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Crayola Hits the Road With a Colorful Kid-Friendly Experience

The art supply company aims to inspire creativity beyond a box of crayons with its new interactive exhibition.

Designed to promote the skills behind design thinking, innovation and invention, the 17,000-square-foot interactive space challenges guests of all ages to explore their inner creativity.
Designed to promote the skills behind design thinking, innovation and invention, the 17,000-square-foot interactive space challenges guests of all ages to explore their inner creativity.
Photo: Courtesy of Immerse Agency

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—"Color outside the lines"—it’s a motto that Crayola takes a step further with its newest on-the-go immersive experience called Crayola IDEAworks.

Having recently finished its inaugural run at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, the exhibition is making its second stop on a multicity, worldwide tour in Charlotte, N.C., at Camp North End, which is housed in the historic Ford Building, starting May 13.

Designed to promote the skills behind design thinking, innovation and invention, the 17,000-square-foot, interactive space challenges guests to explore their inner creativity. Once inside, they are guided through the experience by Crayola "Craymojis"—characters like a Granny Smith apple and a macaroni noodle that the brand uses throughout its marketing, in this case, to represent different creative style personalities. Guests are able to track their progress via RFID wristbands, and at the end, they receive a summary of their creative strengths, which were discovered through the personalized journey.

Crayola IDEAworks is sponsored by Epson, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Post-it, each of which is integrated into the experience. For example, Macaroni and Cheese is one of the Craymoji characters, whose creative style is thoughtful.Crayola IDEAworks is sponsored by Epson, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Post-it, each of which is integrated into the experience. For example, Macaroni and Cheese is one of the Craymoji characters, whose creative style is thoughtful.Photo: Courtesy of Immerse AgencyThis isn’t the first time the brand has brought its products to life. The Crayola Experience is a permanent indoor family attraction filled with hands-on activities, including naming and wrapping your own crayon, inspired by Crayola's products and technologies, with locations in Chandler, Ariz.; Plano, Texas; Minneapolis; Orlando; and Easton, Penn., where the brand is based.

The traveling exhibition features three distinct areas: the IDEA Workshop includes challenges, questions and puzzles that sharpen design-driven skills; the Colorverse is where guests visit the city of Crayopolis, travel to the galactic Mars Station and explore an underwater world; and at the final area, guests learn about their unique creative style and corresponding Craymoji.

“Creating experiences for large-scale audiences of any age can be challenging as you’re really trying to appeal to the broadest group possible with the overall concept and theme, but also trying to engage each attendee on an individual level,” explained Steve Sheldon, partner and co-founder of EPIC Entertainment Group, which produced the experience in collaboration with Crayola, Agency808 and Innov8ive Exhibitions.

The IDEA Workshop includes challenges, questions and puzzles that sharpen design-driven skills.The IDEA Workshop includes challenges, questions and puzzles that sharpen design-driven skills.Photo: Courtesy of Immerse Agency“Doing that well means creating dynamic experiences with multiple layers,” he added. “The difference in creating such things for younger audiences is that they can actually be even more discerning than adults. Kids today have far more exposure typically to new gaming technology and special effects and are more accustomed to having more elevated sensory experiences. Creating something that kids find interesting, engaging and relevant is a tall order.”

IDEAworks will be open in Charlotte through the end of July, and based on current demand, may be extended. The space also offers two private rooms for special events such as birthday parties and field trip groups. Full attraction buyouts for larger groups interested in hosting corporate or other larger-scale events are also available. Future locations for the experience have yet to be announced.

As for the logistics of moving a major production from city to city, Sheldon said it “can be somewhat daunting. Every venue has its nuances and each municipality has a different methodology for approaching things like fire and building codes, accessibility, signage and capacities, all of which have a direct impact on the ultimate guest experience. I think the biggest challenge is to juggle all of those things, making adjustments when and where necessary but without compromising the experience in any way. I would say that establishing and building strong relationships in each new location is the key to success and that takes a lot of time and energy.”

Keep scrolling to see more from inside the colorful experience.

The exhibition features plenty of coloring and drawing stations.The exhibition features plenty of coloring and drawing stations.Photo: Courtesy of The Franklin Institute

“The difference in creating such things for younger audiences is that they can actually be even more discerning than adults. Kids today have far more exposure typically to new gaming technology and special effects and are more accustomed to having more elevated sensory experiences,' said Steve Sheldon, partner and co-founder of EPIC Entertainment Group.“The difference in creating such things for younger audiences is that they can actually be even more discerning than adults. Kids today have far more exposure typically to new gaming technology and special effects and are more accustomed to having more elevated sensory experiences," said Steve Sheldon, partner and co-founder of EPIC Entertainment Group.Photo: Courtesy of Immerse Agency

In the Colorverse, guests can learn about growing food on Mars, restoring a coral reef ecosystem and more.In the Colorverse, guests can learn about growing food on Mars, restoring a coral reef ecosystem and more.Photo: Courtesy of The Franklin Institute

The exhibition is making the second stop on a multi-city, worldwide tour in Charlotte, N.C., at Camp North End, which is housed in the historic Ford Building, starting May 13.The exhibition is making the second stop on a multi-city, worldwide tour in Charlotte, N.C., at Camp North End, which is housed in the historic Ford Building, starting May 13.Photo: Courtesy of Immerse Agency

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