KidZania is a real life mini city located on the first floor of Westfield next to M&S. You can not miss it with a British Airways plane sticking out above the entrance. The interactive entertainment complex provides opportunities for dressing up and role play, to explore different jobs and activities independently in a fun and educational environment. The idea is to work, earn, play and have fun!
What a lovely concept!! I don’t remember how I learnt about KidZania but it was my dream to take Ay here as soon as I saw it. I was sure he will love it, just like he did the Children’s Play village in Warwickshire. This is at a much grander scale though.
The concept is brilliant and the place is amazing itself. Its just that it was tooooooooo crowded. I purposely chose a weekday to avoid peak times, unfortunately, my heart dropped when I saw a queue of about 30 children from school visit infront of us. That was only the beginning. Inside there were at least 3-4 more school visits (if not more).
Most activities only allow 8 children at a time and take about 20 minutes to do. The queues were so long, it was unbearable and the waiting times soon became tedious. Being constantly indoors didn’t help either. The KidZania experience was meant to last four hours. I am not joking when I say that we spend more than half of our time in queues and managed four activities. It was almost chaotic. If you had more than one kid with you and they both wanted to do different activities, I am not sure how one person could even manage that.
I also feel that some of the activities could be done a bit differently e.g. the fire rescue. When one group was out in the fire engine to put out the fire, the next group could be started off in the station which I think would cut the long queues, but no, you had to wait for the full 20 minutes for them to come back, and that too, if you were lucky to be the “next eight” in the queue.
We did wander around a bit to try to find an activity that wouldn’t take too long to queue up but it was ridiculously busy almost everywhere. We left early as we could not bear it anymore. I would have probably left earlier but Ay really wanted to print a Pokemon card in the creative studio. We had to queue for more than 40 minutes but the smile on his face once he got his card was the saving grace of the day.
The check- in process is set up like at an airport. Children are given a bracelet to wear around their wrist and the adults have one that is paired with them, to help track them down if they got lost. Furthermore, they can not be taken off except by their very own staff. Also, there is only one entrance and exit (and even exits had queues), so once children are in, they can not escape anywhere.
All children must be accompanied by an adult during the check in, however, children aged 8+ can be left to explore the city on their own. So, if you have children in that age group, drop them off and then shop til you drop!
Children also get a credit card which is preloaded with 50 KidZos each. When you do your activities, there are some where you get to earn a salary (and are paid in KidZos), while in other activities, you have to pay (and are charged with KidZos) for the experience. Outside each activity, you will find a Panel which tells you how long each activity lasts, the number of children allowed in per session, how many kidZos can be earnt or how much their training will cost and any age limits on the activity.
You can use your leftover KidZos in the gift shop at the end, but I would recommend not bothering with “saving the money”. Parents were not allowed to go inside the shop, like the rest of the places, so I don’t know what was on offer, but Ay came out with a Frisbie, which is usually available in the Poundland for less than 1£. You are definitely better off using the KidZos for activities and getting a better experience (if you can get past the queues that is)
Each time slot allows each child to explore the city for up to 4 hours and there is a wide range of activities that last upto 20 minutes. There is a lot of variety! From what I could see, children can work in the A&E of Alder Hey hospital, look after babies in the neonatal unit, take care of the pets at the vets, write stories in the newspaper, present news, play drums, dance in a disco, serve or shop in the supermarket, be a spy, fight fires, deliver couriers, clean cars or police the city.
My TOP tip would be to check out what your little ones want to do beforehand on the website HERE. There is no way you can do more than a few activities in one session. You can download the map of the venue HERE
We waited the longest for the Pokemon creative studio. Here, children could pretend to be Game Designers and create their very own trading cards, choosing their own image elements, colour, background and character statistics. You get a print out of your creation (which is slightly bigger than the promo foil cards in Pokemon packs).
He also loved The Aviation Academy , which was set up inside a real British Airways plane! Kids can either be pilots (and be trained to navigate a real plane on a range of different routes, using real flight paths and obstacles on each journey) or they can be part of the cabin crew for the flight. Ay was the pilot. He came out excited that he had flown a real plane and almost crashed it during landing.
Ay really wanted to be part of the fire and rescue unit, as children dressed up in fireman suits were seen riding in a fire engine around the arena, and would then use a real water hose to extinguish flames on a building. Unfortunately, the queues were so long, we had to leave the queues twice. He became a police officer instead and looked cute in his outfit. There was not much to do though, as he went marching out on patrol but then soon came back, saying he was bored.
He then became part of the TV studios to go live with all of the latest KidZania news and weather reports.. He wanted to be a presenter but there were many older children in the group, who wanted to do the same, so I think unwillingly agreed to become part of the Backstage Crew. He seemed a bit disappointed when he came out but didn’t say much.
I saw a couple of older kids dressed up in scrubs , “operating” on a patient, which looked cool, but I think Ay would need to be older to appreciate the intricacies. I also quite liked the look of the drum sessions in the music studio. The glass walls were pretty soundproof, so parents outside couldn’t hear much.
You have to head to immigration where your security bracelet will be removed. Be prepared for queues yet again!
There is a wide variety of choice for role play and dress up in almost real life scenarios. There are endless fun and learning opportunities for the right age of children and I think I would have been buzzing about how the price is worth it for kids, if it was not so crowded. Unfortunately, it was busy and noisy and most of our day was spent in boring queues. All I am going to say is to AVOID this place during peak times AT ALL COST! Perhaps, also, call beforehand to ensure there are no school visits on your planned day. I think booking a session near the end of the day may be better.
Having said, even if it was less crowded, I still can not justify the high price for adults. They are not taking part in any activities nor are they even allowed to stand in the queues to secure a place for the kids, so why charge adults 18£??? I also did not like the lack of benches around many activity areas for parents to hover around the kids.
KidZania is set up for kids between ages 4-14, but I would say four or five is bit young. Wait until they are a bit older and they are able to cope with the queues. You also need your children to be confident enough to do the activities on their own (as no parents are allowed inside unless they have a carers ticket) and for them not to be intimidated by the older kids, as the activities are set in groups of mixed ages.
Address: KidZania London, Westfield London, Ariel Way, W12 7GA.
Admission costs starting £32 for children aged four to 14, £18 for adults, and £11.50 for one- to three-year-olds. B
There is plenty of parking available at Westfield, although it’s not cheap (we paid £8.5 for four hours). Shepherd’s Bush, Shepherd’s Bush Market, Wood Lane and White City tube stations are all within walking distance, as is Shepherd’s Bush overground station.
Toilets and baby facilities
Refreshment on site
Picnics not allowed
Read full accessibility information HERE– Buggy accessible, though “the streets” were not very wide and was very crowded. A carrier would be better
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