A day out with the grandkids at Kidzania
Monday 9th January 2017
About 10 or 12 years ago, I read a broadsheet article about a new 'theme park' activity opening in the far east. This company was called Kidzania and I read with envy how it was a safe environment for young people aged 4-14 to 'experience' working in various roles and earning money that they could spend on activities and goods within the complex. I remember feeling envy as I'd have loved to arrange a school trip for the younger pupils at the school I was working in at the time.
Just a year or so ago, I was excited to hear that Kidzania was at last opening in the UK, although, I freely admit that it took me almost a year to arrange a day out with my grandkids aged 10 and 5. I did contact Kidzania and explained my tole in careers education and they kindly gave me free tickets. Other than that, I have no connection with Kidzania and my report below is my impression and personal view of the experience.
Arrival at Kidzania
Kidzania is in the Westfield complex in west London and is easily accessed via tube or local bus services. You can buy tickets at the door but it appears that it is cheaper to book online in advance. You book a 4 hour window whilst you don't have to stay that long if you wish, I'd defy you to get your kids out before the end of it.
Once you have your tickets you check in at the BA style entrance where parents and children are issued with a security tag attached to your wrist. This ensures your children cannot leave the complex without you. Children are also issued with a hairnet for when they're working with food or wearing a helmet and 50 kidszos, the currency in Kidzania. It's explained that whilst inside each job you do will earn you Kidzos and any leisure activity will cost you Kidzos. There is also a Kidzania University where you can undergo training and thus have access to higher paying jobs.
Once inside there are lots of staff who are on hand to explain, support and otherwise help visitors both young and old. Children over 7 are allowed to visit alone although they need to be dropped off and collected by an adult. Once inside, there is a parents room. I didn't get to see it as I was having too much fun with the kids.
There are over 60 jobs for children to try, including police, fire and ambulance, healthcare, hotel/hospitality & food outlets, retail, fashion, media both radio and print, courier work, fashion and beauty, estate agency, car design and mechanics, food production, gas & electricity supply, airline pilots etc.
Most jobs take between 15-20 minutes to complete and hold a limited amount of children so that they can all access the experience safely. All the hosts that I came across were very good with the children and exchanged high fives and kind words at the end when children are paid before they rush off to their next experience.
We arrived at 11 am on a school holiday morning and it was very quiet when we got there. However, by about 12 there were queues at most of the experiences, though normally not for more than 10 minutes or so. The exception to this appeared to be the fire engine experience which seemed to have a queue all day. My grandsons enjoyed every single moment of the day and made me swear to bring them back again.
Almost all activity is 'sponsored' by a leading organisation and I dare say that without the sponsorship the organisation would have to charge far more than the family ticket price of £88 per family of 4 (either 2/2 or 1 adult & 3 children). Being a realist, I have to say, yes, I'd rather there wasn't branding but I can see why it is and I don't think it's too 'in your face'.
With the emphasis on widening the range of careers that young people are aware of during primary years, Kidzania is a fun and memorable method of spreading this awareness. There are freely downloadable resources for teachers to use both before and after a visit and free tickets are available for teachers to visit for evaluation purposes. As well as an educational adviser on hand to help plan visits.
From the response I got from my grandkids I'd say Kidzania is a great way to introduce careers to young people.