Preview of Mike Bennett’s Wonderwood Springs

Grab a coffee at the tavern cafe, then undertake a fantasy quest adventure in the immersive space next door when it opens Sat., Oct. 15

Artist Mike Bennett stands holding a wooden sword surrounded by his cartoon painted cutouts of fantasy creatures.

Which creature are you looking forward to discovering?

Photo via Mike Bennett

Perhaps you’ve seen his adorable cartoon animals, reminding Portland drivers to slow down on neighborhood streets. Or maybe you joined the prehistoric migration to downtown’s tyranno-rific exhibit Dinolandia.

Despite it being the essence of his signature art form, Mike Bennett has no intention of cutting it out.

In fact, his latest project, Wonderwood Springs, opens in St. Johns this weekend (Sat., Oct. 15) at 7410 N. Chicago Ave. Keeping with the characteristic charm and whimsy of his work, he describes the cafe as “a coffee shop built on a magical spring that gives its drinkers special powers.”

Guests will need those caffeinated power-ups when they embark on a quest next door at Wonderwood, an 8,000-sqft immersive space (and former Bank of America branch) filled with medieval-inspired illustrations and other magical props.

Cartoon illustrations of mounted magical creatures

There are plans to host concerts with local bands, karaoke, pop-up food events, themed trivia nights, and more.

Gif by PDXtoday

PDXtoday was invited for a sneak peek, so gaze into our crystal ball for what to expect.

Your jaw will hit the floor — and the painted bearskin rug — while you marvel at the level of detail in Wonderwood Springs. From the expansive treasure map table to the goldfish with buff biceps, your eyes will feast before you even get to the menu.

Tonics, potions, and seasonal elixirs, like the Butter Brew Latte, are a tasty treat. The Fire-Breathing Mocha (our choice) has enough spice to bring a tear to a dragon’s eye. And don’t forget to stock up on provisions like the Veggie Breakfast Burrito or Pesto Mozzarella Sandwich.

Once prepared, visitors can begin the inaugural quest, titled “The Scourge of Castle Maplehold.” From a launching room plastered with 1980s movie posters and toys, the wise mage Ben Net’t relays your marching orders.

To rescue the royal family from the evil Lord Sap, you must find your way into the keep, navigating various scenes. Hopefully, you have the right trash to pay the Rat King’s tollcar keys were deemed insufficient.

Although Wonderwood is more permanent than Mike’s previous installations, the adventure will change two or three times a year, with souveniers from past creative collections available in the gift shop at the end.

Your expedition awaits.

More from PDXtoday