Last month we were invited to Kidzania London to give our children their first (fun!) taste into the world of work as guests of 365 Tickets, an online ticket retailer that offers huge discounts for the biggest and most popular attractions in the UK and around the world.
Located within Westfield, KidZania London is a child-size city, set up like a shopping mall, where the kids are in charge. Kidzania offers children the opportunity to try out an enormous variety of jobs in a very impressive, life-like environment, where parents are strictly relegated to the sidelines and the children have to put some effort in to earn their keep – if only the real world was like this!
KidZania is clearly signposted within Westfield, but it’s also very easy to find on the first floor next door to Marks & Spencer thanks to the huge aeroplane marking the entrance.
The airport-style check in made the children excited about what was to come and they loved having their ‘boarding cards’ (tickets) scanned and having to pass through ‘immigration’ before they could enter. The helpful staff fitted each of us with a security bracelet that zaps the little ones in and out of each activity and enables the adults to keep tabs on them at all times. It also ensures your child’s safety as they can only be checked out of the City with you present and it records any allergies your child has.
At check-in the children were also given 50 kidZos (currency) each so they could pay to participate in some of Kidzania’s most popular jobs. Whilst it seems counter intuitive to make children pay for some of the jobs (you should get paid for working shouldn’t you?), it’s actually a great idea as it means that the children quickly learn that in order to be able to undertake all of the jobs that they would like to, they need to do other jobs to earn enough money.
If they do enough ‘paying jobs’ and have some spare kidZos at the end of the day, children can save it in a KidZania bank account for their next visit or spend the money in the shop at the end. Sadly mine did neither of these things as they spent their last kidzos that they’d earned, making pom pom necklaces and having their faces painted!
‘Designed to empower kids, KidZania gives them the confidence to challenge themselves and inspire them to explore the world of opportunities. KidZania is a real life role play experience for 4-14 year olds, blending learning and reality with entertainment. Each role-play experience is crafted to teach kids essential life skills including financial literacy, team work and independence’.
The employment opportunities at Kidzania are almost endless and hugely varied. Roles include actor, advertising executive, air-conditioning engineer, air-line pilot, beauty stylist, bell ringer, chocolatier, customer manager at the department store, the list goes on and I’ve only gone as far as ‘C! There really is something for everyone, and for those who have no idea what they’d like to try, there’s even a job centre!
Many of the jobs are interlinked. For example, once trained at the fire station, our mini firefighters jumped into the fire engine to put out a fire in a burning building round the corner. Once there, they met the mini-police officers and mini-paramedics, who all worked together to successfully put out the fire, secure the area and treat injuries.
For some reason, one of our favourite occupations was that of the courier, who ferried packages to and from various businesses throughout the town, where they were signed for just as we do in our more mundane, less upbeat, adult lives. Navigating the city was a good challenge for the littles and they loved taking it in turns wheeling the trolley and getting their clipboard signed as they handed over the packages.
The supermarket was also a big hit, and Phoebe absolutely loved working in the maternity unit despite the fact she could barely see over the table!
The staff, playing the roles of doctors, nurses, police officers, firemen, cooks, shop assistants, bank clerks, tattoo artists etc. were all friendly and patient, and critically, were fully committed to the roles they were playing, which is what makes the experience so realistic for the children.
In KidZania the tickets are timed to 4 hours, but within that time our children became chocolate makers, cashiers, shoppers, firefighters, maternity nurses and couriers amongst other things and it’s definitely enough time to get through a vast array of jobs, queues permitting of course!
As we’d been invited to review Kidzania for the blog, they very kindly allowed Phoebe to take part in all the activities despite being two years too young. This meant that she was an honorary four year old for the day and allowed to participate in all the same activities and jobs as Jack, Bea and Ted (their lovely cousins) which was a huge relief as we could have had a huge meltdown on our hands if she has been limited to just the Science Laboratory, RightZKeepers play house and Kindergarten.
Situated on the first floor, these ‘Early Years’ attractions, all offer unique interactive play opportunities for those under 4 years of age, but they definitely wouldn’t have kept Phoebs entertained for longer than an hour, and especially if she knew what fun the others were having in the city without her!
It’s also worth mentioning that if you’re planning on going to Kidzania as a solo parent with two or more children and one of those being an under four year old, it would be nigh on impossible to get the most out of the place, as you aren’t allowed to leave children over the age of four unattended until they are eight years old and you obviously couldn’t be in two places at once. So ideally bring your partner or a friend to help even out the ratios and enable you all to get your money’s worth.
Children from the age of 8 years can be left on their own at KidZania enabling adults to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet in the ‘Grown Ups Garden Shed’ with its board games, TV area and comfy sofas or in one of the numerous cafes dotted around the city.
We weren’t made aware about it until near the end of our time at KidZania but on our next visit we’ll purchase a B-KidZanian PaZZport for the kids as we all know how much children love getting stamps in books! Not only that, B-KidZanians receive more benefits to enjoy at KidZania London, including fast-track access to the City once you arrive at the Airport, discounts at KidZania Shops and the chance to earn more kidZos!
Thanks so much to 365 Tickets for a brilliant day out. Despite being slightly too young to really make the most of it all (they have no idea about the value of money yet for example), the children were totally engrossed for the four hours we were there and thoroughly enjoyed participating in all the different jobs. In fact, they can’t wait to return on our next trip to London in April!
If you’re looking for discounted tickets at unbeatable prices, from theatre tickets in London’s West End to passes to Disneyland Paris, you must check out the 365 Tickets website. You can also keep up to date with their latest offers by following 365 Tickets on Facebook and Twitter.
Disclaimer: I was very kindly sent the tickets for the purpose of this review, but all words, opinions and photographs are my own.