Feeling some childhood nostalgia? Take a step inside an adult fun house

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First it was colouring books, then escape rooms — now there’s another way you can join the growing trend toward getting in touch with your inner kid: an adult-oriented fun house.

A 1950s family-run grocery store in Toronto’s Kensington Market is being converted into a multi-sensory adventure-themed space, running this August through to Halloween.

Described as a “choose-your-own-adventure playground,” Fairland Funhouse is being designed as a two-storey hotel, located at 241 Augusta Ave. near Nassau Street. 

Visitors will check in through the lobby and take a tunnel to an art maze in the basement. People can then wander through six rooms, each dreamed up by a different team of visual and musical artists.

Organizers are converting an old family-run grocery store to use as the space for their fun house. (Talia Ricci/CBC News ) 

“We’re all about art that you can be in,” said Jonah Brotman, co-founder of Mondo Forma, the collective organizing the event in partnership with Universal Music Canada.

“To us, creating a world like that, something that takes people out of their daily life into something fun and exciting, is something they’ll definitely remember and something Toronto needs more of.”

Each room is inspired by a collaboration between a musician and a visual artist, including Toronto rapper Jazz Cartier, Canadian singer/songwriter Lights and watercolour painter Paul Jackson. 

Tickets go on sale Tuesday. 

Rooms to incorporate augmented reality 

Brotman says the project is both an ode to an adored mom-and-pop Kensington supermarket, and a chance for visitors to touch and play in “trippy” physical and digital spaces.

“How can you say no to a colourful rainbow explosion?” he said.

‘We’re really excited to make art and music come to life in a new way and a new space,’ said Jonah Brotman, one of the creators of Fairland Funhouse. (Fairland Funhouse) 

From a jungle with a 12-foot elephant to a crystal cave, the themes of each room will include their own interactive elements. 

Fariland Funhouse will also incorporate augmented reality through an app visitors can download. Guests will be able to use the app by holding their phone up to different objects throughout the space to see a digital piece of art animate overtop of the analog art.

“You’re walking into the art and you’re able to become part of the art, interact with the art in ways that you couldn’t have before,” said Mariel Pauline, one of the artists constructing the fun house.

The room designed by rapper Jazz Cartier and artist Casey Watson will feel like a ‘lush tropical jungle, alive with sound, oversized plants and animals.’ (Fariland Funhouse) 

Pauline is working on building the room designed by Paul Jackson, the painter, and musician Bad Child.

“It will feel like you’re walking into this black hole; a slightly sinister, but playfully sinister environment,” she said.

Adult activities benefit mental health, therapist says 

The fun house is part of growing trend among adults to find ways to “escape,” psychotherapist Marco Fiorante says.

“There’s a market open for it; people are picking up on it,” Fiorante said. “I believe that today there’s so many ways that we are doing for others, always moving, moving, moving. People are burning out.”

Psychotherapist Marco Fiorante says adult-themed venues like Fairland Funhouse are ‘free spaces’ that promote both play and self-discovery. (Keith Whelan/CBC News) 

Fiorante says he recommends new activities like these to his clients as a catalyst for positive mental health. He also notes that those who frequently seek outlets like these possibly missed these experiences in their childhood.

“I wonder who are the people who are seeking this out. What type of people?” Fiorante said. “Mazes and all the different things that can open something up within us, I think can be missed in childhood.”


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