This year for our summer holiday we spent a week in London. We visited lots of museums and tourists attractions but our most unique day out was a visit to KidZania London.
What is KidZania?
KidZania is a 75,000 sq.ft child size city where the children are in charge.
KidZania is a city built for children aged four to fourteen. An incredibly impressive recreation of real life streets with shops, a bank, an airport, a hospital and much more.
The concept is that children are given the opportunity to try out adult jobs and activities, complete with uniforms.
They can earn money, spend money, get a passport and even open a bank account complete with debit card to use at the cash point.
How does it work?
You enter KidZania at the airport. Here you’re checked in ready for your four hour session. The children and the adults are given electronic wristbands to wear. Not only does this prevent children from leaving KidZania without their adults, it also means you can use check points, if separated from your children, to see where they are in the city.
The children are given 50 kidZos (KidZania’s currency) in cash when they arrive. This is to use for either pay for activities such as city climbing or being an airplane pilot or they can spend it at the KidZania department store. They can also earn money by working at paid jobs such a hotel receptionist, bell ringer and journalist.
For children with additional needs KidZania’s system is fantastic. The child with additional needs gets a discreet wristband, this enables staff in each activity to be aware the child might need extra support. It also enables their parent/carer to enter the activities with them (usually adults are not allowed) if needed.
Children under the age of eight need an adult present. Over that age and you can leave them to it and either visit the adults only lounge for a cuppa and a break, or you could do some shopping and come back for them at the end of their session.
Tips for visiting KidZania London.
KidZania is located in Westfield shopping centre. The nearest tube station is Shepards Bush, and it is a short walk away. Once in the shopping centre KidZania’s entrance is on the first floor between Marks and Spencer and Gap.
Visit early, we opted to arrive as KidZania opened, meaning that the city was pretty quiet (even in the school summer holidays) when we first arrived and gradually filled up during our visit. I would suggest doing the more popular activities first, like the airplane pilot, chocolate making and ambulance crew. However it never felt too crowded and we never queued for more than about fifteen minutes.
Shop and eat once your session ends. You’re allowed to stay in KidZania once your four hour session ends but you cannot check into any activities. However you can eat at the food outlets, and visit the department store. So we focussed on doing activities for the session time, meaning my lot each managed to fit in around eight to ten activities each, then ate and shopped afterwards. We didn’t waste a minute!
Check session start times. Some of the activities, such as the acting activity and the theatre, have scheduled start times. If your child is likely to want to do these it’s worth finding out timings at the start to make sure they don’t miss the chance to take part.
Dress your children appropriately. The city climbing activity, one of the best ones in my opinion, requires sensible footwear and long trousers.
What did we think?
Super Kid (aged nine) and Wonder Girl (aged five) loved KidZania. Super Kid was completely independent, navigating the city and choosing activities on his own, we barely saw him for the entire four hours. Wonder Girl needed more support but once she got into the swing of it she enjoyed choosing her activities, took part fully and had a blast.
Robo Boy (aged seven) was less keen. He enjoyed the activities he took part in, but he is less of a joiner generally and needed encouragement to take part.
The adults (Mr Purple and myself) had mixed feelings. There is no doubt that KidZania is an impressive place. It looks amazing, and is definitely very exciting and unique. However it does feel a little like capitalism for kids. Fine if you don’t mind your children being initiated in this concept but as a family who lean left politically it felt a little uncomfortable to be selling make money, spend money!
I also felt the activities really varied in quality. On the positive side watching Wonder Girl dressed in air hostess uniform handing out drinks to her passengers was delightful. Super Kid loved being a radio presenter and Robo Boy enjoyed trying his hand at photography. On the negative the beauty salon consisted of brushing the hair of a girls world, and not much else.
I was also concerned about wastage. In the chocolate making, ice cream making and cereal bar making activities the children used real ingredients to make the treat. However they were not given the treat they made. The chocolate making for example involved pouring chocolate into a mould but then my daughter got a packaged square of chocolate, so I’ve no idea what happened to the real ingredients.
Negatives aside the children absolutely loved the experience and I’m confident that they would definitely recommend a visit. For more information about KidZania visit their website.
*Disclosure: we were given tickets to KidZania in order to write this post. I am always honest with my opinions.