Monday, March 24, 2014

The Crayola Experience Easton, PA mini vacation (Part II)

From the hotel it was about a 20 minute drive to the Crayola Crayon Factory. I was a little concerned about if the place would be a hit or a dud.

 After reading some of the reviews I was surprised how many people had commented on the negative. The biggest negative being the crowds. Is there anyone who likes crowds? Waiting in line, having people everywhere? NO! I'm not special or anything, but I have a zero tolerance for crowds. Some people at least have a tolerance for them and can deal with the crowds, but I start having panic attacks, and increased anxiety. I just simply do not do well with crowds. This of course had me a little concerned. We got there about 15 minutes after the 9:30am opening time and there was practically no one there. Parking was a little difficult, but we found a spot on the road and paid for park.

I have learned that the best way to beat the crowds is get there early. If you want to maximize your Disney vacation...NUMBER ONE there when the gates OPEN and head to the are of MOST DESIRED rides first!!

We figured that it could easily get crowded, but we came on a weekday, and it was actually nice outside, so maybe we would miss the negative review about crowds. So far so good.

Mindy had pre-ordered tickets, so we did not have to wait in any lines to get them. This saved $2- off the admission price too. (we did find $2- off coupons in some of those books you can find at rest stops too if you want to save yourself some cash!)
We each got a bag of tokens for inside the factory and given a quick introduction to the fun, before we got on the elevator and went to the Crayola Factory show to see how the crayon is actually made. This area theater is called the "factory". There is no factory tour like many of the other places that create a product.
 Instead we were given an animated and human stage show of how the crayon is made. The picture above is just how many crayons are being made at that very second. Crayola sends it's crayons all over the world for little old Easton. PA. Pretty impressive.
 First step is to mold the crayons. Here our presenter shows the audience the crayon molds. I can't remember how many hundreds of molds are in this thing, but several to make so many crayons at once.
 They are made in the mold with the tips. Today they were making the color red, although there are nearly two hundred different colors that crayola makes. (I wish I could remember just how many.) There are at least 8 different color reds.
 This is how the molds are filled. The crayon itself is made from the original formula back in the early 1900's. A mixture of wax and some other fun stuff plus the pigment for color is all melted down and placed in the molds.
It's SUPER hot. Here the presenter is pouring the mix and setting it into the molds.

 Once the crayons in the molds have cooled, they are crayons. The presenter and the two fun animated crayon characters called them new borns and we all welcomed them to the world. Of course they we naked and cold and needed their labels.
 Here the presenter loads the 'naked" crayons into the machine that puts the label on them.
 and here they go...labels all set.
 Only one last step, and that is they have to be packaged to be sent to YOU to be played with. This is where the crayons are packaged.
Each crayon is scanned and placed into the appropriate box.
Hooray little CRAYONS you made it. We each got our very own red newborn crayon to take home with us.

When the show was over the kids were able to pick a color, enter a coin and name their very own crayon.
The boys had already decided on their names days before we left. Gavin choose purple; today's purple was purple mountain majesty renamed PandaPow!

Luke choose the color green and named his Turtle Cove.

Mindy helped Maddy with her color and name. I think they settled on calling it Princess Madelyn.

The kids LOVED making their very own crayon name, and the boys were so careful not to misspell or align their labels wrong. Next up was ART ALIVE.

Using computer graphic, each of us colored or created our very own drawing and when we were done we could have it come to life on the wall.

Here is my astronaut.

 just about ready to launch into space.
Here he is on the screen dancing with Maddy and the kids drawings.
 Gavin's creation...and then viewing it on the screen.
You could even get your creation to spin or dance on the screen.
 Luke and Gavin create their own panda bear drawings.
Then show them off on the screen.

The kids were at this area for quite some time, they had so much fun drawing then having their work on the wall. I think this was one of the kids favorite parts.
Before we headed on to the next area I got some Crayola History, while the kids went on to make cartoon figures of themselves.

The cartoon figures didn't go over so well, trying to get the kids to all sit still long enough to get a picture was so hard. Finally we go one of just Gavin and then he and I got one.

I can't wait to color it.
Next we enjoyed some more hands on activities. This was perhaps the first time since we had been there that we did start to see some crowds, bit not to bad.

Gavin spelled out CRAYON with the giant lite Bright board.
 This thing was super cool. I would LOVE one in my house to play with all the time. We had fun playing with this.

It was apparent that some parents feel completely okay with allowing their young child to simply wander anywhere...without them. Maybe it's me, but there were a few times when very young children who seemed to be without an adult around on multiple occasions. I was always one of those MOM's who couldn't get inches from my kids. My fears around this is part of why I am so anxious around crowds. I am pretty confident that Gavin would not walk off with a stranger and I am getting better about the possibility that he could be abducted, but I am still concerned. When these little guys are walking around and there is no parent around, I wonder if maybe I am just a little CRAZY.
Next up was Marker Making;

We quickly found a favorite color from the ones we could pick from, inserted a coin and a marker was made right in front of our eyes. There were a few other area of fun on this floor including the workshop; where you could purchase items to color and make as well as a modeling clay area. With your coins you could purchase a bag of modeling clay and make your own creatures. Our kids by-passed these areas and we headed upstairs.
The third floor had several activities that included play. We first went to waterworks.

This boat and canal area play land, we were told was once part of the Canal Museum and had nothing to do with Crayola, but they kids didn't care. Any chance to play with water was a WINNER! So off they went.
After the canal boats we headed to the playground. Slides and chutes climb the ceiling in the playground area. Shoes off and up they went, while Mindy and I went to make arts and crafts at the tables located around the room. Here were scissors, paints, crayons, paper, markers and glue to make your very own creations. Mindy and I set out to make some St/ Patrick's Day designs left out around the tables.

Up next was the Doodle in the Dark area;

The kids started out with some dancing with the interactive floor. The floor would lite up where you stepped and you could pop bubbles, chase notes and all sorts of cool things.

These digital crayon characters seemed to be on the fritz, but we all took a try at making them dance with us. It was very similar to the digital robots Gavin and I played with at the MOST in Syracuse.

wake up Red!!!
We also drew on these lighted up walls. Another board I wish I had at my house. These were fun.

Up next was the fourth and final floor.
This floor had everything with melting the crayons. We did melted spin art first.

Then we went to make designed crayons. There were tons of molds to choose from. I think we made four different designs in total.

 Luke's dinosaur.
Gavin waited for his mold to cool. A child who was not being watched by an adult started another project on top of mine and messed it all up. I was completely surprised that a. this child was not being watched. b. was especially not being watched around HOT wax and c. there was not a lock mechanism on the machines to prevent this from happening. The child could have easily gotten burned. Only the workers noticed, I don't think the adults were ever aware.
Great picture opportunity taken:

After we had maxed out our melted molded characters we did a little wax art paintings.
 My melted crayon art.

 By now the place was starting to pick up with people and kids!!! Mindy and I both agreed that the children screaming was enough to make us READY to leave crowds or not. It was ear piercing!!!
We were glad that we had gotten there early and had maxed out the areas. Everyone in the party was hungry as it was now nearly 1pm. We discussed the possibility of getting some food from the on site cafe, but the prices were CRAZY. We did get a chance to see the worlds LARGEST CRAYON on our way however.

Then a quick scan of the gift store. Gavin got a crayon shaped pen. He begged for the 2 pound crayon...but I talked him out of it. The overwhelming account for our time at the Crayola Experience was THUMBS UP all around. We all had a GREAT time!!! After reading the reviews I can see how crowds could make the experience extremely uncomfortable. We might have lucked out. Try going on an off week day, not during school breaks and take my most consistent recommendation for any place where you can expect crowds...GO EARLY!!! We were certainly seeing things pick up as the day progressed and we eventually ran into a bus of kids too. The early arrival helped to avoid some of this congestion.

We walked to the van for lunch. Easton is a pretty neat place.

 Loved the ambiance.
 I thought this place was just what Gavin would want.
This guy made me laugh, so I got a picture.
 There were a few museums, and the area was active with eateries, shops and activities. It was lunchables and crackers in the van for lunch before we we back on the road and off to the next PA adventure.
We got a little lost on our return trip, but ended up right where we needed to be. See where in the next post. TTFN