The children were giddy with excitement when we told them we were going to KidZania. And they did not stop bouncing when we were there. Billed as the ‘indoor city run by kids’, I did wonder whether
I would get bored during their four-hour slot. How wrong I was.
There are more than 60 real-life activities inside KidZania, which is located on the first floor of Westfield London, ranging from doctor and dentist, police officer and firefighter, to pilot, actor and singer.
There is also the chance to ‘work’ in a chocolate factory, learn to play the drums and be employed in a fashion recycling centre.
The ‘jobs’ earn them KidZos (the KidZania currency), which they can spend on leisure activities. Well, they did not know what to do first.
And, if I’m honest, I was as excited as they were by the possibility of trying out different professions.
My six-year-old son became a police officer, preventing people from crossing the cordon where firefighters were putting out a blaze in a building and paramedics were checking for injured people. To relax after his shift, he scaled a climbing wall (paid for with KidZos).
At the Fruit and Nut Bar Makery, he developed his own bar using dried fruit, puffed rice and chocolate buttons, while I took the opportunity to have a sit-down in the Grown Ups’ Garden Shed. He was extremely excited to show – and eat – his creation.
“You can’t not try out journalism!” I excitedly said to my nine-year-old daughter, pushing her into the Metro-branded newspaper. After a briefing by her ‘editor’, the 20-minute exercise involved her ‘interviewing’ people and returning to the office to type up her story. After editing, she had a printed front page with her byline.
She also enjoyed working as an air hostess, while my son captained the plane – all inside a real BA aircraft.
They also appeared on Al Jazeera TV, worked as fruitologists to make smoothies, were advertising executives, air conditioner technicians (going on a tour through KidZania’s air conditioning duct) and, needing a fast buck, did rounds of couriering, delivering supplies to the hospital and bank.
With 75 KidZos, my daughter opened her own bank account, kindly lending her brother some money so he could, too.
Children aged eight and above can be checked in to KidZania (security is tight and everyone wears tags so they can be tracked inside the complex) and picked up at the end of the slot.
My only gripes? Entry isn’t cheap and the food (not included) was basic. But, mostly, they really need to make a version solely for adults!