My two children have very different approaches to growing up. My energetic nine year old girl can’t quite decide: Chef, ballerina, shop worker at Hamley’s or maybe an olympic swimmer. She seems to relish the idea of getting older, and actively enjoys learning how she can earn money to ‘buy things’ (you may remember my post on how we decided to give her pocket money). My son, is not quite as eager. He has confessed to me he worries about getting a job as he doesn’t even know how to do a tie up, and he finds applying for a job quite confusing: ‘What, you just ask for one?’. However, I have told both of them there is plenty of time and that being a kid is principally about having fun.
So what better than a place that let’s you pretend to be an adult and you can have loads of fun doing it? That is just what Kidzania is.
A small, child- sized town has been constructed, where children can role play various careers ranging from a newspaper delivery job to a fashion model. This enables them to earn a salary which then gives them money to be able to spend in the sweet shop, department store, or on exciting experiences within the world. The children were checked in via an airport style check in desk – they were given 50 Kidzania pounds, a wristband which records all they do whilst they are there (it also doubles as a security wristband so they can’t get lost) and off they went into the world of Kidzania.
As we walked into the town, it really was quite sceptacular, the fit out is quite something – it’s like a filmset, with ambulances and fire engines whirring around with children running here and there as they complete their jobs and tasks.It was full of shops, a theatre, a garage, a stadium, and even a nightclub and tattoo parlour! Within seconds, my children were gone: My son became a policeman fighting crime on the streets of Kidzania, whilst my daughter headed straight for the Capital Radio studios where she presented the show. With their first salaries in their sticky paws, they made their decision that the aim of the game was to get 100 Kidzania pounds so they were eligible for a kidzania bank account, and, wait for it, their own debit card. There was even an ATM so they could withdraw money as they needed it.
As both my children were over 7, they were able to roam the town unsupervised. This worked well for my confident 9 year old who zoomed around the town taking on many jobs, and reaching that elusive £100. My son, a slightly shyer child, was a little overwhelmed, and did spend a little time just wandering and not participating. I think if he’d been alone, he wouldn’t have done much – we pushed him towards a few things until he found his feet. In theory, they can both be left unaccompanied, whilst you enjoy the other pleasures of Westfield, London. However, I think it would help kids like my son if there were a few organised tours so to speak, where they take them to 2/3 jobs to make sure they are making the most of their trip there. That said, 7 and 9 are brilliant ages to be visiting Kidzania.
Both children undertook a raft of jobs: Working as a hotel receptionist, couriering parcels, delivering money for the vault, beautician, performing a life-saving liver transplant and working in the power station. There were many more jobs – even in the three hours, there just wasn’t enough time to do it all.
As my children were so keen to gain their bank accounts, they avoided the careers that charged: such as the firefighting and training to be a pilot. However, now they know their credit cards that are loaded up with kidzania pounds are valid for a year – they will be back to spend that money!
My tips for a successful Kidzania trip are:
- There’s a tour bus which takes you round, it helps orientate you and gives you a run down on how to make the most of your visit.
- Decide on a couple of jobs your child really wants to do – there are (short) queues, so wait for them, and then you’ve done what you really wanted to do.
- Some have a charge (deductible from your kidzania pounds!) – make sure your child is aware
What we loved:
- The parent room: Once they got the hang of it, we relaxed with a flat white. I did notice it was licensed too …
- The Capital FM radio station was brilliant
- The flight deck contains part of a fuselage – it looked fantastic
- There were strong messages to recycle, keep yourself healthy and to be kind
What could be better:
- A little direction for the shyer child
- The stadium is often booked for parties and so while we were there none of the sporting activities were available
- The wifi signal kept dropping (hence a lack of instagrams!)
Overall, this mini town is definitely worth a look. Did it help my children decide on their career choices? At this stage, probably not, but they had a whole load of fun trying it all out, and what’s more, they want to go back. Preferably, very soon!
I am a member of Mumsnet Blogger Network (www.mumsnet.com/blogger-network), a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not been paid to attend Kidzania, but did receive free entrance. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity