A couple of weeks ago my daughter turned 7. For her birthday treat she wanted to go to KidZania at Westfield because (1) she had never been before and (2) she wanted to earn loads of KidZos and become a millionaire!
We invited her best friend from school and trundled off to the ‘indoor city run by kids‘. Now, overall I think KidZania is an amazing concept and kids clearly love it. However, there are a few things I wish I had known before we went…
- Book online ahead of time and save money. Be careful – the booking experience is akin to booking British Airways flights! Every time I checked the prices, the total went up! Feeling disgruntled and ripped off, before I hit ‘pay now‘, I checked the prices using a different browser (all exactly the same information – dates, times, visitors etc) and it was £10 cheaper! Naughty.
- Don’t bother going in a family group with lots of adults. Get one willing adult to take a bunch of kids as you pay £15 for adult entry – just so you can feel like a spare part and buy their coffee. This stung a bit as, once inside, there isn’t actually anything for the adults to do besides follow their kids around with a camera! KidZania is a ‘city run by kids‘, ergo parents mostly follow them around or peer at them through a window.
- Take a purse/wallet/bag! On arrival, you ‘check in’ at the uncomfortably realistic airport and kids are given their KidZos. The first thing you find as you enter this strange little world is a stall selling ‘Kidzo Carriers’ – a plastic pouch on a KidZania lanyard- for £5.99. Sucked in…I bought two!
- Plan ahead – KidZania send you an email before your visit. Had I read it properly, I would have encouraged the girls to think about the activities they wanted to do. You get a four-hour visit and there is a lot to do, trouble is, it is busy and the queues can be long. If you have an activity that admits 8 kids and lasts 20 minutes – you can spend much of your 4 hours queuing. Go with this in mind – it made me think of a theme park, actually. The way you really enjoy the ‘rides’ but spend a lot of time queuing for them.
- Spend your KidZos – this is my key advice…my top tip! Naturally kids want to save up their KidZos (so they can feel like Miss Moneybags) but don’t bother. Spend, spend, spend! They tell you that you can earn KidZos to spend in the shop at the end of the day- great! The kids work hard lugging parcels and cleaning windows to earn their wonga, thinking they’ll have enough to buy a Porsche at the end of the day. Cue crushing disappointment. The stuff they can ‘buy’ with KidZos in the gift shop is absolute rubbish. In the same way that you win 20,000 tickets at the arcade but need 30,000 for a chupa chup – wow kids, let’s choose something from this disappointing selection of bargain basement souvenirs that cost an extortionate number of KidZos. Easily manipulated parents soon get drawn to the other side of the store to salve the (birthday girl’s) sorrow and are persuaded to purchase some other overpriced plastic tat with real English money. Phew!
- Spend, spend, spend…encourage kids to spend their KidZos on the paid-for activities. 1) because there’s naff all to spend them on in the gift shop and 2) the other kids are so busy trying to earn KidZos (to add to their actual piggy bank I’m guessing) that nobody is queuing for them. The girls did a whole bunch of fun activities for a couple of KidZos each, and were in and out and making the most of their four hours. The remaining KidZos are now safely hanging in the £5.99 ‘KidZo Carrier’ at home, being carefully saved for the next visit. If that doesn’t happen soon, they’re likely to end up as extra dosh in the play till – along with the unspent euros that are used to buy all manor of things in the play shop. To be fair my kids’ play shop is very good value…at least they’d be able to ‘buy’ something with their Kidzos, unlike the actual KidZania shop!
Still, did the birthday girl have a good time? Absolutely! Does she want to go to KidZania again? Definitely! Littlun better save up her KidZos and I better save up some pennies before we go again and, next time, I’ll know better!
Enjoy! Amy x