Fang-tastic Halloween Half Term at Kidzania London!
Kai (that’s ‘hello’ in Kidzania London speak!) it’s been a while since I checked in here, but what a corker I have to share with you!
As any parent will know, it’s half term and the kids need entertaining! We’d already heard good things about London’s new star attraction for kids, Kidzania London, so when we were offered review tickets for half term there was excitement all round!
Situated above the M&S at Westfield Shopping Centre, Shepherd’s Bush, Kidzania London is a 75 square foot, realistic and educational Nation for 4-14 year old. Kidzania has its own currency (kidZos), language and RightZ – and kids most definitely rule!
There are more than 60 real-life role play adventures to participate in, and you earn kidZos in some, and need to pay with kidZos to take part in others. So what adventures does Kidzania London offer? Well there’s a Fire Station, Fashion Studio and Forensic Lab; a Bank, Beauty Salon and Climb Building; and loads more. And for the half term week, the entire nation has been transformed into a Halloween Town, so expect to see zombies performing Thriller, free spooky face painting by Snazaroo and groups of kids dressed as police and chasing the zombies to find the antidote to a deadly virus!
In short, you’ll have no problem filling your four hour time slot. Indeed, you’ll need to go back to Kidzania London time and time again to tick off everything on the to do list – and that’s a prospect even the grown-ups in our party relish!
We arrived – mum, dad, grandparents and two kids, age 4 and 7 – at Westfield, and we were greeted with a clever, @BritishAirways-branded international airport entrance design.
After checking in, the children were fitted with multi-purpose wristbands that are used to both enter and leave each role play adventure zone. This made it impossible for the kids to wander out; and if they strayed while walking with us in the street, we were reassured to know that the wristbands were also a tracking device. Our kids don’t have food allergies, but there were additional wristbands for those who do.
So, ten minutes into our experience and armed with a map of the various Establishments and 50 kidZos for each child, we had to decide where to go first. We’d been given a tip off that we should start at the University because you’re rewarded with extra kidZos for your academic achievements but our girls spotted the Cadbury’s space where you could learn to temper chocolate. Farewell University education! You do have to queue at the popular Establishments, but since we’d decided on a 10.30am start we only had to wait 20 minutes here. I understand that Kidzania London gets busier as the day goes on, and that queue times increase as a result.
Next up was the Beauty Salon. On went the purple tabards and trolleys laden with styling aids were wheeled over. The girls were in their element!
En route to the Climbing Building and Fire Station (the girls decided they wanted to split up at this stage and luckily there were enough adults to facilitate this) we glimpsed the catwalk show by students of the Fashion Studio.
The eldest scaled a brick building four times and was pretty chuffed with herself. The youngest was excited to put on her firefighter’s hard hat and jacket and use a hose with real water to put out the fire (‘but the fire wasn’t real, Mummy, it was special lights that went down, down, down and then out’ – phew!)
After the physical exertion came hunger, and it was lunchtime already! Where did the time go? So we grabbed some pizza, burgers and fries and sat down at one of the street picnic areas. The food was right up our kids street, although it might have been a good idea to have a salad bar or something a bit healthier to educate the kids about healthy eating. Or perhaps Kidzania London knew what we deep down already know – those foodstuffs just aren’t what kids like to eat!
Post-lunch the eldest tried her hand in the Animation Studio. At first she found it all a bit confusing. But once she started putting the instructions into practice, setting out the plastic objects and filming, she realised what the aim of the game was!
After receiving some free zombie face-painting and Innocent smoothies, which our veggie-hating eldest drank with relish, until she realised she’d been ‘tricked’ into drinking pumpkin and carrot juice. Ha, it is Halloween Town after all! we realised we only had 30 minutes until our time was up so we all headed back to the airport so our charges could turn their hand at being a pilot or a member of the cabin crew. We chose pilot and, after dressing in the special changing area, they were treated to a talk about what the job involves. Then the exciting bit, getting to use the controls to steer the plane!
Now it was time to go home! We still had some kidZos left but didn’t realise until too late that there was a Department Store where you could spend them. That said, we wouldn’t have had enough kidZos to buy anything anyway because the cheapest item costs about 70 kidZos. The idea is that you work as hard as possible during your one visit, or you visit again to earn more. Our kids are at the age where they just wanted to choose stuff that was fun to do and they were in no rush to earn, so another visit it is!
And hooray because, despite our initial, slight reservation that Kidzania London would be a ‘bit too educational’ for our pre-schooler/primary-aged children, we all had the most incredible fun and we want to go back. We hope to visit again at Christmas time when the Nation will no doubt be given an amazing, festive makeover.
In the meantime, this incredibly fun Halloween event is running until 1st November and if you go, enjoy!
Here are our top tips for getting the most out of your Kidzania London trip:
It’s easy to get to Westfield although at busier times there could be delays leaving if you’re travelling on public transport:
Booking process and ticket prices
Here’s a handy link to the online booking page:
If your child is 8 years or older you can check them into Kidzania London and leave them unaccompanied while you visit the Parent’s Lounge for a read of the daily papers and a glass of wine. Or you can even leave and do a spot of shopping!
Under 8s must be accompanied into the Nation; however they enter into most adventure zones by themselves while you view them through a parent viewing window. There is an early years area to keep the under 4s entertained while another grown up takes the 4yrs+ on their adventures!
Devise a strategy before you go!
We didn’t realise there was a Department Store where you could spend your kidZos, or a bank where you could open a savings account to deposit leftover kidZos to use at a future visit. There were lots of things we didn’t realise were there, so we recommend that parents take a look, pre-visit, at how the Kidzania London’s economy works, at the full list of Academy activities and a Nation map:
Take a friend
Our girls get on great but since they’re different ages they wanted to do slightly different things. Next time we’ll let them take similar aged friends along so they have a ready-made companion. That said, confident kids will be happy to go it alone and make friends along the way.