Average ratingSee on map
Barking & Dagenham
Westfield London Shopping Centre
Ariel Way, Shepherd's Bush, London, W12 7GA
From £10 to £28 online
Mon-Fri, Sat, Sun, 10am-6.30pm Mon-Fri (term time);10am-8pm Mon-Fri (holidays); 10am-7.30pm Sat-Sun
4 years to Teenagers
Imagine a 75,000sq.ft child-size city where kids are in charge! Opening now, KidZania has landed in Westfield London.
Have your kids ever dreamt of becoming a pilot, a firefighter, or the next award-winning singer? Watch the excitement on their faces as they try out more than 60 real life role-play activities in the bank, on stage or fighting crime on the streets as a police officer!
Each role-play experience is crafted to teach kids essential life skills including financial literacy, team work and independence. Designed to empower kids, KidZania gives them the confidence to challenge themselves and inspire them to explore the world of opportunities.
For prices, last admission times and bookings, please visit the website.
Times and prices are subject to change. Contact venue before setting out.
KidZania has a simple concept, that each “role-play experience is crafted to teach kids essential life skills including financial literacy, team work and independence.” There are 60 real life role play activities that children can take part in. We visited early on a Monday morning during the school summer holidays, so it wasn't too manic (which is what I was dreading after reading reviews on TripAdvisor).
When I was asked to review Kidzania, I wasn't really sure what to expect. My 5 year old couldn't wait to visit whilst my 12 year old daughter wasn't sure if it would be interesting enough for her. Upon arriving at the entrance which is sited in the Westfield shopping mall in West London, it is very impressive. You enter to the site of a British Airways airplane and check in as if you're at an airport. It made you feel like you were visiting another world. At this point, you are all given a bracelet which is scanned, so the kids can be tracked, and then they are given 50 KidZos each, which is the currency used in Kidzania's across the world. They can earn more by undertaking a variety of roles or they use their KidZos to pay for training.
KidZania itself is like a mini world with various departments (police, fire station, department store, hospital etc). Very clean – despite the lack of bins – and pretty roomy. The only thing that irked me was the dusk lighting which made you lose all sense of time. Like being in a casino in Las Vegas. But it's probably something only adults would be bothered by. My kids didn't really comment on it until we left and were hit with the bright sunlight and lighting inside Westfield shopping centre.
As for the activities…we headed straight to the Aviation Academy where my two undertook Pilot training and, apparently, managed to land a plane successfully in their flight simulation. Then onto the Fire and Rescue Unit where they watched a largely inaudible training video prior to being driven on the ‘fire engine' to the local hotel which was ‘ablaze'. This was great fun. I mean, what kid doesn't like wielding a hose? The area was even shut down by the police, the ambulance was in attendance and a smoke machine created the atmosphere of a real fire.
We then moved on to the Police Department which didn't seem to involve much other than another video and patrolling the streets. I think my son was just happy to have on a policeman's vest and hat but he certainly needed more direction on this activity.
By this point I tired of carrying all of our jackets etc and found the locker room. Life saver! Nice ample sized lockers for all your coats, bags etc and they also have buggy storage. Not cheap (£3 for a locker and £5 for buggy storage which is non refundable) but definitely useful.
At this point we had already figured out that, if we had any chance of purchasing anything with our KidZos in the KidZania department store, the kids needed to earn more money. So it was off to the City Clock for a bit of hand bell ringing. The kids weren't expecting to stand on a balcony in front of the whole of KidZania to show off what they had learned but that's what happens at the end of your session! Then back downstairs to the Hospital where my son surprised me with his adept Maternity Nurse skills.
By this time, we were nearly at our 4 hour limit so found an activity with a short queue, which was the Fruit and Nut Bar Makery. They were able to taste some ingredients and weigh them out in the pretence that they were going to actually make a bar. They didn't. They were given a pre packaged ‘Eat Natural' bar for which they wrote the date on the ‘Best Before' label. Slight disappointment but it was, at least, very tasty!
Now, my kids almost didn't undertake this last role play as our 4 our limit would have technically run out before the session had finished. However, the employee leading the activity let them take part. It was a nice way to end the day. By this point I think we were all a little tired.
So, was it a good day out and value for money? Well it certainly compares in price to other major attractions such as Madam Tussauds or Legoland so it's not cheap! Ultimately, if your children enjoy themselves then you do feel that it was value for money. My kids certainly enjoyed themselves although it was an introduction to the art of queuing for my son who is still learning the art of patience. We didn't have to wait for longer than 10 minutes for any of the activities but I suspect on a busy day, the wait would be much, much longer.
My daughter gave the experience 7 marks out of 10 and I would agree with this rating. There are some things I think that can be improved on that would make me rate it higher:
• Some sort of countdown mechanism on the wristbands would have been great for those of us that didn't check the clock at the exact time that we were scanned in.
• More staff training. Some staff members really looked like they were just going through the motions with little natural engagement with the children, which leads me on to my next point…
• I had a bit of an encounter with one of the Zupervisors (as they're called), a result of the lack of a structured queuing system at this particular activity. This was only resolved after other parents supported what I was saying but the situation was handled poorly by the employee.
• Each child is given 50 Kidzos upon entry, would be nice if they were given a free little money holder/wallet/bumbag (or anything!) to put their money in so that they were more responsible for it.
• The KidZania department store is expensive. Even when my two put their money together at the end of the day, all they could afford was a couple of elephant rubbers. Either more money or less expensive items in the shop would be ideal.
• It was impossible to hear the video at the Fire Station and the Zupervisor we had on the day, although lovely, was so softly spoken, you couldn't hear a thing above the background noise. How are children supposed to be engaged, especially the younger ones, if they can't hear what's being said?
With all this being said, it was certainly an experience my kids will remember. It is something to put on the ‘To Do' list? Possibly but for me, once was enough. My tips to anyone planning a visit? Have a big meal before you go, bring plenty of money (for the proper souvenirs and official photos) and wear comfortable shoes!
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