Nearby attractions like SFMOMA and the Museum of Ice Cream, look out, because Candytopia, the city’s latest Instagram-oriented attraction, opens today. Visitors to this 16,000-square-foot saccharine spectacle can tour a dozen rooms filled with highly photographable (and hypothetically edible) art, like candy “paintings” of the Mona Lisa and a dragon sculpture made from 360-pounds of gummies. But don’t lick the walls: Instead, ticket holders feast on free samples (hello, product placement) from candy brands like Lindt, Nestle, and Tootsie.
Those samples might be free — and the photo opportunities priceless — but the tickets cost $34 for adults, $26 for kids 4-12 (it’s free for children 3 and under). And they’re hard to come by: Candytopia is already sold out for days to come and on most weekends during its run, which lasts through November. That could well be extended — the Museum of Ice Cream, a similar romp through a Willy Wonka-inspired wonderland, has renewed its run several times and is still ushering customers into its sprinkle pit across the street from Candytopia.
This isn’t the first rodeo for Candytopia, either. The company’s Santa Monica run just wrapped up and its New York City exhibition just began. The business was co-founded by Jackie Sorkin (who runs a candy-themed LA events company and stars in a TLC show called Candy Queen!) and CEO John Goodman, a retail oriented businessperson who was CEO of the pre-teen mall staple Wet Seal. With Candytopia, Goodman is going all-in on the future of “retail experiences,” a new category of dystopian brand exercises in which customers pay to participate in advertisements.
Zac Hartog, a Hollywood set designer and fabricator, is behind Candytopia’s eye-catching installations. Highlights include a “marshmallow” pool (made with pieces of foam) and a see-saw version of the Golden Gate Bridge. Each piece lists the number of candies involved in its creation, the number of hours it took to build, and its sugar content. For example, a life-sized hammerhead shark required 11,800 candy pieces, took 289 hours to make, and contains 6,700 grams of sugar. That’s one big toothache.