Cityscape

Oak Park Mall’s new Wonder Wonder space is great for photos, but that’s not all

Step inside Wonder Wonder, a new immersive experience at Oak Park Mall

Wonder Wonder has 16 different rooms that is "part art installation, part photo studio, part immersive experience.”
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Wonder Wonder has 16 different rooms that is "part art installation, part photo studio, part immersive experience.”

The owners of the new Wonder Wonder describe it as an “immersive, interactive, experiential retail concept.”

Much more, they say, than a place for fun selfies.

One minute you are looking at multiple “yous” in a double circle of mirrored towers, then you are making your way through a rustling forest of long red ribbons.

But sorry, Wonder Wonder. You just can’t help getting out your cellphone to document and immediately share that experience.

Oak Park Mall has been promising an experiential retail concept in a 6,000-square-foot space on the lower level of the Nordstrom wing.

Wonder Wonder has been in the works for about a year and the build-out has taken several months. It is scheduled to open at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13.

It features 16 different rooms. Some — like one filled with multicolored balloons — will just be for photo ops. Other rooms — like the Ribbon Room — provide a multisensory experience.

It ends with a DIY Room with no theme for customers to create their own head shots.

“While there are many great photo opportunities, not every room is designed to be a backdrop for photos or selfies,” said partner Tyler Enders. “Wonder Wonder is part art installation, part photo studio, part immersive experience.”

The cost is $12 per person and free for children ages four and younger. Children ages 11 and younger need to be accompanied by an adult.

Tickets will be sold in 15-minute intervals, starting on the hour, and the owners recommend purchasing online in advance at ShowClix and WonderWonder.us.

They expect most customers will spend 30 to 45 minutes going through the exhibits. Hours will be 2 to 8 p.m. daily.

Each month, one of the rooms will get a new theme, and later this year a half dozen rooms will have a holiday theme. Currently, Wonder Wonder has a Valentine’s Day-themed room with a red loveseat under the words “I’m so in love.”

It also will have a retail shop where customers can purchase some of the items seen in the rooms.

As more shopping takes place online, many malls are turning to entertainment venues, restaurants and experiential stores to draw customers.

Oak Park Mall was at the forefront of that trend when jungle-themed Rainforest Cafe opened two decades ago, then later such experiential shops as American Girl, Build-a-Bear Workshop and the Cupcakin Bakery with Princess Tea Parties.

Its parent company, CBL Properties, also has turned to dine-in theaters as well as upscale bowling and amusement concepts in other markets.

Another Wonder Wonder is scheduled to open in a shopping center in Boulder, Colo., in early March.

The partners behind Wonder Wonder — Enders, Thomas McIntyre, Keith Bradley and Adam Pfeifer — also own and operate Kindred, a collective of more than a dozen locally owned boutiques, in the Nordstrom wing. They also operated a pop-up Kindred in Independence Center during the holidays while waiting for a permanent space.

They have four Made in Kansas City shops, and the Made in KC Cafe, along with the Made in Kansas City Marketplace on the Country Club Plaza, and Anaphora in Prairiefire.

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