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Candytopia presents art made with confections at Legacy Village

A corner of Lyndhurst is currently giving Willy Wonka a run for his top hat. The traveling exhibit arrived at Legacy Village in April and celebrates all things sweet through 14 immersive rooms with a marshmallow pit, confetti-spewing pig statues, jungle-themed room and optical illusions that come to life when viewed through the lens of a smartphone.

More than 2.2 million people have visited since it launched in Los Angeles in 2018, and Northeast Ohio is the 16th market to experience Candytopia, according to John Goodman, founder and CEO., As a former CEO of Charlotte Russe with a long career in retail, he said malls need to reinvent themselves with a mix of high-end retailers, food and experiences.

“They’ve changed, but not enough,” he said. “Experiences are really important. We’re a destination.”

Recreations of works such as the “Mona Lisa” and Edvard Munch’s “Scream” are on view throughout the 19,000 square-foot space.

Goodman estimated they’ll hire about 70 people as guides throughout the duration of Candytopia in Lyndhurst, which is slated to run through the end of the year.

“We want them to be themselves,” he said. “If you’re a dancer, dance. If you’re a juggler, juggle. If you’re a singer, sing.”

In addition to the artwork and immersive experiences, Candytopia includes thematic elements tying it to each city it visits. In Northeast Ohio, there’s a recreation of Browns Stadium, a “Christmas Story” leg lamp and several nods to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, including a massive tribute to Prince.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.