Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Kidzania - C's first visit

Last Saturday, more than one year after Kidzania's launch in February 2012, Caitlin got to experience this kid's edutainment indoor theme park that everyone in town has been raving about. Firstly, the entrance fee was quite a deterrent for our single-income family -- RM60 for Malaysian kids above four years, RM35 for adults who are required to accompany children below eight years, higher fee for non-Malaysians. When it first launched, I felt that it was rather pricey but now I can see why and feel that it is quite justified considering that other theme parks here and overseas also cost as much, if not more. If C had not pestered us for it, I don't think I would have made a conscious effort to take her there as to me, this place is not a must-see, must-go kind of place.

Secondly, I kept hearing that due to its popularity, it's always very, very crowded, especially on weekends, school and public holidays, and I simply hate going to crowded places. That meant that there'll be queues everywhere all the time -- queue to enter, queue to participate in the activities, queue at food outlet, maybe even queue at the toilet. Having to queue for everything just takes the enjoyment out of going to such places and wastes a lot of time. The opening hours during non-peak periods (weekdays, and if you're lucky, certain weekends) are between 10am to 5pm, while during peak days, there are two sessions i.e. 10am-3pm and 4pm-9pm. I guess this is to help them manage the crowd and capacity for each activity.

According to its website, "KidZania Kuala Lumpur is an indoor family edutainment centre which offers an interactive learning and entertainment experience for kids in a kid-sized city to deliver the first-of-its-kind edutainment fun. The KidZania experience is about real-life experiences, empowering, inspiring and educating kids through role-play."

Kidzania has over 90 interactive and fun learning activities at more than 60 establishments. What the kids do is go to the various establishments they would like to try their hand at the particular career offered there, for e.g. the dental clinic to be a dentist, and get paid for the work they did, in Kidzania's national currency, kidZos (notes) and Zents (coins). They can also spend their 'money' at the establishments, for e.g. at the hair salon where C got her hair tied into pigtails.

We were lucky that last Satuday was not a peak day in Kidzania's calendar. I had purchased the tickets online a few days before (you can buy it there too if you don't mind queueing) so when we arrived, we headed over to 'Air Asia terminal" (main lobby entrance) to get the 'boarding pass' and wrist tag.

Kidzania Kuala Lumpur International Airport showing locations of other Kidzania cities around the world
 Ticketing counter
Wrist tag

Among the careers C participated in were news reader, dentist, bricklayer, secret agent, baker (made real Oreo cookies), chocolatier (Cadbury chocolate factory), supermarket cashier, security guard delivering money to the bank, and telecommunications engineer. After earning and spending her money, she went to the bank to open an account and deposited the balance. They gave her an ATM (which actually works apparently) so that the next time she visits Kidzania, she can withdraw her kidZos from the ATM and use it. In between the activities, she took a lunch break at the 'food court' there. You pay with real RM currency when you buy food there. Food sold is kid-friendly. To give you an idea of pricing, a plate of spaghetti costs RM15.

 A little firefighter working hard at putting out a blazing inferno

She spent a total of about five hours there. For peak days where they have two sessions, you are required to leave one hour before the next session begins.

C enjoyed herself that day with two of her cousins and would like to go again to try out other activities, one of which is to learn how to drive a car. You can also go to medical school to get certified as a doctor. If you do that, you earn more kidZos when you work as a doctor at the clinic/hospital.

In my opinion, Kidzania is an interactive fun place for kids to experience role-play in an environment that is as real as it can get, which will be hard to replicate at home. There is a little bit of learning involved although at a superficial level. I guess that's because each activity is limited to a certain period of time for a limited number of kids each time.

Note the capacity, duration and height restriction for certain activities
Like many theme parks, they take photographs of your kids participating in the various activities and offer them for sale. You are not obligated to purchase any but if you wish, one picture costs RM15. After purchasing the picture, they provide you with a link to download soft copies for free, as stated in the brochure they give you (see picture below). That's quite a good idea. I wish other theme parks offer this benefit so that we could at least have a soft copy saved in the event the expensive hard copy gets torn, fades or lost.

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