After a friendly welcome from the singing clock tower, channel Tom Hanks from Big on the giant keyboard before heading over to the Muppet Whatnot Workshop, where kids can create the next Elmo. Don't miss the 45-minute pre-opening guided tour (including prototype tests and a continental breakfast) led by the store's live toy soldiers.
Although the official supplier to Buckingham Palace opened its doors in London over 250 years ago, Hamleys is still young at heart. You'll find everything from Scalextric miniature racetracks to magic props for budding wizards inside the 54,000-square-foot space. Challenge your little one to spot superheroes hanging from the ceiling, and make sure to shake paws with Paddington before you leave.
Wooden-toy creators Sarah and Donn Kreofsky literally built this shop by hand. Donn drew up the plans for the carousel that holds centre stage – an intricately sculpted dragon, ostrich, pig, unicorn and sea horse that go round and round – while Sarah designed the adjacent minigolf's waterfalls, ponds and green spaces. Pick up an original rocking moose, caterpillar on wheels or parrot puzzle.
It's almost impossible to walk past this Queen Street shop without saying hello to the over two-metre-high stuffed toy giraffe (not to mention the giant Noah's ark, rocket ship and colourful kites). Give your little Mozart a helping hand with a Symphony in B 13-piece electronic orchestra – just one of the educational toys that are this store's stock-in-trade.