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The World's Most Magical Toy Stores

Have a sneaking suspicion that your toys come to life when you're not looking?

FAO Schwarz, NYC

It’s big, bright and a New York icon with a legacy that spans 150 years. With high-end toys, giant stuffed creations (aka photo opps), varied interactive components and standout all-American service – FAO is more than just a shop. You’re welcomed by a signature Toy Soldier (who you can enjoy breakfast or a tour of the store with), and the joys only grow. From a unique Muppet Whatnot Workshop where families build their own Muppet creations to the sugar-loaded FAO Schweetz shop and the Taste Buds Kitchen with cupcakes aplenty to decorate, you’ll have to make many return trips to get the full experience. Parents will also be hit with ‘Big’ nostalgia as they test their best Tom Hanks’ moves on the Big Piano.

Hamleys, London

A staple on Regent Street since 1881, with roots back to 1760, Hamleys is a London institution and one of the most iconic toy stores on the planet. They've finessed the art of all things toys and it shows. The store is a sprawling maze of fun, spanning all seven storeys of its iconic red-flagged facade. Staff in costume warmly welcome all, while those inside are the bubbliest and happiest you�re likely to ever encounter. There are hands-on demonstrations, toys ranging from cheap and cheerful to upscale boutique beauties, gadgets and gizmos for teens, and a constant calendar of special seasonal events. Check online for any coinciding activities for some added fun when in London town.

American Girl, Los Angeles

Since 1986, American Girl has been producing history-inspired characters, bringing them to life through iconic dolls, story books and accessories, every aspect adding a girl-view to significant national time periods and events in the US. Nowadays, the range is significantly extended, with more contemporary Bitty Baby and My American Girl ranges that allow all guests to create the doll of their dreams. These delights come to life in store and you can purchase a new doll, bring a long-loved favourite in for a makeover at the salon (complete with an ear piercing and a fishtail braid), browse the myriad furnishings and accessories, or even have a glamorous owner-doll photo shoot!

Toys 'R' Us, NYC

A toy store with an address as enviable as Time Square needs to put on a show, and with over 10,200sqm bursting with a 60-foot ferris wheel, a 20-foot animatronic T-Rex, a life-size Barbie® dollhouse and - of course - toys galore, this shop is hard to trump. Since opening back in 2001, it’s been building a grandiose reputation for fun. Budding geologists get hands on with rocks and rare stones at Astro Kids; Candy Land® is a sweet-tooth’s heaven; fashionistas can whip up customizable jewellery at Fashion Angels®; and all can get interactive and creative in the Imaginarium®. This is before you even consider the LEGO shop, bike heaven at Wheels, ROBOTGALAXY... and a whole lot more!

LEGO Store, Berlin

Creating tessellating magic wherever a branch opens, LEGO’s Berlin store (conveniently close to Berlin Zoo) will impress fans, young and old. The aesthetic alone pops with colour and design flourishes, and once acclimatised to the visual joys – then the fun begins. It’s pretty high-tech here. The Digital Box lets you bring up a LEGO set (before purchased) and explore it in 3D on a screen, then there’s the Mini Master Builder Bar where you can enjoy online games and make your own customized LEGO minifigures. Displays around the store – from Volkswagens to Monster Fighters – will inspire all scales of LEGO creativity. Then there’s the pick-a-brick wall, which not only looks awesome, but lets you select exact pieces to purchase.

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