Candytopia in Miami: How to make the most of your visit and not lose hope in the marshmallow pit
By Kristina Webb
Dec 19, 2019
Step through the gates of Candytopia and enter the ultimate Instagrammable world, where adults and children alike face an onslaught of color designed to dazzle all of the senses.
Just be prepared to leave some dignity behind in the marshmallow pit.
This temporary interactive art installation has traveled the country and now finds itself at the Aventura Mall in Miami through Jan. 26. It’s the perfect daytrip destination for families or groups of friends wanting to get out of the house over the holidays.
It takes about an hour to traverse what organizers call a “marshmallowy mini-theme park,” a time span that is perfect for younger guests who may not have quite the same attention span as a group of 30-somethings weaving their way from room to room.
The installation is reminiscent of the super-popular Museum of Ice Cream that came to Miami Beach last year. Both hearken back to a simpler, more colorful time of life when ice cream and candy were your goals, instead of paying bills and getting promoted at work. For adults, this is a nostalgic escape. For children, it’s a sweet adventure.
Each room is themed and includes at least one Instagram-perfect photo opp spot. The second room is billed as “Wonderland,” with comfortable swings, fragrant flowers that pump candy-scented air into your face, and a green screen that puts you and your friends into the middle of a pool of melted chocolate.
In the next room, a wall and floor combine to create an optical illusion that, when photographed from above, appears to suck you into a lollipop-colored vortex.
Guests also can grab a free piece of candy in each room, and we’re not talking about discount, off-brand, Tootsie Roll-style chews. You’ll find Twizzlers, AirHeads and Trolli gummies.
You also can grab an alice + olivia-branded Ring Pop in the alice + olivia-themed room, which Candytopia said is its first collaboration with a fashion designer.
Tickets should be purchased in advance, and you’ll be asked to pick a time slot. We went on a recent Monday at 10:30 a.m., and our group included a mix of younger women, a family with a toddler, and a mom with two young sons.
The key to Candytopia is taking things at your own pace. Employees are there to guide you, but you never feel rushed. In fact, you’ll be encouraged to interact with the candy-constructed art. And the more you touch, the more you realize just how much work has gone into each detailed piece, from a great white shark to a portrait of rock god Prince.
The final room of the tour features a pit packed with 250,000 foam marshmallows. Take off your shoes and dive in, but be prepared to use muscles that maybe haven’t had a workout in awhile. The key to avoiding being sucked into a sea of soft white hopelessness is quickly finding the floor of the pit so you can stand and move instead of trying to swim.
The drive from Palm Beach County to Aventura Mall takes about an hour and 15 minutes down Interstate 95, and you’ll want to set aside enough time for traffic. Reserving a morning time slot for Candytopia should give you ample time to grab some coffee and a bagel before you hit the road.
Once at the Aventura Mall, you can stay to check out the shopping, dining and other entertainment options.
Going with a group of children? Also at the mall through Jan. 20 is Nickelodeon’s Slime City. Kids can get slimed, play with slime, make slime — it’s a slime-lover’s paradise. And it’s about a two-minute walk from Candytopia.
“Exclusive pop-ups like Candytopia and Slime City, which have only been in a handful of markets, offer our guests additional, unique experiences, especially during the season,” said Anabel Llopis, senior director of sales and marketing for the Aventura Mall. “They further position the mall as a premier experiential retail destination, and they provide families and visitors of all ages with Instagram-worthy, one-of-a-kind activities they can enjoy together.”
Both installations are in perfect proximity to the Treats Food Hall, Aventura Mall’s version of the traditional mall food court. There’s something for everyone, including a pair of side-by-side entries from star chefs Todd English — Figs Pizza + Pasta Bar — and Guy Fieri — Chicken Guy. You’ll also find some familiar faces, like Chipotle, Shake Shack, and Tap 42 Craft Kitchen and Bar, which offers a delicious burger called the Drunken Goat, with a lamb-and-beef blend patty, whipped goat cheese, arugula, tomato, onion, dijonnaise and a raspberry jam made with Purple Haze lager.
More kid-friendly options are available elsewhere in the mall, including the Cheesecake Factory and Five Guys Burgers and Fries.
The pop-ups have drawn thousands of people to the mall and have given the Treats Food Hall a boost in sales, Llopis said.
“Our pop-ups are strategically placed in convenient locations that allow visitors to enjoy multiple facets of the mall experience,” she said.
Through the holidays, the mall also has visits with Santa at Santa’s Workshop — just a short walk from Candytopia and Slime City — and the Aventura Express Model Train, the largest model train in Florida, which is stationed on the first floor below the Treats Food Hall. The 18-by-30-foot display will be up through early January.