The grand opening of Harrods’ new toy department was a much-anticipated event, with parents and children queuing around the block, eagerly waiting for the doors to open and to finally be granted entrance to what promised to be a dream destination.
Often such mounting excitement can lead to disappointment, but not in this case. From the moment of entering the world famous store, where toy soldiers, a giant bespectacled teddy bear and assorted other characters were on hand to present helium balloons and usher enthusiastic guests up the escalators to the third floor, you just knew you were in for a magical experience akin to winning the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
Entering the Toy Kingdom itself, you are immediately taken aback by its sheer size – an incredible 26,000 square feet of magical wonderland, while your senses instantly go into overdrive with all the different noises, colours and aromas that fill the expanse. Three years in the making, the Toy Kingdom is reportedly one of the most expensive projects undertaken by the store’s owners – and boy, does it show!
In a bold move, the department has been organised by theme as opposed to gender, and divides into six very different worlds:
• The Big Top: a fairground of circus acts surrounded by fancy dress costumes, dolls houses, rocking horses and soft toys.
• The Candy Store: chocolate fancies and unusual flavours abound, while a special stall makes bizarre bespoke confectionary.
• The Enchanted Forest: fairies whisper from tree trunks while wigwams on the forest floor house the latest collection of Sylvanian Families and Flutter Fairies alongside arts and crafts.
• Wonderland: a colourful ‘Gran Canyon’ housing the departments most exclusive and high tech toys.
• The Odyssey: a crash-landed space rocket and huge sun bursts help showcase the latest gadgets and gizmos.
• The Reading Room: browse the rotunda of books, climb into the story telling cubby-holes and explore the world of Harry Potter.
Children and adults could be seen wandering around the various lands in open-mouth wonder, as jugglers, magicians, wizards and mad scientists clamored for attention, while discreet waiters handed out tasty nibbles on silver platters. The non-stop entertainment even included a guest appearance from Shrek and Princess Fiona, fresh off of the West End stage, giving a show-stopping rendition of I’m A Believer. It was an apt choice, for who couldn’t fail to be a believer in the magic and wonder of Harrods’ amazing new Toy Kingdom.