What to expect at KidZania London – a family review
We paid for entry ourselves and KidZania London did not know we’d be writing this review
KidZania is the indoor city where the children are in charge. They work in the hospital and the vets, write stories in the newspaper, present the TV and radio shows. They deliver parcels, clean windows, fight fires and treat the injured. The look after premature babies, serve in the supermarket and even solve crimes.
And they get paid for their efforts too in KidZania’s own currency, KidZos, which have no value in the real world but can be used to pay for certain activities in KidZania as well as for small gifts in the shop.
Taking role play to the next level, KidZania is a wonderfully educational experience, where children learn life and career-based skills and get a taste of working, spending and budgeting. With adults not allowed to take part in the activities, it’s great for their independence too.
Above all – as the five children in our party will testify – it’s a fantastic fun day out, and well worth visiting if you’re in London. We visited KidZania London last Saturday, along with two of my children’s cousins and their parents. Although we weren’t there in an official reviewing capacity we had such a great day I wanted to share our experiences in the hope that it will be useful for those of you wondering what KidZania is all about.
It is, in all honesty, one of then best paid-for indoor attractions we’ve been to as a family. We loved it and my children can’t wait to visit again. We visited the London KidZania, but they exist all over the world too.
Here’s everything you need to know about a family day out to KidZania London.
We left Cardiff just before 7am last Saturday. The roads were lovely and quiet and the drive to London took just over two and a half hours. We were only in London for the day – we visited KidZania in the morning before heading to Wembley in the early evening to see the England Lionesses take on Germany in a sell-out football match – and found travelling there and back in a day really easy (it might not be quite so easy on a busy week day though!).
KidZania is located in Westfield Shopping Centre in Shepherd’s Bush. This is the largest shopping centre in Europe; 2.6 million square foot of shops, restaurants and cafes, a cinema and, of course, KidZania. Parking was surprisingly cheap, costing us £8.40 to park all day thanks to the Westfield Shopping app.
You can get there by tube with the closest stations being Shepherd’s Bush or White City on the Central Line, or Wood Lane or Shepherd’s Bush Market on the Hammersmith and City Line. The nearest overground station is Shepherd’s Bush, with several bus routes stopping at White City Bus Station and Shepherd’s Bush.
When to visit
I’d read reviews saying the queues were a nightmare and the whole experience can be quite stressful so we went with that in mind, prepared that it might not be the easiest of days. However, our experience was the complete opposite. We arrived on Saturday morning just before it opened at 10am expecting big queues, but there were just a handful of other visitors ahead of us. For the first hour or so, we didn’t have to queue at all for anything. As the day went on, it did get busier, but the most we had to wait was 25 minutes and that was only for one activity.
I would suggest arriving early and avoiding school holidays. Or if that’s not possible, think ahead as to which activities your children want to take part in so you can keep an eye on queues and to minimise waiting.
Check ahead before visiting mid-week, as sometimes it’s only open for school bookings.
Admission costs and opening hours
Entry is for four hours and prices vary depending on the date that you visit. For our family of five, costs range from £92 for a mid-week off-peak visit to £113 for a peak school holiday visit. Most activities are designed for children aged 4-14, with a few options for under 4s. Their tickets are cheaper but are only valid for use on the specific toddler activities. It’s cheaper to book online in advance and sometimes you can find discounts, so it’s worth looking around.
Opening hours vary, depending on whether it’s a peak or off-peak day, school holidays, term time or weekend. Generally, school holidays and weekends it’s open from 10am-7pm, and mid-week public sessions from 10am-3.30pm.
We had five children in our party – my daughter aged nine, and sons eight and five, and their boy cousins aged five and almost two. There were a few activities for the toddler, but KidZania is definitely better suited to older children. The youngest enjoyed the bus ride and shopping at the supermarket, with other activities for that age group including a baby disco and library. I wouldn’t recommend visiting solely with under fours but for younger siblings there’s enough to keep them occupied, provided they won’t get too upset about not being able to get involved in the main activities. Children under eight must be accompanied by an adult around the city, and at times my eldest two went off on their own to queue for their next activity. If you have more than one child age seven and under, especially if they are likely to want to do different activities, it would help to have one adult per child.
Children take part in the activities on their own – adults wait outside, often not being able to hear what’s going on – so this is something to consider if you have a sensitive child who does not like to be separated.
With more than 60 role playing activities, there is something to suit everyone within the 4-14 age bracket, although that said most 12-14 year olds I know would probably feel they were too old for it.
Our children loved it though. We could have easily spent double the four hours at KidZania and our problem was not being able to do it all.
KidZania is fully-accessible for any visitor who has Special Educational Needs or a Disability (SEND). It’s also easy enough to navigate with a buggy, or you can pay £3.50 to store them in the buggy park. Lockers for bags are available at the same price.
You’re not allowed to bring food into KidZania, but there’s a Costa Coffee, Fire House pizza, pasta and grill, and Gourmet Burger King (where children get involved in the food prep), plus The Hut coffee shop. There’s also a gift shop. KidZos cannot be used in the shops or food outlets, other than the very small shop on the way out where children can exchange the money they have earned for small toys.
We didn’t want to spend our time in KidZania eating lunch, so we made sure they had eaten a lot before we went in, gave them a few snacks while inside, and headed out into Westfield straight after for lunch at one of the many restaurants.
What my 9, 8 and 5-year-old children did at KidZania
The adventure starts when you arrive at the airport style check in, complete with British Airways branding (many of the activities are linked to high profile ‘real’ companies). Children are kitted out with wrist bands which have a dual purpose of being used to check them in to activities, as well as a safeguarding mechanism, connected to their parents’ wrist bands to ensure they don’t get lost. At the end of your four hours, you won’t be able to check-in to any more activities.
Here they are also given 50 KidZos – while most of the jobs pay the child, some are activities you need to pay to take part in. Once you get 75 KidZos you can open your own bank account complete with bank card with your name on it. Activities generally take between 15 and 20 minutes, with some lasting for half an hour.
Our first stop was the police station. While we adults waited outside the glass-walled station complete with cell, the four older children got kitted out in uniform, were told more about their job duties… and then left the station to attend an incident.
The Flamingo Hotel was in flames and their job was to cordon off the area with police tape and to ensure people stayed out.
Meanwhile, a fire engine full of young fire fighters turned up, along with an ambulance full of mini paramedics to treat the injured. It was so well organised, with the children learning how the different emergency services all worked together.
Later in the day, the three boys were keen to be fire fighters and this activity (which strangely you had to pay KidZos to take part in) involved getting kitted out in uniform, watching a fire safety video and travelling by fire engine to the fire scene to put out the fire with hoses pumping real water.
This was the only real queue we had, waiting around 20 minutes, although I have heard on especially busy days the queues can be up to an hour.
Next up was a game of cricket in a replica Lords cricket ground. This is the highest paying job at KidZania, and one that all the children loved. We adults got to watch from the stands while two teams played against each other, batting and fielding.
The boys then headed to the aviation school where they learned to be cadet pilots. They can also learn to be cabin crew, with the parents as passengers.
Meanwhile my daughter was learning to be a radio presenter on Heart Radio. Her job was to read the travel and weather bulletins. The studio looked exactly like the real deal – as part of my job with Cardiff Mummy, she has done a few radio broadcasts so knew what to expect – and she loved wearing the headphones, speaking into the microphone and reading from the autocue.
After a brief stint delivering parcels around the city, complete with her own delivery trolley, her next stop was the bank to open an account and get her own bank card.
From there, it was on to the Al-Jazeera TV studios where she and a group of other girls all around the same age put together their own news programme. She was keen to produce the show and was in charge of the autocue, while the two presenters read the news and interviewed and an eye-witness, and two others presented the weather, complete with a green screen behind them, as you’d get on a real TV news show. This activity took half an hour and after lots of learning and rehearsing, families were able to come in and watch the final show.
I loved that the radio and TV shows both reported on events that had been happening in KidZania, including the emergency crews battling the hotel fire and the cadets graduating from the aviation academy. It was such great joined up thinking, demonstrating how society interlinks.
Meanwhile my two boys went for a drum lesson in the music studio. They both absolutely loved this and had great fun learning different rhythms. The studio is equipped for six children and each drum kit had its own earphones, and the glass walls were pretty soundproof, so we parents outside couldn’t hear much. But each child got to do their own little solo and I was impressed at how much they picked up so quickly.
With their sister still presenting her TV show, they went to the CIA, the Children’s Intelligence Agency, which sent them on a mission around KidZania, looking for clues to help thwart computer hackers. They thought this was brilliant and loved running around searching for clues to solve the mystery.
KidZania had advised that most children complete between four and six activities within a four-hour visit so we were pleased that all our children managed to squeeze in six. However, as I mentioned above, we could easily have stayed for more than the four hours, and there were a number of activities my children would have loved to have taken part in, such as working at the special care baby unit, the vets and reporting for the Metro newspaper.
That’s just something we’ll have to save for our next visit. Because this is one place we will definitely be returning to.
Have you visited KidZania London? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page or by tweeting me on @cardiffmummy
Visit the KidZania London website here.
For more ideas on family-friendly activities in London, read this post on our budget trip to London last summer.
See all of our family travel posts here.
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