Ready to doff the hats, gloves, and scarves? If so, amplify Old Man Winter’s blues with a wide color spectrum from the Crayola Experience, where pigments don’t just pop, they burst forth, letting a cascade of sunshine replace gloomy skies.
Picture Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, but instead of guzzling from chocolate waterfalls and gorging on candied goop, you’re dancing in virtual wax rain. Or bringing a coloring page to life. Or even naming and wrapping your custom crayon.
And all without the pratfalls of possessing a Golden Ticket.
“We have activities for a wide range of ages and interests,” extolls Kristy Martin, Crayola’s Marketing and Sales Manager. “The Experience brings innovation and mechanics to the brand.” Indeed, over two dozen attractions offer hands-on synergy to keep young ones delighted for the day, with Martin noting a couple standouts. “Kids love our prismatic, two-story playground, where they can climb to their hearts’ content. The Water Works is another big draw, as participants maneuver a toy boat through an 85-foot water table.” It’s here that children morph into maritime trailblazers, splish-splashing around a lock and canal system where they can load cargo and operate levies.
The Easton-based warehouse provides visitors some historical perspective, as well. In 2003, the Experience unveiled The World’s Largest Crayon, a 15-foot-long behemoth, as part of its centennial celebration. At 1,500 pounds, the titanic tube was made of scrap “leftolas” sent in by kids from across the country. It became the record holder until 2017, when the factory crafted a larger version using its fresh hue, “bluetiful.” In the Crayola Chronology, the paraffin-splattered shoes of Emerson Mosler, a decades-long employee, are enshrined. Mosler is credited with forming an estimated 1.4 billion crayons during the course of his career. Another clothing item is the sweater worn by Mr. Rogers when he forged the 100 billionth crayon in 1996. The actual coloring tool, displayed in museum fashion, was won as a contest prize by a grandmother – Crayola paid her $100,000 to get it back. “In addition, we have a Hall of Fame that pays homage to eight colors retired by the Experience,” says Martin.
Tourists can watch Crayonologists pour buckets of wax into molds that form smoking-hot crayons as mascots interact with their human counterparts. Old Crayola commercials notch up the nostalgia, and staffers will even supply random bits of Snapple cap wisdom: A human can consume 3,500 crayons and still not ingest as many toxins as a single glass of city drinking water. Parents can rest assured if their tykes mistake the radiant designs for something out of Wonka’s facility, instead of Crayola’s.
Above this showroom spectacle, a large electronic counter flashes the ever-growing quantity of crayons in the world, “currently nearing 150 billion,” Martin observes.
In an area called Crayola Meltdown, kids can dip long Q-tips into pots of crayon soup to make their own art. These containers aren’t particularly hot, since scribblers have a low melting point; however, plexiglass thwarts potential hazards, and makes parents remember the effects of a clothes dryer on sneakily tucked crayons.
As Martin surmises, the Crayola Experience acknowledges the importance of coloring while infusing the medium with a modern-day twist. “Entire families can express their creativity and immerse in color in a whole new way. Whether it’s concocting a waxy masterpiece or using a magic tablet to solve riddles, we offer the perfect setting to explore advancing technology,” she says.
By: Tom Eccleston
30 Centre Square, Easton, PA