Coloring book

“Crayola Experience” at Mall of America offers the prospect of escapism — for $24.99.

Ella Williams, age 7, colors a picture with her mother Kelly and brother Aiden, at the Crayola Experience at the Mall of America on Monday, June 14.

Maddy Fox

Ella Williams, age 7, colors a picture with her mother Kelly and brother Aiden, at the Crayola Experience at the Mall of America on Monday, June 14.

Sophia Vilensky

On a Friday morning, the Mall of America is still quiet. “Crayola Experience,” however, is already bustling.

As a young boy uses motion-sensing technology to dab crayons on a screen, a group of children enjoy themselves in an area dubbed “Scribble Square,” where patrons are encouraged to color anywhere and everywhere. They doodle furiously, eventually stepping back to admire their work.

“#illuminati” is written across the wall, accompanied by the All Seeing Eye drawn in unmistakable 9-year-old scrawl.

Their masterpiece is complete.

Having opened in May, the Minneapolis “Crayola Experience” is the third of its kind in the country, after Pennsylvania and Florida. A family destination, the location hosts school groups and birthday parties.

As children ran in every direction, adults slyly enjoyed some of the attractions themselves. Print a personalized label for a crayon? Might as well. Watch your drawing “come to life” on a giant screen? Don’t mind if I do.

Ilyssa Perez, marketing assistant for Crayola, ran a tour of the 60,000-square-foot concept, kept busy by phone calls as she prepared for a Twin Cities Live feature later in the day.

“Can you ask Mike if he can bring the big crayon things to the stage?” Perez asked someone on the other side of a headset.

Color is the first thing you notice when you walk into the admissions area of the Crayola Experience. An array of perfectly pointed crayons decorates the admission desk, awaiting the first stroke.

Though it was only 10:45 a.m., Betsy Wilker —  the Community Education Program Specialist for the Owatonna School Age Care summer program — and the 94 kids enrolled in the program made the hourlong pilgrimage to the crayon mecca.

“At first the younger kids were overwhelmed, but then they realized they can just sit and color, and they were OK,” Wilker said.

In the midst of activity, Riley, 11; Megan, 10; and Madi, 10 chatted excitedly. Their favorite colors are blue, black, green; purple, magenta; and teal, respectively.

Riley, who prefers abstract art, found her calling in the melted wax art area.

“So far I think we’ve had a pretty good day,” she said.

Is there anything that the girls don’t like?

“Brussel sprouts,” Riley said.

“Anything at the “Crayola Experience?”

“Um, no.”

A gaggle of elementary-aged boys strutted around the space. Too cool for whatever happened around them, a particularly shaggy-headed ragamuffin eventually broke the silence.

“Want to go make crayons?”

They run.

As the day went on, children ran from one activity to another, ending up at their favorites again and again. At a photo booth station, patrons took home their photos as coloring pages. A young girl posed against a green-screen backdrop as her mom pressed the button to take a photo. She smiled, double peace signs flashing.

“We have to drive all the way back to Minnesota after this,” Kalbach said.

We are in Minnesota!

“No … we’re in Crayola World.”

Eventually the Rainbow Rain stopped, and everyone retreated into the overcrowded mall.

“It’s more than an experience,” Megan said. “It’s an experience … filled with colors.”