You may or may not know that Smix absolutely loves planes, commercial planes especially. So having already visited London Transport Museum & the Science Museum on previous trips to the capital, I had been Googling other aviation attractions before our most recent trip.
I came across Kidzania, an educational attraction located in the giant Westfield mall at Shepherd's Bush. It's tricky to describe what Kidzania is to those who haven't seen it. It's part education yes, but also like a mini amusement park. Kids can train and work at sixty different jobs and professions. Each activity is almost like a little day out by itself. There are several Kidzanias around the world, including Dubai, which is a really good watermark for what this attraction is- it's the Dubai of kids' days out.
Its really best to just show you- so here is a video I put together that can help explain what Kidzania actually is. There are clips from our visit plus footage from the Kidzania UK YouTube page.
So you can book tickets online, or at Westfield. Kids over 8 can enter by themselves, under 8 will need an adult with them. You have four hours of play. Tickets are around £24 for a child, £16 for an adult. This might sound steep, but considering an hour at a trampoline park cost £10 or more, and this is for four hours, it's pretty good, it's £5 an hour each.
And here's a little tip- you can get a buy one ticket get one free offer with a valid train ticket, or check online for a 20% off voucher code.
So what can you do in Kidzania? Its incredibly impressive, and easily worth the ticket price in my opinion. The interior is a miniature city, sort of like Main Street Disney, with little shops, hotels, a police station, hospital etc. When we walked through into the city our mouths literally dropped open, much to the amusement of the attendant, who said, "You guys must not have been here before!".
There are sixty different jobs, and so sixty activities for kids to choose from. Most take 10-20 minutes each, so you would be able to visit Kidzania many times and still have a new adventure to discover. The whole area is the size of Leicester Square, and has two levels.
There are lots of real world companies to work for within the city. Be a chef in the Cadbury and make chocolate bars. Make a snack at Mission Deli Wrap and a fruit bar at the Natural Food Company Factory. Cook up a storm in the Gourmet Burger Kitchen.
Work as a fire fighter and ride the fire engine round the city, or be a surgeon and ride the ambulance.
Try your hand as Renault F1 pit crew, learn about being an Estate Agent with Hamptons. Get arty in the Pokemon Animation Studio, Painting Studio or Face Painting Pod. All these activities are included in entrance.
Kids can earn KidZos for doing certain jobs, like window washing, medical courier and hotel receptionist. When they have 75 KidZos they can open a bank account and get a debit card. Then when they get paid for other jobs they can have their salary paid straight onto their card. They can spend their KidZos in Kidzania's Department Store, or save them for the next visit.
Does your kid love performing? They can audition for a puppeteer or actor then put on a show for the parents in the Kidzania Theatre. The Dance Club has jobs like dancer, DJ and singer. There's a full TV studio to do various jobs in, and a Capital FM studio to broadcast from.
If you love animals you can train as a vet. Keep the city safe as a Policeman or Policewoman. Design clothes in H&M, or sell them in their store. Be a hair stylist in Expression Beauty Salon.
It's impossible to show you everything, but you can explore yourself with the interactive tour which works like Streetview.
For Smix, it was always going to be all about the British Airways Aviation Academy. Located on the upper level it has two activities. You can train as a pilot and fly a real flight simulator, and then work as cabin crew. If you watch the video I made up above, you'll see Smix taking part in the safety demonstration.
With most Kidzania activities, kids queue and wait their turn, then adults can watch from outside while they try out each job. With some professions, the adults get to join in. If your child is acting as cabin crew you get to come on board the plane interior and get served an inflight meal by your little ones.
There are wonderful souvenir photos to buy at the end of your visit. Smix had the little pilot license card printed, which is £15 and includes a digital copy of the pilot photo. He was absolutely delighted with his pilot pass and bought a lanyard to wear it. I don't think he's ever going to take it off!
We loved Kidzania, and with so much to do I'm sure we will have a return visit on another of our London trips. Thanks to Kidzania for letting us come along to review our visit. There really isn't anywhere like this in Northern Ireland, so if you get the chance to visit with your children, you'll be sure to love it too.