Our birthday trip to New York, got off to a rocky start. I had a disturbing experience on the plane and the weather was cold and rainy (of course it is winter). But things were starting to turn around, we dropped our bags at our Hotel which looked extremely nice and we got an amazing bagel at Kossar’s. Let’s be honest, when I go to new york it is all about the food! But I guess between meals it makes sense to do some touristy things. So after breakfast we decided to head to Rockefeller center.
I am a nerd. I am a huge nerd. This has been something I have been denying for years, but yes I am a nerd. I think the full realization hit me on our Tokyo trip (I found the missing SD card so i think I can restart that trip report soon!). On the Tokyo trip I dragged stephanie to countless Hard-Offs (a store for lost and forgotten Japanese electronics, not like gamestop, more like a flea market electronic store), looking for old boxed gaming consoles. Yeah, so clearly I am a nerd.
With that realization, I was extremely excited to check out the Nintendo World Store, in rockefeller center. It was not disappointing. The Nintendo World Store is basically a giant nintendo showroom for the latest and greatest nintendo products. The most of the upper floor is set up in a way to let you try all of the most recent releases on the nintendo switch. The far wall had a massive screen that took up the whole wall that at the time had Super Smash Brothers Ultimate setup. I didn’t get a picture because there were too many people around it, but it was impressive.
Spread throughout the store was lifesize scale statues of nintendo characters.
And various displays of nintendo history.
After the Nintendo World Store we headed over to another store in Rockefeller Center, FAO Schwarz.
FAO Schwarz is the oldest toy store in the United States. Originally founded in 1862 by German Immigrant Frederick August Otto Schwarz, FAO Schwarz has grown to become one of, if not the single, most famous toy store in the world. What really make FAO Schwarz famous, in my mind, was its feature in the movie big where Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia played Chockstick on the store’s walk-on piano.
More recently FAO Schwarz has undergone a lot of changes in recent years. They filed for bankruptcy twice in 2003 which led to FOA Schwarz briefly shutting down until purchased by DE Shaw & Co. This was short lived as they sold to Toys “R” Us in 2009. Again this faced hardship (Toys “R” Us has since gone out of business in the US) and they had to shut down again in 2015. About a year later the current owner ThreeSixty Group purchased the brand and reopened the store in a new Rockefeller Center location. However the Piano is still there.
This store is massive. It is 3 floors packed with toys and kids. Despite being there in the off season (if there is an off season for new york) there was barely room to breath in that store. Most of the toys in that store are not exclusive to FAO Schwarz and can be found in your local stores. However, there are a lot of cool things that I would have loved as a kid. My favorite, and one I would have went crazy for as a kid, was the build your own remote control car. Kids can customize a remote control car’s wheels, body style, colors, and design making a truly unique toy.
Yes it is over priced, yes it crowded, and yes there are very few toys exclusive to the store, but to a kid FAO Schwarz is second only to visiting santa’s workshop.
After going through FAO Schwarz, we decided to explore the plaza. As we were there the week after New Year’s we were lucky enough that the Christmas decorations were still up. This is where we got a lesson in scale. Stephanie’s first reaction was the tree isn’t as big as she expected.
I agreed. The tree didn’t seem all that big. Despite being 72 feet tall and some 45 feet wide, was a dwarf compared to the buildings around it. It was not as impressive as I was expecting, but it was still pretty. However, on closer inspection, when scale is no longer this issue it is huge.
While we decided against ice skating, we also checked out the ice rink. Due to the cold and rainy weather it was surprisingly empty, maybe something to remember for next time.
Rockefeller is a great place to go to kill a few hours. There is so much to explore and do. Of course the shops around there are pretty expensive, so we did not do much shopping.