The newest immersive experience in the Houston area — Sloomoo Institute — opened in the Spring Branch Management District just in time for the winter school break, drawing crowds of children and parents looking for fun activities to do together.
Sloomoo, the name and the concept, is a product of the popularity of slime on social media in recent years.
In 2017, people started sharing social media posts that said to replace the vowels of your name with “oo,” creating your “slime name.” So, if your real name is Toni, your slime name is “TooNoo.”
If your name is Slime, as in the Slime Institute, your slime name is “Sloomoo.”
Also in 2017? NPR ran a business piece on “The Rise of the Slime Economy.” Around that time there was a run on glue, a key ingredient in slime, fueled by millions of social media posts tagged #slime.
Many of us equate slime with the green liquid Nickelodeon dumps on celebrities. But for others — especially younger generations — it’s a hobby or a wellness tool to help alleviate anxiety and/or Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s also a huge moneymaker. Search for “slime” on Etsy today and you will get page after page of products.
Co-Founders Karen Robinovitz and Sara Schiller launched Sloomoo Institute in 2019. Following the success of locations in New York, Chicago and Atlanta, where more than a million visitors have come through to play with slime, the partners opened the Houston Sloomoo. Unlike other immersive experiences that have come through at the same location in recent years, is a permanent addition to Marq-E Entertainment Center, 7620 Katy Freeway.
Described as an “experiential destination that taps into the joy of multi-sensory play,” Sloomoo Institute gives visitors the chance to touch and feel exactly what the slime hoopla is all about.
After being asked to wash your hands and watch a brief informational video letting you know not to, under any circumstances, no matter how good it smells, eat the slime, you create a name tag with your “slime name.”
Guests then are beckoned by a neon sign in the next room that encourages you to “Sloomoo and Repeat.” Slimes of various colors, textures and scents are available all around the room to touch, pull, squeeze and even slap on the wall.
The result is an art installation of sorts resembling the Gum Wall beneath Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle.
The various slimes are coded by stretch, poke, pop, drizzle and swirl factors on framed information sheets around the room, as well as in the next room, where there is more slime and the entrance to an area featuring another popular and fun sensory product, Kinetic Sand.
As you make your way through all of the different slimes, make a note of which textures, scents and colors you like, because, at the Sloomoo DIY Bar, you can make your own to take home after choosing from a mix of 40 colors and 60 fragrances or “vibes.”
Did you know slime is a polymer science product and is in a constant state of chemical reaction? You’ll learn about this and other “SlooScience” as you make your way through the exhibits.
Upon entering the DIY area, you may hear chants of “Slime, Slime, Slime” coming from across the 23,000-square-foot space. That’s Sloomoo Falls, where guests can pay extra to “get slimed” after donning a double layer of rain ponchos.
And, if that’s not enough experience for you, you can also remove your shoes and walk on 500 gallons of slime in yet another room.
All along the way, “slimetenders” are there to guide you and answer questions. The company said the Houston location will create 100 full-time and part-time jobs, inclusive of people who identify as neurodivergent or on the autism spectrum disorder, as Sloomoo has a 10 percent neurodivergent hiring commitment it plans to fulfill by 2025.
Tickets for Sloomoo start at $39 and include the DIY slime to take home. If you want to take a peek without paying for entry, the Houston location features a retail space where the brand’s artisanal slime, slime kits and other products can be purchased. There is no charge for entering the retail space.
“We started Sloomoo Institute to bring the joy-inducing benefits of slime to not just delight kids, but the kid in all of us,” said co-founder Robinovitz. “There’s something magical squeezing, smelling, stretching, and hearing the sounds of slime — not to mention being able to put your phone down to connect with yourself and the people around you.”
On a recent Friday afternoon, children, teens and adults all took part in playing with slime, making their own — and even getting slimed.
Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw said: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
He probably didn’t expect a variation of that quote to be on the wall above a cascade of multi-colored slime of various scents and textures, but it’s there at the Sloomoo Institute in the Spring Branch Management District. Check it out sometime and then stop at a nearby restaurant for something you can really eat — because, of course, you should not ever eat the slime.
(Hint: The Irish-themed Hugh O’Connors next door offers a 10 percent discount for customers with a Sloomoo ticket).
Other tips when visiting Sloomoo:
- Go the bathroom before entering the exhibit because the only bathroom available is near the check-in.
- Use wipes available throughout the exhibit to clean off your hands.
- Wear short sleeves or sleeves you can push up easily, so the slime doesn’t get on your clothes. If it does, vinegar and water will get it off.
- Wear shorts or pants you can pull up if you plan to do the “enhanced experience” and get slimed.
- You will need to remove shoes and socks when getting slimed and/or when walking on the slime. Plan accordingly. (Bring flip flops if you don’t want to stand in a water puddle while waiting for your turn to get slimed).
- If you have long hair, you may want to wear it back or up to avoid getting slime in it.
Marq-E Entertainment Center
7620 Katy Freeway, Ste #360
Houston, TX 77024
— by Dooroothoo (Dorothy) Puch Lillig