Last Saturday, the temperature was on the slow and steady rise – heading for a forecast high of 101 degrees. That was motivation enough to get out of our non-central-air house. It also helped that the LivingSocial deal that I bought for The Crayola Experience in Easton, PA was expiring this week. It was use-it-or-lose-it time. My friend Amy and her two kids joined Lily and I and off we went.
The Crayola Experience is located right smack in the middle of town. There are some metered parking spots surrounding the front of the building as well as a parking garage right across the street from the back entrance. We opted for the garage and found spots right in the first row. Parking in the garage costs $2 per hour.
After a quick look on their website, I learned that Crayola sees some of its biggest crowds on weekends, particularly in July and August and during the late morning hours. Seeing as we already had two of those factors against us (Saturday in July), we made sure that we arrived just as the building opened – at 9:30 a.m.
As I said before, I was using a LivingSocial voucher that I bought a couple of months ago. Admission is normally $12 for anyone over 2 years old. Babies under 2 are free. The deal I grabbed was $20 for FOUR admission tickets – and I used a $10 gift voucher for LivingSocial that I had been hanging onto. $10 for 4 admissions was my bottom line – not too shabby.
The Crayola Experience is comprised of 4 floors. The bottom floor is where you buy your admission tickets. There are also bathrooms, a coatroom, a large room with tables if you bring your own lunch and a McDonald’s Express with its own seating.
We started on the second floor – and caught a “How It’s Made” presentation before doing anything else. This short presentation features a Crayola employee showing you how Crayola crayons and markers are made. There is a mock-factory set up with real working machines and assembly line areas. Television screens hang all around the room and as the demonstrator walks from area to area, he switches on different cameras so you can see what’s going on even if you can’t actually see him from where you are sitting.
From here we moved on to the rest of the 2nd floor. This entire building is basically made up of area upon area of make-and-take projects. Each area showcases a different Crayola product (several of which I had never even heard of before our visit).
Each kid gets a plastic bag when you pay your admission. They fill the bag up with their various projects as they are completed. We started with some simple coloring – tons and tons of crayons to choose from and a bunch of different coloring pages.
After coloring we made our way to the “Be the Star of Your Own Coloring Pages” area. Choose one or all – Cinderella, Lightning McQueen and Spiderman. Pose on the other side of the wall and with the press of a button, your picture shows up on the screen. Press the button again and your coloring page prints right out.
Next up – painting! The painting room had wide sweeping counters set up with watercolor paints, brushes and cups of clean water at each seat. The project that day was a pair of paper binoculars. First kids have to paint their long piece of paper…
Place it in the drying oven. When it comes out on the other side, your paint has dried and it ready to be transformed into binoculars.
There were two friendly staff members seated at a table in the painting room who assembled our binoculars. All that we had to do after that was punch a hole in each side and tie the string.
After a quick dance, it was time to move on.
The next room (where you could make a puzzle-themed project) was getting pretty crowded by that point so we kept on moving. Also on the 2nd floor is the Model Magic Area. Stations are set up where you can color and create masterpieces with Model Magic.
Down the hall from the Model Magic is a large space with plenty of sidewalk chalk – perfect for scribbling!
Take the elevator all the way up to the top (4th) floor and you will find an art gallery. The art includes all sorts of projects created with various Crayola products. Our kids were a little young to appreciate the displays, but this area was a nice quiet space to re-charge, sit with a snack, etc.
The art gallery looks down onto the Activity Studio on the third floor. Stations were set up all over the big room – fully stocked with all sorts of creative materials. The project that day was to make paper knapsacks. We skipped this one as lunchtime and almighty naptime were looming and the kids were starting to lose their focus.
One area that was a HUGE hit with our three year olds was the “Doodle in the Dark” space. Larger than life easels and markers that appeared to glow. How fun!
Also on the third floor was a very interactive exhibit that has nothing to do with Crayola, but rather the history of the Easton area. “Water Town” is a large room with a huge scale model of a working canal and lock system. Each child gets a plastic barge and you sail your barge through the canal, up and over the locks, across bridges and more.
Another neat feature of The Crayola Experience – when you arrive you are handed several tokens for each child as you pay your admission. Hang on to these tokens and on the 2nd floor there are two different areas (one by the “How It’s Made” theater and the other in the Model Magic room) where you can trade your tokens for FREEBIES! We came home with several markers and sample packs of Model Magic for each kid. Upon arrival you are also given an empty crayon box for each child. Collect free crayons at different spots in the building – the 4th and final crayon can be found in… you guessed it – The Crayola Store which is located next to The Crayola Experience.
Let’s talk about that larger-than-life Crayola Store for a moment. If you are interested in being surrounded by more Crayola products than you ever even knew existed, be sure to pay this store a visit.
You can check out the world’s largest crayon…
And there is even a spot for you to fill a tin with any color crayons you desire. I was SO tempted to fill a tin, but I just kept hearing birds chirping in my ear that back to school season is upon us. That means you can find boxes of Crayola Crayons for $.25 – $.50 each at stores like Target and Walmart. I just couldn’t talk myself into paying the premium price of $8.99/tin.
This option might come in handy if for some reason you needed a lot of certain colors.
We walked away from our morning at The Crayola Experience all smiles. I have held off visiting with Lily for so long because I wanted her to be old enough to really be able to participate in most of the activities. I would say preschoolers are a great age to make their first visit to The Crayola Experience. With just a couple exceptions, Lily was able to enjoy most of the exhibits.
The building itself was clean, bright and seemed to be accommodating in just about every way. All of the staff members that we encountered were great – they were helpful and welcoming. The best advice I can give is to definitely plan to arrive early – especially in the summer. By the time we were leaving (around 11:30 – 12) it was really getting packed. Lily walked the whole time but my friend had a stroller for her infant. There were times that the stroller was hard to maneuver in the people-packed hallways. If at all possible, I would leave the stroller in the car. If not, just use your patience – it’s definitely still worth it!
Themes and projects offered at The Crayola Experience change several times a year, so it’s possible to see something new every time you go!
Here is a Crayola Experience coupon good for $1 off admission.