This week I thought I ‘d give my children one last treat before school starts. So we headed towards Westfield London for our session which was to begin at 2pm. If you’re thinking of going then read below for some essential info that I wish I had before I went.
What is KidZania?
KidZania is an indoor city (75,000 square feet) where children aged 4- 12 can choose which real life jobs they want to take part in and earn money for doing so. Not real money mind you, kidZos, the idea being that you can then spend your kidZos on activities or toys that you can purchase there. You are given 50 kidZos to begin with.
Top Tip: Visit the department store first to see how much things cost in kidZos. Hint: Quite a lot.
How long does it last?
Each ticket is for a 4 hour session but you are advised to get there 30 mins earlier so you have some time to look around and understand the concept. It took us about 15 mins to ‘check-in’ which involved queuing, showing your tickets and getting tagged, and actually another 30 minutes trying to understand what the hell was going on. It is essential you ask a staff member what to do as we were not told anything and ended up wasting a lot of time trying to understand the whole point of KidZania. Anyhow we also spent another half an hour at the end choosing what to buy as parents aren’t allowed in the shop, it took a while for the kids to choose what to buy and work out whether their hard-earned money was enough. All in all I’d give it 5 and a half hours, so pretty much a full day.
Top Tip: Have a look at the Job Centre just by the entrance where a screen tells you how long each activity lasts and what the capacity is. This is essential to avoid time wastage.
How many activities can you do?
In the whole 4-hour session my daughter did five activities and my son did six, although there are over sixty you can do. The reason being that they had to queue for about 30 minutes on average for everything. Some queues were an hour-long like the firefighting and police station. Every activity varies depending on how many children can take part for each job and how long the job is. I would advise that every child has company (go with a friend) as I was torn between my son (9) and daughter (7) as they both wanted to do different things. Luckily I had my friend’s daughter with me too who kept my daughter company throughout the day. My son on the other hand didn’t like queuing for things on his own and left a few queues as people pushed in front of him.
Top Tip: Every time you begin an activity you get tagged in using your security bracelet, and if your time finishes at 6.00 for example you won’t be allowed in after this. Try and get in right up to the last-minute. Luckily my daughter did her last job at 5.55 and it finished at 6.20.
What kind of activities are there?
There are lots and lots of ‘jobs’ and activities you can do like be a banker, receptionist, surgeon, football commentator or factory worker to name a few. All the traditional jobs as well as more obscure ones are here and it’s interesting to see what kind of job your child will want to do. As well as jobs there are activities as well like painting or acting classes, disco or football in the stadium but some charge kidZos and some are free. My daughter took part in the beauty salon, surgery, pilot training, radio DJ, supermarket and ice cream factory. My son took part in the power station, air conditioning system, pilot training, journalism, football commentating and building climbing. There were so many others they wanted to do but didn’t get the time or the queues were too long like the chocolate factory, firefighting, pit lane experience and animation studio. My daughter enjoyed the radio experience the most as she got to speak on the mic and my son said the pilot training was his favourite. After some activities particularly the uniformed ones staff take pictures of the children which you can buy later from the designated shop.
Top Tip: Some activities are much more interactive and age appropriate than others. The firefighting and radio dj for example are quite realistic whereas the police job is very trivial in comparison. Spend a few minutes planning which jobs the children want to do. Whilst the idea may be to let the kids choose, they could definitely do with some guidance and common sense from you the parent.
How much does it cost?
Online booking for KidZania costs £28.50 per child and £16.50 for an adult. It is advisable to book in advance as a fellow parent went the previous day and it was booked up, they then booked online and came back the next day. If your child is under 7, one adult has to buy a ticket and accompany (one adult can accompany up to five under 8s) otherwise children over 8 can go in by themselves. KidZania recommend that first time visitors should accompany children over 8 and I can’t emphasise this enough. It is completely overwhelming and if my son was on his own he wouldn’t know what to do. Even with a friend, the boys would probably waste a lot of time unable to decide on what to do and jumping one queue to another without having any structure to the day. Don’t send them alone!! You also need to keep in mind parking, food and any additional costs like buying a photograph (£10 – who can resist a photo of your princess in a pilot uniform?!).
Top Tip: Look online for offers to save a few pounds.
Can I buy food?
There are a few cafes where you can buy hot and cold drinks, snacks, fruit and hot meals. There is also a Gourmet Burger Kitchen (halal chicken only) and a diner which sells hot food like noodles and curry. There are vegetarian options at the diner but no halal options. I recommend the cappuccino and gluten-free brownie from the cafe (£5) which was much-needed after two hours jumping from one child to another. It’s perfectly ok to take your own food and drinks.
Top Tip: Try and visit between breakfast and lunch or between lunch and dinner so you can keep the kids happy with snacks in between. Westfield has a lot more choice for eating than inside KidZania.
Children under 4 cost £10 but there are limited things for them to do. There is a nursery and science lab for little ones but I’m so glad I didn’t take my 3-year-old as she would have got extremely agitated in 5 hours and then not being able to take part in activities would have upset her.
Look out for the information sign outside every activity which tells you how long the activity will take, how much it pays/charges and how many children can take part at one time.
If you want to do some serious shopping in Westfield then you can leave your child (aged 8-12 ideally with a friend) and not buy an adult ticket.
If you have a child under 7 security will not let you leave for a sneaky bit of shopping unless you take your child with you.
The security tags are good because they can tell you where your child last tagged in or out but they are not trackers so if your child goes wandering without telling you, good luck.
Opening times: 10am-6.30pm Weekdays, 10am-7.30pm Weekends and 10am-8pm in school holidays
Address: 1st Floor, Westfield London, Ariel Way, W12 7GA (Next to Lift Lobby 6 and M&S)
Parking: £6.50 for over 3 hours parking in the Westfield car park (follow KidZania signs for closer parking)
Thank you to KidZania for supplying me with two tickets for the purposes of this review.