Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Crayola Experience: An Honest Review

  As you may recall I was fortunate to be chosen to blog about a trip to The Crayola Experience in Easton PA. Crayola sent me free tickets for me and my family as well as a Visa card to cover the expense of gas driving there. Our expectations were pretty high as we remember going when it was the Crayola Factory several years back and had enjoyed our experience at that time.

  I will tell you my emotions are mixed. Though I am grateful for the opportunity to go, it will definitely be our last visit there. As there is good and bad to every experience in life...we tended to see more unpleasantness here than good. As a blogger I am always honest and open about places and experiences I share with my readers, so as I go through the pictures I will explain the good and the bad and allow you to form your opinions from there.

  When arriving at Crayola you need to park in a parking garage that you pay for the time you are there. That day it ended up costing us an additional $8.00. You may be lucky to park on a side street somewhere, but more than likely will still be feeding a meter and the traffic and congestion in that area is high.

  When we got out of our van to walk over we saw this sign first...

While cute....we didn't find the footprints to follow it through the parking garage.

The outside has been redone and was pleasing to the eye when you walked up to it.

I took a photo of their price list to give you an idea of what it would cost to take your family.

They give you a map and a couple tokens per person to choose what you would like to do. Either a crayon, marker, modeling magic, or small pack of crayons.

To avoid a huge crowd we went in to eat lunch at their Cafe first.

As you can see we hit the right time going early as no one was in there yet.

We soon found out the largest crayon was located there. That's the girl's taking pictures and checking it out. That was pretty cool to see, Kathleen wanted to color with it! LOL

Jerry ordered the food which was very expensive! Not to mention tasted horrible... keeping it real and being honest. I suggest packing a cooler for your car. Although they do not do bag searches when you enter either you may be able to carry a sandwich or two with you.

Below is a picture of what Jerry got, chili cheese dogs and funnel cake sticks :-(. Very unappetizing he said. Also when he asked for powdered sugar on top the girl took the whole box (how it was stored) and shook it over top wasting a lot. Jerry commented that they should have it in a container specifically for spreading powdered sugar and the employee asked us to request that to management because she agreed. Just an example I bought a tea in a plastic bottle and it cost $3.00! VERY OVERPRICED!!

Yes that is how many sticks came in there and the amount of powdered sugar he got on top that they gave him. I thought they were fries....but no...Ugh.... do not recommend eating there. The girls and I got subs, they were so bad we didn't finish them :-( I'm not one to waste food, but I literally felt ill.

They have an area that you can RENT lockers if you need to.

The first area we went to was called Wrap it up. You can make your own crayon wrapper using one of your tokens.

There are only a couple to work at, and it was very crowded throughout the whole day.

Then you have an area to put your wrapper that you made on your crayon.

One of the things they do not tell you is there is a limited amount of time to complete this on the computer screen, if time runs lose your token. This happened to Kathleen and it was about 20 mins. before we could find someone to assist us. Not enough staff and the staff we did encounter was very unfriendly :-(. For Crayola I expected so much more.

The next area we went to was Modeling Magic where you can create shapes and let it dry, mess free. :-)
This was actually Hayley's favorite part of the day, but otherwise she said she did not care for it.

This area was extremely crowded. Also more bins with supplies to create would have been nice, many had to wait or just gave up all together. We shared with another family.
Behind them in that room is a party area for birthday parties, etc. I think I about blinded Hayley with my flash, lol, I was a little close taking the picture. ;-)

They also chose to use a token to make their own markers.

They had different paintings on the wall of original crayon boxes, I took one of Kathleen by the 1903 box :-)

 Pretty neat to see how it has all evolved through the years.

There was also a small show about how crayons are made. There was no management of the amount of people piled in here either. Had to be against fire regulations. Very little seating room, a lot of people on the floor or standing. Packed with people not the best environment.

There is another area where you sit in front of a TV screen and it draws your image for you to print out. The printers were running out of ink and lines were long, and again hard to track down an employee. Then when they were told they still didn't change cartridge. After about 25 mins of waiting we gave up. We also noticed most registers up there looked like this...

No one there... and so many things were an additional cost to do. Began to wonder what the admission fee covered then?

There was a huge Crayon carousal that the children or adults could sit and color pictures.

There was a drawing station that placed your artwork up on a lighted wall and animated it. Again, this was disappointing, so crowded, kids running up and casting shadows when you are trying to find your pictures. They should have a wall or something to keep them from running up there. It was very chaotic and again unorganized.

Luckily I was able to capture Hayley's on the wall.

Water Works was another poorly organized area, no rhyme or reason people just cutting in and grabbing boats. There is no sign to say form a line or anything. When Jerry finally found an employee so Kathleen could get a boat he expressed his concerns and she just stated "well, I guess we will have to work on making a sign". Hmmmm isn't this Crayola?? Hayley was so frustrated with the whole thing and trying to get a boat she just sat with Jerry. Too many people at once so the learning part was hard to do...

When it was the old Crayola factory they had this floor as a water area and canals and it was so much better before.

There was a small area where you could step on a spot on the floor and move a crayon on the wall. However, again no employees directing it, parents letting kids run all over and the lack of organization ruined it for everyone else. Kathleen never did get that opportunity.

She did enjoy writing on the light boards.

Then they built a play area squeezed into a small space and added activity tables around it. Mass chaos is what comes to mind here. Too crowded and not enjoyable tripping over people, tables and chairs. As a child of course Kathleen liked the idea of an inside playground but from a parent's perspective, not well planned.

It was also extremely hot in there and again so many people packed into a small space it had to be against regulations of the fire Marshall.

There was a puffy paint area, but it was an additional cost as well so we opted not to do this one.

This was one of the areas crammed around the playground structure, they also had a create a puzzle area around it too. Definitely not enough seating!

There was also an area for melting crayons, but it was too crowded and we were waiting in line for the spin paint art. Also crowded, again no organization and people were just cutting the line and jumping right in. NO DIRECTION from employees. Lots of frustrated parents.

As you can see the play area extends a couple floors making even less space for the other activities.

This is waiting for the splatter paint, what you can't see is the line behind us that wrapped around to the meltdown area taking up the whole landing on that side. Then in the back you can see a line that is literally as you climb the stairs to get up there for a different activity, never made it to that one either. Very tight area...

The girls got frustrated at times too, Hayley wanted me to share that she was not impressed at all with the place or the people that worked there.

I think the ideas and intentions on recreating this were a good effort, but this is such a small space and people were rude and irritated. It was not what I had envisioned that Crayola would produce to entice children and families to come back again and again. The staff leaves ALOT to be desired. I could say a lot more, but I will leave it at that. So Jerry, Hayley and I were very unimpressed. From Kathleen's 7 year old perspective she liked the activities, but not the crowds. Again I need to be honest with my review and to my readers. Perhaps if it was less busy and more organized it would have been a better experience. I also think a much larger facility is needed than this building to really enhance experiences. At the end is a pricey gift shop, I recommend sticking to Walmart, Target etc. for your supplies of Crayola products. Again I am grateful to Crayola for giving us the opportunity to check it out and I'm just sorry I couldn't give a more favorable review. Crayola is still our favorite brand, don't think that will ever change. :-)



Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

This just goes to show that customer service is still EVERYTHING. I hope they are able to make some improvements due to your honest review.

Kerri said...

I had wished we had taken Brady there when he was younger...but now I don't need to feel bad...don't think he would enjoy it! He's not much for long lines! And, I can't believe everything cost extra! I think once you pay the feel to get in...then you should expect everything to be included.
Sorry I'm just catching up over here...looks like you guys have had a busy and fun summer!

Nicolle said...

I'm so sorry about your experience, but I'm glad that you were open and honest about it. Maybe someone from Crayola will read this and contact you. They need to hear from their customers. Pet peeves of mine are paying for parking at a place like that, and extra fees even after an admission is paid.
ps. Hayley is looking so beautiful and so grown up!


Julie said...

It was very colorful. To bad it wasn't a better experience. Glad you shared though and also you had a wonderful get away.
Take care and God Bless!!

Beloved's Bride said...

Wow. We had a great experience at Crayola when we went there but that was before they upgraded. (or down graded it appears) It was extremely crazy the day we went as well. The line was absolutely horrible and we waited a bit to get in. Super crowded and not a lot of staff. We did have fun but I had little ones at the time -- under 6. so, I guess you could call it "establishing a brand" for my children when it comes to advertisement and loyalty.

Kris said...

That was interesting Jill! I would think that such a big name, would have a much better place to visit. The activities did look fun though. The girls looked so darling!!!!
: ) Kris

Nonnie said...

Your pictures are terrific. Too bad the real experience was not.

Sweet Tea said...

Surprising. I would have thought a big name company like Crayola would have a great, friendly employees overseeing great, spacious, kid-friendly activities. The prices don't surprise me as it seems all themed activities are priced beyond what many young families can afford. Very surprised also that the pricey food was so "blech!". No excuse for a hotdog not being better than that!!

Camille said...

Hi Jill ~ It must be very awkward to have to give a bad review...but, I admire your honesty. Thank you for sharing your opinions...the photos are great! At least you had special time together to do this trip. Blessings to you! Camille