I was sold the moment I heard about a mini city built for kids where they get to have fun by role playing and by getting to do all the things that adults do. There are no video games and no rides. Upon arrival (because it’s built like an airline arrival counter), we bought our tickets and were handed our “boarding passes” and went to the immigration counter to check-in to KidZania. At immigration, each of us were given an electronic tag, which they scanned every time Kabir did an activity and the tag also helps the mom or dad to track their kid(s).
You are transported into a completely different world the moment you enter through the small door post the immigration check. First thing, Kabir and I had to go to the bank and were handed over 30 Kidzos (their currency) to start our day. We decided to take a round of the entire place and it took Kabir and me some 10-15 minutes to understand how the city functions. The ceiling gives you the feel of the sky, blue with white puffy clouds. The buildings are small and have ceilings. There is a main street, hotels, driving school, hospital, fire fighting station, spa, super market, construction site, archaeological site, court, cereal factory, police station, radio station, courier service and even a stadium sponsored by different companies! Kids get to choose their occupation (20-25 minutes per activity), and they are given a salary when they finish the job. Inside each outlet there are Zupervisors (trained adults) who supervise and guide the kids in their job. This is to encourage learning through role-playing experiences and parents are not allowed to enter any activity areas. There are certain activities which require the kids to spend as well. Life’s a balancing act after all.
The first thing Kabir wanted was to drive. He stood in the queue and got to know from the Zupervisor that he has to earn a driving license first. He waited in the queue to enter the Maruti Driving School and paid the fee. Driving License doesn’t come for free, does it? He told me that at the driving school (as I didn’t get to enter) he learned to drive on the simulator and learned about traffic and safety rules as well. And he was so proud of getting his own driver’s license with his picture on it. Next he went to the Maruti Nexa Showroom, to understand not only how and what it takes to buy a car and but also how to be a relationship manager. Then finally the time came to test drive the Baleno, scaled down, battery operated with accelerator, brakes and steering wheel. He stopped to fill fuel as well. From the look on his face, I figured he wanted to do it again but then there was so much more to be done. (scroll down for a clip).
What else to do? There is so much to do! We managed to cover only half of it after spending 5 hours and that too on a weekday when it was less crowded. Kabir worked in the underground construction site, became a dentist (which he found a bit spooky), then decided to be a paleontologist, all the activities where he could earn so that he could go around spending. He paid 8 kidzos at the adidas stadium to learn football and climbed a building which was super fun. He also walked on a building overcoming obstacles as it was under construction.
Apart from the Nexa Driving Experience, one of the most popular occupations in KidZania is becoming a fireman. There was constantly a queue of kids in front of the fire station. The kids need to receive “training” and then sit in a fire truck which brings them to a fire scene and they get to help put off the fire. It looked so much fun, but there was a 40 minute wait so we have decided to keep that and police station for the next visit.
I think Kabir had two revelations that day or so I thought. He told me that driving isn’t as easy so probably he appreciates my driving him around everywhere a little more. Also, he realised that he has to work very hard to buy anything at the Store with his Kidzos. And he said on his next visit he would work more. My two bits –
• Visit KidZania on a weekday.
• Be prepared to spend the entire day. There are enough outlets to eat inside.
• Kabir thoroughly enjoyed himself, I can’t imagine how it would be if he brought a friend or a cousin along.
• Although kids of all ages are allowed, most of the activities have a minimum age requirement or height.
• The only bummer is that it’s located in Noida so you need to account for travel time if you don’t live close by.