Kidzania has arrived in London. Take a trip to Westfield, in Shepherds Bush to come and join the fun. We were delighted to be asked by MumsNet to go and visit and see what it was all about.
Kidzania is a new concept, for children aged 4-14. What is it about? Here is what they say:
“Imagine a 75,000sq.ft child-size city where kids are in charge! Have your kids ever dreamt of becoming a pilot, a firefighter, or the next acting sensation? Watch the excitement on their faces as they try out more than 60 real-life role-play activities in the bank, on stage or fighting crime on the streets as a police officer!
Each role-play experience is crafted to teach kids essential life skills including financial literacy, team work and independence. Designed to empower kids, KidZania gives them the confidence to challenge themselves and inspire them to explore the world of opportunities.
The way Kidzania is set up, you feel you are travelling from an airport. It’s quite a clever concept. You literally feel like you are walking up to an airport check in desk, and about to take a flight. You are signed in, and given a security bracelet for you and your child/children. This not only helps you and them keep track of what activities your family is taking part in, but also acts as a sort of tracking device. You can use it to check where your children or adult parties are, via their special system and children cannot leave the premises wearing one, as an alarm triggers. (I half jokingly told the staff that I wanted one for when my kids are teenagers so I can keep tabs on them… 😉 )
Once you are signed in, you head off to explore the town and your children can choose what activities they would like to take part in. Each child is given a set amount of kidZo currency and with some of the activities they earn more of this, like a salary, or they have to choose if they want to spend some, to take part. This is a really clever but simple way to get children to think about budgeting and spending or saving their money.
There is huge choice of activities that children can take part in, I have to say I was impressed at what was available. They focus on different areas that children might be interested in learning more about, from working in the emergency services/hospital to learning what it would be like to work in a bank, or a shop. There were activities for children keen to try out singing, dancing or drama, and then perform them, and creative activities too, like painting a piece of artwork. Each activity runs like a mini workshop, with children able to get into costumes or dress up (for example like a nurse, or doctor, the police force, or fire service) and then listen to a little talk on what the job involves and then take part in activities around that, and earn their salary. The sessions vary from 10- 20 minutes depending on what activity is chosen. The children are signed into each activity with their wrist bands, and are fully supervised by adults during the sessions. Parents and carers can watch the activity but don’t actually go into the class with them. There are lots of places to grab a snack and sit whilst you wait, or you can pop up to the child free, rather peaceful parents lounge for a coffee and use of the free WiFi.
My 8 year old LOVED it. She chose to do activities where she learned what a nurse, a police officer, a surgeon, a paramedic and a forensic scientist do. She thoroughly enjoyed each session and came out telling me all about what she had learned each time. She loved earning “money” for these. She also chose to spend some money to take part in some crafts and taking part in a painting session. Because I was confident that she was safe and happy during the sessions I wandered around exploring what was happening, and popped off for a coffee. I was able to check where she was using the wristband system they have, and meet up with her when she was done.
It was busy, but seemed well managed and organised. The staff were friendly and helpful and the toilet facilities were clean and easy to find.
It’s definitely aged at school children, not younger children/toddlers. There is a baby/toddler area, which I popped in to check out, which seemed nice. I would definitely say that it’s not a place for children not ready to be left by their parents. They aim to reach 4-14 year olds, but I spotted one or two parents with children younger who weren’t really getting much out of the visit, although it does say the age recommendation on their site, quite clearly.
We really enjoyed our visit, were very impressed over all, we will visit again, and would recommend it to encourage children to explore and learn. In fact, I am going to mention it to our school as a potential school trip venue for next term.
Kidzania gets the thumbs up from both adults and kids at the Mad House of Cats & Babies…
*I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity*