As a teacher I love role play corners. They gave my class the opportunity to learn through imaginary play. When I heard about KidZania in London, I knew we had to visit. They have created a child size city where children can take part in over 60 role play adventures. We took Adam’s beloved Keyworker from Pre-School and her girls (aged 11 and 14), who ironically I used to teach. After a morning spent at Tower Bridge Exhibition and M&M world, we took the underground to visit KidZania. Nothing could have prepared us for how amazing KidZania would be.
Based in Westfield London, KidZania is aimed at children 4-14 year old. It is a city where the kids are in charge. Children can take on a variety of different jobs. Each role-play experience is crafted to teach kids essential life skills including financial literacy, team work and independence.
Pre-booking for Kidzania is essential. It is open seven days a week and you are allocated a four hour slot. It is located between Marks & Spencers and Gap in the popular shopping centre. Your booking is initially checked before going up a series of escalators. The entrance to KidZania is set up like an Airline departure. When we arrived there were no queues and we were able to check in straight away.
Every person is given an electronic bracelet to wear. These have a radio frequency antenna and an identification chip installed. The bracelet is required to take part in each activity and allows your child to roam free within the city. No child can leave KidZania without being with the adult accompanied bracelet. I had been concerned with how Adam would cope with the bracelet but he was too swept away with the experience to notice.
Each child is given 50 KidZos in cash. This is like Monopoly money. It took us a little time to get our heads around the money concept as it wasn’t initially explained. However, a very helpful staff member explained once we were inside. Some activities within the city paid children in KidZos – like a salary. Some activities charged them a small amount of KidZos to participate.
The details of each activity are listed on the outside of every building, along with how many children can take part (usually 8), how long it will last for, the suggested age range and what the salary is. KidZania suggests you should be able to complete 4-6 activities during your visit.
Arriving in the KidZania city can be a little overwhelming at first. It feels like you are on a real street inside a town. It is slightly dark inside with street lights. Set out on two floors there are shops, a theatre, fire station, hospital and a stadium. KidZania is a child-centred experience. This means that parents can not participate in the activities. You can watch the activity through viewing windows. At first I struggled with this. I am used to supporting Adam due to his Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. Adam could have worn an awareness wristband which would have altered Zupervisors of Adam’s additional needs. However, as we were visiting with friends, I knew Adam could turn to them for assistance. I shouldn’t have been worried though because Adam thrived during each activity.
After a short walk around the venue, the girls opted to visit H&M Fashion Studio whilst Adam became a Police Officer. In the H&M Fashion Studio, the girls got to choose outfits and had their photographs taken. Inside the Police Station, Adam got to dress up in a police vest and helmet. In a majority of the activities there was an official photographer who took photos of your child dressed up. These are available to purchase at the end of your four hours.
Adam went on patrol with the other police officers. They walked around KidZania and discovered a fire. The police officers cornered off the hotel area and ensured that the public stood back. The Fire Brigade and Ambulance appeared and the three emergency services worked together until the fire was extinguished. This re-enactment of a hotel fire was played out every 20 minutes. Later on in the day Adam became a Fire Fighter. One of his highlights of the day was to use the hose to put out the fire.
Next the girls became Estate Agents and went into the City to gather the information needed to sell a house. Adam played golf in the large Stadium. During this time I watched a group of children create their own burgers in the Burger Shop and create different hair styles in the Beauty Salon.
The afternoon went very quickly. Between them, the kids changed a formula one car tyre in the Pit Lane Experience, visited the Smoothie Kitchen and they all made chocolate in the Cadbury’s Chocolate Factory. By now the kids had got hooked on earning KidZos. They were basing their activity decisions on how much salary they received.
The Zupervisers were extremely helpful and despite Adam being one of the youngest he was able to access all of the activities. Children 8 and over can enter the city unaccompanied whilst you go shopping. There is also an Adults Only Lounge and cafe which looks out onto the city if you did want some peace and quiet. However, we stayed within the city as we were fascinated by what the children were up to. There are machines around the complex which you can scan your own wrist band. It tells you what activities your child has been doing and the last location that they scanned in.
One activity that looked too adorable to miss was working in the Hospital. Dressed up as Maternity Nurses the kids got to care for newly born babies. Adam did get a bit over excited rocking the newborns in their cribs.
There was one activity I didn’t expect Adam to take part in but he requested to go on the Climbing Building. Luckily Adam met all the regulations – no flip flops, skirts and he was above the 1 metre minimum height. I was amazed when he voluntarily put on a harness and helmet. He thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of scaling the wall but also abseiling down it! So far we have been unable to find a climbing wall that will accept children under eight years old so I was thankful for the opportunity to see if Adam would enjoy the experience. You can view Adam in action here:
After a wonderful action packed four hours, it was time for the children to spend their well earned KidZos. Adults are not allowed to enter the shop and the attendants helped Adam and called him “sir.” It was at this point the children learnt a hard lesson in life. Despite earning a lot of money, their cash didn’t go far in the shop. Adam was able to buy an unbranded pencil, whereas the girls purchased a bracelet. If you are only making the one visit to KidZania we would recommend spending your KidZos on activities rather than saving it for the store.
At the end of your allocated four hours, the children’s wristbands no longer work. You are able to stay and enjoy the restaurants but for us it was time to make the long journey home. Before leaving KidZania we got to view the professional photographs taken throughout our visit. Individual photos were priced at £12 whereas two keyrings were £20.
Purchased photos are also available to download at home. I couldn’t resist this adorable photo of Adam being a Maternity Nurse.
We would highly recommend KidZania. Adam was captivated by the experience, despite being one of the youngest. He did activities I never thought he would do and thrived in the environment. The attraction certainly has a wow factor. Adam is already planning his next trip to KidZania. Between them the kids managed to explore ten out of the sixty activities. Becoming a pilot, working in the Ice Cream Factory and visiting the Tattoo Shop is on his priority list for next time! We were all blown away by the KidZania experience and it is one day out that is not to be missed. They even do adult evenings – why should the kids have all of the fun!
Disclaimer: We were given five tickets to review KidZania. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
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