Last night I snagged one of my close friends, and we were whisked away into what I would imagine a little kid and candy fanatic’s fantasy to be; Candytopia at the Mall of America. What we thought to be a short amount of time after questioning ourselves as to if we had gone through too quickly, ended up turning into about an hour and forty-five minutes spent in this interactive, sugary world. Overall, it was an exciting evening experiencing something that was out of the wheelhouse we’re typically used to filled with sweet treats and a few adult beverages.
To give you a little bit of details before I dive into the nitty gritty, Candytopia is an interactive art installation that will be located at the Mall of America for the next four months. The exhibit creates an inviting atmosphere with vibrant colors and flavors showcasing many of the world’s favorite sugary delights. There is a total of 8 themed rooms that guests can visit, and sculptures scattered throughout made from just about every type of candy one could imagine. Guests are encouraged to utilize their senses to fully experience this sensory overload; sculptures can be touched and smelled, but it’s strongly recommended you hold off to curb your sweet craving till the end of journey in the merchandise room where guests can purchase and fill their own bag of candy to take home. This is a scheduled event with groups entering every 15 minutes; admission for a child is $20 and admission for an adult is $28. Candytopia opens on Thursday, March 7th and I recommend checking it out at least once as it’s something new in MPLS and only here for a short while.
Upon entering neither one of us knew what to expect, and quite honestly were a bit apprehensive initially. There’s no easy way describe our experience so I’ll go about it this way:
Library: This room ended up being low-key compared to the rest of the adventure. The library gave us a small taste of what we were getting ourselves into, and was filled with books (of course), noisy cuckoo clocks and a handful of candy sculptures.
Jungle: A room themed as a tropical rainforest, with animal sculptures scattered throughout. One that I remember specifically is a monkey hanging from one of the trees. In this room guests were encouraged to take out their cameras and snag a picture as the background appeared 3D when photographed whisking you into a balmy break from the cold outside.
Factory: I would say this room has the most relevancy to Willy Wonka right off the bat. There was a green screen with a chocolate river that we couldn’t experience due to our phones glitching (I was bummed), large domes that guests could stand under that played different sounds, flowers that would release different smells when guests stepped on the accompanied pedals, and other entertainment scattered throughout the room which included swings and hula hoops.
Art Gallery: This room was one of the most exciting for me, and probably one of my favorites as I’ve always been a lover of art. Various paintings and sculptures were recreated to form a sugary gallery of well-known artists such as Van Gough, Frida Kahlo, and Andy Warhol. I found it amazing that each piece was recreated almost identically, and immediately I thought how a seemingly fun event could also get your kiddo’s mind spinning in an educational way.
(Fun)Fetti: Of course, this room had a different name other than the one I’ve given it, but when/if you go be prepared to take place in your own celebration. This room’s theme was, confetti, and I’m still finding it scattered throughout my house today. Guests could experience another green screen camera play where they were laying down on the ground, and it would look like candy was falling on them. You could also have your picture taken as confetti was shot into the air (out of pig butt’s oddly enough), but hey it all added to the experience!
Under the Sea: Not too much time was spent in here, as we were interested in the commotion that lay ahead. I loved all the different sea creatures that were showcased in here, and when walking through I really paid attention to the different candies that were used to create each piece. It was fun stretching your mind to recognize the different types. There was also a scuba diver sculpture in this room that was as tall as me! This room was relatively quiet as well, so I thought it was a great way to give a little bit of a break to guests in between the more noisy/interactive rooms.
Interactive Room: Unfortunately, the stations were swamped in this room when we went through, so we couldn’t try any of the activities, but they looked like a blast. Guests could take photos with HUGE life-size beach balls, along with another station that I didn’t quite get an idea of what it was. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, though, and laughter was scattered throughout. In this room, there was also a tribute to Prince which I thought was wonderful, and paid tribute to Minneapolis itself.
Marshmallow Mania: This was the last room of the experience other than the merchandise room, and before we were going to be meeting the Hollywood Candy Queen herself. Guests could dive into a marshmallow pool and play as much as their little hearts desired. Periodically throughout the evening more marshmallows would be shot out of the walls, making it an exciting (noisy) last hoorah. We didn’t take the liberty of stowing our personal items and diving in, but it was fun to see and an environment I think all ages will enjoy.
Though my interview with Jackie Sorkin was brief as she was going around the event interacting with guests, taking photos and enjoying her masterpiece; it was wonderful to have the opportunity to put a face to name as to who made this installation come to life. One can tell that Sorkin is very passionate about what she does, and that it’s her ultimate goal to provide an exciting, unique and quirky experience for all. Sorkin has established a team of very talented individuals, meaning one of her own even creates the music/sounds present in each room of the installation. I thought that this was a key detail as it shows the exhibit is all one of a kind, and something guests can only find at Candytopia. Overall, she wants everyone to enjoy themselves and have a blast in this Wonka-esque wonderland.