Whether you consider it an unholy shrine to decadent consumerism or the place for fun in your life, this much is inarguable: The Mall of America turns 25 today.
As the mallpocalypse rages, the Bloomington, Minnesota, megamall seems immune to the gut punches being dealt by online shopping. MOA's 5.2 million square feet of kiosks, shops, roller coasters, aquariums, and restaurants are poised to attract 40-million-plus annual visitors for at least another quarter-century.
But, to commemorate Mall of America's birthday, we'd rather look back to the decade that saw its $650 million birth at the ol' Metropolitan Stadium site. So, this intrepid YouTube reporter unearthed delightfully dated, eternally wacky, and otherwise nostalgia-drenched memories of the monolithic retail complex that, for better or worse, helps define Minnesota.
WCCO's coverage of opening day at MOA
The meat of this report focuses on one question: Is it true you can find things at MOA you can't find at other malls? Turns out you could/can.
Reporter Silvia Gambardella explores an embalmed butterfly shop (Butterflies by Nancy), a play-before-you-pay sporting goods store (Oshman's), and that weird skeleton place (Bare Bones). From there, we get FuN fAcTs set to saxophone jams, and then some footage of the erstwhile Camp Snoopy -- RIP!
"One-stop shopping," concludes dashingly youthful anchorman Don Shelby.
Random-ass scenes of opening weekend at MOA
Crowds! Roller skating! Lego Land! The old General Cinema movie theater! It's all here.
Most '90s production ever in the "official souvenir video"
Our khaki-clad hosts sell the hell outta MOA, with ridiculous camera work and blues-rock that'll teleport you back to the Clinton era.
As you approach the 23-minute mark, the hosts have already mini-golfed, received manis, heralded the building's eco benefits, and even attempted stand-up comedy at Knuckleheads, which was eventually replaced by Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy. We even get a scene of Arnold Schwarzenegger opening Planet Hollywood.
The promotional saga is bookended by MOA's former tagline: The greatest adventure you can have under one roof.
The Hulk opens Hulk Hogan's Pastamania
Before his sex tape ruined Gawker, Hulk Hogan was a simple professional wrestler/pasta salesman. That salesmanship was on full display as he visited MOA for the grand opening of his Pastamania restaurant in 1995. Ya know what? Let's just hear from the Hulkster:
“When you're out with all your little tiny pastamaniacs, and you're riding the log ride, or you're shopping for new clothes, or a lot of toys and stuff, you don't wanna sit down and waste time, brothers, eating for two to three hours or standing in line at some restaurant. So we've got Pastamania in the food court. You can stop, have a quick and healthy meal, and you can keep on shopping til you drop, because once you eat Hunk Hogan's Pastamania, brother, not only are you gonna get the energy -- the pythons, as you're pushing the shopping cart around, they're gonna start to swell. You'll be able to pick more merchandise up off the shelves; the kids will be able to carry more toys. And then when you get real tired, you're gonna stop one more time at Pastamania before you go out to the parking lot -- wooooo yeah!"
Woo yeah! Turns out Pastamania chains still exist around the world, though the Hulk branding is no more. "A positive review began with the notion 'some like it' and complimented the pasta for being cooked right," reads an uncited bit from its wiki page.
1992 MOA ad
See shots of frolicking tots and gesturing adults as the impossibly catchy "Place for Fun in Your Life: Mall of America" jingle blasts.
A baffling Made in the USA report on MOA
What. The. Fuck.
Can someone with knowledge of Made in the USA please explain what we just watched? This paranoid, newish clip features Tim & Eric-level ironic production, but it's coming from a very weird and earnest place ... right?
Here's our floating host, just before she goes digging for answers at Mall of America:
"Civilization has not been the same since the first shopping mall opened in America in 1956. Since then, more than 25,000 have been built. But if the malling of America is good for shopping, is it good for society? Is the age of the mall the beginning or the end of civilization as we know it?"
1994 MOA ad
An updated "Place for Fun" clip. This one includes dancing mannequin women.
Mary-Kate and Ashley takeover MOA
Remember Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's You're Invited VHS series? Well, one time they invited fans to join them at the fabulous Mall of America.
The 1997 clip begins with our heroes in a shocking state of boredom -- they're even counting ceiling tiles! Thankfully, cousin Jamie swoops in with plane tickets for Mary-Kate and Ashley, plus their friends, and we're off to Bloomington. Once at MOA, the girls dive into the oddness of "Meet You at the Mall" a trance-y, lounge-y original song that soundtracks their tour of the megamall.
Click here for the full version.
Psychic Friends Network visits MOA
Telepsychic scams were a hallmark of the decade (miss you, Miss Cleo). During that heyday, the Psychic Friends Network visited MOA for a live filming.
Take it away, announcer Rod Roddy of Price is Right fame:
"Since the dawn of time, the high and the mighty have turned to physics for the secret of love and money. Now the wisdom of the ages is as near as your phone!"
Enjoy 27 minutes of Grammy-winning host Dionne Warwick scamming folks out of $4 per minute.