Build-A-Bear at Westfield Annapolis: High-Tech Holiday Heaven

The Build-A-Bear High Tech store at Westfield Annapolis updates and improves the Build-A-Bear experience, expanding the fun for children.

We were already HUGE Build-A-Bear store fans. My three children all adore the build-your-own snuggly animal experience. Charlie and Eve regularly ask for Build-A-Bear gift cards for Christmas, because they love how a trip there is a special day AND a top-notch, customized toy.

But the brand new Build-A-Bear High Tech store at Westfield Annapolis simply blew all their other Build-A-Bear experiences out of the water. My children and I checked out the newly-designed, digital experience on its opening day.

We DC- and Baltimore-area families are so fortunate: The Westfield Annapolis Build-A-Bear is one of only six new high tech Build-A-Bear locations to open this year in select markets across the United States. The high-tech stores merges the well-loved hands-on bear-making process with innovative technology designed especially for our technology-loving kids.

There are large touch-screens throughout the store for children to play games and further customize the creation of their snuggly friends. The new set-up LENGTHENS and EXPANDS the bear/animal creation and adoption process, making for more fun experiences for the kids.

I believe a longer, updated, more game-filled experience also adds more value for us parents, as the animals remain the same price but the entertainment when within the Build-A-Bear store  is more interactive and special.

The new process begins with an entertaining registration by the bear-building child on a huge, beautiful touch-screen table. After the child has selected the animal they would like to create, they come sign up as adopters and scan their bear.

From that moment on, at each station in the Build-A-Bear process staff members will be referring to your child by his or her name. Charlie, Eve and Alice all felt like mini-celebs as staff persons greeted them throughout the process.

Next up is another interactive station where the children can try out all the sounds possible to customize their animal friend.

Kids also select the heart, hug, kiss or other special sentiment that will be placed inside their animal.  You can also elect to have your animal scented!

The actual stuffing portion of the animals has not changed — why mess with perfection? This is always such a sweet portion of the visit, seeing the animals take shape, the ceremonial kissing of the hearts that go inside the bears, giving their animal that first hug to see if the amount of stuffing inside is just right.

I love how the Build-A-Bear staff members both lovingly interact with the children during this part, as well as expertly hand-sew the bears shut.

The giving of the animals their first baths has always been one of the best parts of the Build-A-Bear creation experience, but now it has gotten EVEN BETTER, thanks to a huge tabletop flatscreeen “bath tub”! The children use interactive soap, scrubbers and rubber ducks on a “giant iPad” that looks like a huge bubble bath. This was by far Alice’s favorite part!

My kids, and all the kids at the store, would have played here indefinitely, but the program has a timer that drains the bath after a few minutes, signaling that play at this station has finished. This kept the line moving and prevented tantrums. I was very impressed.

After the bath, of course the bears need cute clothes. Children and parents can elect to dress their bears virtually first on numerous flat screens around the store, giving kids the chance to see onscreen how that dress or costume will look on their chosen animal.

The increased and new interactive touch screens at the new Build-A-Bear locations are also an ingenious way to include and entertain kids in families who are not electing to spring for the various outfits and shoes and such in the store. These screens are also a ton of fun for families re-visiting the store for a new outfit for their already-made bear. I love how the increased technology at the new Build-A-Bear store leaves no one out!

More fun play areas for every kid who visits the new Build-A-Bear high tech stores include a naming station — it’s so much more fun than simply writing down your animal’s name! If your child is stumped for a cool name, the program will also provide suggestions based on your child’s animal selection and gender.

Another adorable play area: the Build-A-Bear x-ray machine. There every child can locate the heart they placed in their bear!

I cannot recommend highly enough the gift of a Build-A-Bear gift card for your child this holiday season. You and your kids will have so much fun using it at the new Build-A-Bear High Tech store at Westfield Annapolis. Not only will this gift mean a gorgeous high-quality stuffed animal your child will adore, together you will create very special family memories and have a blast.

Disclosure: Build-A-Bear generously provided staff members who guided me and my children through the entire new experience at the Westfield Annapolis location and an animal experience for each of my children. No additional compensation was received and all opinions are my own. I was honored to give away to a lucky reader a Build-A-Bear experience as well — congrats to Theresa C.!


  1. Sounds awesome! We’ve never done Build a Bear but I know my kids would love it…maybe this is the year!!

  2. We have passed by build-a-bear store many times at the malls around here but haven’t bought any yet! Reading through your experience it sounds such a fun one and I am excited. I think my two girls (3) will enjoy this. As its our first one I think we will make a trip to Westfield Annapolis, especially for the scent part!

    As always your post is beautiful and I come here (your site) for ideas when I run out of things to do with them. Thanks

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