10 Cool Things at NYC’s New FAO Schwarz Store
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In 2015, the beloved toy store FAO Schwarz shut its doors on Fifth Avenue in New York City, causing many tears and wistful memories for children — and adults — everywhere. The historic store had been open since 1862 and was known as one of New York’s best toy stores and attractions. Then, last month, just after toy giant, Toys ‘R’ Us, declared bankruptcy and shut its stores nationwide, the beloved favorite reappeared, right in Rockefeller Center and just in time for the holidays.
The brand-new 20,000-square-foot flagship store is open at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and visitors and locals alike have been swarming its three floors. From life-sized plush giraffes to a color-filled hair and nail salon to the classic dance-on piano, there is so much to see and do.
Here are our 10 favorite things to check out at the new FAO Schwarz in New York City.
1. Dance-On Piano
The store wouldn’t be complete without the famous dance-on piano immortalized by Tom Hanks in the movie Big. Sponsored by wooden toy specialists Hape, the new and improved piano is reflected on the ceiling above and overlooks Rockefeller Plaza and the ice rink below. Customers wait in line for a turn on the keys and professional piano dancers stop by throughout the day for impromptu performances.
2. FAO Raceway
Located on the first floor, shoppers can work alongside trained “mechanics” to build remote-control cars by picking out their own custom body style, color, wheels and designs. No two car designs are alike!
3. FAO Schwarz Baby Doll Adoption
This section of the store features a display of diverse baby dolls with “nurses” to guide children through the adoption process and teach them how to care for their dolls. Kids fill out a prospective parent adoption form and then select the doll of their choosing. The baby dolls are then taken for a “check-up” before being sent home, along with their very own FAO certificate of adoption.
4. FAO Schweetz
Near the 49th Street entrance, this candy shop operated by IT’SUGAR encompasses 2,150 square feet in candy installations and life-sized versions of classic toys serving as bulk candy containers.
Already super popular is the gigantic rainbow gummy unicorn with a lollipop horn.
5. Alex Spa
A favorite with the pre-teen set, shoppers can get primped and pampered with hair color and nail polish treatments on the spot.
6. Build-A-Bear Workshop
Kids can take part in the store’s signature Build-A-Bear Workshop Make-Your-Own experience, featuring a selection of exclusive FAO Schwarz furry friends and accessories in a variety of colors and unique patterns. Guests can watch their bear get stuffed and sewn and also purchase various outfits.
7. Discovery #mindblown
An on-site STEM Professor doing interactive demos in his custom #mindblown lab complete with a giant video wall makes science fun.
8. Gigantic Optimus Prime
A fully automated talking 9-foot Optimus Prime reigns over the Transformers section (and makes for a great photo op) where Autobots and Decepticons, collectibles, scooters and apparel can be found.
9. Swarovski Everywhere
Welcoming shoppers at the 49th Street entrance is a massive Mercedes enrobed in red-and-silver Swarovski crystals (and driven by adorable teddy bears). Near the checkout are two 12-foot-tall toy soldiers covered with more than 3 million hand-applied Swarovski crystals flanking a floor-to-ceiling Swarovski crystallized curtain. Plus, there’s an exclusive line of gifts and collectibles adorned with the sparkling crystals like keepsake ornaments, nutcrackers and key chains.
10. Melissa & Doug FAO Mart Grocery Store and FAO Home
Little ones will love shopping the full-service toy grocery store, where they can fill their carts with play food before heading into the home section to test out kitchen equipment, housewares and more. Best to start ’em young!
While lines may be long (avoid the weekend and try the 49th Street entrance on weekday mornings and early afternoons), if you can make it inside, you and your little ones are in for a treat. One tip: Schedule a personal shopping experience to be met at the door and whisked through the store. Email PersonalShopping@FAO.com to learn more about that option. We also recommend bringing along one of these credit cards that are best for everyday spending, which you may well be doing at FAO if your kids have anything to say about it.
Looking to make a trip to FAO Schwarz part of a larger trip to NYC? Consider these family-friendly points hotels in New York City and other affordable activities for families in the city. If your visit is during the holidays, here are some of our favorite holiday activities for families in NYC.
Have you taken your children to FAO Schwarz? What was their favorite part of the experience and how long did you have to wait to get inside?
Featured image by DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
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