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April 28, 2009
This post is dedicated (on the recommendation of my mother) to my aunt Carmen who would have probably peed her pants when she came to this place!
Located at 550 Central Huaihai Rd here in Shanghai is a fairly simple looking building. Tall, with about 8 floors, windows, white trim. Nothing too spectacular. In fact if you’re across the street, it wouldn’t even stand out. I managed to walk right by it, not even noticing it! It’s another storefront on the very busy streets of Shanghai.
But given a closer look, one can see the magical wonders that lie within!! The shiny white building hides its floral window décor quite subtly. It isn’t until you walk in that the adventures of childhood fantasies come to life!
This eight-story building has six floors dedicated to the magical wonder that is Barbie! Walk in; take a glance around at the small display of goods for sale, pictures for purchase, memorabilia to collect and Barbie Passport cards to sign up for. The small lobby could almost be deceiving because besides the sparkly chandelier, which hangs in the center, it isn’t very Barbie! The walls are white and bare, the floor is a shiny white stone and the size would make you think you were ACTUALLY in Barbie’s Dream House… it’s not very big. But this lobby is deceiving!
Then you get into one of the two elevators where pink curtain pictures cover the walls and shiny mirrors provide you with your reflection. This elevator will take you to any of the 5 remaining floors.
The second floor is the one and only Barbie Spa! As you exit the elevator a Barbie Spa staff greets you and leads you to the make-up counter. Here Barbie makeup is available for purchase. Barbie always did have amazing skin, why not replicate it with Barbie foundation and washes. Not to keen on makeup? How about a massage, facial, manicure, pedicure, haircut? Whatever your heart desires… The shiny plastic white walls are accented with the Bright Pink that Barbie is known for! Hot pink rugs lay below the shiny white damask style furniture and sparkly chandeliers cover the ceiling. On the walls you see Barbie’s face: getting washed, with a mask and cucumbers, with eccentric make up and the slogan “I wasn’t meant to do house work!” Preach on Sister!
The third floor, which one can access, using the elevator or twirling Barbie staircase, provides you with Barbie clothes. Everything from bags, jewelry, shoes, and outfits to Barbie Couture, Vera Wang wedding dresses and 30,000RMB diamond encrusted necklaces. This clothes isn’t meant for Barbie this is all meant for the women looking for nothing more than to be Barbie.
On your way to the 4th floor and the wonders that exist one can take the twirling Barbie staircase and get a view of over a thousand dolls wearing a thousand outfits all in the same shade of pink. Once you’ve made it up the shiny white steps, past the Wall O’Barbie, you take a break at the fourth floor and design your own Barbie. Not interested in designing your own, buy one of the millions on display! Not interested in buying a doll? Look through the glass showcases of dolls of Barbie’s past. Everything from Basically naked Barbies, to Versace, to Elvis and Priscilla! They even have a time line of historic Barbies, from 1984’s Work Out Barbie to 2000’s President Barbie!
On the 5th floor you’ll find a small Barbie Dessert Bar where you can stop for some afternoon tea, or to watch the Barbie Fashion Show put on using different kids in Barbie’s cutest outfits.
On the 6th floor is the Barbie Café, with black and white tiled floors, hot pink pleather booths, and Barbie imprinted napkins, plates and well everything. This is where my Barbie adventure began.
My Friend Gina and I planned on going to see Barbie’s Dream World on a girl’s day out. Seeing how neither, her boyfriend, Aaron or Garrett was really thrilled with the idea of spending a day with Barbie, we thought it best to visit Barbie with out them. Starving, we headed to the Barbie Café first! There we sat in our circular pink Barbie booth, and sipped on our pink Barbie tinis while our legs slowly stuck to the cold and sticky seats!
For lunch Gina and I both picked one of the Barbie themed plates and enjoyed the world of a plastic 12inch doll.
And like any good Barbie enthusiast we took pictures… tons and tons of pictures. We took pictures of each other, the waiters, the walls, the floor, the food, the Barbie tinis and we even had the waiters take pictures of us. I mean any Barbie girl knows the paparazzi are always looming! (Even if the paparazzi is you…)
After lunch we headed to the Barbie Spa and perused the menu of services. Although we had no intention of taking in any of the treatments offered we thought it best to see what options were available in the event these Barbies needed a mani/pedi. After looking at the menu, again we took pictures… tons and tons of pictures. Pictures on the sofas, on the big pink chairs, of the signs, pictures and people. We took pictures of everything with the full intent of pasting them all over Facebook and showing the world just how much of Barbie girls we were!
After the quick look of the spa we headed to the clothing floor and were blown away by the astronomical prices and fancy designers. Vera Wang wedding dresses, Patricia Field T-shirts, Couture outfits, and diamond jewelry filled our visions and killed our budgetary dreams. But like true girly girls we still shopped around, snapped photos and perused the displays. It wasn’t until the 4th floor that we realized the photo taking possibilities!
After climbing the spiral Barbie staircase we arrived to the valley of the dolls. Pictures, displays, classics, everything we ever knew and loved as Children covered the walls. International Barbies, Designer Barbies, and Vintage Barbies… everything was there! Even Miss Astronaut Barbie and her new and improved version, Astronaut Barbie. (They took out the Miss, wouldn’t want to continue to imply that Barbie could only be an Astronaut if she was in single status. God knows if Barbie were married she would need to be dedicated to her man. But seriously, everyone knows a woman has to pick one, either the Mrs. before her name or the career. You can’t be Dr. Mrs. Barbie Duh! There isn’t room for feminism in a 6 story mall dedicated to unrealistic beauty standards and the color pink.)
They also had “Sexy Barbies” in lingerie outfits that were quite scandalous, I am not sure if Ken would approve of his woman prancing around town in a nightie and thigh highs? They also had what I thought of as “I feel bloated Barbie!” She looked chubbier and shorter then the rest but I think it’s because she was wearing a not cute outfit. After snapping photos of EVERY doll on display, Gina and I decided to stop at the Barbie Dessert Café for an afternoon snack.
For those of you keeping track it had been 3 hours since our arrival at Barbie’s Dream House.
After ordering a Barbie Coffee and pink dessert treats Gina and I got treated to a Barbie Fashion Show on the Barbie Runway. A little girl celebrating a birthday and her friends graced the catwalk in some of Barbie’s finest dresses. Although the desert was not so magnificent, nothing is better then getting a cup of coffee with Barbie’s pink silhouette floating on the foam.
Tired and full Gina and I had scavengered throughout the entire Barbie Dream World and we were beat!! So we headed back to the less than impressive Barbie Dream Lobby and said adieu to Barbie and her pink world!