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Left in charge of a city, what would your kids do? Plan a visit to KidZania London for half-term and the answer to that question might very well surprise you.
KidZania is a city run by kids where given free reign and a 75,000 square feet city designed just for them, four to 14 year olds are amazingly focused and more than a little productive.
KidZania is basically another one of those brilliant ideas. Kids love role playing, work is fun when you don’t have to work all the time, and being paid is a huge incentive. Kids can choose from a huge range of different real-life activities, recreated in realistic work environments and about as close to real life as it’s possible to get.
Trainee engineers get hands on with car engines; mini-broadcasters produce and present news programmes to live audiences; music, lights and action is all real for tomorrow’s theatre stars; young stylists style; mini-police keep the peace; would-be firefighters deal with emergencies, and if you’ve got a budding sporting legend in the making, there’s plenty of scope for them to explore their potential too. Going to KidZania University can result in kids being higher earners in the city. Who knew that kids wouldn’t just get their heads down and study, they’d be prepared to sit and pass exams too?
If you’re already feeling a twinge of envy at the fantasy of trying out different jobs and then, not having to work at any of them for more than an hour: steel yourself.
Not only do kids have your ideal work/life balance, they get paid too. Although if you’re thinking about a life of leisure for yourself right now, it’s only fair to point out that kidZos can only be used by kids, and only in KidZania. But they can save their earnings and open a KidZania bank account: an early lesson in financial responsibility that might work out well for you in the future.
While four to 14 year olds get on with the serious business of running KidZania, younger kids haven’t been forgotten. There are several fun options to keep one to three year olds busy so time flies by and you don’t have to worry about tears, tantrums or separation issues.
KidZania isn’t totally off limits to under fours. Busy older kids being tour guides on buses, staging performances, crewing flights and keeping shop are always on the lookout for little customers, passengers or willing participants, and the KidZania team will be happy to tell you what younger children can get involved with.
Each KidZania session lasts for four hours, and the entire city is a parent-free zone. That’s not quite as harsh as it sounds: you can watch your kids at work through viewing windows, you just can’t join in. Unless of course you’re prepared to be a patient at A&E, take a tour on a bus or be part of an adoring stadium crowd. Showtime not your thing? Don’t worry. KidZania have provided a parental chill out area called the Grown Ups Garden Shed.
Between the books, games, computers and a ready supply of drinks and snacks from The Hut nearby, adult is a pretty comfortable state of being for a few hours. If you prefer to be grown up and go shopping, and your kids are over-eight, you can drop them off and explore Westfield London for a few hours. It’s a well organised, security-conscious system and easy to arrange with the KidZania team when you arrive.
Kids have four hours in KidZania and a choice of more than 60 activities, each lasting between 10 minutes and an hour. The city has shops, restaurants and cafés and it’s designed in detail right down to real pavements and transport.
KidZania is open from 10am to 7pm from 25 May to 3 June, apart from Monday 28 May when it closes at 6.30pm.
KidZania London, Westfield London, Ariel Way W12 7GA
Tube stations within short walk: Central Line; Shepherd’s Bush; White City.