The Kidzania Survival Guide (Parents’ Edition)

Remember a time when you used to put on a paper hat and cooked vegetable scraps in the kitchen? Or when you ran your own little clinic by checking all your stuffed animals for fevers? Did you ever put little price tags on all your belongings to set up your own little departmental store? Kidzania offers children the chance to experience traditionally adult activities like going to work (and getting paid), and making purchases.

Role playing is the best way to learn, and in Kidzania where everything is made to resemble a little functioning city, it promises nothing but fun.

Everything is beautifully set up in a child-sized environment, and meticulously thought through to ensure an almost real running economy. Children will love it, there’s no doubt about it; it will be the best day of their lives. But perhaps not as fun for adults because they won’t be able to participate in any of the activities. In fact, most times, adults will be separated by a glass panel where they can watch but not interfere with their children’s experiences.

We’ve been to Kidzania twice – once in Singapore and once in Kuala Lumpur – and stayed from opening till closing both times. Our kids loved it of course, and we did as well. Based on our experience, here are ten things we think are necessary for parents to know or have in order to survive Kidzania. And by surviving, I mean minimal meltdowns for both parents and kids. Sounds good? Let’s go.

Planning a trip to K.L? Read about the kid-friendly activities that we enjoyed here.

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1. Enjoy yourselves too

When you enjoy yourselves, your happiness rubs off your kids, and they’ll have a better time too, don’t you think?

Kidzania opens with a bang where all the Zupervisors will line the streets and dance to the Kidzania theme song. You will soon realise that they do this every hour on the hour. So you can choose to do one of two things – 1) try to ignore them and race past them as you and your children head on to the next destination, or 2) sing and dance along with them together with your children, or at least smile and wave at them. Many children enjoy the dance and bop along to the music whenever it comes on.

While you’re at it, when Zupervisors smile and greet you with “Kai!” (Kidzania’s way of saying hello), go ahead and put two fingers over your heart like they do, and reply “Kai!”. The same way you would put on Mickey Mouse ears while in Disneyland, right? So just let loose and enjoy yourselves too. It will make your entire day so much more fun.

Don’t forget to wear comfy shoes. Our step counters told us that we walked about 9,000 steps while in Kidzania so choose shoes over flip-flops, please. Your feet will thank you.

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2. Let your children enjoy the complete experience

Sometimes our fault as parents is that we love the kids too much and want to do everything for them. In doing so, we forget that the best way for them to learn is through experience.

They will be paid Kidzos when they complete their respective jobs, and will need to pay to learn certain skills. All these transactions are done within the activity area where you will not be allowed to enter. Give them a little pouch or sling bag to carry so that they can manage their own money. It will be easier, not to mention faster, to prepare their Kidzos for them, but if you let them do it on their own, not only will they learn better, but also enjoy the independence. I can honestly say that one of my favourite moments out of the ten (yes, ten) hours we spent at Kidzania Singapore, was watching our 4-year old answer questions from the facilitators (sorry, Zupervisors) and counting her own money from her little purse for each activity.

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3. Let them do the choosing

Parents, I am going to tell you something, and it will absolutely gut you. Ready? Here goes : It is called Kidzania, not Momzania. So as much as you want to get a picture of your darling in a pilot outfit, try not to push your own ideas to the kids. Let them do the choosing. Remember that at the end of the day, it’s just a fun place, and whatever they choose is absolutely no indication of their ultimate career path.

As parents, we have the tendency of wanting to squeeze many activities into a short time, so that we can get everything done. But kids think differently. So if they don’t want to see a performance, or try out acting classes, or learn about surgeries, then don’t force them.

It’s all about fun. It’s all about enjoyment. It’s all about learning. It’s all about them. So if they want to earn Kidzos laying bricks at the construction site, or delivering newspapers, just let them. Our 4-year old really enjoyed being a window cleaner.

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4. Go at their pace

See above point about Kidzania/Momzania. There are approximately 100 activities that kids can participate in, in over 60 establishments. With each activity lasting at least 20-30 minutes, it is impossible to cover everything even if you stay from opening till closing.

As a practical adult, I can understand the urge to want to cover as much as possible because hey, the admission tickets are not cheap. If we were to let the kids go 100% at their own pace, there is the slight (almost impossible) chance that they might end up wanting to simply walk around and not participate in anything, thus wasting all that money.

So while you want to give your kids the experience of ‘shopping around’ for things to do, gently remind them that they will not be able to do everything, but that they will be able to do many activities if they focus.

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5. Go for coffee breaks when you can

Do not misread what I just wrote. I did not say chuck your children somewhere while you go off gallivanting.

There are certain sessions that you will not have any contact at all with your children – like when they are training to be pilots or part of cabin crew for instance. Unless you’re a passenger on the aircraft, you can either choose to spend half an hour sitting by the entrance or the activity area, waiting for them to emerge, or you can dash to any of the F&B outlets for a quick cuppa. Yes, coffee. Go for it. It’s going to be a long day.

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6. Hold off the cameras

Yes it is a special occasion, and yes having pictures of your children in those little chef hats are absolutely adorable. But think of it this way: knocking on the glass panel every 2 minutes asking them to look at you not only distracts your children, but also the other children in the group. How about just snapping a pic or two and then spend the rest of the time smiling at them and giving them the “Awww you’re so cute” look of adoration? That would be a better memory for them anyway.

And don’t forget – this is a fun day not only for your children, but for all the other kids as well. So don’t get so engrossed in photo taking and waving that you end up blocking other kids or worse, bumping into them!

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7. Manage expectations

So you’ve explained to your children that they simply can’t do everything. Let’s talk about your expectations now, shall we?

Your research will show you that the best thing to do is to send your kids to bake pizzas or make burgers or sushi when lunch time is approaching. That is a fantastic idea. But it is also the same idea that every other parent will have. So first, it will get crowded, and second, your child might not have the same idea.

So we started the day out fixing a loose time for lunch and dinner, and the kids knew that if they were to fuss about eating, then we’d all bid Kidzania farewell. I think that was the fastest I’d ever seen my children eat.

Just be warned that food options are not only limited, but they also um shall we say, do not rank the highest in nutritional value. So that’s another expectation to manage. Bring your own little snacks if you like. And water bottles (fill up at the coolers).

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8. Let them do their own queuing

There is a queue line at the entrance of every activity, and the rule is that the child participating in the activity must be in line himself. Alone. Don’t worry, you can be just out of the queue and beside your child. But no, parents and guardians are not allowed to be in the queue in place of the child. Which is perfect because that would mean that every child in Kidzania gets a fair and equal chance to participate in all activities.

So if Junior is in line, then runs off to do something, nobody is allowed to hold his place. So if he returns and finds that his spot is gone, he loses it and would have to queue again. Well, that would be the perfect chance to explain a life experience, wouldn’t it?

What about toilet breaks? As long as your child is already in the queue, let the Zupervisor know that he just needs to step out to go to the loo, and he will be given a queue card of sorts. The whole idea is to encourage responsibility and independence, through a fun way, no less.

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9. Ditch the map

Upon entry, you will be given a map of Kidzania. It is very comprehensive. It is also very big and shall we say, not entirely child-friendly. It is pictorial but it is sometimes hard to decipher what the images are trying to depict. Of course, there are numerical references, but that can be quite confusing for a young child. I suggest to ditch the map entirely, and simply go with the flow. We took the map but it remained in our pockets the entire time; we simply did not feel the need for it.

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10. That final activity

Ah yes, everybody panics when the announcement comes up to say that Kidzania is closing in half an hour. That’s the last call to squeeze in one more activity. This is when you tell your children very calmly that they can only do the activity that is closest to them with no queue. There is no time for queuing at that time. There will be no time to go hunt for something they saw during the day and want to try it out. There is a high chance that they either 1) won’t be able to find it or that 2) there will already be a queue. So tell them – it’s either this, or nothing, because the place is closing. And every child understands “the place is closing”.

I have to admit that the child in me thoroughly enjoyed both my times at Kidzania, even though I didn’t participate in anything. I hope that you’ll enjoy your Kidzania times too. If you let loose and let yourself have fun, it will not be a long draggy day, I promise! Till next time, zee you!

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Kidzania Singapore is located at Palawan Kidz City, 31 Beach View, Sentosa Island. It’s opposite the Port of Lost Wonder. You’ll see the big aeroplane nose sticking out of the building. The closest train station on Sentosa Island is Beach Station. Check out updated ticket prices here.

Note: Images shown were taken at both Kidzania Singapore and Kidzania Kuala Lumpur outlets.

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