Inside of Book Off, shoppers can explore the shelves for deals on used DVDs and more. Photo by Reese Meister.

Arts and Entertainment

Hidden gems of the Westminster Mall

The Westminster Mall is full of hidden gems
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/reesemeister/" target="_self">Reese Meister</a>

Reese Meister

May 4, 2022
Westminster Mall may seem outdated and rundown compared to South Coast Plaza and other Orange County malls, but in reality, it has dozens of notable features that make it a wonderful place to explore. Visitors may come across competing pretzel chains, a carousel or even a store that sells only drivable toddler-sized cars. A visit to Westminster Mall is unlike anywhere else you have shopped.

Entrance to the Westminster Mall. Photo by Reese Meister.

Tokyo Japanese Lifestyle

On the lower level, mall-goers will be welcomed to Tokyo Japanese Lifestyle by a massive stuffed animal cat in the entryway. This small, friendly store sells adorable stationery items, animal plushies and other knick-knacks. It is the perfect place to find school supplies with your favorite characters from Studio Ghibli, Rilakkuma, anime and more. While the prices are on the higher end, the quality and visual appeal of the products completely justify the expense.

Book Off

The mall also houses one of Book Off’s many branches, where customers can buy and sell books, DVDs, CDs, action figures and video game consoles. The store is packed with options, with media spanning a wide variety of genres.

Manga fans will also find that Book Off maintains an extensive collection of it. Prices at Book Off start low (CDs can cost as little as $1), but certain (although not many) items can be pricier. Overall, the store offers a quieter shopping experience with good-quality used media.

Mr. Shawarma

Shoppers looking for a break from the busy can visit the food court, which resembles a more classic mall dining arrangement. Aside from typical offerings, the food court hosts Mr. Shawarma, a Middle Eastern-based cuisine with a fast-food spin on it. The shawarma fries are a menu highlight: fries covered in your choice of chicken or beef shawarma topped with green onions, a special sauce and a deep orange spice blend. Mr. Shawarma has mid-range prices and vegetarian falafel options as well. You won’t want to miss this perfect mixture of spice and savory.

Chicken shawarma fries from Mr. Shawarma in food court of the mall. Photo by Cate Meister.

Safari Journey

As you wander about the Westminster Mall, you may find yourself lucky enough to catch sight of a child zipping around on a motorized animal scooter. Shoppers can rent one of these fun rides for five minutes for just $5, a cost well worth the experience. The choices range from lions to unicorns, and riders have free range of the bottom floor, able to zoom past stores and other shoppers. Safari Journey offers an enjoyable experience that shoppers definitely cannot find at South Coast Plaza.

Art Center Gallery

As one of the more unusual stops in an already unusual mall, the Art Center Gallery’s window display (which currently features work from the artist Sinister Monopoly, amongst others) won’t fail to catch your attention. Visitors can view a variety of modern art or choose to purchase prints, sculptures, t-shirts, books, posters and more. The gallery’s eye-catching artwork is up for purchase but is free to view. Any intrigued shopper can stroll through the extensive gallery.

Vending Machines

While vending machines might not seem like an integral aspect of the modern consumer experience, that’s definitely not the case at the Westminster Mall. Shoppers will find the typical snack-and-soda variety of vending machines, but it doesn’t stop there. The mall offers everything from false eyelashes to gelato all from the rectangular machines American consumers are so familiar with. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the unusual vending machines if you visit.

False eyelash vending machine on the bottom level of the mall. Photo by Reese Meister.

Donut Life Museum

The Donut Life Museum features donut-inspired installations and activities that offer a bright and playful perspective of art. The scenes create fun photo opportunities for visitors of all ages and aim to provide a one-of-a-kind experience. Tickets cost $19 per adult and $15 per child (12 years old and younger), and you can even bring your pet along for $5.

John’s Incredible Pizza

With its bright, contrasting colors, checkered pattern and flashing lights, John’s Incredible Pizza Co. is hard to miss. This indoor carnivalesque business spans much of the lower level of the mall, giving the impression of Boomers mixed with Chuck E. Cheese. Inside, customers can play arcade games, go on small rides or treat themselves to an all-you-can-eat buffet. The sight provides a certain nostalgia that will make you feel as if you are a kid again.

Every time a person walks into Westminster Mall, they will discover something they had never noticed before. Shoppers should take a break from their routine visits to South Coast Plaza or Pacific City and visit Westminster Mall for an exciting, fun experience.

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