How to Play Candy Land: From Set-Up to Sweet Victory

African American family playing Candyland board game together

The Candy Land board game is probably the starting point for most game players. Its bright colors, references to yummy, sugary treats and the chance to be the first at the candy castle can enthrall children as young as 36 months. Candy Land is pure fun for the little game players in everyone's lives.

Candy Land Is Often a Child's First Game

Simplistic by nature, Candy Land is usually a child's first game because it requires no reading ability and only minimal counting skills. It has an easy-to-follow premise of racing through Candy Land, and it is recommended for two to four players, ages three to six. However, kids can start playing as soon as they recognize the basic colors. It does not require any reading skills, so it is ideal for non-readers, or children who don't speak English.

Candy Land Set Up

The inside of the game box includes the Legend of the Lost Candy Castle which can be read to the players. It explains the characters and locations on the game board. The game box includes a game board, pawns, cards and instructions. This is a very easy game to set-up:

  1. Place the game board on a flat surface.
  2. Shuffle the cards and place them face down in a pile within reach of all players.
  3. Each player picks a gingerbread pawn and places it at the beginning of the path.

Board Layout

The Candy Land game is a simple racing board game. The game board is a linear-based track which means that you move your game piece from start to finish in a relatively forward line.

Candy Land Board Game
Candy Land Board Game
  • The layout of the Candy Land game board consists of 140 squares colored after the rainbow.
  • There are other areas on the board besides the colored squares. These other spaces are destinations in the world of Candy Land and have cute names like Peppermint Stick Forest (formerly Candy Cane), Gumdrop Mountain, and Crooked Old Peanut Brittle House (an original 1940s landmark).

Get Candy Land Started

Playing the game is easy.

  1. The game starts with the youngest player drawing a card.
  2. The card might be:
    • A color or a picture - The player moves their gingerbread pawn to a space on the game board which matches the color or picture on the card. If there are two marks of the color on their card, they would move their gingerbread pawn to the second-next space of that color.
    • A picture of a location on the board - The player moves their gingerbread pawn forward (or backward in some versions) to the location on the game board.
  3. After they have finished their move, the player places their card in a discard pile.
  4. The player to the left has the next turn.

Penalty Spaces

The fun, and frustration, really starts if a player lands on one of the three penalty spaces:

  • Gooey Gumdrops - You have to stay on this space until you draw a card with one or two yellow blocks.
  • Lost in the Lollipop Woods - You have to stay on this space until you draw a card with one or two blue blocks.
  • Stuck in the Molasses (or Chocolate) Swamp - You have to stay on this space until you draw a card with one or two red blocks.

Educational Aspects of Candy Land

There is no optimal strategy or decision making required in Candy Land. The moves of each player are determined by the cards. It teaches the lessons of taking turns, learning rules, counting, color recognition and how to be a good winner or loser. The winner is the first player to reach the candy castle at the end of the path.

History of Candy Land

The game was designed in the 1940s by Eleanor Abbott, while she was in a San Diego hospital recovering from polio. She designed the game to capture the attention of little girls in the hospital who were also polio victims then pitched it to Milton Bradley Company. They bought the rights to the game and first published it in 1949. It was inducted into the game hall of fame in 2005.

Versions of Candy Land

The original Candy Land (less than $10) has made several revisions over the years and even come out with several versions. Characters like Queen Frostine (who changed to Princess Frostine) and other elements have been updated. Specialized versions have also been made; some may only be available through second-hand sellers after their initial debut, with costs ranging from $10 to $50, depending on rarity. They include:

Family Tradition

Playing this game has been a popular family tradition for decades. You and your child are sure to love spending time playing Candy Land original or its many variations around the table!

Was this page useful?
Related & Popular
How to Play Candy Land: From Set-Up to Sweet Victory