Jess writes: When mum told me and Robert that we were going to visit London’s new Kidzania in Westfield Shopping Centre, I instantly looked it up. I had no idea what a “child-size city where kids are in charge” could actually be, and what we would do there.
I quickly discovered that Kidzania is a “city” full of lots of different jobs and opportunities, where children earn KidZos for completing jobs such as firefighting and hair-styling, and can spend them on recreational activities such as drumming lessons or buy things at the Kidzania department store.
Although I loved the concept, I was slightly worried – the age range is four to fourteen years, and as a thirteen year old, I was worried that I might be too old for the majority of the “world”. Robert’s initial thoughts were very different to mine…
Robert says: When I heard that we were going to Kidzania I was extremely excited as I had never done anything like it. When I looked on the website there were so many things to do and I was worried that we wouldn’t have enough time to do everything. Fortunately your ticket lets you into the city for four hours and, as most activities were 10-30 minutes we could get loads in. I managed to complete every single job I had really wanted to do plus a few more. I managed to get through nine careers and I could’ve done more if I didn’t have to queue. Some jobs like the Vault or recycling never had a very long line to get in while with the chocolate factory or aviation academy you had to wait.
I was really excited when I heard that with the Kidzos you earned you could buy things. Unfortunately when our time was up and I entered the department store with 115 Kidzos I was disappointed at the rubbish prizes you could get and also how many Kidzos they cost. A tiny toy was worth 70 Kidzos which was about two and a half hours of work. The toy we eventually bought which looked quite cool was actually terrible and didn’t work. But apart from those things it was great.
Jess: Robert and I were given 50 KidZos each, and we decided to create Inncocent smoothies and become fruitologists. I was surprised by how many brands had sponsored shops in Kidzania – H&M had a fashion studio, and Renault had an engineering room, for example. Robert and I paid 12 KidZos to create the smoothies, and we were the only two people in the group. The activity started off with learning where pineapples, mangos and oranges are from, and tasting some of the fruit. We were shown how the smoothies are created, and got to see the machines that packaged the drinks. At the end, our smoothies fell out of the machine, ready for us to take away and drink.
The activity was obviously intended for children around Robert’s age, but I didn’t dislike it. I was interested to see how smoothies were packaged, and definitely liked getting a smoothie at the end!
Robert: One of my favourite careers was the hand bell ringer which was surprising as it sounded a bit dull and boring. After talking a bit about world time zones and GMT we put on our costume, a smart red shirt and a hair net (as a hairnet is used in various activities you keep it with you until the end). Because we had half the number of people needed, we each picked up two bells, all of which were different colours. Then we were shown how to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star using the bells. We practised the tune inside the clock tower before walking onto the balcony. Then we performed our piece of music to the whole square. It was really fun.
The hotel was brilliant as we learnt to be a receptionist – and how to stand, talk and smile before performing our new skills to another child who had dressed up to be a guest. We filled in a sheet consisting of lots of questions about their stay before explaining to the guest the many things they could do in Kidzania. I really liked being a receptionist as it involved lots of drama, although another reason was the man doing it. Some of the adults who supervised and explained the activities were not so happy and enthusiastic, most of them were ok but there were a few that were super nice and funny. The best ones were at the hotel and doing the newspaper.
Jess: The newspaper was probably one of my favourite activities, as it wasn’t too long, we were given our newspapers at the end and the adults didn’t talk to me as though I was the same age as the rest of the children. However, I did find it weird that I was taking part in the same activities as five year olds. At one point I was about to go into the engineering centre, but walked away as a group of very young children joined the queue.
The radio station was the best activity by far; along with four other children, Robert and I put on lanyards and presented a radio show on Capital Radio. The instructors were really nice, and there was a special video made for us by Dave Berry and Lisa Snowdon, presenters of the Capital Breakfast Show. I was “presenter one” and Robert was “presenter two”, meaning that we got to introduce songs and the different segments of the show. It was actually exciting to talk into the microphones and see the “On Air” signs, and I bonded with another girl who looked about my age over our mutual dislike of One Direction!
Robert: Not all the careers were meant to be fun, some were educational. I found this when being a recycling specialist. We learned that when used paper was shredded then kept over night soaked in water and afterwards blended into a paste it could make another piece of paper. We scooped up some of the paste, shook off all the water then turned it upside down onto a cloth. Then carefully I moved the cloth into a place where it could dry. Soon enough I had my own piece of recycled paper. It was grey and not that rectangular but it was useable. This is a really good career to choose as it is fun, you learn things and you take something home that you made.
The point of being a vault guard apprentice and courier is to deliver parcels and sacks to buildings all around the city. The vault guard apprentices had a talk on how to know if money was fake or not before delivering sacks of money all over Kidzania while the couriers delivered big boxes and parcels to the various places. After giving an adult their object you made them sign. Both jobs were extremely fun as you got to run around, plus as an extra bonus you got to use walkie- talkies.
Jess: As Robert and I split up, we did a lot of different activities. I really enjoyed taking a drumming lesson, as the drums were really cool and there was no pressure of messing up. The lady who was taking the class was helpful and friendly, and by the end of the twenty minute lesson we had been taught a basic beat and a drumroll.
I also liked creating fruit and nut bars in the Eat Natural kitchen. We got to taste apricots, sultanas, dates, dried bananas, chocolate and dried rice before weighing them out, mixing them with honey and putting them in moulds to bake. We were given bars at the end of the session, and they were delicious! The lady running the workshop was lovely and smiley.
There was one job I took part in which I genuinely didn’t enjoy – creating strawberry Mini Milks in the Wall’s kitchen. The milk powder for the lollies had run out so we were forced to use water, and the pasteurising machine leaked. We had to wait around while the woman inside of the workshop wasted time trying to fix it, which was quite annoying. At the end of every food experience we were given a product to take home, but not here. I was quite upset at this, as there were boxes of the ice lollies on the table, and I had paid 12 KidZos to become a Mini Milk maker!
Robert: When being a policeman you get to run around the city looking for criminals and rule breakers. This sounded really fun but unfortunately when it was my turn to be a police man we had no time for that and rushed off to the flamingo hotel. Every half an hour the building “burst into flames” and the firemen ride onto the scene on a mini fire truck. While the firemen and women shoot water at the flames the police stand with their arms out for ten minutes. This is great for the firemen and not so great for the police. My arms were aching by the end of it!
In Kidzania there are lots of vehicles to see and use. As I just said the firemen and women use a fire truck, the doctors and medical staff use an ambulance and tour buses go around showing people the city. At the entrance there is a special kidzania car and being a mechanical engineer or pit lane crew allows you to do things with a big shiny race car.
Taking a course at the University allows you to get double the amount of KidZos you would normally get when doing a job. So if you take the medical course you get double the pay when being a dentist, doctor or nurse. I sadly did not go to the University as the courses on did not interest me, so remember to check what you are doing before doing it.
Jess: In conclusion, I enjoyed Kidzania more than I expected. Although I felt strange taking part in activities where I was double the rest of the group’s height, I still found different people to talk to who were around my age. I’m sure that if I had a friend with me, we would have had a laugh and taken part in loads of activities. I thought it was really well done, and loved drumming and eating the food that I had seen being created. Overall, Kidzania seems like an excellent day out for children aged around eleven and younger, but older children would probably enjoy it more if they had someone else their own age with them.
Robert: I loved every part of part of Kidzania and my final tips are:
- Every hour all the staff start dancing, be sure to look out for that. Some of the adults really have moves!
- Go to the things you really want to do first. Being a pilot or a member of cabin crew is really popular and there is usually a long wait.
- Some people don’t notice it but there is a climbing wall, so go on that.
It was a brilliant and very unique day out I would definitely go again.
A child ticket for a four hour slot at Kidzania is £28.00, and an adult (aged over 15) is £16.50. Toddlers aged one-three are £10.00, and babies under one are free. Full pricing information can be found on the website. We were given complimentary tickets in order to write about the experience, but all our views are completely our own.
The only thing our parents would add is that the adults don’t really have anything to do inside Kidzania, except for run around after us, or wait while we queue, so their tickets do seem quite pricey (there is a parents’ room, but you have to buy drinks and food in there too, which increases the price further). However, Mum and Dad did notice that not many children had both parents with them (perhaps one was shopping in the Westfield!) They would also warn that you do have to queue for some of the activities, which may make younger children tetchy. However, they have never seen anything like Kidzania and loved that the children there were entertained and busy without recourse to a screen!
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