Can you imagine a city run by children? Where kids roam the streets catching baddies, putting out fires and grabbing breaking news for the local paper? How would you feel if your lunch was served to you by 10 year-olds, or if you saw your 5 year-old getting a tattoo with their savings?
Well, it’s no longer just seen in Bugsy Malone, KidZania has landed in London and my oh my is it a must-see. Nestled at the top Westfield Shepherd’s Bush, KidZania is a haven for kids aged 4 to 14 (although younger kids are welcome to the play centre). But it’s more than just a day out or another theme park for children; it actually offers kids the opportunity to learn.
On arrival, each child receives 50 Kidzos, the city’s currency. These Kidzos can be used for a variety of things from grabbing some lunch, buying things in the shops, doing some of the more over-the-top jobs such as abseiling the buildings and making your own jewellery. Once your 50 Kidzos have run out… that’s it. Parents can’t just go and buy more currency for their children, they have to earn it. And they have to earn it by working. It was an absolutely fantastic way for the children we were with to learn about the value of money. They worked in the supermarket, a recycling centre, as a mechanic and a policeman. Each job earned you between 8 and 10 Kidzos. You can also set up your own bank account and receive a debit card to get your money out from the ATMs dotted around the place.
Each job came with a purpose. Interacting with other children, learning about the environment, or about science in the KidZania University or learning basic first aid. But most of all, it was about having fun. KidZania is the place where children are finally offered the opportunity to have complete independence to be creative. Forget making a fire engine out of an old cardboard box like we used to, these kids were in a real truck, driving around the streets in their fireman gear.
The bonus of it all, was that parents weren’t allowed to get involved. Each area was cordoned off, or behind glass so parents were unable to interfere. If kids are over a certain age, parents are encouraged to make use of the adult’s lounge to have a coffee and chill out – and don’t worry, each child is fitted with a security tag, as are the parents, so there is no way of them leaving unsupervised.
Areas of KidZania are sponsored by huge companies – British Airways, Alderhey Children’s Hospital, H&M, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Renault, Cadbury, Innocent and Bank of England all had factories and shops to add to the excitement.
I honestly can’t big up KidZania London enough, and highly recommend you taking a day out to just experience this place. I’m passionate about encouraging children to be creative and to appreciate learning – especially in this media-saturated, Internet age that we live in. The kids we were with can’t wait to return again to spend the rest of their Kidzos and experience even more – and we as adults, can’t wait to take them back.
*KidZania London invited us to check the place out. We were under no obligation to write a post at all, let alone a positive one, we were just blown away by this place.