News & Politics

People Are Actually Paying to Take Selfies in Fake Private Jets and Jail Cells. A Studio Is Coming to Northern Virginia Soon.

The Selfie WRLD franchise has more than 20 studios. One is coming to Tysons.

Nytasha Garland, owner of Selfie WRLD NoVa DC, at the VIP Opening of Selfie WRLD Orlando in April.

You can spend a lot of cash flying private jets and getting bottle service at trendy clubs to curate the perfect aspirational Instagram content. Alternately, you can head to a selfie studio, your one-stop shop for props, poses, and clichés lit up in neon.

Selfie WRLD, a franchise with more than 20 locations across the country, is opening a “do-it-yourself photograph studio” in the Tysons Corner Center mall on June 5. (Pre-sale tickets go live May 5 if you really can’t wait.)  The venue will feature at least 25 different eight-by-eight-foot selfie stations, including a retro pink-and-green diner, a private jet, an upside-down room, a patriotic ball pit with lifeguard stand, and lemon lime neon-colored jail cell with lit-up “smooth criminal” sign (yup). Perhaps one of the most popular scenes in the “selfie world” is a VIP club with all-white sofa, money gun, and strobe lights. Local artists are being commissioned to create some DC-centric backdrops featuring go-go posters or national monuments. New scenery will rotate in and out on a regular basis.

Hour-long sessions go for $25, or $20 for kids under 12. (Two and younger are free.) The place can also be rented for private events.

The company was started by professional photographer Ashley Wilkerson, who sold her home at the start of the pandemic to open the first Selfie WRLD in Des Moines, Iowa in June 2020. Already, there are outposts from Austin, Texas to Orlando, Florida. The first DC-area franchise comes from Nytasha Garland, a former DC Public Schools assistant principal who’s keeping her day job as an instructional designer at a Richmond-area school district. The fashion lover first stumbled across Selfie WRLD during while picking up an outfit during a trip to Miami in February. “I thought it was just a genius idea,” she says.

Garland says the selfie studio chain is very popular with teenagers, but also for bachelorette parties, date nights, and prom or graduation pictures. Her locations is right below a movie theater and surrounded by a number of restaurants. “We anticipate folks coming in to take selfies either before or after dinner, before they catch a movie,” she says.

The place bills itself as “as the happiest place on earth… or at least in Virginia (lol).”

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.