I visited a real Barbie Dreamhouse — and saw why Barbie has stood the test of time
"I think we're all here because we appreciate Barbie's legacy. She's timeless," one visitor shared.
With Barbie mania in full swing thanks to Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling's appearance at CinemaCon this week, it felt like the perfect time to go check out a real life Barbie Dreamhouse. (Yes! One exists... for another few weeks.)
The World of Barbie is an immersive experience in Los Angeles where fans get to celebrate the many career and lifestyle iterations of the iconic doll. I took my Barbie obsessed 4-year-old daughter, and even though she'll be too young to enjoy the upcoming fantastical comedy Barbie, it turns out no one is too young (or old) to have some fun in Barbie's world. During our one-hour stroll through the 20,000 square-foot attraction, I was reminded why Barbie hasn't gone out of style for 64 years.
Take a look inside...
When you enter, the first place you walk through is Barbie's living room. The explosion of pink and bright colors sets a fun tone for the visit.
On this particular Wednesday, the crowd was diverse — much like Barbie nowadays. There were several moms with their kids, some groups spanning four generations. Naturally, there were L.A. influencer-types taking selfies in Barbie's closet. (Some even had professional photographers trailing them around the space.) There were several people, women and men, dressed as Barbie themselves. By the end of my visit, I saw every age, gender and race represented in the crowd.
One woman in her mid-50s brought her father to the exhibit. The two laughed and held hands as they walked around the space.
"We just wanted to do something fun and different today," she told me. "Who doesn't love Barbie?"
Fun was certainly the theme.
At one point, a group strolling around the kitchen decided to play a game of "Guess what's in Barbie's fridge." The answer? Fruits, vegetables and a few dairy products. (Although Barbie has certainly changed with the times, clearly no one told her about the oat milk trend.)
As you move past the first area, you come across what had to be the biggest attraction of the exhibit: Barbie's slide into a "pool." The slide, in particular, seemed to be a hit because it brought out a person's inner child.
"I think people are loving it because you capture that feeling of childhood. That's why some people are here," a staff member in charge of the area told me. "Barbie is nostalgic."
Nostalgia was certainly a big theme as I talked to various people visiting World of Barbie.
While I certainly had some flashbacks from childhood, it was pretty special to watch my daughter live out her current dream. Next, we moved into a room with a big Barbie camper and watching the joy on my little girl's face certainly brought out all the feels. She made herself right at home — as she should since we play Barbie hours upon hours every week. She relaxed on a hammock, pretended to drive the vehicle and honked the horn. Plenty of other people lined up to do the same.
While waiting in line, I chatted to another staff member about what she had been seeing since the World of Barbie opened in March. The employee confirmed the diverse demographic on Wednesday was similar to other days.
"It's been an array of people," she confirmed. "All races, genders, non-genders, ages — I think it really just goes to show why so many people love the brand. People can see themselves in practically any Barbie now."
One person, decked out in Barbie-esque platform heels, weighed in, too.
"I think we're all here because we appreciate Barbie's legacy. She's timeless," he told us. "But her legacy exists because she's evolved through the years. Like they just released a Barbie with Down syndrome. That's awesome."
The space featured Barbie dolls and accessories from the past six decades, which also served as a reminder that the brand really has come a long way.
One of the main theme's in the exhibit was all about dreaming big. "Barbie You Can Be Anything" has been one of Mattel's big collections in recent years so many of the interactive experiences played into that. My daughter left wanting to be an astronaut, musician and scientist.
We ran into a group of 29-year-old best friends who were happy to talk about why they were there.
"It's nostalgic and reminds us of our childhood. We're all in our last year of our 20s and Barbie was such a huge thing," one girl explained. "And she still is... she's evolved a lot with the times."
"It's just like — Barbie can be anything," her friend added. "She can be a role model and be anything you want her to be."
Given what Barbie represents today, I'm perfectly fine having her be a role model for my kid.