For Mother's Day my family decided it would be a good idea to go to the Barbie Dreamhouse Experience at Sawgrass Mills Mall. I'm all for memorable holidays and interesting things to share with others, so I said Why Not.
For those of you unfamiliar with this attraction, it's a life size interactive dreamhouse. Little girls can visit where Barbie is supposed to live. The ads say it is high-tech, failing to mention it is no more high-tech than your iphone or local bank branch.
To set it up, I visited the Dreamhouse with my sister, my mom and three girls all aged in the Barbie Sweet spot. There was a 6, 7 and 8 year old. Neither my sister and I are anti-Barbie. Our kids all have Barbies, Barbie books and some videos. I grew up with Barbies and, to this day, I don't think Barbie has warped my self-esteem or career choices. I am neither an airline stewardess, cowgirl or bathing suit model. When I was growing up, I wanted to be the horse. Now I work in marketing. My daughter thinks women who wear short skirts and 6" heels to chase 2 year olds in the playground are nuts, so I wasn't worrying that this would be a confidence-shaking experience.
The magical ideation of what the Dreamhouse could be stopped at the idea for the Dreamhouse itself. Someone had the great idea of creating the Dreamhouse and then the ball got dropped. And stomped on. And thrown over the fence to the pit bull next door to chew on.
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It was a charmless experience which you could easily see was going to end in a gift shop.
The tour starts in an elevator. You are in a group of around 15-20 people. On my day, it was ALL girls and women. I imagine it is almost always all girls and women. I would safely bet it is usually all girls and women. Especially since its $20 to enter and most men would prefer shopping, nearby restaurant bars or vacuuming the Cheerios and raisins out of their car.
It would be an ideal place for a gay bachelor party to pass through.
The tour format: You go up in the elevator and then a guide just lets you wander in a room for 10 minutes or so before hustling the group to another room.
Barbie lives a most uncomfortable existence for someone with such a projected interest in luxury and fabulous taste in clothes. The Barbie House is pink, but seriously underfurnished and uncomfortable. No amount of pink could distract from that or the exposed pipes on the wall where Barbie's wall comes to an end. Durable would be the right word.
The first room is the kitchen. Which is a big pink kitchen (no surprise there) with fake cupcakes behind plexiglass and a number of work stations. At the few video screens on the kitchen counters, kids can pretend to make a cupcake mix.
Video screen activities are vastly overrated, particularly when the graphics are dull. But, the graphics were the only things that moved. Everything else was bolted down. The kids would have been ready to move on in 2 minutes had they not been waiting on line while the kids before them got a turn.
The big pink piano was just for show, or for a photo op. 10% Liberace, 90% hey these piano keys are just drawings! The balcony was a photo of the ocean projected on a wall. Plastic plants lined the border between large room and "sea."
Her bed was made with the divine comfort of a dance floor. It was dance floor! With tiles resembling a bedspread. Kids could climb on it and stomp on it all day without even knowing it was a bed.
The we visited her piano room, what was meant to be a terrace, her bedroom, bathroom and "endless" closet (mirror trick).
Most memorable was Barbie's toilet. Just to prove how unlike you or me she is, a dolphin comes out of it at the push of a button. What a masochistic dolphin to be hanging out in the toilet.
Most interesting was the dolls. They had many behind plexiglass and it was intersting to see the different outfits. I am just as captivated wandering the aisles of Toys R Us.
My favorite part was when they got the kids all excited to ride in Barbie's airplane. Trapped inside they quickly learned it was the down escalator.
At the end of the tour some attendants would put make-up on your kid if you let them. I NEVER let them. While any emotional impact of a Dreamhouse Experience doen't scare me, hepatitis from sharing make-up does, so we skipped that experience.
Our kids did a little coloring and we went to lunch.