May 04, 2018

Our Recap and Review of Happy Place in Los Angeles

Do it for the 'gram!


Last week, our photographer Maritere and I traveled to Los Angeles to celebrate the grand (re)opening of Happy Place! Our friend Leslie handles the social media for Happy Place, so we were happy (seems the appropriate word to use here, despite its repetitiveness in this first paragraph already) to be there to support her. We enjoyed touring the place on press preview day, the day prior before it opened to the public.

The Happy Place pop-up experience is slated to run through May 27, according to their website. So, I wanted to give you a recap of our experience and an honest review of Happy Place in case you might be in the LA area in the next month.

Background: The Trend of the Pop-Up Experience

Now, before we get into the discussion of Happy Place itself, a little background…

If you follow retail business trends at all, you may have noticed (a) the decline of the traditional retail experience and (b) the increase in pop-ups. Marketers, creatives, and business people alike are all using these temporary pop-ups as a chance to create experiences. That’s right – today’s customer / client / person wants an experience as much, if not more, than they want the thing you’re selling. So, the customer gets an experience, while the business gets to connect directly with its customer.

Well, this notion of the pop-up experience has been catapulted forward by leaps and bounds in the last couple years.These places are Instagram heaven, and people can’t get enough of them! Because we all know, if you didn’t take a selfie, it didn’t really happen! First, in 2016, Maryellis Bunn launched the wildly successful Museum of Ice Cream. Then, in the summer of 2017 came Color Factory, the brainchild of Oh Happy Day.

(Side note: For more on Museum of Ice Cream, read this wonderfully insightful interview with the founder. And for more on Color Factory, check out this San Fransisco Chronicle article.)

That brings us to November 2017 when Happy Place originally launched. Happy Place originally opened in a warehouse space in the arts district of Los Angeles, but had to shut its doors shortly thereafter because of permitting issues with the city. Finally, in late April, Happy Place was able to reopen in a new form in a new location.


Our Happy Place Experience

As you could probably gather, this unprecedented surge in interactive, selfie-driven, pop-up experiences intrigues me greatly from both a business and creative perspective. So, I was all too excited to finally experience one of these for myself. Plus, the Happy Place mission is one we can fully support:

We BELIEVE that our world today can use a lot more happiness. To make this DREAM come true, we set out on a journey to create a special place where anyone who walks in is surrounded by all things HAPPY

As we drove to downtown LA, I was aware that the new location was at LA Live. What I didn’t realize is that it is basically now a huge tent on top of the parking garage at LA Live – not housed within a permanent structure. Not at all what I was expecting, but nevertheless it was super cute on the outside. A huge bright yellow tent brightened the sky as if it were sunshine itself!

Next, we entered said tent, where we were greeted by a group of overly happy, bubbly, helpful employees who guided us through the experience. Another surprise to me: For some reason, I expected a huge place where we would roam around from room to room. Instead, Happy Place is an elaborate, delightful maze of sorts. There is only one way in and one way out. And as the guide told us at the beginning, you can’t go back to rooms. In other words, you have to keep moving forward from room to room in order.

When we were there, it wasn’t overly crowded, as we arrived early on press day. So, we were able to proceed at our own pace, pausing to take pics as we wished. However, I can imagine (and some online reviews verify this) that it could get a little crowded when bottlenecks form with weekend crowds.

In terms of what exactly you can expect room by room, well there’s a little something for everyone! You’ll find all sorts of color and texture and sounds and light. The rooms are created for muli-sensory experiences. You will be delighted in so many ways. Some of my favorite rooms: the yellow gum ball room, the rainbow butterfly wall, the pink cubby with white chains, the rainbow and pot of gold ball pit room, and last, but certainly not least, the confetti dome! And yes I jumped right into the pot of gold ball pit, and I overstayed my welcome in the confetti dome.

As for a technical critique… be prepared that the setting is not ideal for perfect photos. What do I mean by that? Well, the tent itself is black. So, you do not have the advantage of natural light. And the artificial light is less than flattering. It’s harsh and seemingly misdirected in places. Also, we were surprised by the nature of the “walls” of the rooms. They aren’t actual murals or painted art or walls at all, but rather patterns printed on vinyl. If you look closely at some of our photos, you can see that by the ripples in some of the vinyl. I was hoping for inspiring paintings by artists.

But please don’t let these small critiques deter you! I just wanted to be upfront about what to expect. Don’t expect original painted art. Don’t expect any natural light. Don’t expect perfectly lighted rooms. Instead, please do expect to laugh and smile and snap pictures and throw confetti and jump in ball pits and blow kisses and so much more. This place has lots of happiness in store for you! Go, go, go. I want to see your photos!

A few other items / helpful hints: (1) There is a super cute gift store and colorful food court at the end of the experience. (2) There are no bathrooms within the tented event space. So, no, my crazy fashion blogging friends, you cannot coordinate an outfit with each room. Wink, wink. (3) No strollers are allowed within the tented event space.


In Conclusion

Overall, the experience was exactly what its name says: a Happy Place! While little details could be improved upon in my team’s detail-oriented, professional, perfectionist viewpoint, that doesn’t at all varnish the experience if you accept it for what it is. It’s a fun place to take your family and create some great memories and good pics. Do it for the ‘gram! You won’t be disappointed. Snap and post away – and be sure to tag @wearehappyplace and use the hashtag #wearehappyplace. Trust us, it’s what all the cool kids are doing – us included.


  1. Sheri Hamitlon says:

    HI Carrie,
    Looks like an interesting place. I do wonder a bit what will happen to these sorts of places when the trend dies down on Instagram. You know what I mean?


    1. Hi Sheri,

      You bring up a good point.

      I do think that the desire to experience something sensory goes beyond IG. We are just so accustomed to see and experiencing and digesting so much “content” (for lack of a better word). We are so used to so much stimulation. Aspects of that trend are probably good and some are probably not so good.

      My other thought is that part of this appeals to our desire to get out and do something in the “real world” because we are so tethered to this online world so much. So maybe that is a good part?

      I don’t know. Probably thinking way too deeply tonight. haha.

      Have a great weekend!

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