Over Christmas we like to take the girls up to London for a special family day out. Last year we went to see Disney on Ice at the O2 which was great fun. This Christmas we were invited to review KidZania London at Westfield which had the girls hopping about with excitement! KidZania is an indoor city for kids aged 4-14yrs which blends together reality, learning and entertainment. During your 4hr visit kids can try out different role play professions from over 60 activities, testing their skills and having fun. Here's what we thought of the city run by kids...
The KidZania website recommends you arrive an hour before your check in time. As it was a quiet day between Christmas and New Year we decided to drive the hour round to Hammersmith rather than taking the train. Beware, the sat nav doesn't take you to the car park entrance so be ready to keep your eyes peeled for signage. Parking is just £8 for 24hrs. We parked and arrived at KidZania early but we weren't quite sure where to queue as the signage wasn't great. Basically if you have your tickets or e-tickets then queue up at the main entrance. If you have booked and need to collect tickets you queue at the ticket desk. If, like us, you are collecting press tickets then you need to go inside and up to the Customer Service Desk on the first floor through the glass doors. Third time lucky!
To enter KidZania you need to go through check-in, which mimics a real airport queues and check in desks. Kids age over 8 can enter KidZania independently (an adults still needs to check them in) but if your kids are under 8 you need to purchase adult tickets to go in with them. If you have kids aged 1-3yrs they can also have fun in the dedicated toddler areas and take part in certain activities.
At the check-in desk you and your kids are given wrist trackers to wear. These trackers are scanned when your kids start and finish an experience. If you want to find out where they are you simply scan your tracker at one of the locations around the city and it'll tell you where your child last scanned in at. You are also given 50 kidZos per child. KidZos are used to pay for certain experiences inside the city. Some experiences are jobs which pay your child in Kidzos, for example working the supermarket tills pays you 8 kidZos per 10minute shift, and some are longer 'training' experiences which you have to pay to do, these include activities such like making chocolate, dance workshops and veterinary training.
The check in queue was quite long but moved pretty swiftly. By 10:20am we were inside the city and ready to try our first experience. For the first hour just the ground floor professions are open, the first floor experiences are longer and open from 11am onwards. You can walk around with your kids or park yourself at a table or in one of the adult areas and let them roam freely. As this was our first experience we decided to follow the kids. At first it is all a bit daunting, afterall there are 60 different experiences housed inside the city from Paramedics and Journalists to Pilots and Musicians, but we soon found our feet.
The city is really impressive and each profession is housed in a proper shop unit all kitted out in kid sizes with windows so the adults can see what is going on. Outside each experience is a bench for queuing (the kids do the queuing, not the adults!) and a card clearly stating the maximum number of kids per experience, the duration and the wages or cost for the experience. You can then quickly work out from how many kids in the queue how long you'll have to wait to take part. Some queues move quickly but be prepared to wait 10-20minutes for some of the more popular professions such as the Fire Brigade and Pilot.
Of course the kids wanted to do different experiences so we had to split up. 7yr old E was quick off the mark and swiftly completed some jobs making beds in the hotel and working in the A&E to earn herself some kidZos to spend trying her hand as a wrestler! Little I wanted to work in the Supermarket checkouts first so she queued for that only for the shop to be shut temporarily as a mouse was on the loose! The staff handled it really well, paying everyone for their shift and giving our extension vouchers so you could enter an extra experience after your time in the city ended. She then hopped on the tour bus for a trip around the city.
At 11am we went up to the first floor to try out some experiences. Little I decided to make an Eat Natural bar while E worked a cleaner washing store windows. E was given an Eat Natural bar to try after her experience.
We then went back downstairs to the Gourmet Burger Kitchen where for £2 (pounds not kidZos) each the girls got to enter the kitchen and prepare their own burger. They then ate it outside with us (we were able to order our own GBK food while we waited for the girls to finish their experience).
By now it was 12:30 and the queues for the experiences were quite long. We headed to the vet's where we queued for about 20minutes and then girls got to operate on a (stuffed toy) dog.
In the courier office Little I found her calling as a medical courier delivering stem cells to the hospital.
E had fun in the H&M fashion recycling centre learning about different fabrics and how they are recycled into new clothes.
Just before our session was over we noticed the supermarket was back open! Little I couldn't resist having a quick whiz around the shelves.
We checked out of KidZania quickly via the immigration desk and had a quick look around the gift shop to see if the kids had earnt enough kidZos to buy anything. Little I had 45 and E 90. They hadn't earnt very much so there wasn't much to buy. We decided to hold onto the kidZos to play with at home and bring back on another visit.
Overall we had a brilliant experience at Kidzania. Even though it got very busy towards the end of our session the kids got to try loads of different professions and had tons of fun. Just remember you will have to queue for the professions especially if you go at busy times so have that front of mind from the start.
Tickets for KidZania cost from £18.00 for kids and £15.00 for adults if you book in advance. And I highly recommend you book far in advance to get these prices as they do rise steeply closer to your dates and at weekend. Also if you have a Kids Pass membership you can get half price kids tickets. Buying tickets on the door is considerably more expensive with kids tickets starting at £38.00. Younger children age 1- 3 are £10 and Under 1's are free.
Our entry to KidZania was free for the purposes of this review but all opinions are my own.
Artist, Baker and Blogger. Mum to my two beautiful, cheeky girls. Muddling my way through parenthood with equally cheeky Husband.