|Mold-A-Ramas across the mantle|
Which brings us to our trip to Florida.
When we first looked at the map of places one can find Mold-A-Ramas we essentially wrote off most of them as impossible. We would collect what we could in the Midwest, and maybe eventually hit the one location out on the West Coast on a visit to relatives that direction, but anywhere in the South? Why would we go there?
But then we began to think, why not go there?
It sparked an idea. An idea that led us to escape the brutal Wisconsin winter for a couple of weeks and enjoy some wonderful time together. We weren't sure we could hit everything on our list, but we aimed to try, and we succeeded! Two places were closed this time of year (Adventure Island in Tampa supposedly has one Mold-A-Rama machine, and some kind of Microcar Museum in Georgia we think has four), but everything else we knew of that was open we got to. Our list included:
Knoxville Zoo (Tennessee)
Central Florida Zoo
Museum of Discovery and Science
Museum of Science and Industry (Tampa)
Lowry Park Zoo
TECO Manatee Viewing Area
We enjoyed everyplace we went, and if we weren't on our little quest I doubt we would have gone to any of them. We learned a lot, we got to explore new things together, and we got a much needed break from our regular routine. Our kids were unhappy with the idea of missing school, but a trip like this they will remember forever. Too many of our days are forgettable. I wanted to carve out a few for us that were anything but.
|"The dog" with Mold-A-Rama for scale|
The next thing we packed was our giant bag of change, but I also decided to swing by the bank and get a stack of dollar bills just in case. Very glad we did! There are a couple of types of Mold-A-Rama machines, and the ones up in our part of the country take both coins and bills and give change. Turns out the ones in the South only take bills and do not give change, so we went through all our bills.
|Mold-A-Matic at the Mote|
|Mold-A-Ramas at the Brookfield Zoo|
The cost of a Mold-A-Rama figure is $2 everywhere, with the exception of the Knoxville Zoo where they were only $1 (the people who worked there assured us nobody in the area would pay more than that) and Busch Gardens where they were $3 (because hey, when you're prepared to spend a fortune for a day at an amusement park $3 seems cheap). Most places have pre-made figures available at the service desk in case a machine eats your money or the figure is deformed in some way, but nobody outright sells Mold-A-Ramas. You have to get them yourself at the machines.
Which is where the fun is! There is something particularly helpful, too, when you step into a zoo or science center with kids to have a mission. The hunt for Mold-A-Rama machines gave us focus and created a timeline of sorts that I think kept us more sane than a trip with such a packed agenda could otherwise manage. We got to enjoy the parks and the sights, but keeping an eye out for the next machine gave us direction, and when we had collected all of the figures from a particular place that was a reasonable signal of a good time to leave.
There are about half a dozen places left on our list. A couple of them shouldn't be hard to get to. A couple will take effort but will be exciting to accomplish someday. (The kids want to see the Grand Canyon in the future, so we're already planning to swing by the San Antonio Zoo as part of that adventure.) Regardless of whether we ever add another figure to the mantle the family Mold-A-Rama collection is impressive! We more than doubled the number of figures we had with our Mold-A-Rama Road Trip.