With the phenomenal success of the Museum of Ice Cream LA, it comes as no surprise that Los Angeles is seeing an upsurge with these types of temporary exhibits. The latest in a slew of such kind, Happy Place Pop-up hopes to impart a lot of happy onto a city that’s seen brighter days. With 13 immersive rooms to tantalize your photographic desires, it’s a definite win for your social media accounts. But while the “museum” welcomes folks young and old, it’s an experience more suitable for teens and adults. There’s plenty of waiting in line after line and being ushered from one room to the next for the sake of capturing the perfect selfie. But for kids and those who simply want to enjoy and have fun in the moment, Happy Place is a big tease.
Let me explain. There were many times during our walk-through that Ry just wanted to stay behind and truly immerse himself in a particular room. But out of consideration for the attendees behind us, he couldn’t, and we were rushed off to the next installation. Ry was especially enthralled by the Steven Harrington palm tree monster, the gigantic birthday sheet cake, the rubber ducky bathtub, the confetti boxes, and the confetti snow globe. Seeing the pure joy on his face as half a million little pieces of brightly colored paper swirled around us, only to be told a minute or so later it was over, and to exit the dome turned bubba’s huge smile upside down. Ry kept asking me if we could go back to the “ball,” but of course we weren’t allowed to.
Of all the exhibits, the only one we probably could’ve stayed at longer was the birthday cake room with walls of gift wrapped boxes adhered to them. Personally speaking, it was lackluster and bordering on tacky. On the upside it did provide ample space for youngsters such as Ry to run around and play. And if I wasn’t so anxious about getting stuck in ever increasing lines, then we actually would’ve hung out there a while.
In all fairness, Happy Place doesn’t claim to be a playground for kids, and I totally get that. It’s basically a big warehouse with different themed rooms and installations (some better than others) that social media savvy millennials might find worthwhile, especially if trying to up their Instagram game or Facebook feeds. But for families with young kids, it’s a different story altogether. So if you go, keep this in mind and you won’t be disappointed.
I have to admit, there were a few rooms that I found pretty neat. I especially liked the upside down bedroom and the rubber ducky bathtub. But in both cases we only had enough time to take a couple of snaps until we had to move the line. I think that kink could easily be improved upon if the amount of people (or tickets sold) per time slot were reduced. This way folks would have the opportunity to admire each installation more adequately.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Dates: November 20, 2017 to January 7, 2018
Address: 1242 Palmetto St., Los Angeles, CA 90013
– The cost is $28.50 for general admission. Unfortunately, there are no discounts for seniors or children, but kids under four years old enter for free. VIP packages are available for $199 per person. The main perks include valet parking, a dedicated photographer to follow you and your party around to capture your happy, and a few other things. All tickets incur a ticket agent fee.
– Parking is a challenge, to put it mildly. The nearest lot to the entrance was closed on the Friday we went. But there are also other lots in the neighborhood, as well as free street parking. You just have to be willing to drive around and around and cross your fingers a spot opens up. I was fortunate enough to find street parking not far from the entrance. But my luck immediately ended when the driver parked in front of me hit my bumper while trying to get out of his spot. Needless to say, the parking situation made me the very opposite of happy. Your other options might be to carpool, Uber, Lyft, or taxi it.
– Be sure to arrive within 20 minutes of your scheduled time slot or you forfeit your admission.
– Unlike the Museum of Ice Cream LA, the freebies at Happy Place are limited. You get a small sampling of yellow or white M&M’s, one cake pop, and a popsicle at the end. Available for purchase are rainbow grilled cheese sandwiches, lemonade, and poured water.
– It got kind of stuffy inside the warehouse. Not sure if the AC was on the fritz, but I brought along water for Ry and I, and I’m glad I did since he got super thirsty after eating his cake pop.
– Of course there’s a souvenir shop!
– Remove flip flops and sandals before jumping into the “pot of gold” or you might find yourself having to go fishing. Also be careful when getting out. I got a painful bruise when I unknowingly hit my shin against the ladder hidden behind all the plastic disks.
– Before or after your tour, grab a bite to eat at Urth Caffe, which serves up organic coffees and delicious food. It’s on S. Hewitt Street just a block north of the pop-up. And if your kids want some authentic play time, directly across from Urth is playground inside the one year old Arts District Park.
– Last thing and very important to note. Upon exiting the building you’re instructed to “make a left, another left, and another left” to return to the front of the warehouse. Little did I know that all those lefts (left on 6th St., followed by a left on Mateo St., followed by the last left on Palmetto St. – see map below) made for a long walk back to our car. You’re basically walking the equivalent of a huge New York City block. And if you’re scheduled to go in the evening and you’re with kids, keep your wits about you. Those particular streets are empty at night. I did read on other sites that some families simply went back the same way they came from. Had I known that beforehand, I would’ve asked to do the same.