Have you heard of the Color Factory? Of course, you have! It’s the interactive pop-up museum that arrived in San Francisco back in August. But, due to overwhelming demand, the exhibition has been extended yet again (for the fourth time) and will be in town until February 2018. Admission tickets to Color Factory are hot, hot, HOT! As soon as more are released, they are scooped up like hotcakes and sold out within minutes. But what is it like to actually visit the Color Factory? Is it worth the hype? After a very stressful morning and afternoon of trying to get in the queue, I was able to score three tickets for my family and me to visit. Read on to find out how it all went down.
Getting Much-Coveted Tickets to the Color Factory
First, there are some points to keep in mind before visiting. You have to have tickets in-hand before entering as there are no walk-ins. As mentioned, tickets are usually sold out as soon as they are available. I suggest that you sign up for the mailing list as they’ll announce any upcoming ticket sales via email first. When the designated moment arrives, expect crashed servers from people refreshing the website for the ticket link, frozen device screens, and multiple Facebook threads of frustrated people.
Once you get a solid place in line, choose an available date and time, add the number of people in your party, input their names and email addresses, and pay. Do this as quickly as possible so your session doesn’t time out. At least one ticket must have the name of someone in the party since they’ll check your ID at the door. Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable so once you hit “order” that’s it — no ifs, ands, or buts. Tickets are $35 per person, kids 2 and under are free.
Visiting the Color Factory in San Francisco, CA
We arrived about 20 minutes early to make sure we didn’t miss our visit window. They are very strict about this so don’t chance it and allow for enough time of travel to and in the City as well as parking. We parked in the Union Square underground parking area and walked a couple of blocks to the entrance. A staff member checked my ticket and my ID when I arrived, then checked it again just before we went in.
After going in and descending the rainbow-colored staircase, you’ll talk to another staff member who will tell you a bit about the rules of visiting. You can take as much time as you want in each area but, after you pass the swinging door, you’re not supposed to go back. Feel free to take a few photos in front of the rainbow grid before moving on.
Another employee will then hand you a plastic card with a number and QR code. Scan that at any photo station to have your photo taken. Photos will be sent to your email and you can download them from there. You’ll want to use the photo station when possible to get fun angles and nice group pictures.
Each area is divided by color, as expected. There’s not really much to “do” in each room except take photos and lots and lots of selfies. That can be as fun or as boring as you make it. My family and I were going to get as much out of that $35/pp admission fee as possible so we took photos, loops, and boomerangs galore.
You start your visit with a giant scratch and sniff wall. Then, before entering the first section, pick up a complimentary chocolate candy from the spinning table. We thought the table was moving automatically but then we noticed some hands pushing it around on the other side. 😛
Here is a quick rundown of each room.
- Black/white: Small entryway with weird charcoal lemonade.
- Orange: Pop culture memorabilia. Fun to see the little details.
- Blue: Tiny room covered in inflated balloons. The only thing in here is a photo station in the corner. Stand on the circle on the floor that says “stand here.” (Hehe, I didn’t see it at first so we stood really far away and the photo was super dark.)
- Silver: Disco balls hanging above a shiny, glittery, reflective floor.
- Black: Let your inner kid out with the wall-length Lite Brite pieces.
- Green: Several walls covered in black and white doodles. Use the giant green markers to color it in or draw on them.
- Rainbow: Walk through hundreds of hanging ribbons. Try not to think about how many people rubbed their faces on them.
- Teal: Experience an ongoing downpour of brightly-colored confetti. Be prepared to find confetti EVERYwhere. People spend most of their time here or in the “yellow” room.
- Purple: This is kind of “meh.” Take a selfie and post it on Instagram with a specific hashtag. The photo will then print out on the low-resolution printer in the room like a Chuck E Cheese souvenir.
- Yellow: Enter the giant ball pit. This is where adults crack up like crazy and are told to calm down after popping several plastic balls. The overhead photo booths take the best pictures! Grab a mini frozen yogurt (if you need gluten-free, ask for the employee to change their gloves and give it to you in a cup) and head out.
Other Things to Know About Visiting the Color Factory
The more popular areas can get very busy so getting photos without other people in them are especially difficult. The temperature is turned up pretty high and gets especially warm in the later rooms. So, make sure you dress in layers. If at all possible, do not go alone. Most of the fun is being silly with others. So, if you’re by yourself, it’s kind of sad and lonely.
Parents should know that the Color Factory welcomes children but it is not designed for them. Exhibits contain small items, can be fragile, and are not designed to be played with. (FYI, I’m talking to the parents who lifted their kids up to wildly WHACK the hanging disco balls or who let them run unattended in a room full of balloons…) If you have young, active ones, it would be much better to take them to any of these fabulous places: Children’s Creativity Museum, Bay Area Discovery Museum, Exploratorium, or San Francisco Zoo. The Color Factory is more for adults. So, don’t expect people to immediately give up their giant green marker or to be overjoyed when littles are photobombing them. They want to enjoy their visit too.
Overall, we had a great time just goofing off and taking crazy selfies to document our time together. Tickets are pretty expensive and it’s probably not something I would do again. The Color Factory is best to visit once with friends or if you have teens. Otherwise, it’s pretty much a millennial Instagrammers paradise. If you keep the above points in mind, you can have a decent 1-3 hour excursion during a day-trip in San Francisco. Oh, and don’t forget to swing by Chinatown to get some good eats before heading back!
Do you plan on visiting the Color Factory before it leaves San Francisco?