Visiting Happy Place (Chicago) + What To Expect

Visiting Happy Place (Chicago) + What To Expect

Hi friends! It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, and I’ve missed you! We have been so crazy busy and went on an 11-day vacation with Jimmy’s family, so I took a little hiatus from blogging and responsibilities. I am back to the norm now and playing catch-up, and have so much fun content in store for you. Be sure to subscribe to my blog if you don’t already so you don’t miss it! We had so much fun on our visit to Chicago and Wisconsin – more on that to come – but I wanted to share something that was one of the highlights for me of the trip.

Y’all. There is such a thing as the Happy Place! It’s rainbows and butterflies and bright colors and confetti and cotton candy and balloons and flowers and everything you can think of that makes you happy. If you’ve heard of Happy Place and are thinking about visiting or wondering what to expect, or haven’t heard about it and are now intrigued, I’m sharing everything about my recent visit right here, so keep reading! We happened to be in Chicago during the dates Happy Place was in town, so you KNOW your girl had to go! Major props to my hubby for agreeing to spend three hours of our time in his city at this crazy place with me. You’re a rockstar, my love.

Two of his friends’ wives and one of their kids joined us and we really did have a great time! The kids loved it. (Daisy is 18 months and Espy is three, for reference.)

You can read more on Happy Place’s website, but I wanted to share a detailed breakdown of my personal experience and what I would like to know before going. Get ready for a lot of info and a ton of pictures! There’s a very detailed description of each room/photo opp at the very bottom of this post, as well as that room’s color theme and photo tips. Hope you enjoy!

WHAT IS HAPPY PLACE?
Happy Place is basically a pop-up exhibit where you go to feel like a kid and snap a million Insta-worthy pictures. You honestly do feel happy the moment you step foot inside the space. A vacant warehouse has been turned into a dozen or so themed rooms and spaces, each providing a different experience, installation and photo opp. The pop-up made its debut in LA, and is currently taking over Chicago through September. I’d guess it was genuinely created knowing that it would be basically be a never-ending photo backdrop with interactive exhibits that make for fun pictures, boomerangs and videos, and I am totally okay with that. It’s a blogger and Instagrammer’s dream! Ridiculous? Probably. Worth it. Totally.

WHERE IS IT?
I’m not from Chicago so I don’t know what the exact area of town is called, but I do know that it was 1.4 miles from my sister-in-law’s place in Wicker Park. The address is 104 N Elston Ave., Chicago, IL.

HOW LONG IS IT IN CHICAGO?
The dates were just extended a bit, making their Chicago stay June 28 – September 3, 2018. Sounds like that’s it though, so go while you can!

WHAT TO WEAR
Honestly this is the main reason I’m writing this post. I’m a style girl, after all! I stalked Happy Place on Instagram and all of their tagged photos trying to figure out the perfect outfit to wear for this real-life colorful dream. Picking out an outfit was HARD, especially when I only had the options in my suitcase to choose from. I could think of a million outfits I had in my closet, but unfortunately those weren’t an option and I didn’t have time to go shopping. I settled on this pink Katherine Way dress which ended up working for me, and looked bright and happy in photos. I would suggest wearing a solid (or close to solid) bright color, or being neutral and going with black or white. A solid shirt and jeans would work or a bright dress is safe. If I could have picked I would have worn a midi tulle skirt with a white graphic or colorful tee, or a yellow dress. I would definitely suggest comfortable shoes since you’ll be doing a lot of standing and walking.

I’m linking a few of my picks that I think would be perfect for Happy Place below, in case you’re looking for inspiration!

WHAT TO EXPECT?
When you purchase your ticket you will select a specific time slot. Hours run throughout the day, but you’ll need to select a particular time for your entry. This helps with crowds and keeps things moving. I would suggest arriving 15-30 minutes ahead of your ticketed time slot so you can park, check in, get in line, use the restroom, and have time to snap any pictures outside (they have a few photo opps out there as well). There are no restrooms inside, so make sure you and your little ones go before you enter. Once inside you’ll watch a quick video explaining how everything works, and then you will move on to the first room (which is the yellow high heels and gum balls). Each room is staffed with one or two Happy Place members, so don’t hesitate to ask them to snap your picture or suggest the best spots for pictures and lighting. The rooms can get a bit crowded at times (12-20 people I’d say) so expect to wait your turn for photo opps and playtime, but it’s not bad. There also didn’t seem to be any AC inside the building, only several fans. Keep that in mind when planning your wardrobe! No one seemed to be sweating or complaining, so don’t let that stress you out. Your time in each room moves pretty quickly and you will eventually be ushered on to make space for the next group, so be sure to snap your pictures quickly and explore the entire installation.

HOW LONG SHOULD I PLAN TO BE THERE?
It takes about and hour to and hour-and-a-half to get through the space, depending on how quickly you take your pictures. You’ll want to save some time for the fun concessions at the end (unicorn cotton candy, rainbow grilled cheese and rainbow mac & cheese), and to look through the cute gift shot. From arriving to leaving, I would suggest allowing yourself 2.5-3 hours to be safe, though we did it in a rushed 2 hours since we had a plane to catch.

HOW MUCH IS IT?
Tickets are around $30-35. I would suggest buying them online to reserve your spot, but I think you can buy them at the door if that time isn’t sold out. Children 4 and under are free.

WHO SHOULD GO
Anyone and everyone! It’s wheelchair accessible and the only stairs/steps are for the confetti dome (one step), the flower room (short laddar) and the pot of gold (a few steps). Just know you’ll be doing a lot of walking, standing and moving, and there really isn’t space for sitting. I think it’s obviously geared toward women, but the guys seemed to enjoy it as well. Strollers aren’t allowed, but you can park them at the front.

PARKING
They offer valet parking for $12 which you can purchase with your ticket or when you arrive, or I think street parking is available if you can find it. Again, I’m not from the area so I’m not 100% on this. I do know Uber and Lyft are always a good idea!

IS IT WORTH IT?
I say yes, as long as you know what to expect. It’s not a jungle gym, play house or a show. It’s a fun experience that makes for fun pictures, and 1.5 hours of happiness and playing like a kid. Think of it as a museum that you can be loud and have fun in, and you can actually tough the exhibits. I can’t say it was quite what I expected, but then again I really didn’t know what to expect at all. I would do it again if I could, though!

HOW TO PREPARE/THINGS TO KNOW

  • You won’t have time or space for a wardrobe change. I took one just in case (because let’s be honest, how many times can I post a picture of myself in the same dress), but everything moved too quickly for that.
  • If you want to switch up your looks from room to room, take accessories like a hat, fun sunglasses, etc. to put on. Something that can be done quickly in public.
  • There’s no AC, so dress appropriately.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Go with a fully-charged phone or camera, and make sure you have lots of space for pictures. We started off using my nice camera but quickly switched to the iPhone since it seemed to work better quickly with the changes in lighting.
  • The concessions and gift shop only take card, no cash.
  • All food and drinks are available for purchase at the very end, so take your own bottle of water if you can’t go that long.
  • Go with patience. It’s not super crowded, but you will have to wait your turn for photos and activities. It’s fun to watch and see what everyone else is doing, though!
  • Don’t take it too serious. Be a kid. Have fun. Be HAPPY!

WHERE WILL IT BE NEXT
They haven’t announced it yet, but I can’t wait to find out! You can follow Happy Place on Instagram or check their website for updates.

WHAT ARE THE ROOMS/COLORS + PHOTO TIPS
Some of these are in their own room, some share a room and are boxed off. Here are all of the experiences and backdrops you can expect.

  • High heel / gum ball room: This one has two giant yellow heels made from candies that you can climb inside, yellow and white striped walls, and one corner is covered with gum ball machines.
    Colors: Yellow and white.
    Photo tips: Get inside one of the shoes and have someone take the photo from the side. It shoes the heel and how giant the shoe is. I’m not sure if the gum ball machines work, but it would be worth taking a few quarters just in case!
  • XO + kiss room: 1,000 red kisses on a white background line the walls, there’s a red lip-shaped bench in one corner, and a giant XO made of tiny mirrors takes over most of this space. Perfect for all you lovers!
    Colors: Red, white and pink
    Photo tips: So many photo opps in this one! Sit on the bench alone or with a friend, use the kiss wall for a cute OOTD picture, sit inside of the O, lean on the XO, snap a selfie of your reflection inside the mirrors. Just be warned: you’ll likely have someone else in the reflection of the mirror or behind you in the photo.
  • Palm room: This one was kind of trippy and honestly my least favorite of the rooms. There were a few goofy looking palm trees surrounded with floor-to-ceiling wallpaper covered in palm trees that looked drunk or stoned and squiggly things. I just didn’t really get it.
    Colors: Green and purple.
    Photo tips: Throw on some sunglasses and pose for a sunny tropical day. I sat Daisy on one of the trees which could have maybe been cute, but she wasn’t into it.
  • Dance party room: Not much to this room other than wall-to-wall silver tinsel, party lights dancing around the floor and music that could have been louder. Daisy enjoyed breaking it down and playing hide-and-seek in the tinsel, which was cute. I wanted to shout, “Crank up the volume and get this party started!” but I refrained.
    Colors: Silver from the tinsel, but other than that not much.
    Photo tips: Create your own dance party and get jiggy with it! Take advantage of the open space and create your own photos with movement and fun.
  • Disco ball room: This was more of a box made up of wall-to-wall tiny mirrors, making it look like you’re inside a giant disco ball. It was pretty cool!
    Colors: Mirrors. Is that a color?! Nah.
    Photo tips: Spin in circles, grab a friend and bust out your best Saturday Night Fever moves.
  • White chains: Isn’t that a rap artist? Oh wait no, that’s Two Chainz. Anywho this is another box in the same room as the disco ball and duck installations. A little confusing but still fun. The walls are bright pink and hundreds of white plastic chains hang from the ceiling, creating a little play space.
    Colors: White and pink.
    Photo tips: Do a fun boomerang popping out of the chains, play hide-and-seek with your kids, lie on the floor and snap a selfie from above … get creative with this one!
  • Rubber duck + tub room: The third little box in the room with the disco ball and chains, and it’s super cute! The walls are lined floor-to-ceiling with rubber duckies all in a row, and a yellow bath tub sits in the center filled with yellow balls. It was Daisy’s dream space!
    Colors: Yellow! Lots and lots of yellow.
    Photo tips: Get in the tub, throw some balls in the air and pretend to be a kid again. If you’re with a tall friend have them stand above you for an aerial view!
  • Upside down room: This one was crazy and made me kind of dizzy, but is really cool! Everything in this room is literally on the ceiling, so it looks like you’re walking upside down. There’s a pedestal in the center of the room for you to stand, and a bed, vanity and bench, and little seat with stuffed animals all on the ceiling, creating several photo opps.
    Colors: Blues, whites and greys.
    Photo tips: Obviously the bed is the focal point, but there are other pieces of furniture on the ceiling that make for fun photos, too. You get the best shot standing on the pedestal, but you can take fun pictures from anywhere in the room. Remember that you’re supposed to be upside down, so throw your hands in the air or capture a mid-jump picture so it looks like gravity is really pulling your down. Be sure to flip your photo after taking it so it looks real!
  • Confetti room: Before entering the confetti dome, you walk through a room with four boxes (think sand boxes) of confetti with a back-lit floor. This one will totally make you feel like a kid again!
    Colors: The boxes are blue and yellow, and the confetti is multi-colored.
    Photo tip: Sit in the box and throw confetti, make confetti angels and have someone take a photo from above, or have someone take a photo bust while you blow confetti toward the camera.
  • Confetti dome: By far the best of the rooms, in my opinion! It’s literally a giant plastic bubble full of confetti. Eight people enter at once, they close the door, press the button and you have one minute inside to live your best life. Fans blow from the bottom, allowing the confetti to float.
    Colors: Confetti, obviously!
    Photo tips: One minute goes by quickly, so get ready! My friend literally set a 30-second timer so we’d know when we were halfway through and needed to switch up taking pictures. Note that you’ll need to scoop up confetti with either your hands or the buckets inside and throw it in the air while standing over a fan in order for it to fly around you. I expected it to automatically blow and wasn’t prepared at first.
  • Pot of gold room: The biggest, most exciting ball pit ever under a giant rainbow! You’ll have to wait in line for a few minutes, but it goes by quickly. You’ll also need to remove any loose articles of clothing, accessories, and items that could get lost in the pit. Once it’s your turn, you’ll walk up on the platform and jump right in to the pit. Be sure to make a wish for good luck!
    Colors: Black pot with yellow gold (plastic balls) and a rainbow made of primary colors.
    Photo tips: You get one jump, so make it count! The staff offers to snap pictures for you and your friends can do it, too. Just be sure to let them know any special requests. I asked the staff member to take a photo burst once we started jumping, and my friend took a boomerang. Don’t forget to take a picture before you jump in, and then remember to smile and throw your hands in the hair when you jump!
  • Flower room: This one was a little difficult to get pictures in but really cool. You’ll climb a short ladder and enter a flower wonderland of flowers all over the ground, as well as floating above you. You’ll literally be surrounded by hanging flowers and crystals. You can’t walk on the flowers, though.
    Colors: Marigold yellow and black.
    Photo tips: Have your friend/photographer stand on the ladder directly next to or across from the one you’re on so they can snap the picture from a short distance. Since you can’t stand all the way up in the flower field, this picture will mostly be from your torso up. The lighting is a little funky, so I would suggest standing either in front of or behind the spot light, not directly under it like I did. Smell the flowers for a cute pic!
  • Giant HAPPY / balloon room: This one is at the end and offers several installations, including giant letters that spell out “happy”, a cluster of balloons on a string, and several backgrounds. Take your time and explore!
    Colors: Primary colors.
    Photo tips: Sit on top of or inside one of the letters, or peek out from behind. Grab the balloons and jump in the air so it looks like they’re carrying you away!
  • Concession room: As you head toward the exit you’ll enter the concession and gift shop room, which also have a few installations for photos. You’ll find a giant inflatable duck, cloud walls, a chalkboard mural, cute wall quotes and butterfly wall.

Leave a comment below if you have gone or are planning to go! I’m curious to know what you think. Follow me on Instagram to see more pictures over the next few weeks!

Share your thoughts!