We first came to Johor Bahru three years ago for one reason – to visit Little Big Club (now called Thomas Town). It was part of a 7 week trip to Asia with our then 1 and 2 year olds.
I took two year old S and we both had one of the best days of our trip. She absolutely loved it and actually kept talking about it for the next couple of years – who says you can’t remember stuff from when you were two!
Our gorgeous Ballerina on our last visit
When we decided to head back to Singapore this trip I knew we had to go back again. S couldn’t wait to return, especially now she is a Hello Kitty fan, and Mr Z was completely on board once he heard the name “Thomas” in Thomas Town.
We were so keen this time, we even booked into a hotel (Hotel Jen Puteri Harbour) a few steps away from this indoor theme park and got ready to have some fun.
I have seen these two parks grouped together as Puteri Harbour Theme Park online so I’m going to do the same here 🙂
They are both located in an area called Puteri Harbour, about 20 minutes drive from central Johor Bahru and close to Legoland. They are in the same building in a central position. You can buy tickets for either attraction individually or get them both for a reduced price. There is a shop and a Hello Kitty themed cafe (you don’t need a ticket to visit these). There are also some places to buy food within both the attractions.
After buying the tickets, you take a lift or escalator to either the first floor, for Hello Kitty, or the second floor for the entry to Thomas Town. Everything is pram friendly.
We were given bands on entry which enabled us to come and go as we pleased throughout the day – which worked well when an over zealous Z needed some time out. We also went back and forth between Hello Kitty Town and Thomas Town to see the different shows which I would recommend.
We didn’t visit this part last time as S had never heard of Hello Kitty. This time, it’s a whole different story. After spending most of the last year in Asia, she had no choice but to become a big Hello Kitty fan 🙂 She even brought along the Hello Kitty toy she travels with.
This Hello Kitty theme park is quite simple – basically there is Hello Kitty’s house, activity areas, a teacup ride, a play area and the new “Hello Kitty in Oz World” attraction. There is also a stage and the show we visited here was great and easily the highlight.
The kids enjoyed the teacups and we all enjoyed the activities – we got to decorate Hello Kitty cookies and make badges and there are also some other well supervised and fun activities. We also all got into the play area where we could fire around soft balls everywhere.
S enjoyed walking through Hello Kitty’s house, lying in her bed and seeing the other cool rooms.
The Hello Kitty in Oz World involved us walking through a mirror maze – the kids were fine but I walked into a couple of mirrors!! – and then doing some challenges to save Oz.
The challenges were hit and miss for us – they didn’t all work properly and J and I found that a bit frustrating. However, the kids didn’t care and enjoyed trying. What was good about this area – and in fact the whole of Sanrio Hello Kitty Town – was that we did everything as a family. It really encouraged us to work and do things together. Whereas at Thomas Town the kids had lots of fun, but we were really just there to supervise.
Thomas Town is split over two levels. The first level has Pinggu, Barney, Angelina Ballerina and Bob the Builder areas and the upper level is all about Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends. It is all perfect for preschoolers.
We started downstairs with Bob the Builder. Here there is a big play area and some walls to build with big blocks that fit together like a puzzle. It’s also near a food outlet so J and I sat down and ate something together while being able to easily watch the kids which worked well.
Next up was Angelina Ballerina dance studio. The kids put on tutus, mouse ears and wands and danced to Angelina music. At special times throughout the day, there are dance classes with Angelina herself. Both kids loved the dance class and this was easily the highlight when I visited with 2 year old S. She danced in here for a looong time and probably never would have left (see video above).
The Barney area is a play area and the Pinggu area has arcade games which is how we finished our day.
There is also a stage on the lower level where the live shows take place every two hours. The ones we watched were lots of fun and very professional. Z even got to sing a song into the microphone during one show which made all of our day. They often had TV shows staring the characters at other times on the big screen here.
Thomas Town itself is upstairs and this is probably the most fun part. There is a huge and very awesome play area and 6 rides. They are all Thomas and friends themed of course with Thomas the Tank Engine himself, a crane ride, helicopters, a windmill… It’s cute and fun.
This area was a big hit of course, although better suited to our nearly 4 year old than our 5.5 year old. At 2, S was tall enough to go on all but one, but she was super tall for her age. The staff were all great at helping the kids so we were able to just watch. The play area is best suited for 4-8 year olds I would imagine.
On one of the rides, 2yo S couldn’t stop laughing and yelling out how she was in the sky!!
Overall, we had a great time in Thomas Town.
We had another great day at Thomas Town and Sanrio Hello Kitty Town. It really is the perfect place to take preschoolers.
In many ways, it is like a big impressive indoor play centre. Where I feel it stands out is the live shows – the ones we saw were great! And the Hello Kitty and cartoon character theming meant that our kids were ultra excited by everything here and they loved meeting the characters.
S is now 5.5 and she was on the verge of being too old – it helped having Z (nearly 4) there as he just loved it all so much and it made it more fun for her too. At 2, she could not get enough of any of it either.
We visited in mid January on a week day which was perfect! There was barely anyone there and we could go on rides as much as we pleased without waiting for anything. The kids also had easy access to the activities and characters. I talked to a staff member who said it’s the best time to visit as Malaysian schools have recently gone back. It’s much busier in school holidays.
My only complaint is that it is on the pricey side – a family of four like ours is currently looking at RM500 (or about AUD$160). On the upside, under 3’s are free and sure to love it – it felt like a bargain when we went the first time and only needed one adult ticket.
It is also probably the best attraction I have been to for 2-4 year olds. We chose it over visiting Legoland on our last visit and I think that was the right decision with our kids’ ages then. Z seemed to enjoy his visit here than to Legoland (although he did love that too).
My biggest tip is to check out the show and activity schedule straight away! We didn’t think to do this. The friendly staff were great at telling us about everything going on around the centre at different times, but we only just missed the Thomas show on our arrival because we didn’t check straight away.
If you are anywhere near Johor Bahru with younger kids, then I definitely recommend a visit here.
Current pricing is RM85 per person for one park, RM125 for both or you can save money by purchasing tickets here beforehand.
Disclaimer: Our latest visit to Thomas Town and Sanrio Hello Kitty Town was complimentary in return for writing an honest review on our site. Our first visit was not. As always, our opinions are our own.