Since the 1930s, the books of Dr. Seuss have been wowing children and their families with their whimsical rhythms, crazy stories and, of course, outlandish characters. So when it was announced earlier this year that the interactive Dr. Seuss Experience would be making its world debut near Mississauga’s Square One mall, GTA parents were naturally intrigued. Sure, the idea sounded awesome but would this event truly succeed in bringing Dr. Seuss’ colourful tales to life?
This past weekend, the exhibit opened its doors to the public and we were there to get the real-world lowdown on the GTA’s newest family-friendly pop-up event.
What Is The Dr. Seuss Experience?
Let’s get the uh, Horton in the room out of the way. As you may have read on social media, the Dr. Seuss Experience isn’t a cheap day out. The family four-pack, which lets up to four people attend together on a specific date and at a specific time, is $30 a person during non-peak times and $34 during peak times (and yes, the weekends are peak time). Individual tickets are also available and start at $29 for kids three-10 (kids under three are free) and $35 for adults. There’s also the option of a VIP ticket, which is good for any time on a specific date, or a Super-Stoo-Pendous ticket, which is valid for specific, low-crowd dates and times. Both of these options will run you $50 a person.
So is the Dr. Seuss Experience worth the price tag? The answer is an easy “yes.” And don’t worry if The Cat In The Hat doesn’t have a special place in your heart. I wasn’t a Dr. Seuss fan as a kid (I disliked books that rhymed) so this exhibit doesn’t hold any kind of childhood nostalgia for me. But despite that, I found it to be a highly imaginative and entertaining experience. And most importantly, my three-year-old daughter absolutely adored it (24 hours later, she’s still talking about it).
The Dr. Seuss Experience is set up inside what my Mississauga native husband says used to be an old Sport Chek. The dedicated building is located within the Square One mall plaza, meaning that there is ample free parking available, as well as easy access via MiWay.
After passing through a spacious lobby (and the location of the building’s washrooms), you find yourself inside the actual exhibit, which is eight rooms, each themed around a specific Dr. Seuss book. The rooms are all built around a large, colourful maze inspired by Oh, The Places You’ll Go. The maze is a fantastic way for your little ones to burn off energy and a fun way to move from one part of the exhibit to the other.
While all of the rooms make for amazing photos, the Dr. Seuss Experience is more than just another designed-for-Instagram pop-up. Almost all of the spaces have some kind of kid-friendly interactive element. For example, in the Cat In The Hat room, your child (or you) can have a real-time chat with the legendary cat himself, then organize a tea party.
Head over to the Wocket In My Pocket room and your kid can play with and even on all kinds of crazy contraptions including one that shoots fuzzy balls through the air. Meanwhile, inside the How The Grinch Who Stole Christmas space, you can “fish” for Christmas presents. (Also, I spotted one smart, holiday colour-coordinated family using the room for what I assume is their Christmas card photo.)
And all those photos you’re seeing online of people on swings, surrounded by giant, fluffy flowers? You’ll find that truly wonderful scene in The Lorax room.
You can move through the rooms at your leisure and so long as you don’t leave the exhibit, you’re free to re-visit any of them (my daughter insisted on a second trip to the Grinch room). I would allow one-two hours to complete the entire exhibit though depending on your child, you might be able to stretch it out for a little longer.
Once your family is all Seuss-ed out, you will have to exit through a well-stocked gift shop. The exit area also contains a wall devoted to Dr. Seuss’ books with a reading space in front of it where your family can take a moment and remember why this exhibit exists in the first place.
Besides being impressed with the actual rooms themselves, I was also wowed by how organized and civilized the experience was. Since we were attending on the exhibit on its first open-to-the-public day, I was expecting to see a bit of chaos, especially since the entire weekend was sold out. But I was wrong.
We easily walked into the building and then into the exhibit space without any snags or lineups. And once we were inside, we discovered that the “sold-out” crowd was actually a very manageable size. The space never felt jammed and attendants kept each room at a comfortable capacity. Yes, this meant that sometimes we had to queue but apart from The Sneetches room, which is essentially an infinity mirror room that is limited to one family at a time, all lineups we encountered lasted under five minutes.
Food & Drink
You’re not allowed to bring any food or drinks into the exhibit, nor is any for sale. However, the Dr. Seuss Experience is surrounded by family-friendly dining options including Boston Pizza, Jack Astor’s and Panera. Square One and its large food court is also a short distance away.
While this event will appeal to anyone who loves whimsy, kids under nine will especially have fun, regardless of their familiarity with the author.
Strollers aren’t allowed in the exhibit itself but there is a large, secure stroller “parking lot” located inside the building.
Use the washroom before you enter the exhibit because there are no facilities inside that part of the building.
Is there a lineup for the room you want to check out? Then consider taking a spin through the maze.
A Cat In The Hat mascot can often be found prowling around the lobby part of the building. However, he’s not always on-site so if you spot him and want a photo, be sure to grab it while he’s there.
Photos and videos aren’t just allowed, they’re encouraged!
Dates & Hours: On now until January 5, 2020. The exhibit opens at 9 am each day.
Location: Near Square One at 199 Rathburn Rd W, Mississauga, ON, L5B 4C1
Tickets: Can be purchased here. Note that many prime weekend slots have already sold out.