Over the Christmas period I introduced the children to one of my all-time favourite movies, Bugsy Malone. I was delighted when they loved it as much as I do. And why wouldn’t they? It’s a movie full of children acting as adults, holding down jobs, driving pedal cars and firing custard tarts out of ‘splurge guns’ at each other.
I don’t think I’m too wide of the mark to say that children – in general – love to play at ‘being grown-up’. It therefore didn’t take too much contemplation when deciding to take the children to KidZania – London, an indoor city run by kids!
Located within London’s Westfield shopping centre, KidZania blends learning and reality with entertainment.
We arrived at the ‘Check-in’ area (which heavily resembles an airport check-in) to be issued with our security bands and start our 4-hour adventure. The children were each given 50 Kidzos (the official currency of KidZania) and then ushered into the Jobs Information Centre, for a quick overview on how KidZania worked.
Essentially there are over 60 real-life activities, covering a wide-variety of professions for children to try. Some of the activities, which are job based – offer a Kidzo salary and some, which are more leisure-based – were offered at a Kidzo charge. For example, if your child took part in a 15-minute activity at the Police Academy, working as a police officer, they would earn 8 Kidzos. Alternatively, if they want to have their face painted at the Snazaroo face painting studio, they can for a charge of 15 Kidzos.
Professions ranged widely from a journalist to a British Airways pilot. Some of the activities my children tried were police officer, H&M fashion designer, Cadbury chocolate factory worker, courier, paramedic and supermarket employee.
I saw children become firefighters, window cleaners, radio DJ’s, formula 1 pit crew, animators – there was so much to choose from.
As they earn the money, they can spend it on leisure activities such as the climbing building (note: appropriate footwear required – no slip-on shoes) or even a ride on the KidZania tour bus.
Once a child has earned 75 Kidzos they have the opportunity to open a KidZania bank account and be offered their own bank card.
It’s a 4-hour session, so at some point children (and adults alike) may start to feel the pangs of hunger. Within KidZania, there is a GBK (Gourmet Burger Kitchen), a fast food restaurant and two cafe’s. To give you an indication of price, a five-item kid’s lunch box from the cafe costs £5. Two coffees and a bottle of water cost around £6. My family decided that we didn’t want to lose much of our session stopping for lunch, so we treated ourselves to a quick drink and cake (a nice sugar hit) before we ate in Westfield itself after leaving KidZania. This is something you might like to consider too (plus Westfield has a Five Guys, so it was a done-deal really!). Alternatively, for 2 Kidzos children can make their own GBK burger, and in the Eat Natural Fruit & Nut Bar Makery for 8 Kidzos, children can create and take-away their own Fruit & Nut Bar.
If your children are 8 or over, you are able to let them explore KidZania independently, allowing you some time in Westfield before collecting them at the end of the session. There is also an adult’s area within KidZania where you can relax whilst your child has fun.
They operate a good level of security: in order to leave you have to pass through the departure lounge, all security bracelets are scanned to ensure that children leave with the correct adults (or with no adults in tow for that matter!).
We covered around four occupations for each of our children and also three leisure activities per child during our session. (See Helpful Info below for how to potentially increase this.)
Overall, I thought KidZania was fantastic. I loved the look of the city and the activities on offer. More than anything I loved the message it delivered to kids – work, earn, play. When I asked the kids whether they would like to go back, I was met with a resounding “YES!” You can be confident that there will be something to keep a wide-range of personalities and ages (see Helpful Info below) occupied and entertained.
What my children said about KidZania London:
Could be the best place to go in the world! Kids are in charge and get to be whatever they want to be.
When you walk in it feels like a city. You get to go in lots of different jobs. I liked being a paramedic in the ambulance. You get to pretend to be grown-ups – it was fun being a grown-up.
- Book in advance online! You can save around £20 per child by booking in advance! I’ll say it again – book in advance online – save £££’s.
- It cost us £82 for a family of four (2 adults & 2 children over 4) booking online in advance. This was for a Sunday morning 11am session start.
- Children under 1 go free (children aged 1-3 enter for a reduced price).
- We drove to KidZania and parked at Westfield on a weekend for a charge of £9 (2-24 hours).
- This venue offers Birthday Parties.
- Download the map before you go. It’s helpful to have something to refer to when you are there. It will also give you an idea of the activities on offer. Discussing this with your child beforehand will help you to know what you want to cover whilst there.
- Small lockers are available for a charge. Cash-only on the day of our visit, but card payments coming soon.
- All food & beverage outlets accept card payment.
- The website states that KidZania is designed for children aged 4-14. My daughter is pretty mature for her age, but I think she would have struggled to really get the whole idea of KidZania much before the age of 6.
- We found the mobile signal to be practically non-existent once inside, free wi-fi is available.
- If like us, you have more than one child and need to separate in order to make sure everyone covers the activities they want, you might want to consider pre-arranging a meeting time and place on arrival.
- Be prepared to queue for activities. There is a maximum capacity per session per activity. With this is mind – as you might do at a theme park – make a beeline to the activities you suspect will be more popular early on, ensuring you have time to fit them in. As you might expect, activities such as the fire station and the aviation centre attracted the biggest queues. This is another reason why using the map in advance will help you to increase the amount of activities you are able to cover.
- If the children have any remaining Kidzos they are able to spend them in the ‘Duty Free’ store – but be aware, they will need a good amount of Kidzo’s in order to purchase anything. I would suggest scouting the store before entering KidZania to gain a clear idea of where you want to spend the Kidzos and how much you need to save.
- KidZania operates in over 24 locations worldwide
If you’ve been to KidZania and have any great tips to share – I would love to hear them!
If you have any questions about KidZania – London, just ask in the comment box below.