SMAAASHING FUN AT MALL OF AMERICA
Visit Mall of America's recently opened SMAAASH for food and drinks, virtual reality, go karts and interactive games.
Images courtesy of SMAAASH
By Charles Brandt
Happy hour is a fun way to celebrate, but now you can take your night out with friends to a whole new level. In short, it’s time to try the recently opened arcade of the future, SMAAASH at Mall of America. In this 40,000-square-foot space dedicated to fun and entertainment, you’ll find interactive virtual reality experiences and video games, multi-level go karts, a full kitchen that features local and sustainably grown food, and two bars with over 40 beers and cocktails. Shripal Morakhia, Founder and Chief Imagination Officer of SMAAASH, saw so much success with the concept in India, he decided to expand and bring the fun to Level 4 of the Mall of America. Drinks, virtual reality and go karts? Count me in!
Sky Karting (Multi-Level Go Karts)
Even if you’re not into virtual reality or gaming in general, the multi-level go kart track, or Sky Karting as SMAAASH calls it, is worth checking out. Up to seven people can race in a group at a time, so you can have some friendly competition on the track. Debating who won? SMAAASH will email you your party’s results too. The course is fast and fun, offering 1,220 feet of twists, turns, ramps and straightaways. They can also light up the track with blue lighting, which adds to the fun and makes you feel like you are in a futuristic video game.
Next-Level Virtual Reality
If the only virtual reality you’ve experienced so far is putting your phone into a headset you got for the holidays, prepare to have your mind blown. SMAAASH uses high-end HTC Vive headsets, along with state-of-the-art computers and custom designed software and games. They successfully combine this with interactive mechanical elements that truly immerse you into the gaming experience. Whether you want to ride on a virtual roller coaster, fly drones from a first-person perspective, or shoot at robots with a gatling gun while flying through a post-apocalyptic city, this place has something for you.
Even when you are not in virtual reality, the games at SMAAASH are fun. Many of them have interactive features, like an X-1 race car that moves along with you while you’re driving it in front of three large displays, or a soccer goalie that seems to stop every ball you kick at him, no matter how hard you try. Even the air hockey game randomly drops 100 mini pucks onto the table just to keep things interesting. Personally, piloting a snowspeeder on the interactive Star Wars game is enough to hold my interest for a while.
Drinks and Food
There is a bar at the front of the space with beer and cocktails, which is a great way to wait for friends if you are the first to arrive. In the back of SMAAASH, they also has a full kitchen, bar and large dining space with apps and entrees. The portions are pretty generous too—the SMAAASH nachos and an order of buffalo wings from the appetizer list could easily feed a small army.
SMAAASH offers a lot of different games and attractions, most of which are $5 per play. Sky Karting is $25 for 6 minutes, which is a bit pricey but it's insanely fun, especially if you are racing against a group of friends. Before you purchase your tickets, I highly suggest you take a lap, just to take it all in. Once you’ve scoped it out, review their package deals and see what is right for you. If you plan on sticking around and trying out a few different games, this is really the way to go. They also offer special events and challenges, along with the option to host your next party, be it a birthday party, a social night out with friends, or a special corporate event.
Sky Karting pricing for adults and kids (6 minutes): $25
Virtual Reality and Interactive Games: Generally $5 per play
Deals, Packages and Specials: Package prices vary
This place is open late, which makes it great for a night out with friends. They even have a live DJ on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Need a ride home? In addition to friends, Uber, Lyft and other options, Mall of America is connected to the Blue Line and several Metro Transit bus routes.
Level 4 East at Mall of America
Mon-Thurs: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Fri-Sat: 10 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Sun: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.