My kids love Legos. Lovethem. So when I heard about the existence of Lego kids’ cafes, I was on a mission. With the help of my Lego-loving brother (whose Korean is much better than mine), we found a chain of kids’ cafes called Block Bus. They have locations all over the peninsula (six in Seoul—locations are listed below). They’re all attached to a Lotte Mart, a department store or a movie theater, so unlike most kids’ cafes that include a separate area for parents to enjoy a cup or coffee or a quiet meal, Block Bus is designed with the idea that you leave your children there while parents go shopping or watch a movie.
We went to the location at the Lotte Mart in Guro-gu, enjoying the traffic-free drive on Seollal (Lunar New Year) weekend. We realized as we drove into the parking garage that there were few cars on the road because apparently, everyone was shopping. From the 5th level of the parking garage, we had to make our way to the basement, which took longer than it should have. If you’ve been to any of the large, multi-level marts (Lotte Mart, EMart, Homeplus, etc.), then you’ve experienced the agonizingly slow trek from one level to the next on the inclined moving walkways.
Although we’d been to this particular Lotte Mart before on several occasions, somehow we’d missed this amazing little room. As you exit the moving walkway, continue straight past the colorful train-shaped cash registers, and you’ll see a wooden door half-hidden behind a row of toddler slides. And inside this door is a Lego-lover’s paradise.
Because it was our first visit, I was asked to write the kids’ names, ages and my cell phone number down for them on a sign up sheet. Their names were entered into the computer so that on future visits, the kids are already in the system. Children ages 5 and up (Korean age) do not need to have a parent present at all times.
We took our shoes off and went into the room where there were about 6 other children working diligently on building their masterpieces. At the back of the room, kids can flip through picture books of every Lego kit your children can imagine and choose the one they want to build. They’re given a plastic box that contains all the pieces as well as the instructions, and away they go!
Charlie and Lincoln got to work on some superhero-themed sets, and Penny chose a non-Lego dollhouse to play with. There’s also a small section for toddlers to play in with a train set, dollhouse, play kitchen and blocks.
Since I hadn’t come to Lotte Mart with the intention of shopping, I stayed with my kids while they worked on their Legos, but the Lotte Mart has quite a lot for parents to do while the kids are playing:
Basement level (B1): Toys R Us, electronics mart, bookstore, shabu shabu buffet restaurant
1st Floor: groceries
2nd Floor: clothing, home goods, car accessories, food court, etc. (most things you would find in an Emart)
3rd Floor: pharmacy, florist, hair and nail salon
4th Floor: furniture
Other things to keep in mind if you take your kids to Blockbus:
- According to the sign, Block Bus is for children ages 5 and up, and younger children are allowed to play on weekday mornings when accompanied by a parent/guardian. However, we went on a holiday weekday afternoon, and my 23 month old daughter was allowed in so I don’t know how strict they are with the rules.
- The toddler play area is relatively small, and although the staff is willing to help kids who have difficulty with their Lego projects, they’re definitely not there to provide one-on-one time with individual children.
- Refreshments are available for the kids. They have a selection of fruit juices and water at reasonable prices (Capri Sun 1,000KRW, bottled water 500KRW).
- If you leave your child at Block Bus, make sure that s/he is comfortable going to the bathroom alone. The restrooms are located outside the classroom, so your child will have to walk into the shopping/public area alone. It’s not far, but be sure that this is something you and your child are comfortable with.
- All of the Legos/toys are disinfected after they are returned.
- Payment is made at the end of your visit. It’s 6,000KRW for the first hour, 1,000KRW for each 10 minute thereafter. The cost of refreshments, if applicable, is added to your total cost.
- If you plan to bring your kids to Block Bus frequently, you may purchase discounted chunks of time. 10 hours for 54,000KRW and 20 hours for 96,000KRW.
- The room can be rented out for private parties.
My boys absolutely loved it and wanted to stay longer. Once they finished building their masterpieces, their works were placed on a shelf for display. They were so proud of themselves! We’ll definitely be coming back here!
Block Bus Seoul Locations:
Lotte Cinema Star City 02.3436.8262 Kwangjin-gu, Jangyang-dong 227-7
NC Department Store Gangseo 02.2667.9755 Gangseo-gu, Deungcheon-dong 689
Lotte Mart World (Songpa) 02.2143.1512 Songpa-gu, Jamsil-dong 40-1
NC Department Store Garden 5 02.2157.5628 Songpa-gu, Munjung-dong 516
Lotte Mart Joonggae 02.2091.0246 Nowon-gu, Joonggae-dong 361
Lotte Mart Guro 02.2634.0246 Guro-gu, Guro-dong 636-89
Parking: Free (at the Lotte Mart Guro location)
Hours: 10am – 10pm
Pricing: 6,000KRW for the first hour, 1,000W for each additional 10 minutes
10 hours for 54,000KRW
20 hours for 96,000KRW
Cash and credit card accepted