As an end of holiday treat we decided to go to Kidzania – an indoor city ran by children aged 5-12 in Westfield Shopping Centre Shepherd Bush London. The city is set up with lots of area for children to learn, role play and have a go at completing tasks and jobs in order to earn Kidzos which they can then either open a bank account or spend in the shop before leaving. The concept is really exciting, helping children understand earning money, saving and spending money wisely. Some of the areas cost you money for instance, where you can make snacks or the pet care centre and others pay you a wage.
We booked our tickets through Picniq,a money saving website where the children’s tickets were on off for half price. For the four of us we bought tickets for £65 saving £32 on the childrens tickets.
We drove down on the morning parked at the shopping centre, grabbed a Nandos and joined the queue to get our boarding passes…
When you enter Kidzania you walk through an area which is set up like an airport, with ‘passport control’& ‘body scanner’. Everyone is given an electronic RFID tag on their wrist which is a safety measure to ensure children don’t leave the area with the wrong adult. This is also the way they measure how long you have been in the centre – you are allowed 4 hours.
Upon walking into Kidzania, you look around and see a whole village of shops, queues of children it really is magical and exciting for adults and children when looking around at a minature world. – Unfortunately we were not given a map which would have been helpful to help us navigate around. There are over 40 different areas which you can choose to take part in, some experiences lasting 5 minutes and some lasting up to 55 mins. Queues vary greatly depending on the popularity of the area, Kidzania say on average you can complete between 4-6 tasks during your 4 hour stay.
The first activity we completed was the Supermarket – two queues one for those wishing to be customers and one for those wishing to be till staff. The girls wanted to be shopkeepers. After a 45 minute wait it was their turn, the customers were given a list and shopping trolley to collect their goods and then head to the tills. The girls independently completed the transaction and gave their customer their reciept and then restocked the shelves. They then recieved their payment of 8 KidZos. This area lasted 10 minutes and the girls were then excited to explore onto the next activity.
Durning our 4 hours we managed to complete the following activities:
Pet wellbeing centre – Learning about the jobs vets do and they then helped to look after a ‘dog’ who had swallowed a nail varnish and then worked together to help him feel better. They were also given a Lilys kitchen cat food sample as part of this activity. This activity cost them 8 KidZos.
H&M recycling – Learning about different types of fabric, which can be recycled and what materials can’t. They used a tablet to select items of clothing to put into different categories, also learning about how they reuse fabric. This activity earned 10 KidZos.
Vault – Learning to navigate the town, visiting stores to collect shop takings and bringing the money back to the vault. They also learnt how to spot a fake note under a UV light – This activity earned 8 KidZos
H&M fashion – Learning to create a complete outfit choosing clothes, accessories and dressing a manequin and then having a photo taken with their outfit (this photo can be purchased then leaving)- This activity earned 10 KidZos
Overall opinion –
The girls really enjoyed themselves and asked that we go again they loved all of the tasks and spending their money at the end in the shop independently for a little snap band or a bracelet. Little K’s favourite activity was the pet wellbring centre. Big A really enjoyed the H&M fashion activity. They really wanted to get more activities completed during their time but understood it was really busy.
The concept is amazing, teaching children about money the different roles of jobs whilst having fun at the same time. However during our time in the centre we witnessed, demotivated staff who were struggling with the footfall of children and they were lacking enthusiasm. As a childminder I love working with children but I would struggle working in such an enviroment with stroppy parents, bored children waiting long periods of time and repeating the same task over and over. When we went to the supermarket as we got to the front of the queue one of the two members of staffed was called elsewhere leaving only one member of staff who struggled to then instruct, support and engage with 6 children in the area. Overall if there were more members of staff, the work load would be less, the staff wouldn’t look so stressed and un-inspiring. Having said this the girls didn’t notice any of this, just an observation from an adult perspective. Upon leaving we visited the gift shop where you can use normal £. We wanted to buy the girls a badge to remember their trip… there wasn’t a member of staff in the area, after finding a member of staff they said they would have to call someone who works in that area… 10 minutes later a man comes running over visiably sweating, nearly tripping over on his way over to us. This poor man was our last impression of Kidzania and this just backs up how we feel regarding staffing levels. It was the summer holidays and they book you into a time slot so they must know exactly how many customers they will have on that given day. I have sent my feedback to Kidzania regarding the lack of staff and their attitudes during our visit but am yet to recieve a reply.
https://www.picniq.co.uk – Site to save money on day trips.
Disclaimer – All of these opinions are my own.