Ages weeks ago we went on a little road trip to Laaaandan (as a Northern I believe this is the obligatory way to pronounce London) where we had simply the best time staying at Dorsett Shepherds Bush and reviewing Kidzania.
If you didn’t see my Instagram stories on the day then you missed a treat but fear not because I have a taken note of your questions – there were tonnes! – and I’ve answered them in this post, alongside a sneak peak blog over on my YouTube channel. One of the things that I hope will help you out here, apart from my mad writing skillz, ahem, is that I have three very diﬀerent children. Reuben is very timid and often refuses to get involved in new things. He stands back and assesses, doesn’t really want to go oﬀ without us and he likes to be the centre of attention once he’s feeling better. Toby is really conﬁdent, he will dive in and be the ﬁrst to do crazy stuﬀ like wall climb without an once of fear, but he is also happy to blend into a crowd. Lastly, Edith is very much the younger client of Kidzania, and lots of you asked my opinion on the worth of a trip if your child is under 4, the youngest age for the “main” activities.
To give you a rough idea of what Kidzania is you can have a look at the vlog we did below.
A very basic explanation is that it is a “city” where kids are in charge. Children are the mini adults, they can take on jobs to earn Kidzania money and then buy things or experiences that they want. They can choose where they want to go and there are plenty of places for grown ups to sit down and chill out whilst the kids do all the work, play and creation – even down to food. Learn to be a ﬁreman, a vet, a retail assistant, have your face painting… the list is endless with constantly added activities for children to enjoy. You pay for a 4hr slot and you can do as much or as little as you like.
So, here’s what we really thought and the answers to your questions.
Is it worth the price for my 4+ years child?
Short answer YES! Yes, it is. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t think that the online booking of Kidzania was expensive. £18 for 4hrs in that place is amazing value HOWEVER once I dug a bit deeper, you have to book well in advance and, bluntly, you’re not getting that price unless you’re coming later on in the day. The prices vary drastically but I can only advise that you book online well in advance to save yourself a fortune. All three of my children have asked to go back because they loved it so much and if you are a homeschooler then I really can’t tell you enough the value that you will get. As expensive as it might be, if we lived in London we would have season passes without a doubt, especially if we homeschooled. Funnily I spoke to quite a few homeschooling parents whilst we were there, they came in groups and allowed the children to pick and choose activities whilst they sat back and had a coﬀee. It really is worth it, not just for fun but for the educational value that comes with the experience.
Is it worth it for an under 4 years child?
Hmm. The ticket prices are cheaper and they put activities on throughout the day but this one I wasn’t as sure of the answer. You see Edith adored it and has asked just as much, if not more, than the boys if she can go back BUT the allure for her was the same as any other soft play – she loved the toddler “house” set up, played in the kitchen for a good 3 hrs and didn’t once look at the tablets provided in the living room set up because she was too busy playing. Are far as educational value, there was a lot, an awful lot. From a “science lab” to a kitchen to a super easy going jigsaw and play room, there was plenty for her to do but I wouldn’t have taken her without her brothers. I would only take a toddler with an older child I think. If you book well in advance you will ﬁne it well worth the price though; but as a drop in I would say save your money and go when they are 4.
How easy is it to look after your children when they all want to do diﬀerent things or if you have a toddler/baby with you?
This was one of the best parts for me. Your children do not need you to be with them for activities, you can stand outside the rooms and watch through the window if you have a nervous child or you can grab yourself a seat, park your tush and create a base where your kids can come back to you if and when they please. The only issue we found was that parents squabble over which child was ﬁrst in line so it might be worth keeping an eye on kids that, a.) push in or b.) are likely to allow someone to push in without saying “excuse me; I was here ﬁrst”. Each zone has a “leader” so the children are never left alone and they are given wrist tags to wear when you arrive that sync to the wristband you are given – which means that they can’t leave without at all. As for having kids and toddlers with you, I told the boys that I would be going upstairs with Edith and that they needed to come and grabbed me up there if they needed anything. Once they had done one activity they found their feet and they were happy to play whilst I played with Edith. You can’t leave children under 4 unattended but it is almost encouraged to leave the older kids to it so that they can really immerse themselves in being mini grown ups.
What type of activities do they do, do I need to take anything with me?
Nope, all outﬁts, including hair nets so your child can wear helmets and hats, are included. Anything they need for their task will be included, you just need to bring your kid and their comfy shoes for charging about. There are lockers inside the room so you don’t need to worry about leaving your belongings or coats lying around if you are going from zone to zone. It is worth noting that certain activities are suitable for kids in skirts/dresses or with ﬂip ﬂops. I did see that at the climbing wall children were changing foot wear but it’s probably best that your child wear trainer style footwear and leggings/trousers to avoid any frustrations. Don’t bring food with you, even snacks – it’s a bit annoying considering the price, but you aren’t allowed to bring food in. There are plenty of places to buy proper meals (pizza looks lush!) or snacks like brownies and ﬂapjacks.
How long are the wait times?
Each activity lasts for 15-30mins and for some of the activities there was a pretty big queue and a long wait. I know that this puts people oﬀ but in a way it is another part of the lesson: sometimes ya gotta queue. My kids are pretty good at queuing, other than Edith, but if you are trying to avoid the queues I would suggest arriving early (10.30am) and making the Fire brigade, Police oﬃcer, and pilot your ﬁrst stops. These seems to be, by far, the busiest options and as the day went on some of the waits got up to 40mins, which is a long time when you have paid a lot of money and only have 4hrs. I will note that the experiences ran really smoothly, so once one activity had started, they would start the next phase with the waiting group. It was well managed.
What about nervous kids?
Well that depends on your child. Everything that could be done to accommodate nervous children seemed to be being done, but the children do have to have an element of independence to go into the activity without their parent. As Reuben gets older he is much less nervous but I do remember a time when this would have been quite the ask for him. He would have found the act of going through the door quite tough if not holding on to me. What I did notice was that one mum asked if she was allowed to go into the room during the activity and stand in the back whilst her child joined in, which she was allowed to do and I think it helped her kiddo feel a bit better. If you have a nervous child then it might help to know that in every activity is behind glass style windows so you can see your child and they can see you constantly.
Are special needs catered for?
I was quite impressed by the physical accessibility of Kidzania, they also oﬀer a “help hearing guide” and service animals are welcome. I was asked by quite a few parents on instagram whether or not they oﬀer a special time for autistic children and I have discovered that Kidzania oﬀer awareness wristbands for children with additional needs which allows the parent/carer to enter the room with the child and help them with the activity. They also have a concession for carers so that they can enter for free which I think is amazing. There are no sensory or speciﬁc days/rooms for children with special needs and the customer service representative that I spoke to said that this was due to the fact that children from 8 up to 14 can be there without an adult and to try and keep everything fair they don’t limit where the children can and can’t go in the “city” – so having a room that is only accessible for certain children wouldn’t work. It seemed to me that their policy aims to make Kidzania as accessible as possible for as many children as possible but it might be that a child with special needs would ﬁnd the place overwhelming, which I’m afraid I would have to defer to others who have more experience than myself to determine as I realise each special needs child will have diﬀerent needs.
Where do I stay if I am travelling to London?
We stayed in Dorsett Shepherds Bush and it was AWESOME! Bluntly put, we had the very best time, the kids enjoyed the extra special touches like their towels made into monkeys above the bed and we loved the fact that we had two separate rooms because we were staying in a suite. One of the tastiest breakfasts (although the noodles to cater to the Asian clients were a touch odd!) we have had in a long time and not once did any of the hotel staff make us feel unwelcome or uncomfortable with young children, despite the luxury and beautiful design of the hotel which was clearly aimed mostly at business and foreign travellers. They were wonderful, I can’t recommend them enough – and they are a partner to KidZania too, which means you get special rates and you are a 2 minute walk away!
These were the questioned that cropped up the most frequently but if you have any more you think of then drop them in the comments or shoot them over in an email and I will do everything I can to get the answer for you!