KidZania: What do you want to be when you grow up?
I love to think about what my kids will be like when they grow up. What kind of job will they do? Where will they live? Will their favourite things be the same as they are now? We were thrilled when Days Out With The Kids asked us if we’d like to review KidZania – it was a chance to get a glimpse at what the future holds for our kiddos!
We headed to KidZania during the school holidays and at first, I was worried about whether it was going to be too busy but the queues were short and were even entertained as you enter via a very realistic British Airways airport and are ‘security checked’ and given your own ‘boarding pass’. You are then fitted with a security bracelet which enables you and your child to find each other should you ever become separated. It’s a really handy safety feature which meant that I allowed the children a little more freedom because I knew they were safe. Independence and child led activities is what KidZania is all about!
If you haven’t heard of KidZania before it is easy to find and is located within Westfield shopping centre in London - it’s a child-size city, and it offers children the opportunity to try out an enormous variety of jobs in a very impressive, life-like environment. Parents are strictly relegated to the sidelines and the children are allowed independence, earning money in the jobs of their choice. At check-in, the children were given 50 kidZos each so they could pay to participate in some activities such as face painting or climbing. Some of the more ‘popular jobs’ such as a firefighter also cost KidZos to take part. I loved this idea as it means that the children quickly learn that in order to be able to undertake all the jobs that they would like to, they need to do other jobs to earn enough money. It gave my children their first opportunity of paying for things themselves and having to make choices in priority of what they would most like to do.
If they have some spare kidZos at the end of the day, children can save it in a KidZania bank account for their next visit or spend the money in the shop at the end. One word of advice is that the shop is VERY expensive and so it might be better to spend the KidZos on the activities such as necklace making or gift card design which were better value for money.
The variety of activities at KidZania are almost endless! Roles include actor, advertising executive, air-conditioning engineer, pilot, hairdresser, chocolatier, doctor, chambermaid and surgeon. There really is something for everyone, and for those who have no idea what they’d like to try, there’s even a job centre! You can also take a degree at University which allows you to apply for a higher salary in some of the jobs.
Many of the jobs are interlinked. For example, our children tried out firefighting. Our mini firefighters started off with a training session which is ‘interrupted’ for them to jump into the fire engine to put out a fire in a burning building around the corner. Once there, they met the mini-police officers and mini-paramedics, who all worked together to successfully put out the fire, secure the area and treat injuries. It was like being part of one big play at the theatre, which my kids loved!
One of my daughter’s favourite roles was being part of the Cabin Crew in a life-like plane where they were taught how to run the security demonstration (I loved this one too because they served us a pretend meal at the end of their training session!) She also loved being a journalist and a courier! This was because as part of these jobs, you had to leave the training session (and therefore mum and dad) and navigate your way around the city by yourselves, delivering parcels and interviewing the other jobs about an article for the local newspaper. My top tip would be to advise your child to be a courier first because then they get to have a good look around KidZania and pick the jobs they most like the look of. My son’s favourite job was being an animator in the Pokemon Studio, he could use an animation package and create his own mini animation which he was very proud of. He also enjoyed working in the Just Eat cereal bar factory because he was able to be a chief taster of all the dried fruits!
There is so much to do that the 4-hour session goes very quickly but in this time our kids were able to try out 9 activities and they were thoroughly exhausted by the end! Another top tip is to always have a look around for some jobs that have very short queues. For example, the Chocolate Factory (as expected) was very popular and my children didn’t want to wait in a queue for it but we saw the Cereal Bar Factory didn’t have a queue and nipped in there. They were just as happy with a chocolate covered cereal bar at the end!
We made the tough decision to leave our three-year-old at home as we knew the minimum entry age is 4 years old. I think this was the best decision for us as there is very little that a child under four can do. There are some ‘Early Years’ attractions on the first floor where the older children are running a nursery but they also would not get the full benefit of all of the independence and activities if they don’t understand the value of money or are unable to be without their parents for short bursts of time. I feel the best age for maximum fun and value would be 5+. Some jobs are only open to the over 7s and so there are lots of things to keep older children entertained. Once they are 8 years old, they can navigate KidZania themselves and the parents can chill out in the aptly named ‘The Garden Shed’ coffee shop or go shopping in Westfield.
There are places to purchase food and drinks or have a meal within KidZania but we didn’t want to waste our valuable ‘activity time’ so we didn’t visit these but tickets also include a discount to some of the restaurants in Westfield which was perfect! Our children were famished after their exhilarating day of work!
There were so many jobs we didn’t get to try so we’d definitely love to visit again! KidZania was an absolute hit with our kids and with so much variety on offer – I honestly don’t think I could find a kid (or adult) that didn’t love it!