As of the publication date of this entry, online admission is $17.99 for ages 3 to 64 (you save a few bucks by purchasing online, too). Under 2 are free, and 65 and over get a senior rate (check their website or call ahead for current discount ticket costs). Look for coupons in the KidStuff coupon books that are sold through schools, or use your AAA card if you have one (this gets you $2.00 off each admission). There is also a new option to get an annual pass for $29.99, which allows you unlimited admission for a year, a discount at the Crayola store, and free admission for 3 and under 3. Upon entry they will present each guest with silver Crayola tokens, which you can use in various machines throughout the building (you can also purchase extra coins from vending machines if you run out, but that will cost you $1.00 for two tokens, so use your freebies wisely!).
|Marker Maker Machine|
What is the Crayola Experience?
There are four floors to explore, and you will find many hands-on activities, machines, and play areas for various ages. The token machines were a hit with my kiddo, who was almost 5 at the time of this visit. He loved putting his token in to watch the different items being made (you can use your tokens to make magic markers, crayons with personalized wrappers, and retrieve colored Model Magic). There are many added computer screens for the kids to touch and explore, and most of the instructions were very user friendly.
The Crayola Factory used to house a canal museum of transportation, and your entry fee would allow you access to both. The canal museum is no longer there, but the boating exhibit remains. Renamed "The Waterworks," kids can now cruise little painted Crayola boats through waterways and pick up plastic coal from the coal chutes. My son did the whole route three times with different colored boats each time. It was one of his favorite things in the building!
Your experiences on each floor vary- you can create masterpieces with melted wax, use glow markers in the dark on doodle boards, play with light-up peg boards, color pictures with your favorite crayons, pose for computer generated photos, make creations with model magic, and use dry erase markers to draw on giant sea creatures, just to name a few.
They also added a playground structure in the middle of the building complete with tunnels and slides. It made me a little nervous to let my little one run off into this infrastructure with throngs of older, screaming kids, but he seemed to enjoy himself and came out unscathed, so I guess it's alright in my book! But that explains why I have no photo of this. Gotta keep my eye on the kid, ya know! Visit their detailed attractions page to see a 3D map of what you can see when you visit.
**The Crayola Experience has added a live manufacturing show since our last visit. We haven't seen it yet, but in the early days of operation they used to offer a show similar to this and we loved it! It's always neat to see how crayons are made. This show is included with your admission fee.
What Age Group is the Crayola Experience For?
Somewhere along the way, I had a friendly older couple stop and ask me how old my son was. They were looking to bring their grandson to the Experience but weren't sure if it was right for his age group. I told them it really depends on the child- some kids love art and can remain pretty focused when it comes to coloring and exploring with different mediums. There is a small toddler area for little ones to play with light pegs and balls:
But are the play areas alone worth the entry fee for toddlers? You'd have to decide based on what your child likes. If I knew my little one didn't like to sit and "create" just yet, I might try waiting another year or two before making my trip to Easton, but that's just my opinion.
Also, and I will be totally honest here, this is a busy place and lots of kids visit. So it can be kind of germy. Just bring your hand sanitizer or have your kids wash hands frequently between stations if you're worried about that kind of thing (hey, some of us are germaphobes, don't judge!)
The Crayola Store
I hate to admit it, but my favorite part of the visit was The Crayola Store. It is now housed inside the building itself (it used to be in the building next door and was smaller than the new addition). There was so much to look at and buy, so many cute things that I wanted to take home, I had to control myself. I also vowed to return for Christmas gifts this year, since the store is accessible without having to pay for admission to the Experience. I think you can even park at the metered parking on the streets if you just wanted to run in to do some quick shopping. The only negative here was that I got stuck on a looooong line at check-out because there were so many kids from field trips trying to buy goodies before their buses left (can't we create a 'field trip cashier,' Crayola? A separate line or something? Just a suggestion...)
Restaurants and Food
Another positive change is the elimination of the McDonald's that used to be your only dining option when visiting (unless you went outside the building to the streets of Easton). The McDonald's has been replaced by the cute Crayola Cafe, which features sandwiches, salads, pizza, hot dogs and pretzels and more. We had a pretzel, hot dog, bottled water and a fruit cup, which came to just under $10.00. Here you can also see "Big Blue" (the world's largest crayon) in his new home (he used to be in the old Crayola store). I have heard other moms say that they brought their own lunch and ate outside, which is a great idea (see tips below).
*if it's a nice day, you can bring your own lunch and eat outside the cafe. There are little tables out there now and even a cute little frozen yogurt shop that you can visit after your meal. There are giant markers and crayons that the kids can climb on and take pictures with, too.
*some attractions within the building are now additional fees. For example, some puffy paint projects and sand art were available for an extra fee. You can have a funny crayon photo taken against a blue screen for an additional charge. So be prepared to pay a little extra than your basic admission if you want to experience all of the add-ons. We skipped most of them, as my son did not seem interested. That was fine by me!
*want to avoid spending too much money at the Crayola store but still want a souvenir? Coloring your own t-shirt is an extra fee in the Crayola Experience, but a great deal! For about $10 you can get a package of fabric markers and an adorable Crayola guy t-shirt to take home (at least when we went, you could. I suppose this is subject to change, so be aware of that). We thought that was the best deal of the day! (we opted to color ours at home, but you can color it right in the studio if you wish)
*we visited on a weekday in June, between the hours of 11am and 3pm. Although it wasn't crowded, some attractions did become overly congested due to a few field trips that were attending from various schools. They almost completely cleared out of the building by 2:00, so we wondered if we wouldn't have been better off visiting just a little bit later so as to avoid those small crowds. Just a thought.
You can visit www.crayolaexperience.com to help plan your trip or to see in more detail what it has in store for you. They also have a Facebook page to help you stay informed of their events and attractions. Be sure to check it out!
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