When you think of your happy place, what comes to mind? Prancing around with rainbows and unicorns? Long walks on the beach? Sipping on your favorite cocktail while showing off your diamond-laden designer shoes? A carnival with cotton candy and bubblegum? Well, the creators behind Happy Place have tried to encapsulate all of these for you in one place.
Happy Place returns to Los Angeles as a Drive-Thru experience in the Westfield Century City parking structure, running now till January 10th, 2021. How fitting that it’s sponsored by Subaru! Finding the event can be tricky, especially if you don’t follow their advice to enter from the Avenue of the Stars. The structure itself is massive and can feel like a maze, but luckily parking is free for the first hour. Head up the lane to level 3, and follow the signs and sounds of the overtly smiley event. They blast upbeat tunes so you’re bound to find it. One small tip: if you need to use a restroom, use the one inside Eataly. (Just make sure you pass their temperature test!) I always go before a show just because I never know how long I’ll be confined to my seat.
We’ve covered the announcement for this event, and you can find our article Here, but before we go into the details of the preview, we want to once again remind people that we are still within the thralls of a pandemic, and recommend people check out our article on ”If You Should Go Out” Here. This event is distanced, so as long as the people inside the vehicle are your family, now let’s talk about the preview!
Now for the experience itself. I like that you pay one flat fee per car, and I believe they will have timed appointments so the wait isn’t terrible. I had my husband and daughter with me, and she sat on my lap in the front passenger seat for a better view. Once you’re at the entrance, roll those windows down (keep your masks on!) and feel your car bumping to the bubbly sounds from the likes of Pharrell, The Jonas Brothers, and Mariah Carey. You’ll be given a goodie bag filled with items that pertain to your journey to make for a more sensory experience than just eye candy and poppy tunes: a scratch and sniff card, some little yummies to nibble on, and some items to engage your touch.
As they pull back the curtain your ascent through happy town begins. You “travel” from familiar scenes of Americana to a fantasy realm to monochromatic scenes from every color of the rainbow. With you on the trek: The Marvelettes, The Beach Boys, Beatles, and Jackson 5. Halfway through, you enter a “club” scene where you are encouraged to bust a move with a DJ and the only other guy at the club. It’s BTS’ “Dynamite” raging. Go with the flow and feel the beats, dude! Maybe it’s good to smile and bounce a little, right? Convince yourself this is the reason you bought these tickets and are here? Anyway, after that awkward moment, I realized I am a BTS fan, so no loss there. Continue on your way to the journey’s end, roughly 20 minutes down, and you will wonder at times, Who thought that this display really exhibits happiness? We went during a press-only day, so while it was mostly pleasant having the entire place to ourselves it was also a bit creepy wandering at a measly 5 mph solo through these happy scenes. I was ready for Frankenstein’s Easter Bunny Monster or a Santa Claus Zombie to jump out and chase us, but this isn’t a Halloween event so that’s not in the cards for me, wah wah.
They tried at least. Yes, this event did provide something fun from the norm, but given that this is an event that restricts you to your car, it’s hardly an immersive experience. If you experienced this event pre-Covid, you would be able to interact with such settings, but now you’re limited to a few unflattering selfies, and just going to places to take photos of myself with props really isn’t my thing anyway. However, if it’s your thing, then I challenge you: test your photography skills, and see how well you can take a portrait of you and the kids in the setting of your choice to get the most likes on Instagram. Yes, I challenge you! Make it a game, and it can be more fun! Fun equals smiles. Smiles equals happy. Speaking of fun, perhaps they could add some fun facts about the scene, because overall the exhibits were stagnant and left me wanting more. You know those guys who spin signs by the sidewalk? Give me one of them to amp up the pep! A street performer, a juggler, a dancer, a fan blowing a billowy piece of fabric, an actor interacting with the props in the space. Even seeing those colorful pinwheels spinning in the breeze brought so much life to the display. Although the dance party was a great effort, it came out of the blue. I’d suggest starting or ending with it because this is the only time you interact with anyone or anything outside of your car. The workers are so overtly happy that I thought I could see their smiles through their masks, which is to be expected when visiting a place of this nature.
The representations of the real world settings made me long for the real moments that make me happy in life. I miss living. I miss taking long road trips, seeing the beauty of real ocean waves, going camping in a national park, going dancing on a Saturday night, or even driving down the street to a real car wash. I mean, truly, my car is not the only one that’s got “no scrubs” since the pandemic started, right? But I’m inspired now… to do the things that truly make me happy because this place didn’t fulfill that in me. Instead, these happy cliches mirror a time in our lives when we are replacing real-life experiences with fake substitutes. But if you’re into that sort of thing and want to take photos of pretty spaces, take some photos and learn Photoshop so you can place yourself in that world as if you were truly there. We can all still dream at least, can’t we?
While my feelings are mixed, one thing is for certain: With the rising cases of Covid in LA, our choices of going somewhere as a family is pretty limited. So if you’re looking for an excuse to get out of the house and stay safe, this could be a good one that could potentially brighten your day. Because if you’re like me, my happy place is with my family, so wherever we go, as long as we’re together, I’ll always have a smile on my face.
If we’ve interested you in this event, you can get your tickets for this event Here!