Traveling can be tough on kids and parents, but promising a visit to your destination’s toy store can be enough to control a child’s behavior while traveling. The world’s most incredible toy stores offer more than just shopping – they’re an experience in themselves, full of wonder, and can make even the most hardened adults feel like kids. From life-size figures made of building blocks to toy stores equipped with theaters and mini-golf courses, these top toy stores are worth visiting if only to marvel at their design and layout. fancy. Who knows? You might even find your new favorite toy or rediscover an old favorite.
10: FAO Schwartz, New York
The amazing shopping experience on Manhattan’s FAO Schwartz 5th Avenue begins when a pair of smartly dressed toy soldiers open the doors for you to enter. The store, which started over 150 years ago, apparently has every toy you can imagine for kids and adults, from trains to building blocks and everything in between. Try the giant piano featured in the movie “Big” or stroll through rooms filled with child-sized stuffed animals. Build your own muppet in the Muppet What-Not Workshop, a slightly wackier version of the Build-A-Bear concept, or “adopt” a new doll from the store’s “nursery”. If the store’s constant crowds get you down, consider splurging on a private tour, which lets you explore the store before it opens for a nominal fee. And no trip to FAO Schwartz is complete without a stroll through the FAO Schwartz candy store, which spans 6,000 square feet of the flagship store. Look for crispy rice treats and lollipops bigger than your head, as well as retro treats and bulk candies sold by the pound. Unfortunately, FAO Schwarz will be permanently closing in mid-July 2015, so visit while you can!
9: Toys R Us, New York
Forget Central Park and the Empire State Building: what kids want to see when visiting NYC is the massive Toys R Us in Times Square. At over 110,000 square feet, it ranks as the largest toy store in the world and offers countless toys, from classic wooden toys to the latest video games and electronics. [source: Toys R Us]. If you’ve visited any of the over 1,700 other branches of this toy store, make no mistake – the Times Square location is truly a unique marvel. In addition to thousands of toys, this flagship store features a 60-foot-tall Ferris wheel with 14 toy-themed cars…all inside the store! A “Jurassic Park” section is home to a number of dinosaurs, including a 20-foot T-Rex. Consider yourself a Barbie girl? Don’t miss the two-story life-size Barbie Dream House. A massive “Candy Land” section offers a wide selection of sweets, with another section dedicated to classic Wonka treats. Before leaving, take advantage of photo opportunities with Geoffrey the Giraffe, the chain’s emblematic mascot.
8: Hamleys, London
Hamleys have been in business since 1760 and at their current location on London’s Regent Street since 1881. With seven stories to explore, you’ll find classic favorites and the latest and greatest toys and entertainment, including friendly workers offering demonstrations and lots of chance to try things out for yourself. The store features one of the largest Build-A-Bear workshops on the planet, where kids can choose from an awesome selection of plush friends, clothing and accessories. A big Lego The section features a rotating selection of life-size exhibits, ranging from classic cartoon characters to members of the royal family, all made entirely from building bricks. If you need a break, stop by Scrumpaliscious, a world-class candy store on the top floor. Don’t forget to check out the famous Hamleys window displays, especially if you’re visiting during the holidays. And despite its long history, the store is not showing its age thanks to a complete renovation completed in 2012.
7: Kiddy Land, Tokyo
Like the ubiquitous Toys R Us stores in the United States, Kiddy Land stores are found throughout Japan, with over 80 stores spread across the country. [source: Kiddy Land]. With so many locations, Kiddy Land’s flagship store in Harajuku, Tokyo is something special. It started as a simple bookstore in the 1950s and eventually grew to fill five floors with virtually every type of toy imaginable. Visitors will find star wars and Peanuts-branded merchandise alongside traditional Japanese favorites like Hello Kitty and Rilakkuma. The store is known for its specialty shops and shops dedicated to specific characters and brands, which include many special items not found elsewhere. Like the rest of the surrounding Harajuku shopping district – and like all major toy stores – Kiddy Land is teeming with a multitude of goods, shoppers and visitors. The store also houses many Gashaspon machines, which spit out little toys encased in capsules or eggs – for a small fee of course.
6: Lego Imagination Center, Orlando, Florida.
the Lego The Imagination Center at the Downtown Disney Resort in Orlando is part store, part playground. It’s the largest Lego store in the United States, and shoppers looking for specific sets will likely find what they’re looking for, including standard and Disney-themed sets – Cinderella’s Castle, anyone [source: Disney]? Those looking for individual parts should search the entire wall of the store dedicated to unique components, all neatly arranged in compartments for easy shopping. Beyond the blocks, visitors can shop for Lego-themed souvenirs and clothing, like t-shirts and pajamas. If you’re more interested in browsing, the interior of the store offers several tables equipped with blocks for free play. Outside, under a canopy, Lego enthusiasts can play in the 3,000 square foot play area or build and race a custom Lego race car. If that’s inspiration you’re looking for, take a look at the changing exhibits of life-size figures, including an impressive sea serpent made entirely of bricks that guards the nearby lagoon.
5: Lark Toys, Kellogg, Minn.
The town of Kellogg, Minnesota is home to one of the largest family toy stores in the United States. Both a retail store and an amusement park, Lark Toys offers 20,000 square feet of fun [source: Hansen]. The store opened in 1983, primarily to sell a range of handcrafted wooden toys. Over the years the toy selection has expanded, but you can still buy a variety of handcrafted wooden toys on site. When you’re done shopping, head to the food court for a meal or treat yourself to local fudge or candy. Lark is also home to an 18-hole mini-golf course, an antique toy museum and, oddly enough, a trio of llamas. The piece de resistance at Lark is the wooden carousel, which founder Donn Kreofsky spent nine years carving and painting by hand. For a small fee, kids or adults can take a ride on a piece of Minnesota history.
4: Barbie Store, Buenos Aires
For fans of everything Barbie, or those who just like to embrace all things pink and girly, Buenos Aires features the world’s first standalone Barbie store. Spanning over 7,000 square feet, the store sells a variety of Barbie dolls and accessories, but it’s more about bringing the Barbie experience to visitors than just selling toys. Visitors can relax and enjoy a meal in the tea room, or enjoy a treatment at the store’s beauty salon and spa. Kids can explore the pay-by-the-hour playroom, stocked with Barbie dolls, fashions, and playsets, or simply shop for the latest Barbie-inspired fashions in the boutique. A private party room offers the perfect place for a child’s birthday party or a get-together.
3: Hakuhinkan Toy Park, Tokyo
The four-storey Hakuhinkan Toy Park in Tokyo’s Ginza district opened in 1982 and now includes four floors of toys and entertainment. You’ll find the latest Western toys like Lego and Barbie alongside the hottest video games and electronics. There are also plenty of local Japanese flavors, including quirky snacks and crazy gadgets you won’t find anywhere else. On the fourth floor, there is a model racetrack where visitors can pay by the hour to race. In the basement you will find the headquarters of Licca-Chan’s Japanese fan club – think Barbie, Japanese style [source: Time Out Tokyo]. An on-site restaurant and theater allow you to make a full day out of your visit. Arrive after closing time? Don’t worry, a series of vending machines outside the store allow you to buy popular toys around the clock. [source: Lonely Planet].
2: Once Upon a Toy, Orlando, Florida.
The store Once upon a time there was a toy OrlandoDowntown Disney’s resort is truly a feast for the eyes; in fact, the decor is so impressive you might forget the merchandise. The visual feast begins before you enter the store, which is constructed from oversized Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys; a child-sized Mr. Potato Head and Buzz Lightyear at the entrance provide the perfect photo opportunity for toy fans. Once you walk through the doors, you’ll notice the store is full of toys and floor-to-ceiling displays, including Disney and non-Disney entertainment. Visit the Make Your Own Potatoes Station to craft a custom Mr. Potato Head, or assemble the perfect set of Lincoln logs at the Lincoln Log DIY Center. Play princess in the sparkling castle room and marvel at the variety of board games, stuffed animals and countless other toys in the store. During your visit, don’t forget to look up; in every room you’ll find truly stunning ceiling displays, from Peter Pan and Wendy soaring overhead, to giant game pieces, to model trains traveling through the rafters.
1: American Girl Place, Chicago
The American Girl franchise began as a simple mail-order catalog in the 80s and has grown to become one of the most popular doll brands for girls. In 1998, the company launched its first retail store, a 52,000 square foot space in Chicago. Girls who love the brand can shop the latest dolls, clothes and furniture, or design matching t-shirts for themselves and their favorite American Girl doll at the store’s T-shirt bar. An on-site hair salon lets you spoil your doll with a new activity before heading to the store’s portrait studio and snapping photos of you and your best friend. Head to the on-site cafe for a little pick-me-up or take your doll with you for a fancy tea service. The American Girl Doll Hospital can mend broken limbs and other doll ailments, while special events ensure there’s always something new to do every visit. If all those toys and attractions aren’t enough, consider this: In 2014, the bathrooms at Chicago’s American Girl Place were named one of the top 10 restrooms in the nation for child-friendly fixtures and doll carriers. personalized in each cabin. [source: Black].