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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Sunset Safari at London Zoo

Ever wanted to experience the magic of the zoo after hours?

London Zoo have a special after hours summer evening event running every friday until 17th July 2015, where visitors get to watch the sun go down amongst the company of many of the 750 animal species from around the world. Listen to many of the fascinating talks that are being held around the zoo, learn about the animals at special times of the evening from their keepers.

The zoo opens up at 6pm and closes at 10pm, with most of the exhibits closing between 8:30 and 9:30. Everyone needs their sleep, even the animals!

As the sun sets visitors are invited to relax at the Safari Base Camp in one of the many comfortable chairs and beds that are scattered around the Lawn, with an acoustic guitar performance providing an idyllic end to what promises to be an unforgettable evening. And if you are an adult, there are plenty of waterholes to grab a glass or bubbly or a pint of lager from (your even allowed to roam around with glass/plastic in hand)

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The middle boy and I visited the zoo on Friday 3rd July, it was a birthday present to my son as he absolutely loves animals. He was really excited to meeting all of the animals but I was a little worried that it was going to be a late night for him. I didn’t plan on staying until closing time as we had to travel back home using public transport and didn’t want to be out too late with him. I planned on leaving at about 9.

We arrived at the zoo for about 6:30 and the first place that we went to was to go and see the Lemur. The animals are in an enclosure that you can walk through so if you are lucky enough the Lemurs can come up close to you.

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As Joseph was posing in front of some of the Lemurs, one of them came right up behind him. He was a little scared at first but the Keeper told him to stand still and just let the Lemur come close. He was very happy to see them up so close and couldn’t believe he got the chance to be within breathing distance to them.

We went off through the Nightlife and Rainforest area on our way to see the Otters. We saw Fruit Bats, Mice, Rats and Meerkats.

We were very lucky to see the Otters being fed at the Otter Holt. They were very noisy and it seemed that one of them took a fancy to Joseph as she just kept screaming at him, and he was mimicking the noises back at her.

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We couldn’t wait around as we had lots of areas to cover in such a short space of time.

We made our way along the canal to ‘Into Africa’ my favourite place! Giraffes I adore them!

The Giraffes are so graceful and beautiful, with their long slender legs and smooth fur. As we stood on the bridge looking over at them, one decided to gallop over and take some feed from the basket that was just hung up on the bridge in front of us.

Hello there!
Hello there!

So beautiful!

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Just next to the Giraffes are the Zebras and Pygmy Hippos

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There are plenty of statues scattered around the zoo to pose with and play areas to explore

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Lots of photo opportunities around the zoo too

With so much to see and do, we hurried round the Aquarium and the Reptile HousePicMonkey Collage reptiles

And went off to Tiger Territory to search out some Tigers, we saw them laying down up high on a balcony in their enclosure, probably time for bed!

The next place we went was to meet the Monkeys. As we walked through the enclosure, I heard a rustle within the trees. Joseph and I searched through the leaves with our eyes and was greeted by this little dude

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He was nibbling away on some of his food but was happy enough to run down a branch to say hello to us and then run back into his hideaway amongst the branches.

We was almost to the end of our night at the zoo, but not without a visit to Joseph’s favourite mammal, the Penguin! Joseph adores these species, so we saved the best til last. It was crowded at the Penguin Beach when we got there as it was Penguin Chill Out time. There was a little show going on so we found a little spot towards the back of the pool and waited by the glass to see if a Penguin would swim by

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Just to see the smile on his little cute face was enough to last me a lifetime.

It was time to go home, the sun was setting and the sky becoming dark. We had a brilliant time and Joseph has asked to go back again next year. He told me on the way home that it was the best present ever!

There are two more dates available for London Zoo Sunset Safari 10th and 17th July. Ticket prices are Adult: £20.80 Child: £14.56

 

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A perfect weekend in London, Top 5 places to visit

Living so close to the big City has its advantages. We are just a 35 minute tube ride away from entering the City of London and as a family we it is our prefered place to visit for a day out. There is so much to do and see, that every time we visit there is always something new that we haven’t seen before. There is something quite special about London at night-time and we often take a car journey through London just to drive over the Bridges and see the City lit up. The best bridge is Tower bridge as you get to see the Tower of London all lit up and look down the Thames towards the City.

Our top five places to visit in London are:

  • 1.  Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. This place is huge! We have taken our bikes before and cycled around the whole park, It was so nice to cycle through the park on the big wide cycle lanes safely. Summer time is the best time to visit the park as you can cool down your aching, tired feet (from all of the walking) in the Diana Memorial Fountain or you can take a dip in the Serpentine Lido. Keep your eyes peeled for all of the statues spotted around the park. As you walk over the W Carriage Drive into Kensington Gardens, you will be taken back to 1902 and get to meet Peter Pan. The statue is situated along side The Long Water. Once you have met Peter Pan the children can then use their own imagination and creative play in Diana Memorial Playground. The playground was inspired by the stories of Peter Pan to encourage children to explore and follow their imagination. More about our days out here

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  • 2. The National Army Museum. Situated in Chelsea, a 12 minute walk away from Sloane Square station, along Royal Hospital Road. Here you will find a museum that museum that moves, inspires, challenges, educates and entertains. This museum is a favourite of my boys, not only do they get to learn about the story of the British Army and its role in history but a kids zone where children explore aspects of army life from camping to clothing. It includes a dedicated soft-play space for babies, plus arts and crafts, dressing-up costumes, books, interactive toys and a castle fortress.
Photo from littlebird
Photo from littlebird

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  • 3. The Emirates Airline Cable Car. Catch the cable from Emirates Royal Dock or Emirates Greenwich. We took a ride in it from the Docklands side, it was easy to get to from the Royal Victoria station on the Docklands line. Travel across the River Thames in a glass globe and see London from a different perspective with beautiful views and sights below. To add to the breath-taking views there is also an on-board tour as part of the Discovery experience. The audio and visual tour takes you through a series of fascinating hidden stories about the sights of East London. On board, as you travel 90m up above the river, you get to see London’s most famous sights including the 02, Thames Barrier and Royal Docks. A single journey can take up to 10 minutes.

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  • 4. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Made famous for the legacy of the Olympics 2012, The olympic park is now open to visitors to explore and enjoy. In the south of the park you will find a climbing wall, adjacent to the Arena and a little play area

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In the North of the park is Tumbling Bay Playground that features rock pools, sand pits, tall tree houses, and wobbly bridges, as well as slides, swings and plenty of space to run about. It’s like a little magical, mythical, fantasy world where children can play in a natural environment and be creative with their thoughts and imagination. Read about our day out here

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Next door to the Tumbling Playground is the Lee Valley Velo Park where you get to recreate the olympics by trying out the track indoors and outdoors. My boys loved trying out the BMX track.

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  • 5. ST Katherine’s Dock. Live the marina life in London, just a short walk from The Tower of London, you will be amazed at how beautiful this place is. ST Katherine’s Dock is London’s hidden gem, the former dock has been transformed into an elegant marina with abundance of shops and restaurants. This is my sons favourite place to visit, he wrote about it here. Take a stroll around the marina, look at all of the stunning yachts, you may even get to watch one come in through the lock.

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All of the above would make a perfect weekend for us and even better if we got to stay in a Hotel, staying in the centre of London means you get to the top attractions first nd you can fit more into the day. The Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington is currently offering 50% off connecting rooms this February, March and April, providing even better value for families. (2015)

Available weekends, and every day during half term and Easter, the hotels Family Fun offer gives you the opportunity to spend quality time with your family whilst enjoying the sights and sounds London has to offer.  You won’t need to worry about breakfast either as full English breakfast is included.
This is Mumofthreemusketeers entry into Tots100 and The Royal Garden Hotel competition to win a five-star stay for the family in the hotel. 
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