As younger and younger children have become adept at using technology, many parents understandably find it difficult to get their kids to put down the iPad or Nintendo DS and pick up an old-fashioned box of crayons. Luckily, there is nothing old-fashioned about Crayola Experience, located just over an hour away in Easton, Pennsylvania. Crayola has been manufacturing art supplies in Easton since 1900, and first welcomed guests to the Crayola Experience visitors’ center in 1996. But thanks to a total renovation in 2013, this technicolor wonderland now features over 20 hands-on activities spread out over four floors of fun.
Crayola Experience is ideal for families with young kids of various ages—there are activities for toddlers, as well as more sophisticated attractions for elementary school children (and creatively inclined adults!). The facility is big enough that there is plenty to do, but small enough that you can do it all in 3–4 hours, depending on how long your kids want to linger at each activity. Admission includes two tokens that, among other activities, can be used to name your own crayon and customize its label. And while that familiar smell of Crayola’s famous crayons is in the air, guests should make sure to check out the Crayon Factory presentation, a live, interactive, 15-minute show led by a “crayonologist” and two animated crayons who take the audience through a brief history of Crayola while demonstrating how crayons are manufactured.
While crayons may be Crayola’s original claim to fame, many of Crayola Experience’s attractions use cutting-edge technology. The Color Magic station was just introduced last summer, where visitors can color a page, scan it, and then bring their character to life by making it move, changing its size and putting it in different backgrounds. And for the finishing touch, kids can put their own image in the scene and snap a selfie (of course). At another station, guests can create a digital work of art on a tablet and project it onto a wall (kids will love finding their masterpiece interspersed among the crowd). And if your kids have worked their way from project to project and are still feeling energetic, there is a two-story indoor playground where they can climb, bounce and slide while parents (blissfully) watch from the nearby benches. Children who are too young for the playground can visit Toddler Town, with a pint-sized play area and a lighted pegboard that resembles a giant Lite-Brite.
Insider Tip: If possible, plan to be at Crayola Experience when it opens for the day and head straight to the fourth floor. There you will find two of the most popular activities—Melt & Mold and Drip Art—that will have long lines as the day goes on. Another popular attraction with limited capacity is the Be a Star station on the second floor, which uses photo booth technology to print your photo on coloring pages for you to keep as a souvenir.
Bring it home: While Crayola Experience does have an extensive gift shop, you don’t need to buy anything in order to bring a piece of your visit home with you. Pay attention to what your kids are drawn to and encourage them to continue their creative exploration at home. Whether it is experimenting with colors or learning more about animation, we can all find something that inspires us.
If you go: Purchasing tickets online ahead of time from the Crayola Experience website will not only save you time when you get there—it will also save you $3 off each ticket.
Crayola Experience, 30 Centre Square, Easton, PA 18042, www.crayolaexperience.com
By Rachel Jager