Mystery Cove

When you think of record-breakers, Minnesota may not come immediately to mind. But maybe it should! After all, "The Land of 10,000 Lakes" is no stranger to going big. Sure, that would include the state's trio of super-sized, roadside wonder birds: the world's largest prairie chicken, floating loon, and crow. But more to the point, it also includes The Mall of America – a gargantuan shopping complex whose 5.6 million square feet of retail space rank it the largest in the Western hemisphere.

Opened in 1992, the Mall of America has been the subject of countless video essays, blogs, Travel Channel specials, and more. It's already on roller coaster enthusiasts' lists thanks to its Nickelodeon Universe amusement park that includes five roller coasters, a dark ride, and a aerial flat ride soon to be duplicated at Universal Epic Universe. But for fans of thematic design, the Mall of America is about join bucket lists in a big way...

Image: Mall of America

That's thanks to Mystery Cove – a recently announced indoor water park that's daring to do something Disney hasn't done in decades: to bring to life an entirely original story. Though we don't know all the details of this announced project (believed to be due for a 2024 opening), today we'll dig into some of the incredible world-building and design elements of this project to explore how its original, IP-free story looks like a home run...

The Power of Water

Anyone who closely watches the world of theme parks will tell you that when it comes to original ideas, most operators just don't seem interested. It makes sense. After all, the 2010s and 2020s have seen an escalating "Content War," with increasingly-gargantuan media companies racing to acquire blockbuster intellectual properties (IPs), with theme parks serving as a major battleground. 

Image: Universal

But there's just something about water parks in particular that seems to get the creative juices flowing. Whether it's giants like Disney's Blizzard Beach & Typhoon Lagoon, SeaWorld's Aquatica, and Universal's Volcano Bay or regional outing like Schlitterbahn, Soak City, Hurricane Harbor, and Lost Island, water parks seem to be immune (or at least, resistant) to the corporate mandates for IP integration.

Given that the Mall of America already contains a "Nickelodeon Universe" theme park and that New Jersey's similarly-sized American Dream mega-mall has both a "Nickelodeon Universe" and a "DreamWorks Water Park," it probably would've been easy to make a few calls and start duplicating plans... 

Image: Mall of America

But thanks to the incredible team at Blooloop, we can get a peak into the thought process. Chris Grap – Vice President of Experiential at the Mall of America – told Blooloop:

“We wanted the freedom to set the stage for people to play and engage however they wanted. So, we looked at developing our own IP. As we set forth on that task, then we had the challenge of finding what that IP would be and what the entry point for that story is. For us, we began by looking at the past...

Image: Mall of America

Everybody remembers Amelia Earhart and her team. But a lot of people don’t know about a woman named Evelyn Siddy, who was an aviator and a mechanic. She had a brother, Arthur Siddy, who was a naturalist and a botanist. The two of them set out in 1936 to break Howard Hughes’ record of traveling coast to coast.

What they didn’t count on was this crazy heat wave. It hit from the Midwest all the way through to New York. It’s literally still talked about to this day. This was a dreadful, hot, humid summer.

Image: Rob Yeo, Twitter

Communication was lost during their flight, and they were presumed to have perished. However, according to the story of Mystery Cove, the pair survived. In fact, they went on to thrive as they explored the enigmatic island. Over time, more lost souls arrived and came to call Mystery Cove their home. Each brought their own unique talents and culture to the growing community."

Mixing the supernatural draw of Lost, the pluck and character of Gilligan's Island, and the extensive lore of the Valley of the Unknown, Mystery Cove will invite guests to a tropical world created by chance. The idea is that both things and fellow explorers have washed up on the shores of Mystery Cove, creating a paradise of reinvention and re-use, all clad in the thematic designs of a WWII-set Indiana Jones pulp adventure.

Image: Mall of America

Yes, for fans of the Lost Legend: The Adventurers Club or Disney's legendary Society of Explorers and Adventurers, Mystery Cove will be a home away from home; an island that must be explored to be believed... Speaking of which, are you ready for a sampling of the stories and secrets that await in Mystery Cove? Read on...


Add new comment

About Theme Park Tourist

Theme Park Tourist is one of the web’s leading sources of essential information and entertaining articles about theme parks in Orlando and beyond.

We are one of the world’s largest theme park guide sites, hosting detailed guides to more than 80 theme parks around the globe.

Find Out More About Us...

Plan Your Trip

Our theme park guides contain reviews and ratings of rides, restaurants and hotels at more than 80 theme parks worldwide.

You can even print them.

Start Planning Now...