Kowalah Kids Review - KidZania London
In today's post we continue our Kowalah Kids Review blog series. In this series we get a kid's eye view of the best of the Cotswolds' activities and provide advice and suggestions along the way.
This week our mini-reviewers visited KidZania London - not strictly a Cotswold destination, but definitely within striking distance for a day trip, and definitely worth the journey as we'll find out.
Our reviewers today are Matilda (10), Monty (8), Herbie (8) and Dixie (6). They were chaperoned by their parents.
What is KidZania?
KidZania is an indoor city, run by kids aged between 4 and 14. Imagine a world where every job is performed by children rather than adults! Whether it is the hospital, the fire service, the estate agents or the courier service - every role exists as its own activity that a group of between 4 and 15 kids can engage in for around 20 minutes. Your visit lasts 4 hours, and with a bit of food and wandering around you'll expect to complete around 5-7 activities during your stay in the City.
What happened when you arrived?
"There was a massive aeroplane sticking out of the wall!" says Matilda. "We had to go underneath it and then go up loads of escalators to go to a check in area."
"A man gave us a watch thingy," adds Dixie. "We all had one on our arm which meant if we got lost our family would know where we are. It wasn't heavy."
"We also got given a hairnet," says Monty "which was for if we did any cooking. Oh and we got 50 Kidzos which is the money they use in the city. We could earn more Kidzos doing jobs and we could spend it in the shop at the end. If you get 75 Kidzos then you can go to the bank and open a bank account."
What activities did you do?
The four kids were left to their own devices to start with and headed off as a four. After 10 minutes though it was decided there was too much choice and they couldn't decide what to do all together and so they split up into girls and boys.
Dixie dives right in, "My favourite was the Smoothies!" This was an Innocent Drinks sponsored smoothy store where kids can get involved in how smoothies get made. "We turned a wheel and tested a smoothy!"
The boys headed over to a Renault sponsored racing car garage. "We learned about different engines," says Monty. "We learned about ICE cars [internal combustion engine!] and electric cars. Electric cars need to charge over night. I liked that I could do the activity with my brother as we didn't know the others."
"Then we went to the racing car," continues Herbie. "We could take the wheel off and put a new one on. It was cool!"
They moved onto the Pokemon animation studio where they spent 20 minutes learning how to create their own stop motion animation film in a mini-studio. "We had this man, and a rock and Pikachu ran up the rock to the man and the man ran away." says Monty. "It was my favourite activity"
Meanwhile the girls were earning money at the hotel, "We went into a hotel room with a lady, it was us two and another two girls" says Matilda. "We had to memorise where everything was in the room, and then we went out and she messed everything up, she threw everything around, the bedsheets were on the floor and we had to count to 20. Then we go in and have to try and remember where everything had to go. We earned 6 Kidzos."
As the day progressed the mini-reviewers signed up for jobs that sent them all over the city. First the boys took a job at the bank vault - and were provided with a list of three shops to head off to to deliver cash reserves. You can imagine them dressed up like a Securitas delivery person with stab vests! "We had to go to Hamptons, H&M and the bank" says Herbie "We had gold bars to give to the shopkeepers and they signed our paper."
"We did window cleaning" adds Dixie, "We earned 12 Kidzos which is the most you can earn. It was quite easy though."
The reviewers came together for their last activity of the day "We did a courier service," says Matilda. "We had to deliver boxes to different shops. Dixie pushed the trolley and I asked people to sign the form. We had to go to the newspaper, then to the K-Mart, and finally to H&M recycling. The boys had to pick up human blood from the children's hospital!"
In the video below Dixie heads off on her delivery round....
Would you like to go again?
"Yes! I didn't get to make chocolate" says Herbie who missed out on the Cadbury's shop. "I want to do the fire engines and the climbing!" adds Monty, "the queues were too long for them."
The collective reviewers called out drumming, being a pilot, dance academy, and the theatre as activities to do next time.
Any advice for other kids?
"I would go with one of my friends!" says Matilda. "I think it would be easy deciding what to do with my friend because they could choose one and then I could choose one. With siblings you fight over what you want to do, but with friends you can make an order."
We started our booking at 11.30 which meant that hangriness (hungry + angry) kicked in around 13.00 so we stopped for some lunch at a pizza and pasta shop in the city after which normal service resumed. "We should have started earlier," says Monty. "Then we could have carried on doing activities and had a proper lunch afterwards."
The details for parents
KidZania was a hit - we had high expectations on arrival but even they were totally exceeded within 90 seconds of being in the building.
You book online at the KidZania website. Depending on the date and time kids tickets are around £25 and accompanying adults £16 each. We said numerous times as we went round that £25 per child was extremely good value for the 4 hours of activity they get.
KidZania is situated in the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd's Bush, easy to get to via either the M4 or M40 and with loads of cheap parking - a full day for £8. In addition, if your kids are over 8 and are happy, you can put them into KidZania solo and spend the time shopping and just pick them up at the end. We'd only recommend this on a second or third visit as you'll want to experience the magic yourself at least once!
The earliest slot you can get is 09.30 - if you can bear the early start in the car we'd recommend getting in for that 09.30 or 10.00 slot as you'll have less queues towards the end of your session.
The biggest queues were for the most visible activities - British Airways pilots academy, the fire station and the climbing wall. If you get in early do these first and get them out the way before it gets busy.
That said, our reviewers had most fun with activities they initially dismissed - they loved the courier service and the bank vault as it gave them responsibility to head off on their own.
Our one negative was the build up to spending their Kidzos at the end. The kids are advised that they earn their money and at the end they can spend them in the shop - there were only two items available when we visited - a wooden necklace and a colouring book. We opted to bring our Kidzos home and use them next time to open a bank account.
You can plan your visit early by reviewing the online map. With so many activities this is a day out you could definitely repeat two or three times.
We hope you enjoyed this Kowalah Kids Review. If you've been somewhere great recently, or run a great kids activity and would like a kid's eye review let us know!
Kowalah is a mobile app delivering On Demand Childcare across the Cotswolds by connecting parents with local babysitters and providers of childcare. Parents are connected with up to 5 available Kowalahs in 15 minutes giving them speed and flexibility. All Kowalahs have been interviewed and referenced providing parents with peace of mind.