The Crayola Experience is a four-story play space dedicated to all things Crayola. While a visit to the Crayola factory is no longer possible, the Crayola Experience located in the same town where all Crayola crayons are born, is good exposure to how crayons are made while providing numerous opportunities to play with crayons and other Crayola products in unique ways. Completely revamped in 2013, the Crayola Experience has a lot to offer.
Several demonstrations of crayon-making are held throughout the day. In the 20 minute demonstration, two animated crayons and a live Crayonologist walk visitors through the process of how crayons are made from the first melting of wax to packaging crayons for sale. While not a substitute for a factory tour, this is a don’t-miss part of any visit and is the main reason many families want to visit.
If children are left wanting to wrap up their own crayon, for fifty cents you can print a custom label with your child’s name for use with a crayon in the color of your choice. Children can also watch the process of how a marker is made by pressing buttons on a marker-making machine and walk away with their own marker for fifty cents.
For kids who just love to draw there is an area filled with thousands of crayons. If you think choosing from nearly every color ever made is not fun enough, you can color a custom-made coloring page with your photo on it with your choice of background. My children were crazy about creating coloring pages with their photos and a pirate ship. There are also areas to draw on thick cardstock that can be made into a jigsaw puzzle and to decorate treasure boxes. Beyond drawing with crayons, there is also the opportunity to draw virtually on iPads.
Kids can use their fingers to draw on virtual coloring pages or make their own creation, complete with animation. Drawings are then projected on a large screen to come to life. For those who prefer to draw in the dark, drawing on backlit boards can be a lot of fun. There are also several opportunities to play with melted crayons. My kids loved using paintbrushes to paint with melted crayons, watching crayons melt and harden into molds of everything from dinosaurs to rings, and melting crayons into spin art machines.
Crayola is not just about crayons and drawing and fun can be had with other mediums as well. In Modeling Madness children can use a variety of tools to shape Model Magic clay, which is purchased for fifty cents a pack. Kids can also paint with watercolors or puffy paint and send their paintings through a drying machine.
Some kids may want a break from art projects, and for those kids the Crayola Experience has a lot to offer. There is a two-story climbing structure, an interactive wall where crayons mimic your motions, and an interactive floor for playing games. There is also a play space for toddlers as well as an enormous water table where kids can float crayon boats.
The Crayola Experience website recommends spending 3 to 4 hours on site. I thought the recommendation sounded a little crazy, but my family did wind up spending about four hours working our way through the exhibits. My kids had a great time spending the day letting their creativity out and doing things I would never let them do at home, like play with melted wax, since Crayola is able to make this a safe experience in a ways that would be impossible for me to replicate.
Admission to the Crayola Experience is not cheap so I was surprised and disappointed to see that many exhibits required additional fees. In addition to the fees already mentioned, puffy paint, sand art, and other workshop activities are only available for an additional cost.
Admission to the Crayola Experience is $15.99 for children two and up. This includes $1.50 worth of tokens that can be used to participate in paid activates. Children under two are free and there are military discounts. There is a coat room and stroller parking available on the first floor.
The entire building is stroller-friendly. There is a cafeteria on-site serving pizza and other cafeteria food. There are also several family-friendly restaurants within blocks. There is plenty of metered street parking available around the Crayola Experience.
The Crayola Experience is a little over an hour from Philadelphia. My family visited the Crayola Experience as a side-trip from a trip to Philadelphia, but there are plenty of closer places to stay and some hotels even offer Crayola packages. You may also find other attractions in the Leigh Valley.
Photos courtesy of Jamie Davis Smith.