We’ve been travelling to London for short breaks for quite some time to visit friends and family. But starting school back in September limited us to when we could visit. So, when we discovered when our training days were, a London trip was put in the diary and luckily our little best mate and his mama were game for the trip too!
If you’re on the mailing list for Virgin/National Rail etc, every so often your notified when sales go live. We managed to get 2 tickets for £5 per person each way, but travelling with under 5’s means they travel free… bargain! You can also upgrade your tickets to first class sometimes for as little as £10. Being in first class means you get fed and watered too. Bonus.
Travelling with under 5’s for free is great, however they are not allocated a seat. So, when you’re travelling on a busy train, like we were it can become a little busy. On the Leeds-London service, coach F is your best friend! There are no seat reservations so if you’re quick you can grab the seats you want. On this trip, a group of women were in the seats next to ours and before we got the chance to sit down, (at this point our 4-year-old boys hadn’t even spoken a word by the way!) we got a few eye rolls including a tut followed by “it’s going to be loud on here.” Alrighty then ladies! If you do want a silent ride to London every train has a quiet coach FYI. But luckily, the boys proved them wrong and their behaviour was on point. THANK GOD! Phew! So, if you are travelling with young ones be prepared for the odd few miserable fellow passengers. But I can say I’ve had some lovely people we’ve sat next to in the past who’ve loved conversing with our little characters. Top Tip: Pack plenty of snacks, that usually does the trick 😉
What to do?!
We had a few ideas of what we wanted to do whilst in London. But no plans set in stone, that’s generally how we roll. Kidzania ended up being at the top of the list. We had a rough idea of what it was all about. But was coming up rather expensive, so with a cheeky google search for discount codes, we managed to save a good £30+ using a discount code we found. For 2 adults and 2 children the total for £56.50. Kidzania, is in a huge shopping mall called Westfield (nearest tube Shepherds Bush), it was easy to find and just a short walk from the tube station and signposted well once within the Westfield complex. I’d recommend downloading an app for travelling on the tube. It’s a quick easy way to find the best routes. You also don’t need to get tickets for the tube at a machine anymore, if you have a contactless card you simply tap and go!
What IS Kidzania?
We had NO idea what to expect, but as soon as we spotted a HUGE British Airways aeroplane at the entrance, complete with full scale check in, we knew we were in for some real fun. The staff were great from the get go and made the boys feel special and important as they got their maps to the “city” and their very own money! It was explained to them that they had to find jobs in the city to earn more money and they could also spend the money to do certain activities and spend it in the shop. As we stepped into the city all our faces dropped, it looked AMAZING… it felt like we’d stepped into a secret realm, buzzing with hundreds of children. We aimed for the BIG Yellow Storage company which was the locker area. But we were quickly stopped by mini police officers in full uniform as a mini fire engine and ambulance rocked up, sirens wailing. The firefighters jumped out and immediately got to work on putting out a huge fire in the city hotel. It was so freakin’ good, we dumped the bags as quick as we could, once the police tape came down and they let us past that is!
The boys set to work in the Renault car garage, earned their first wage as we watched through the glass. NO ADULTS ALLOWED! Gutted, I was dying for a turn. But I loved how Kidzania were strong on letting the children do everything alone, without the pushy parent telling them what to do and not do. A stern eye through the glass to make sure they were listening was all we were allowed. Haha. They continued their quest to earn more cash. They collected online shopping orders in the supermarket, trained as fire fighters, climbed into the air conditioning units as technicians, cleaned windows, performed a liver transplant in Alder Hay Children’s Hospital, and even got to fly real deal British Airways flight simulators and have a boogie in the city nightclub oii oiiii!!!
There was a wide range of activities, with full scale TV studio, Metro Newspaper, a marketing agency, a theatre, H&M complete with fashion photography positions. It was honestly amazing. Many activities had ques, as it was full to the brim with school trips, but we soon realised the footfall drop after 3pm. This gave us the chance to get around all the sections that were too busy beforehand when we arrived earlier at 12.30pm. Although it was easier to get the children in to activities with less waiting time, we did notice the “city buzz” slip a little. The staff were quite obviously shattered, and many seemed less enthusiastic than before, but the boys were having a great time. When it was time to go, they got to spend their remaining wages in the city shop. Again, NO ADULTS ALLOWED! They loved it, and so did we as we giggled watching on, as they counted their money and slowly realised they’d need to work a little longer than a day to afford what they wanted. They came away with some wind-up cockroaches which they taunted the staff with. Around the city were professional photographers, so as we left the boys wristbands were scanned and we saw all the pictures that had been taken…. We wanted them all!!! BUT, that would come at a cost of £50 EACH! Jheeze Louise! After a tough decision, we narrowed our favourite pictures down and got 1 print out each, totalling to £24. We did get a link to download the images too, that’s always a bonus. But our trip at Kidzania wasn’t over… as we made our way to the exit we were stopped by immigration… The cockroaches didn’t help, but we managed to make it through.
We headed back into the shopping mall and aimed for Nando’s after talking about it all afternoon… it was closed for refurbishment. Typical. We settled for fish and chips and headed for the tube station, with a quick pit stop at Ben’s Cookies (if you don’t know, get to know… London is covered with them. Best cookies on the planet FACT!) I should also mention, at one of the busiest tube stations at peak time, I left my phone on a bench. Yes. After calling it whilst on the tube from my friend’s phone, it had been picked up and the couple who found it said they would wait for us as we made our way back to the station. They refused my cash reward and told us they believe in karma. So, do I. to that couple… I LOVE YOU! No seriously, you know what it’s like to lose something, let alone your phone full of EVERYTHING. Currently looking for a phone case a can wrap around my neck, I’m terrible for leaving it in random places.
We had a great trip and cannot wait to go back to Kidzania, I should also mention before I go, Kidzania welcome all ages but they can only take part in most activities from age 4+. Any younger, I don’t think they would get much from the experience. Older children will also love this place. I’d say easily up to age 14ish, and it’s a good place for older children to think about careers too.
Anyway, after that mad weekend my well deserved Lush filled bath awaits 😉