There is no question that Kidzania is a unique experience. You have a very good idea what to expect when going to most theme parks, museums and other attractions. When you’re told you’ll be visiting “an indoor city run by kids,” the possibilities are endless and possibly make you feel a little nervous!
Have no fear, it is nothing like Lord of the Flies! While it has to be seen to be truly appreciated, kids do indeed have the opportunity to earn Kidzos by working as TV presenters, radio presenters, shop assistants, fire fighters, police officers and so on.
Helen, Izzy and I have been to Kidzania London a couple of times, most recently during the recent Christmas break. It’s located inside the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush in the West of the city. Here’s what happened during our recent visit and what we thought of it.
Kidzania: Is it really a city run by children?
The answer to that question is yes…..and no. What the designers have done is created a scaled-down city with features most kids would recognise. There is a Metro newspaper, there is a chocolate factory run by Cadbury’s, there is an H&M clothes store, the radio station is run by Capital FM and so on.
Children can visit each organisation and take part in activities. They can either be a casual observer and pay to take part or they can choose to work and earn Kidzos for their efforts.
The Kidzania experience is unquestionably a very special one that puts a lot of responsibility on the kids. Adults, however, do oversee every activity and are always on hand so it’s not a crazy free for all!
On arrival and safety measures
On arrival at Kidzania London, you are given British Airways-style boarding passes. It’s fitting as you going ona journey of sorts.
Everyone in your party, adults and children, will be issued with a special wrist band. If anyone tried to leave Kidzania while wearing the wristband, alarms will sound and staff will be alerted.
The entire city is spread over two floors. It’s probably about the size of a small department store.
The first time we went, I stuck to the kids like glue as I was worried about them getting lost. Second time around, I was a bit more relaxed as we all knew our way around.
During our most recent visit, I felt quite comfortable telling Helen, our almost-10-year-old, that she could go off, do an activity or two on her own and meet us at an agreed time. At six years of age, I felt Izzy was still a bit young for this so we stayed together unless she was doing an activity, in which case I waited outside with the rest of the mums and dads.
How busy does Kidzania get?
Here’s a hint for you, we arrived just after the doors opened and for the first hour or so, Helen and Izzy were able to stroll up to all the activities they wanted to do and walk straight in. At busier times, kids must sit on benches outside and wait their turn.
That said, this is one of the benefits of Kidzania. Only a small, limited number of children can undertake each activity. Numbers are usually kept to about eight kids at a time so they receive a lot of attention.
Kidzos: How to save them and spend them
When you arrive, children will be given 80 Kidzos. As I’ve explained, children can either spend Kidzos and passively observe activities, or they can be paid in Kidzos for working.
Kidzos can be spent in the gift shop on the way out. Just be advised that your kids will need to earn a lot of Kidzos if they want to buy anything substantial. After a visit of about three hours, Helen and Izzy had earned just enough to buy key rings. Better to explain this to your kids before you arrive so their expectations are realistic (although mum and dad can top-up their earnings with sterling if feeling generous).
Kids can also set up a bank account and pay their Kidzos into it. They’ll be issued with a card that they can use to withdraw their money from special cash points or use as a debit card to buy things from the gift shop.
Another tip for you based on our experience. While Helen was fine using the cash point on her own, Izzy needed a little help. They have been simplified to make it easier for young kids to use them, but kids of Izzy’s age may need mum or dad to make withdrawals.
Most importantly, what did Helen and Izzy get up to?
With Kidzania being a bit quieter during our recent visit, the kids really got around. They experienced it’s latest attraction, a city bus tour operated by Original Tour.
They both had a go at radio presenting with Capital FM and Helen also had a go at presenting the news in a TV studio. While Helen was doing that, Izzy made chocolate with Cadbury’s.
Conversely, while Izzy was putting out a fire at the Flamingo Hotel, Helen was abseiling up and down the outside of a building and they both had a go at learning dance routines.
Cost, tickets and more information
There’s are a variety of different tickets available. As a guide, however, at the time of writing, an individual ticket for children aged 4-14 years started at £18.
Do also be advised that most of the activities are aimed at children of this age. There are a small number for children younger than four years of age, but the majority of the Kidzania activities are for kids who are school-aged.
You’d be well advised to book tickets before going to Kidzania London. To buy tickets or for further information, pay a visit to the Kidzania website.
Independence, independence, independence
Kidzania makes a bit thing of the fact it is an educational experience. I don’t disagree with that, but I think it’s biggest selling point is the fact it encourages independence.
As I’ve said, children who are old enough can go off and enjoy themselves in a safe environment. They also get lessons in handling money and a lesson in being rewarded for hard work.
Don’t take my word for it though. Helen said the best bit about Kidzania is that: “You can find out what jobs are like and if you want to do them when you are grown up.”
Izzy, meanwhile, said: “I enjoyed Just Dance, being a firefighter and making chocolate. I definitely look forward to going again.”
Excited to be a Kidzania Ambasador
I’m delighted to finish this article on a high note. This is the first of several articles i’ll be writing about Kidzania as I have accepted an offer to be a Kidzania ambassador throughout 2019. If you have any questions about Kidzania or would like to know more about it, please do leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help.
Disclosure: As mentioned above, I have been appointed an ambassador for Kidzania London and am being compensated for my time. Thoughts and opinions entirely my own.