1. Toys “R” Us – New York City, United States
The Times Square branch of Toys “R” Us is a real showstopper. Taking a spin on the store’s 60-foot indoor Ferris wheel, you’ll spy 110,000 square feet of wall-to-wall toys just waiting to be discovered. From Apple iPods, video games and Sony electronics to baby dolls, plush toys and board games, there’s a toy suitable for every age and interest. Want to get interactive? Check out the Jurassic Park, ROBOTGALAXY, Astro Kids, and Fashion Angels attractions where kids can learn through play, or design their own playtime creations. Hungry shoppers can fuel their experience with a bite at Candy Land, Scoops “R” Us, and the WONKA shop.
(Photo courtesy of Toys “R” Us)
2. Hamleys – London, England
Hamleys’ Regent Street flagship store boasts seven floors of playtime nirvana. Games, action figures, dolls, stuffed animals, model kits, trains, books and remote-controlled vehicles vie for the affections of the millions of children (and their parents) that visit each year. Serving London for over 250 years, Hamleys is beloved by locals and tourists alike. Famous brands such as Barbie, Steiff, LEGO, Fisher Price, Disney, Hot Wheels, Leap Frog and Playmobil share shelf space with Hamleys own esteemed line of playthings. Puppet shows, live demonstrations of the latest toys and staff dressed in costumes will thrill shoppers young and old.
(Photo courtesy of Hamleys)
3. FAO Schwarz – New York City, United States
Standing proudly at the corner of 5th Avenue and 58th Street in Manhattan, FAO Schwarz wears the crown as the oldest toy store in the United States. For 150 years, FAO Schwarz has excited kids of all ages with its peerless selection of toys and collectables. Not only does FAO Schwarz sell a wide array of playtime favourites, but it also lets you experience the toy making process in-store. Create a doll in your own likeness at the Madame Alexander Doll Factory, or design an authentic muppet at the Muppet Whatnot Workshop. Movie buffs will get a kick out of trying out the floor piano featured in the 1988 film, “Big.” And when you need a respite from all the toy town delights, take a break in FAO Schweetz where delicious treats and sugary candies keep all shoppers sweet.
(Photo courtesy of FAO Schwarz)
4. The Hospital de Bonecas (The Doll Hospital) – Lisbon, Portugal
Many toy stores are in the business of selling dolls, but here’s a magical enterprise that cares about the relationship between the toy and its owner. The Hospital de Bonecas in Lisbon lovingly restores and repairs beloved dolls, stuffed animals and other toys. With a thorough assessment and careful precision, each wounded toy is mended – arms are reattached, eyes are replaced – and a cherished plaything is returned to the grateful arms of its owner. In business since 1830, the Hospital de Bonecas also sells Mariquita Perez and Paola Reina dolls from Spain, Schild Krot dolls from Germany and duplicates vintage-style doll clothing.
(Photo courtesy of Hospital de Bonecas)
5. The LEGO Store – New York City, United States
Since 1932, LEGO has clicked with children. Today, the world’s fourth-largest toy manufacturer famous for its iconic plastic bricks has gone global with an array of impressive stores. Its two-storey Rockefeller Center location in New York City offers 3,000 square feet of LEGO inspiration. Here you will find the company’s largest Pick-A-Brick wall – a structure dressed with 116 bubbles filled with individual LEGO pieces including rare coloured bricks, fences, flowers, wheels and other LEGO must-haves. LEGO buffs visiting the store’s Master Builder Bar can design their own kit and play LEGO-inspired video games. While the kids will be bowled over by all the hard to find LEGO sets, parents will enjoy the 50 LEGO scenes of the Big Apple situated around the store.
(Photo courtesy the Zetter/Flickr)
6. LARK Toys – Kellogg, Minnesota, United States
LARK Toys’ family-run business harks back to another era. Its warm, welcoming atmosphere and 20,000 square feet of family fun makes this toy store stand out from the crowd. Kids can enjoy Jack-in-the-boxes, marbles, tea sets, books, puppets, trolls and LARK’s specialty, their famous handmade heirloom wooden toys. But that’s not all LARK has to offer. How many toy stores can brag about their hard-carved carousel, outdoor mini-golf course, antique toy collection and pet llamas? And when visitors are in need of a little refreshment, they can indulge in LARK’s candy shop, café or homemade fudge emporium. Independent – and proud of it – LARK Toys is a playtime destination that brings out the kid in all of us.
(Photo courtesy of MMJ512/Flickr)
7. Barbie Store – Buenos Aires, Argentina
Welcome to the world’s first official Barbie Store. Located in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires since 2007, this pink palace is a little girl’s Barbie dream house. The store is bursting at the seams with Barbie jewelery, outfits, DVDs, and of course, Barbie dolls. Parents can relax in the Barbie Tea House while their children browse a virtually unlimited amount of Barbie accessories. The best part? Kids can step into Barbie’s shoes for manicures, makeup demonstrations and Barbie-inspired hairstyles, and experience a life-sized Barbie bedroom in Casa Barbie.
(Photo courtesy of Mattel Inc.)
8. Charles Ro Supply Company – Malden, Massachusetts, United States
All aboard! America’s largest train store boasts 5,000 square feet of locomotive joy. Selling everything and anything train related, the family-run Charles Ro Supply Company in Massachusetts has been on track in the model train business for over 35 years. The world’s largest Lionel train seller, Charles Ro also stocks products by American Flyer, Bridgewerks, USA Trains and Thomas the Tank Engine. If you’re searching for a hard to find train set, locomotive, box car, or classic re-issue, Charles Ro Supply Company can help either in person or online. They ship worldwide too. (Photo courtesy of Charles Ro Supply Company)
9. American Girl Place, Chicago, United States
The 52,000 square foot American Girl Place located at Chicago’s Water Tower Place is a doll lover’s paradise. The largest American Girl store in the United States, the Windy City shop is home to all their beloved doll characters including the Girl of the Year, Bitty Baby and historical doll lines. Bring your American Girl doll to browse the extensive range of doll accessories, clothing, posters and books. Design your own matching doll and girl t-shirts, appear on the cover of a souvenir issue of American Girl magazine and pamper your mini me in the spectacular Doll Hair Salon. After an exciting day of shopping, be sure to dine in the elegant American Girl Café for brunch, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner.
(Photo courtesy of Jeff Sandquist/Flickr)
10. Disney Store – London, England
Oxford Street’s dazzling new Disney Store celebrates toys and a love for London. Under the friendly gaze of a life-sized Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck dressed in Palace Guard uniforms, visitors enter through the welcoming arch of a 28-foot tall castle. Once inside, princes and princesses of all ages will marvel at the 8,200 square feet of toys, games and clothes featuring Disney’s iconic characters. Learn about Disney’s connection to London with an interesting map display that pinpoints movie locations – Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and St. James’ Park – from Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, Cars 2 and 101 Dalmatians. And watch for free interactive events including animation classes, storytelling, trivia quizzes and parades.
(Photo courtesy of Disney Store UK)