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Looking for something to do with kids in NYC? Check out Candytopia, a sugar-lover’s paradise!
Last week my daughter and I went to a press preview for Candytopia, an imaginative marriage of art museum, candy store, and please-touch activity center. Located in Manhattan not far from Penn Station, Candytopia will be in New York City
until November 15th until January 6th, 2019, and tickets are selling out fast.
I’d never been to anything remotely like this, so I had no idea what to expect. The opening scene as you wait to go in seems like a bit of a Harry Potter ripoff in style and mood.
As I went into the first dimly-lit room I was wondering if that was what the entire experience was going to be like: moody 19th-century decor with some candy thrown in. But I soon discovered that that wasn’t the case at all, as the next rooms were brighter and very different.
In fact, one of the most delightful parts of Candytopia is discovering what’s in the next room, and even my teen daughter was ooh-ing and ahh-ing as we took in new things.
Candytopia is filled with candy artwork, candy statues, candy sculptures, and whimsical contraptions (some of which definitely brought to mind Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but I’m not sure how you avoid that when you fill entire rooms with candy). There is interesting information on the walls for a lot of what you’re looking at, like how much sugar is in a piece of art or how many hours it took to put it together.
One room has a super-fun confetti cannon:
However (and don’t take this as truth because it didn’t occur to me until later), was the confetti being used over and over? I saw it being swept up after each blast. I saw buckets of it on the floor. I did not notice where the swept-up confetti was being placed. And I did not notice where the confetti cannon was being filled from. If it’s all brand new each time, they are going through an unimaginable amount of confetti every day. And if it’s not new each, time, well…since I got a good bit of confetti in my mouth, I’m just not going to think about it. If any of you go and happen to notice what’s going on, please let me know! [ETA: A friend confirmed that yes, the confetti that is swept up is re-used. I don’t know for how long.]
My favorite area was definitely the art gallery. I could look at an entire museum of candy artwork, I think. It was really well done.
There’s also a giant marshmallow pit at the end!
No, they’re not real marshmallows!
This was a lot of fun, and I was told that guests will get about five minutes in the pit. Shoes are not allowed, and there is a cubby area to store your things (at your own risk, of course).
Candytopia Photo Opportunities
There are lots of photo opportunities throughout Candytopia. As you enter, you can put your email address into a kiosk and you will get emails with pictures that you take at special stations throughout Candytopia. At least I think that’s how it works. Here’s where you’re going to realize just how dumb and Disney-spoiled I am: I didn’t realize that I actually had to do something in order to get those pictures.
I was a bit aggravated while I was filling out the info at the kiosk and I might have totally missed some instructions (someone had jumped in front of me in line and I’d said something and took my turn first, but then I realized that they might have thought I was in line for the other kiosk and I started to feel guilty for saying something…I get flustered easily). I forgot that I wasn’t wearing a MagicBand, and pictures of me would not automagically appear later. I saw other kiosks at various points, and I think I was supposed to…do…something? Put in my name, maybe? Or something with a QR code? It’s all fuzzy. I think the guy with the confetti cannon even told me that the camera was up above, and I thought oh, that will be cool to see later. And then I didn’t do whatever I was supposed to do in order to get that picture! Oh well. Ask questions if you want those pictures, so that you don’t miss out.
I feel like unicorns deserve a special mention, since they seem to be having a moment right now. They appear in several different places in Candytopia, including the side of the building with the spectacular rainbow-pooping unicorn:
There’s a great piece of unicorn art inside, which had kid after kid posing with it:
Plus, there’s some delightful unicorn-themed candy in the gift shop:
How much candy can you eat?
The one big question I had going in was, just how much candy will there be to eat? The answer is, not a ton. Which is fine, as long as you don’t go into it expecting to eat all the candy you want. Most rooms had something, like lollipops or candy bracelets. One room even had pretty big bags of sour gummy candies.
I asked a couple different employees how much candy guests would be able to take, and the answers were vague, but it sounds like taking a piece or two is fine, taking a handful is a no-no. I’m sure some people will try to challenge that based on ticket price alone, thinking that they paid for the right to eat as much as they wanted, and those people are going to be disappointed. But this is more about the experience than the actual candy.
This does, however, bring us to the ticket price. Candytopia tickets are $34 for adults, and $26 for kids 4-12 years old (kids 3 and under are free). That would be $120 for a family of four. It takes about an hour to go through the entire experience, so you have to ask yourself, is it worth it? And I can’t answer that for you. If my kids were younger and I was looking for something to do with them on a random afternoon, I don’t think I would pay that for an hour-long experience. But if I were on vacation in NYC and looking for something to do, I probably would, because I tend to look at money differently when I’m traveling and actively looking for experiences. So this one is completely subjective, depending on how you like to spend your money. But if your kid’s dream is basically to step into a game of Candy Land, this will probably be worth your money.
If somehow you get to the end and think wait, I haven’t spent enough money, there’s a spectacular gift shop.
You can buy all sorts of well-known (but sometimes hard-to-find) candies, plus some very cool Candytopia-themed items.
I will be curious to hear how this exhibit holds up over the three months that it will be here. After I got home I looked up some online reviews from the other cities it’s been in, and while they were generally positive, quite a few people did complain about cleanliness, especially in the marshmallow pit. But I’m happy to report that when I was there, everything looked sparkling and clean.
If you’re planning on going to this, I would suggest not looking at the pictures below. As much fun as I had putting this slideshow together, it’s really meant for people who won’t get to experience Candytopia themselves. If you see all of my pictures and then go to Candytopia, you’ll be robbing yourself of a big part of the experience: discovery. But if you won’t be able to make it to NYC, or couldn’t get tickets, these pictures will give you a good sense of what Candytopia is all about!