Candytopia Opens at the New Fashion District Philadelphia
Get your cameras ready-- this sweet, instaworthy pop-up brings the fun.
Philadelphia’s Market East is undergoing a makeover, with Fashion District Philadelphia opening today. Part of that exciting new development is Candytopia, an immersive– and highly instaworthy– pop-up devoted to all things sweet! If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to jump into a giant pit of marshmallows, your wait is over.
Candytopia brings its wildly popular experiential installation art, created by famed global candy artist, Jackie Sorkin. You’ll get plenty of unique photos in seven fantastical rooms of larger-than-life candy art and sensory experiences. Favorites—like the marshmallow pit filled with over 250,000 foam marshmallows, and the rainbow-filled room with flying unicorn pigs and confetti explosions—will be joined by Philly-specific elements. It’s Instagram heaven, and you even get to eat candy throughout the experience!
Know Before You Go
First off, be sure to download the free Sugar Rush app to enhance your experience. In various parts of the exhibit, you will see a giant lollipop with a screen and scanner—scan the barcode in your app, position yourself in front of the camera (or have the friendly staff help you), and get one-of-a-kind shots emailed to you, all for free.
A trip through Candytopia lasts a little over an hour, but be sure to set aside more time for a visit to the gift shop and candy lounge. Leave strollers and large bags at home. Also, outside food and drink are not permitted (but you’ll get plenty of FREE candy inside!).
Themed Rooms and Multi-Sensory Experiences
Under the sea, into the jungle, an overgrown Wonka-esque garden and playground– each room is more elaborate and interactive than the next, and all the art is made of candy. Each candy sculpture has a placard that tells any curious visitors how many pieces of candy–and hours of work– its construction took.
And when we say it is multisensory, it literally serves all five senses. The giant flowers have foot pedals that cause the flowers to emit different candy smells, while the bubbles of sound between them create a private little listening experience. In that same room, kids can play on giant swings and go into a candy-coated house with a slide for an exit.
Each room has a treasure chest of candy—and each room has different candy, so everyone will find something they like! Munch through your loot, and be treated to an art gallery where iconic works like Mona Lisa, The Scream and Starry Night—as well as portraits of icons from Gene Wilder (as Willy Wonka, of course) to Cardi B— are rendered in candy.
Lively music throughout the experience makes it feel like a constant party—and that’s even before you get to the room of overwhelming confetti! Yes, confetti shoots out of unicorn pigs, out of the sky, and is generally thrown about in a chaotic whirl. You can step onto a spinning platform and bask in the rainbow deluge, or just dance! Fair warning, you will come home with confetti in your hair, and… pretty much everywhere else.
Looking back, it seems very deliberate that the rooms start off tame—the first is a fancy library—and get increasingly more wild and interactive. So, save your energy for the end, because that’s where you will encounter…
The Marshmallow Pit!
Probably Candytopia’s most famous exhibit, the marshmallow pit, lives up to the hype. Take off your shoes and empty your pockets (there are cubbies next to pit), and enter with abandon. It is a pool-sized pit of over 250,000 foam marshmallows that completely immerses you in softness. It’s like a confectioner’s fever dream.
It’s also hard to get up, especially if you’re wearing a dress—rookie mistake on my part, learn from my mistakes, dear readers. This is yet another place where the Sugar Rush app comes in handy, because a camera positioned above the pit creates pictures that are unlike anything you could capture on your phone.
A tip for those with sensory issues, or just little ones who might get scared—to get to the marshmallow room, you are supposed to go through a giant, dark, inflatable tunnel that squeezes you for the length of a hallway. If this sounds like too much for your kids to handle (and it definitely did for my little girl), ask the staff if you can go through the “Staff Only” purple curtain to bypass the tunnel through the gift shop.
In each city it visits, Candytopia adds little touches to pay homage. Here, you will find the Liberty Bell, Rocky, the LOVE Statue, and The Thinker rendered in 3D candy splendor. Look for a portrait of Will Smith (in his Fresh Prince neon glory) amongst icons like Prince, Marilyn Monroe, and Snoop Dogg.
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Be sure to visit the gift shop (you kind of have to in order to leave), where you’ll find all the candy you could ever want—including pick-your-own bulk candy—as well as souvenirs like clothes and toys. We left with a light-up winged pig keychain that oinks, plus about $15 of candy, so, be prepared to spend money or have more discipline than I was able to muster after swimming in a pit of marshmallows.
Speaking of leaving, once you are in for your time slot, you can only move forward. So be sure to get all the joy you can out of each room before moving on. You have to enter on the street at Ninth and Market, and you have to exit through the second floor of the Fashion District mall.
Candytopia is located at Fashion District Philadelphia at Ninth and Market streets in Philadelphia. Tickets must be purchased in advance online, and are $28 for adults, $20 for kids ages 4-12, and free for kids 3 and under. It is open from 10 am–8:30 pm on Mondays through Saturdays, and 11 am–8:30 pm on Sundays.
Photographs by Laura Swartz