From a young age we ask our children “what do you want to be when you grow up?” How can they really know what they want to be without experiencing what that job is like? Or what training they need to get that job! This is where the wonderful ‘world’ of Kidzania can help.
Kidzania – what is it all about?
Kidzania is an international indoor adventure experience for children aged 4 – 14 years old, where they can gain an understanding of how the real working world works by taking part in various role playing activities. It exclusively takes up the entire top floor at Westfield shopping centre in West London, so it is very spacious. We were lucky enough to be invited to Kidzania and see for ourselves what it is all about.
The idea is to get children to get interested in different trades or jobs which they may or may not have come across in their everyday life. For example, they may see people working in the bank, but do they really understand what goes on behind the glass windows? They may have seen an aeroplane or been a passenger, but have they really experienced what it is like to be part of the cabin crew or what kind of training a pilot goes through before becoming a pilot?
Without thinking about it, we are all exposed to different jobs (e.g doctors, mechanics, estate agents, emergency services etc), but do any of us really know what skills are needed or how to go about performing these jobs?
These little nuggets are what children will be learning. Yes, I said learning. Kidzania is a totally fun adventure area. The children will see it like that and they won’t think they are actually learning new skills, developing their creativity and minds. They certainly won’t be seeing that they are actually ‘secretly’ learning new things, but us parents, we can see it! We can see the idea behind this wonderful world and how it may touch our children’s hearts in a way which is both magical and fulfilling. The excitement on every single child’s face is amazing.
Kizania – what to expect
When you first get to the top of the esclator you are greeted to an airport style system (the huge British Airways plane hanging over your head is a great touch!). The BA staff tell you what to expect and take your children’s details.
All children are fitted with electronic tags, which are specific to them (they hold details like their name and age). This is a revelation as it means, older children can experience all they want without their parents and the younger ones can stay with their adult, safe in the knowledge that the children cannot leave the floor, as the tags are all synced to the family who registered them. So, parents are reassured that their children cannot go off the floor and get lost. There is one exit and they are manned and have security alarms which will activate if a child tries to wonder through on their own. Big tick from me for that piece of genius!
All children are given 50 KidZo’s. This is the money you can earn doing various jobs or spend to learn a specific trade. So, very much like the real world!
You walk through the entrance and first impressions are like it’s a mini Vegas. It’s like you are outdoors, but actually indoors! All the shopfronts are have been sponsored / branded in names we all recognise (i.e Capital Radio if you want to be a DJ). There is plenty to do. Two floors of fun and excitement.
The whole floor has been divided up lot of units, with each units having different professions (hairdresser, journalist, fire person, police forensics, animation studios, the list is nearly endless). There is something for all tastes. There are experiences for the younger children as well as something a little more detailed for the older children (the older ones would love the Pokemon animation studio!)
Each unit has the requirements near the door, saying what you will experience, whether you will earn a ‘salary’ and how much or whether it will cost you some of you KidZo’s. The best part is, once the children go through the doors, parents are not allowed. You can see them through the glass doors and windows, but they are in each unit with a Kidzania representative who will teach them all about that specific job. You get some peace and they get some independence!
What the boys experienced
The boys tried so many different things and were so exicted with each one. They tried being DJ’s, reporters and mechanics for Formula 1 cars. They’ve also made their own animation, moving their figures slightly and filming it to then create their own 5 second movie. They were so fascinated by it.
They also made their own cereal bars, they experienced what pilots go through whilst piloting a plane, they also learnt how to be some of the best cabin crew any airline would be happy to employ!
Each experience takes around 15-20 to do. You have to make sure you are there on time, as some get very busy and you may have to wait until the next round.
There is so much to do for young and older children. There are food courts too, so you can refuel when you need to.
At the end of your four hour slot, the children can then take their hard earned KidZo’s and spend them in the Kizania department store (kids only again, I’m afraid). Or, they could take their KidZo’s home and bring them back again another time!
I was a little apprehensive about letting the boys go to each unit by themselves. But, after the first one, they were happy to walk in without any fuss. There were a couple of places which they boys said a firm “no” to (the hairdresser and estate agent). I think they were more excited by other things and I do believe they chose well. It was lovely seeing them talk about each area and figure out which place they would go to next. I literally left it totally to them.
The boys had such a lovely time at Kidzania. They are constantly asking when we are going back. It’s such a refreshing concept and it teaches children the value of money, how hard you have to work to earn it and also whether it’s worth spending it on certain things. It makes understanding the real world a lot easier.
We all want our children to be successful in life and them to dream big and achieve big. We want them to be the best that they can be and to study hard and get good jobs. As parents, we can help with the study part, but Kidzania can help with the practical experience. The children are sure to enjoy it!
There are Kidzania’s in several countries across the world. Go to their website to have a look, you could visit one whilst one holiday too!
Tickets are for a standard 4 hour entry. Children aged 4-14 are £18, 1-3 year £10 and under 1’s are free.