Kidzania, Where the kids are in charge!

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Have your children ever dreamt of becoming a Pilot, a Firefighter or an actor/actress?

Kidzania is child size city, situated on the roof of Westfield, London where the children are in charge! Not only with the job that they choose to do but also with what with they would do with the money that they would earn. There are more than 60 role play activities to try, each lasting anything from 10-20 minutes long. Each activity experience is designed to teach children the essential life skills including team work, independence and economy. Children are paid in Kidzos for every activity that they undertake. Upon entrance into Kidzania, children are given 50 kidzos. They then have the big decision as to what to spend their kidzos on, some activities you have to pay for or you can purchase goods at certain locations throughout the City. As soon as children have 70 kidzos they have the choice to use Kidzanias banking system, where they can debit their money into a bank account, receive a bank card and use the ATMs throughout the city. The debit cards are customised to each child with their name and signature.

Kidzania is all based on role play. Role play is an important part of children’s learning. Children get to pretend play, get into character and act out real life context to develop their knowledge of the role. Role play allows children to take risks, develop social skills, become creative and sparks their imagination.

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A couple of weeks ago, during October Half term, We were invited along to Kidzania to the special Halloween event. The children were excited about going and had spent time the previous day looking through all of the activities and deciding on what activity they wanted to try out. I would advice doing this before your visit as there are 60 role play activities to choose from and with only 4 hours in the city you don’t want to be disappointed when your time is up and you haven’t done what you wanted to do. Kidzania was easy to find within the shopping centre Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush. We was greeted by members of Kidzania on the ground floor and pointed into the right direction to the entrance. After travelling up a couple of escalators, we got the sense that we was a the airport and about to board a plane when we was greeted by a huge 18 mtr, 16 tonne A319 British Airways aircraft hanging above us. The boys couldn’t wait to get inside and see what it was all about. At check-in we was all given electronic wristbands, these are for safety reasons and a way of us parents finding out where our children are. With a map in hand, we was ready for our role-playing adventure.

Entering the city we was a little overwhelmed by it all, although the boys had done their research on the activities seeing it all in front of us confused us a little. There were children running around with kidzos in hand, tour buses passing by and a Fire Engine siren going off. We took a little walk around and finally settled on a bench outside of the university. Whilst we was waiting for the activity to start, we saw a few Zombies walking by and a group of Police Officers searching the premises for them. As it was Halloween, we were already pre warned that there were some Zombies on the loose.

halloween kidzThe boys thought that the going to Kidzania University was the most important of all activities to do first, not only do they get a Bachelor Degree but it helps them to earn more money on certain activities ie; Pilot and Doctor.

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As our little one is only 4 he was too young to be involved with the University as he couldn’t read and write on the computer by himself, I took him off to find somewhere else that would suit his age. As Dad is an Engineer and works with Air Conditioning units, Oliver was interested in finding out a little more about it. We made our way upstairs and found the air conditioning area. With his hi-vis and hard hat on he was ready to take to the pipes.

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As parents can not partake in the activities, bar a couple, they can not enter with the children. Oliver is a very shy little boy who lacks confidence when taking part in new things with out the support of someone he knows alongside him. I thought that this activity would be a good start for him as it was little like an indoor climbing play area. With a little encouragement and telling him that I was waiting right outside the exit for him, he went on in. With in minutes he was out and wanting to go back in. After 3 turns, he was handed over some kidzos for his hard work. With a big smile on his face, he was eager to try out some more activities.

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The next activity we turned up for, we had just missed! So we had to wait around for 15 minutes until the next one started. It’s tough for young children to wait, they get impatient and restless. We managed though. The boys chose to try out the Aviation Academy.

kidzania pilotThe Pilot gets taken away first to do a little training in the cockpit, where they get to learn about the crucial elements of navigating a real plane. Next the cabin crew are fitted up in the clothing and off they are taken to learn the safety instructions. For the last 5 minutes of the activity, parents are invited through to the plane (the actual BA plane) where you take your seat and follow the safety instructions given by the children. Our little one handed out some food and drink to us as he was in charge of the trolley. Children who choose to become a Pilot have to pay kidzos for the experience but those that choose cabin crew, earn kidzos. I think that’s why the youngest chose to try cabin crew because he was so excited on receiving kidzos on the first activity he wanted to get some more.

Outside of each activity, on the wall, is a plaque; stating what the activity is, how many children are allowed in, how long it will take, the suggested age and the salary they will earn or what they need to pay for it.

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There are many activities to choose from and not so easy to keep all of the children together, as one wants to try something a different from the other. We allowed the two eldest to go off on their own . It was easy to keep track of where they were with the security watch that they were given before we entered Kidzania. There are machines that you scan your watch onto and on the screen it will show you a map of the city and the activity that your children last scanned into. At the beginning and end of each activity, the child gets there security watch scanned by the staff.

DSC_2487_optI used this system a few times and found it to be really helpful.

As the boys wouldn’t be able to try out every activity I told them to only try what they really wanted to experience first, so that they wouldn’t be disappointed if they didn’t manage to fit it in before our time was up. They tried quite a lot, and you would be surprised on how the time goes by so quickly.

Between them these are the activities that they tried

  • Acting Academy
  • Air Conditioning
  • Animation Studio
  • Aviation Academy
  • Bank
  • Climbing Building
  • Courier Service
  • Dentist
  • Engineering Centre and Pit Lane Experience
  • Police Department
  • Science Lab
  • The Kidzania Newspaper
  • The Vault
  • University

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There are many more that they missed out on doing like the Fire & rescue unit and Hospital A&E but the queues for these were a long wait and my boys don’t do well in waiting. Even though they didn’t get to try them out they still came away at the end of the day with a huge smile on their face asking to go back again.

Whilst the children are off exploring Kidzania, there is an adults only area where you can relax, have a hot drink or a light lunch.

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There is a lot of waiting around for the children, as you as an adult, can not enter into the activities with them. The OH found the perfect place to sit a wait for them.

My son loves to climb so he was delighted to see that there was a climbing wall that he could try. He handed over his kidzos and got kitted out in the safety harness. There was no keeping him on the ground as soon as he was ready he was off climbing up the city walls. He’s like a little spiderman.

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After 4 hours of running around the city we was ready to make our way to immigration, where the airport team checked us out. The whole experience was fun and tiring.

Kidzania gives them a sense of how it would feel to work in an adult job and earn money. The design of kidzania is not just a simulation of the real world but it’s preparation for it.

We would definitely recommend a visit. The prices are the same as a theme park, but there are no thrill rides just fun adventures. Prices are a little more on weekends and adults pay a little less than a child. If your children are over 8 and have already been to Kidzania it is possible to leave them there without adult supervision but it is strongly advised that they are not alone and in a group of friends. Prices for a weekend visit are Child (4-14) £32  Adult (15+) £16.50 Early Years (1-3)  £10.00 Infants (under 1) Free

Please check the website for more prices http://london.kidzania.com/en-uk/

We received no payment for this post, pictures and words are my own. We was given a family entry for 4 into Kidzania for the purpose of this post. Thank you to The Communcations store for this experience

 

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