Portopia Middletown
Wandering into Wonder

cardboard, reclaimed stuffed animals, found objects, and LED lights
2021

Portopia is an escape into another world. The first escapes we attempt as children are into the imaginary and fantastical places we build ourselves, out of what’s around us and what we have access to freely. As a kid, I built many forts out of random boxes, sheets, and furniture, built igloos with snow, and arranged a hidden reading nook in the back of my closet - all with the idea of getting away from reality and seeking a special place for myself. 

 

For Wander into Wonder, I wanted to recreate this feeling of escape for our guests, but in the approachable way that simple materials can magically transform spaces. The hallway extends with cardboard flaps and stacks of geometrical shapes, giving the entrance an enticing effect. Upon entering, the guest encounters two cardboard hallways, with vaulted ceilings, leading in opposite directions. Choosing a path, the guest walks down a hallway, activated with overhead color-changing lights.

 

Both hallways end around a slight curve, and culminate in a doorway that leads to the surprise interior space with brightly colored walls and a gigantic throne made of stuffed animals! The stuffed animal throne is a dedication to comfort objects, our earliest friends, and a hilarious and exciting opportunity to be a kid again (and a great photo opportunity)!

 

Turning from the throne to look back at where the guest came from is a cardboard wall with a series of doors on it that guests can explore - experiencing a series of small imagination vignettes. It’s as if you’re accessing someone’s memories and imagined scenes. One super secret door includes a candy dispenser with individually wrapped candy.