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Crazy Mall Attractions You Have to See to Believe

12/04/2015 11:11am ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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By Jason Heidemann for the Orbitz Travel Blog

Close your eyes and think about the hunger pains you get when that whiff of butter from Auntie Anne's hot pretzels first crosses your nose or how satisfied you feel when you pick up a key chain that reads "BFFs Forever" from Things Remembered. You're picturing a shopping mall, right? Okay, now try and imagine yourself shooshing down a black diamond slope, being heckled by a drag queen or saying "I do" in front of loved ones. Still picturing the mall? We didn't think so, but in fact shopping centers have increasingly become high stakes entertainment complexes artfully designed to keep you there for hours in hopes that you'll continue spending away. But if you're bored of the bargains, here are 8 unusual mall attractions.

Ride the fastest roller coaster in the world...
Roller coasters are always vying for superlatives, including tallest, longest, largest and oldest. Of course, for many speed is the ultimate thrill and the distinction of fastest roller coaster on earth belongs to Formula Rossa at Ferrari World which is attached to Yas Mall in the United Arab Emirates city of Abu Dhabi. Riders strap themselves in and are zoomed at top speeds of 240km/per hour in just five seconds. Do yourself a favor and avoid inhaling any Cinnabons or Panda Express until after the ride is over.

Ice skate...
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Well, that's how the saying goes, but that's hardly true in the bayou city of Houston where the chances of a December 25th snowfall are pretty much nil. Nevertheless, at the Galleria, an upscale shopping center, Houstonians can lace up their skates just like they do in New York's Central Park at Ice at the Galleria, which is open year around and offers daily public skating, lessons and ice hockey. And also like in New York City, you can grab a post-workout slice...at Sbarro's.

See a drag show...
You can turn on your TV, switch the channel to Logo and check out RuPaul's Drag Race anytime. But in Maspalomas, a tourist mecca on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, you can see live drag entertainment most nights a week at the Yumbo Centre, an outdoor shopping mall that by day peddles Euro-trashy threads but by night comes alive as a gay mecca boasting nearly 30 queer bars including nightclubs, piano bars, leather hangouts and yes, many a joint where gays and straights alike come together to be insulted by rowdy drag queens. Snap!

Take a gondola ride...
We would be horrified if the actual city of Venice were to stoop to combining gondola rides with shopping malls, but in
we allow such gaudy good times to peacefully co-exist, and since we reserve all our excess Vegas cash for the penny slots, we'll gladly sail right past the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian resort and casino in a two- or four-person boat commandeered by our own private singing gondolier. After all, there's nothing like sailing past a Harley Davidson store in a boat, just like they do in the old world.

Get married...
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today..." Those are the iconic opening lines to the classic '80s song "Let's Go Crazy." It's fitting that in the hometown of singer Prince you can also hear that iconic phrase uttered at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, the busiest shopping complex in the world (more than 40 million visitors annually) and home to numerous shops, restaurants, attractions and artifacts and even the Chapel of Love, a full-service wedding chapel that has married more than 5,500 couples. Don't worry, the chapel is located indoors--this is Minnesota after all.