Crown Center

Hallmark Keepsake Sign with ornaments inside little boxes
by Breanne

December 31, 2023

No matter if it’s the holiday season or summer time, if you are looking for something to do with your family or kids you have the answer downtown with Hallmark. Hallmark has the Visitor Center and Kaleidoscope near Crown Center that are free to do. You are best making reservations on the website to ensure that there is room especially during busy times. This is also a fun field trip if you homeschool.

Tip: There is parking on the Hallmark Visitor Center / Kaleidoscope side, parking is free for 2 hours with validation so if you’re trying to keep it completely free keep that in mind.

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Hallmark Visitor Center

It is open Tuesday thru Saturday, always check the website for up-to-date hours. At the Hallmark Visitor Center you can learn where it all started. All the way from the boy from Nebraska to the movies they have created and more. You even get to see a bow machine in process. Before you start learning and seeing all the fun items, stop by the welcome desk. With your reservations you’ll get a scavenger hunt that keeps the kids looking for all the items too.

vintage christmas decorations of train, snowman, tree, Santa, angel

The visitor center starts with a mirror etched design in the lobby before you enter the circle of history. Along the way you will see many pieces of history from when Hallmark started with Mr. Hall to current items they have acquired like Crayon. The first section includes 17 unique Christmas trees that the employees fashioned together to display in Mr. Hall’s office the last week leading up to Christmas.

Mickey Mouse Cards from all the ages

Hall Partnerships and Hall of Fame

Another first item that I love of course was about the partnership between Walt Disney and JC Hall. Don’t forget to check out all the old style Disney Mickey Mouse greeting cards. There are other partnerships that Mr Halls and Hallmark made thru the last 100 years that are also are special and have their own informational display like Winston Churchill and more.

JC and Walt with a picture and quote about Walt Disney and JC Hall

Next up is the Hallmark Hall of Fame, which is special movies that they use to create before the million of movies they create every year nowadays. They started in the 50s and several are based off true stories and they now create many movies year around. They have won over 81 Emmy Awards and you can see and touch one in person on your tour.

Hallmark Ornaments

Around the corner there are the Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments. They are so much fun. You can see some of the artist ornaments thru history and many of the different designs and series pieces. Right now, they also have a bigger Barbie display where you can take a selfie, see different Barbie ornaments and cards.

Me and Barbie at Hallmark Visitors Center

They also have different machines on display. I am not sure if they still ever run these but they are fun to see how they print cards and give everyone inside look of how greeting cards at Hallmark are made. They also have a bow machine were you push a button and you can get your own keepsake bow to take home. They are so cute and it’s so fun to see how they are made.

bow making machine

Although it might not seem like Hallmark, next up is some information about Crayola Crayons who they joined together with in 1984 to keep the imagination going. There is also a display of Crown Center with displays and a theatre to watch a 14 minute film.

Harry Potter Hallmark Items owl, cards, ornaments

Overall, this is a fun, educational experience. With kids you will not get to read everything but a few things, see some things of interest from this company that start over 100 years ago from JC Hall. The scavenger hunt, bow machine, and some other items make it so that they stay entertained a little longer depending on the age of kids. I have been taking my kids from preschool on up.

Hallmark Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope is Hallmark’s way of giving back to the community in an interactive way. It was started by Don Hall, son of JC Hall, when he say how much fun his kids had with leftover materials from Hallmark manufacturing. This free, 50 minute family activity geared for kids age 14 and under is an awesome experience. Even my 14 year old still enjoys certain parts of it. So small and large groups and families can enjoy this Kansas City family attraction.

Christmas Tree in Lobby

It started in 1969 as a traveling exhibit till a permanent location at Hallmark’s Crown Center in 1975 for families and kids could create and explore different environments. Crayola supplies all the art supplies from 10,000 + markers, paint, crayons, and more for exploring your creative side.

When you arrive, you will check in at the front desk, mostly ran on reservations but they do allow walk ups if available. They ask you check in about ten minutes early, then you can wait in line where they have some fun little gel blocks and things to look at the lights to see different shapes.

desk area with markers at Hallmark Kaleidoscope

Inside Being Creative

When you go in, you will walk down the short hallway and you can enter thru a doorway to the left or straight ahead. When you get in there are many stations to visit at Kaleidoscope. There are places to make a puzzle, use wax, paint, scissors, tape, stickers, paper, and cut outs.

Wax Center at Kaleidoscope with orange, yellow, and green under black light

Depending on what time of year you go they have some seasonal items like evergreen trees, pumpkins, rocking horse ornament, and more to decorate and create with. We love doing the wax station, it is melted wax that you paint on paper or clipboard. They have watercolor paints and an air dryer so your items will dry before you leave. Just place it on the belt and it will come out the other end.

drying machine for paint

They also have some square chipboard that you can use the markers on and then turn the machine and make your own puzzle. My kids had lots of fun making one of themselves and friends. Also being around Christmas they made multiple ornaments to share with friends. Don’t forget to use ribbon, and stickers to your items.

girl turning a wheel to create a puzzle by cutting it

So go get a time slot and enjoy some time as a family creating memories and exploring with different type of media art at this special spot in Crown Center. Add these places to your summer or holiday bucket list as something to do downtown with Hallmark.

wood box girl standing there at paint center

Don’t forget to check out Legoland, SeaLife, Theatre, and in the winter Ice Skating. Also in Crown Center there is a play area to explore different themes around the year on the bottom level that is great for preschoolers and younger kids. The area also offers the Money Museum, WWI Museum, and Union Station.

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