LOS ANGELES — Walk into the second-floor space at Westfield Century City mall, and Camp looks like your everyday toy store. There are shelves full of classic games like Monopoly next to piles of plush toys. But walk all the way to the back toward the jars of candy, and there’s a magic door that leads to a childlike wonderland with a miniaturized RV, camping lodge with bunk beds and a perennial kid favorite: places to make a mess with paint and prefab slime.

What You Need To Know

  • Camp is a new toy store and family experience location in the Westfield Century City Mall

  • It combines retail with a hidden activity space accessed through a magic door

  • The Culver City location is Camp's first on the West Coast

  • Husband-and-wife team Ben and Nikki Kaufman founded the company in New York City in 2018

That’s the concept for the new Camp store at Westfield Century City mall, which opened over the weekend. The LA location is the ninth for the New York startup and its first on the West Coast as it seeks to expand its playful reach.

“Los Angeles has been at the top of our wish list for several years,” Camp Founder and Chief Executive Ben Kaufman said in a statement. The former chief marketing officer at BuzzFeed, he and his wife Nikki founded Camp to answer a question asked by most parents of young children: What should we do today?

“Families have very few places that become part of their routine where they can have fun, escape and build memories together,” said Kaufman, who opened the first Camp in New York City’s Flatiron District in 2018 and has since expanded with locations in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas, Connecticut and now California.

The Century City space is 7,000 square feet — much of it behind a magic door that can only be accessed by a child, caregiver or other free spirit performing a special move to get it to open. A Camp “counselor” then pushes the edge of a shelf and … voila! The light dims, the music changes and visitors are transported into an imaginary outdoors complete with trees, grass — even a virtual pond that’s reached with a musical dock that makes a sound with every step.

The first stop along the hidden area’s winding road is a small camper van, created in partnership with the peer-to-peer RV rental platform, RVshare. The pint-sized RV is equipped with activity books and interactive toys, including a play canoe and picnic table.

The camping theme continues with a cabin equipped with a bunk bed, the top of which has a slide that whisks kids into a Barbie-themed experience next door. The Dance Hall, as the adjacent room is called, is decorated with a disco ball, pink shag carpet, sequined wallpaper that changes color with the touch of a hand and, of course, a pink Barbie DreamCamper.

Much like the traditional toy store that leads to it, the hidden experiential space is also a place to shop. As kids scooter or “pony cycle” down the path on the store’s loaner wheels, they’ll pass displays of various toys grouped by theme, from bean bag toss sets to Care Bears, all of which are for sale.

While many of the activities are free, some require a fee. Kids who enter the Mess Hall — a room that is covered in paint splatter from floor to ceiling — can don plastic protective wear and do their best Jackson Pollock impression if their parents spring for a $35 canvas. And if they’d rather paint prefab pottery or make their own slime, that’s possible in the spin art and slime room, where aspiring creatives can get crafty. Slime kits cost $20 and ceramics range from $10 to $30.

There are also craft classes, magic shows and musical performances performed by Camp staff.

“A lot of our counselors have a background in performing arts,” said Tyler Campbell. The general manager of Camp’s new LA location is one of them. He was a day care teacher who used to work at Disneyland and also sings and plays guitar.

“It’s not like you’re coming to the Century City Mall here,” he said. “You’re coming to camp. That’s really what we hope to achieve.”