I’d heard so many great things about KidZania in Westfield so we were over the moon when we were asked to attend an event run by Nintendo inside the giant kid’s city which would allow us to visit the rest of the play city afterwards.
What is KidZania?
KidZania is a large indoor city designed to allow children to role-play in a variety of scenarios such as being a fireman, policeman, shop assistant, airline pilot and so much more.
“Designed for children aged 4-14, KidZania blends learning and reality with entertainment. During your 4-hour experience, children can independently choose from a number of real-life activities and test their skills in a variety of professions.”
In return for working in some of the activities, children will earn KidZania pounds called KidZos. Other areas of KidZania charge the child to participate which teaches them the value of money and that we have to earn enough to be able to spend it on what we’d like to do. At the end of their session, the children can spend their remaining KidZos in the shop at the exit.
Arriving at KidZania
When we arrived in Westfield shopping centre we weren’t entirely sure where to head to but as soon as we spotted a giant plane popping out of the side of a building we knew we were in the right place!
As you walk in it isn’t overly clear where you have to go or what you have to do so I spoke to the security guard at the door and followed their directions to go up to the floor with reception. There are several escalators to take but there are also lifts available.
As we were there for an event, we collected our tickets from reception and met the lovely PR who had been emailing me in the run-up to the day. As ‘VIP’s’ we were then lucky enough to be able to join the fast pass queue. If you are visiting on a normal day you’ll need to queue up but you’ll have your tickets already with you from booking online. The whole area is set up as an airline checking in point so the role play begins straight away.
We were each then given wrist bands that are linked to one another. This would mean that if Jake wandered off during our visit they could simply scan his band and know he was with me. Such a great idea! These bands are also scanned during each activity and by photographers so you can easily find all photos of your child on the screen as you leave.
After you have walked through security you are in the huge play city. Suddenly you are met by loads of children having fun, miniature buildings, a fire engine, a climbing wall, a seating area and so much more. We were blown away by it. I mean we’ve been to smaller play towns in our area like Little Play Town in Fleet but this is on a much grander scale!
As I mentioned, we were invited to KidZania for an event run by Nintendo. So our first port of call was to try out the brand new Yoshi’s Crafted World Game and to take part in an Easter Egg hunt around the city. The game was so much fun and it had Jake hooked– he’s pretty good at computer games already and he really surprised me (I wouldn’t have been any good!) What I loved about the game was how it had been really thought about. The entire scenery had actually been made in real life out of cardboard, used bottles, paperclips, bits and bobs, elastic bands etc. to check if it would work and then the game was created from these models. Clever! The message behind it is to get children thinking about how these items could be used or crafted and I love that. Yoshi is also a very cute character– he’s a dragon with fairy wings that lays eggs (I think!) Anyway, it was perfect for a 5-year-old to master and of course, he then spent the rest of the day begging me for a Nintendo Switch!
The Easter Egg hunt was very helpful to me as it allowed us to work out where everything was and get a feel for the city before we started our visit there. Once we found all of the hidden eggs and unscrambled the letters to spell out a word to win, we were then free to play in KidZania.
First Port of Call
Running around doing the Easter Egg hunt made me realise that I couldn’t spend the whole day carrying our coats and water bottles etc so we went off to find the storage area. Now, this is the cheeky bit. You have to pay £3 for a locker and you don’t get that back so definitely have a think about what you can do without on the day. Because we travelled up by train, we needed the water, snacks, coat, hairbrush (for me of course!) and so on so I couldn’t do much about this but if you come by car, leave it all in there if you can. There is also somewhere to leave your pushchairs but again at a fee of £3. Anyway, I had no choice but to use these facilities on this visit.
Activities at KidZania
Jake had spotted all the things he wanted to do and was immediately dragging me off to check the queues to be a policeman and a fireman. When you get to each building you have to check several things, first of all the queue (some are insanely long), also to check if you pay to do it or if they pay you, how many children they take in at a time and how long it lasts.
Jake really surprised me by being the most patient I have ever seen him in my life! He didn’t even have that patience in Disney World but he was desperate to act out these roles and to take part with the other children so he was happy enough to sit and wait his turn every single time.
First up, he wanted to be a policeman. This entailed getting dressed up as one, having some basic training, following the member of staff out and around to the hotel which catches on fire every 15 minutes or so here! And using their skills to cordon off the area and asking the bystanders to keep well back whilst the firemen do their job.
He also put himself in jail for a while…
It was quite easy to escape though!!
I must admit that after this we did wander around quite a lot trying to find an activity that wouldn’t take too long to queue up for but with it being the Easter holidays it was very busy and some areas were just ridiculously busy like the plane one. I think if we could go there on an inset day we’d have much more luck.
Instead of queuing, Jake hopped in to be a Dentist next.
He was paid for doing this job and was pleased with his growing amount of KidZos!
The main attraction here has to be the fire department and the queue tells you this all day long! They have 2 moving vehicles here, the ambulance and the fire engine. We had watched the children role-play the fire scene repeatedly throughout the day and being a fireman was the biggest and most fun job. The children got to dress up as firemen, watch a training video, go off in the fire engine and use water pistols to put the fire out at the hotel and they were all very prepared to wait as long as it took to do this!
This was most definitely the highlight of his day and it was so much fun for the parents to all watch too.
Other activities include a bank, learning the drums, playing sports, working in a shop, a vets, delivering parcels, reading in the library, being a radio presenter, being an airline pilot, being a window cleaner… the list just goes on and on. There really is something for every child.
Unfortunately, once we’d had lunch, looked around the play city some more and realised the queues were just too big, we started to run out of time and had to leave (plus Jake had a cold and wasn’t at his best). It didn’t ruin the day, it just means that we will have plenty to do when we make a return visit. Just being there, having a lovely day out together and watching him do the activities that he had set out to do was enough for me.
There are places to get food and there is even a burger bar where the children can make their own lunch! I missed this on the day but later saw that another blogger’s children had taken part in this so I will definitely look for it next time.
We opted to eat at the cafe upstairs who did sandwiches, hot and cold drinks, cakes, sweet treats etc. If you love flapjacks you have to get one from here!! The best I’ve ever tasted. It was a little pricey but I always expect that on a day out anyway.
As you leave KidZania, you will walk through the photo area where you can scan your child’s wristband and see all of the professional photos that were taken. At £12 for one, I decided that my photos were good enough and as you can follow your child around most of the activities, you don’t tend to miss much.
You will then need to wait in line to have your wrist bands removed, then it is off into the shop to supposedly spend your kidZos. Unfortunately for us, Jake didn’t actually have enough to buy anything and even if he did we certainly don’t need another rubber bug or plastic toy. It was such a shame as the proper shop had really lovely items including dressing up costumes but your KidZos can’t be used here and at £25 I couldn’t justify that as a purchase. You need around 150 KidZos at the end of your visit to be able to buy anything and we had 60 so bear this in mind as you are going around the centre and tally up what you are making and paying out.
We both loved our trip to KidZania and would definitely return again however, I think I would opt for a school inset day so we could get more out of our visit. It is a great day out for all the family and I absolutely loved seeing his little eyes light up.
*We were gifted out tickets by the PR company for Nintendo Switch. KidZania did not ask us to write this review and we were not obliged to post about it. I wanted to share our experience with my readers. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.
If you are close to or in Kent, why not check out these Kent-based Days’ out too?
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