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Cleveland's first Instagram museum is a picture perfect stop

Akron Beacon Journal logo Akron Beacon Journal 12/6/2019 By Craig Webb, Akron Beacon Journal
a hand holding a cellphone: Jason Percival demonstrates how to properly place a cell phone in the stands in front of every display at Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal] © Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal/Akron Beacon Journal/TNS Jason Percival demonstrates how to properly place a cell phone in the stands in front of every display at Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

It's not often I get the chance to be cooler than my five hipster kids.

My wife Jennifer and I marvel at the amount of time they fret over lighting and angles as they snap photo after photo of their noggins — often of just the side of their face — to share on social media.

These are the same kids who would sleep through the smoke alarm blaring in the house and well into the afternoon as the house burned down around them but will spring out of bed well before the crack of dawn to get the perfect picture of their silhouette as the sun rises in some obscure corner of a national park.

a person wearing a costume: Beacon Journal reporter Craig Webb is seemingly trapped inside a half opened gift at Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal] © Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal/Akron Beacon Journal/TNS Beacon Journal reporter Craig Webb is seemingly trapped inside a half opened gift at Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

So I was bit amused that I was the one driving past old warehouses on the outskirts of downtown Cleveland looking for the city's first so-called pop-up Instagram museum.

a close up of a blue wall: Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal] © Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal/Akron Beacon Journal/TNS Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

For an old fart like me, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to read up on the history of the popular social media platform so I could attempt to be relevant at the dinner table over the roast beast and vegan garbanzo bean loaf on Christmas Eve.

Like the old building on Hamilton Avenue, I showed my age when I quickly realized this is more of an experience than a typical museum with static displays and plaques to absorb.

a man sitting on a bench: Jason Percival, left, snaps a photo of Lisa Oriss Sands as she poses as an angel flying through the West Side Market at Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal] © Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal/Akron Beacon Journal/TNS Jason Percival, left, snaps a photo of Lisa Oriss Sands as she poses as an angel flying through the West Side Market at Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

Turns out the visitor is the center of the attraction at Winter Wonder Cleveland where guests stroll through a series of cool holiday scenes geared toward creating picture-perfect photos on their phone.

a close up of a colorful wall: Visitors can have their picture taken in front of the b.a. Sweetie Candy Company display at Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal] © Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal/Akron Beacon Journal/TNS Visitors can have their picture taken in front of the b.a. Sweetie Candy Company display at Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

Tickets range from $19 to $28 for adults depending on the time or day you chose to visit. Kids ages 3 to 12 are $18.

Reservations are available at www.winterwondercleveland.com/ but walk ins are also welcome.

The pop-up museum is the brainchild of Northeast Ohio native and special event organizer Jason Percival who traveled to similar attractions on the West Coast and New York City before bringing the concept to Cleveland.

Housed in the same building that is home to IngenuityLabs that puts on a festival every September, Percival said, he was able to use some of the creative leftovers from past festivals.

Jason Percival shows off the first stop for visitors at Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal] © Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal/Akron Beacon Journal/TNS Jason Percival shows off the first stop for visitors at Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

An example is the giant stuffed penguin that greets visitors by the ticket counter.

Percival said he was in search of an extension cord when he found his furry friend.

"He was sitting on a piano," he said. "I'm like we have to have him."

The same is true for the large boat that is surrounded by a moat with water cascading from the ceiling on one one side.

Visitors can climb aboard the ship and pose for a picture.

Although most visitors have a friend or relative take the photo, Percival said, each scene is equipped with a stand so a guest can set the timer on his or her phone and snap a photo like one where it appears you are sitting on a swing in front of the Cleveland skyline.

To ensure everyone has plenty of time to take a thousand or so photos at each scene, groups are let in in 15 minutes intervals so things don't get too crowded or rushed.

A small bar area is set up in the waiting area so visitors can grab a quick drink while they wait.

a group of people standing on a stage: Jason Percival waves to the camera inside the snow globe display at Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal] © Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal/Akron Beacon Journal/TNS Jason Percival waves to the camera inside the snow globe display at Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

"We want every family to take a good quality picture without having other folks in the background," he said. "You get plenty of those photos at Disney World."

Some iconic Northeast Ohio businesses have partnered on some of the scenes.

There's a small version of the iconic script Cleveland on display in the form of a #this is cleveland sign complete with "A Christmas Story" leg lamp.

Olmstead Falls-based Vitamix has a display with of its signature mixers offering a splash of color for visitors to pose with and the b.a. Sweetie Candy Company is represented with an exhibit of giant colorful suckers.

a person standing on a stage in a dark room: A worker plays on his phone in between displays at Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal] © Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal/Akron Beacon Journal/TNS A worker plays on his phone in between displays at Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

A scaled down version of the light-laden Griswold family home from "Christmas Vacation" is a glow for visitors to pose in front of.

a close up of a sign: Visitors can take selfies in front of the famous #ThisIsCLE sign and the leg lamp from A Christmas Story at Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal] © Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal/Akron Beacon Journal/TNS Visitors can take selfies in front of the famous #ThisIsCLE sign and the leg lamp from A Christmas Story at Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

You can even climb inside of a Christmas present for a picture or stand inside of a snow globe.

Visitors can even pose as an angel hovering on the ceiling of the city's iconic West Side Market.

Beacon Journal reporter Craig Webb, right, poses for a photo in front of the Cleveland city skyline at Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal] © Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal/Akron Beacon Journal/TNS Beacon Journal reporter Craig Webb, right, poses for a photo in front of the Cleveland city skyline at Winter Wonder Cleveland, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

Through some visual trickery, the guest lies on the floor atop of angel wings giving the appearance of flight when the photo is snapped.

There's even a green screen at the end of the tour for some more unique photo opportunities along with indoor curling and another bar area serving holiday-inspired brews from the Platform Beer Company.

Percival said the response so far has been positive and a fair number of family Christmas card poses have been taken along with countless social media selfies.

A wedding party from Cincinnati recently extended its stay in Cleveland an additional day in order to tour the museum.

The museum will be around through mid January.

Percival said some of the Christmas elements will be toned down after the holidays.

"This is a pop up museum so this is supposed to be temporary by nature."

Craig Webb, who doesn't have a flattering angle, can be reached at cwebb@thebeaconjournal.com.

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©2019 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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