Long before the Hello Kitty jets started making the skies overhead a little bit pinker, Hello Kitty Town in Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park in Nusajaya, Johor, Malaysia has been enchanting children with its wall-to-wall celebration of all things Sanrio.
There are several ways to get there: via Kuala Lumpur, the Singapore coastal highway, through Malaysia’s Senai Airport or the TUAS Second Link, again through Singapore.
My party and I opted for the latter and it was a swift 45-minute car ride from Singapore’s center. You will pass by immigration and your passports and disembarkation cards will be required. The process will take less than ten minutes and descending from the vehicle is not necessary. We rented a private ride but I was informed that shuttles are available at the Singapore flyer daily with corresponding departure time.
There is no grand welcome structure—in fact, you might think the driver has gotten lost when you pull up to the place. The facade is ordinary, to say the least.
And then you escalate to the second floor, this is where life begins.
A pink, heart-shaped entrance welcomes you to Hello Kitty Town. Already vivid from the outside, the complex spews Hello Kitty. A little girl would be overwhelmed with delight, whether she is a fan or not; the ambience alone will make a child giddy.
A Hello Kitty teapot ride, an indoor play area, and a Hello Kitty garden are some of the town’s appetizers, but the main attractions are the life-sized Hello Kitty house, the Wishful Studio and the live parade and show.
The Hello Kitty house is a complete structure with rooms such as living, dining, kitchen and bedroom, all of which are furnished with Hello Kitty items. More so, everything is touchable, moveable and play-able. The Wishful Studio is an activity center where kids can engage in cookie making, jewelry design and Hello Kitty dress-up. The mascots parade on the stage at hourly intervals, and would often take pictures with the kids and interact with them.
On the third and fourth floor is the Little Big Club. This is where Barney, Angelina Ballerina, Pingu, Bob the Builder and Thomas and Friends are found. Each character has a corresponding play area: Barney has a playhouse, Angelina Ballerina a dance studio, Pingu a winter wonderland, and Bob a building hub. Thomas and Friends has the entire fourth floor filled with rides, an elevating bus, rotating planes and of course a train.
There are cafes on both levels and the food is priced reasonably; outside food and beverages seem to be discreetly tolerated. Malaysian ringgit is the currency to use and credit cards are accepted.
The compound is indoors and air-conditioned, with restrooms on each floor and stroller parking is also aplenty. The restrooms are clean and the park attendants are friendly.
Its space can be compared to the Podium Mall in Ortigas, though with only three levels for its preschool- and elementary school-aged visitors to go through. This must be emphasized. There have been reviews that the theme park is too small, boring and unimpressive. For older kids who have outgrown these characters, this may be the case. But when Barney takes the stage or Angelina Ballerina twirls and Thomas lets off steam, these are enough to make the little ones lost in revelry. The rides, activities and general experience are designed for the very young. Spending the entire day in the facility guarantees a week-long hangover for your kids, or even longer.
Hello Kitty Town Puteri Harbour is the first of its kind outside Japan. It shouldn’t be compared to its mother house, but rather appreciated as a competent satellite.