Kidzania is the very latest and, without a doubt, most innovative addition to the 'edutainment' scene in Bangkok. This is unlike anything we have seen before and the level of fun has been raised to a brand new level. Kidzania, originally a Mexican company, has been opening family entertainment centers since 1999 in Santa Fe, then in 18 additional locations around the world. At first this appears to be another cute mini-town with pretty European style houses below painted skies - which it is. But beyond the extremely well executed craftsmanship, a much deeper level of education is brought to the kids.
Each and every one of the shops and buildings in Kidzania town is a learning experience for children from four to 15 years old. Not just some boring 'show-how': here kids get to be part of the shops. It's extremely well executed and kids love it! The range of experiences is also unique as there are up to 80 different jobs to choose from, everything from being a real dentist to flying a Boeing 737! Fight a hotel fire with real water and ride a tiny fire truck to reach the scene. Rescue people with a small ambulance and bring them to a mini hospital where you get to use almost real equipment. Everything is very realistic, just smaller. Then move to the newspaper office and report to a real newsroom or a TV studio... if only real life jobs would look as fun.
Each activity can accommodate small groups of 6 to 8 kids and no parents can interfere or participate. It's a real kid's world so mom and dad are just allowed to witness the operation and take photos... barely. The whole thing is really well thought out, with a large lobby offering cakes, coffees and computers, all dedicated to parents so kids can finally play free without having to take care of the nagging oldies. The most appealing aspect of Kidzania is the concept of 'how-do-they-do-it'. It's certainly all fun and games but kids really do learn something... Everyone has to wear the relevant outfit or uniform - whether it's a nurse, a firefighter or a lab coat to learn how to make coke in a mini factory, how to prepare sushi at an Oishi restaurant or some burgers at McDonald's and how to change your mom's car tires at B-Quik car centre. It's all heavily sponsored of course, but who cares? Life out there is just like this! The kids earn 'KidZos' money by doing these mini jobs and can even open a bank account at the CIMB bank. This money is kept there for the kids to buy gifts at the souvenir shop on the way out. How smart from the organizers.With such a great concept and perfect location at the top floor of Siam Paragon, there is no doubt Kidzania will be a huge success. In addition, being part of such an upmarket shopping mall will hopefully ensure that two years from now the attraction will not get the usual fate of other edutainment centres, when half the features usually stop working and everything looks old and faded. Siam Paragon now has a new gem to its crown.
If you’re planning to take your kids to KidZania, do book your tickets online to enjoy a 15% discount. Silly us only found out about the offer a day before our visit and they had at least two days of advance purchase to to enjoy discounts though I don’t see it on their website now. But in any case, this was something I discovered too late so I don’t want you to miss this offer like me.Since we took Sophie to Babyboss in Taipei before ( yikes, i didn’t even blog about that leg of our Taiwan trip yet!), she still has fond memories of the experience and the concept of it even though it was 3 years ago. This goes to show how much of an impression it left on her and what a great immersion experience it will be for kids when there is hands-on interactive play.KidZania is located on the 5th level of Siam Paragon, that is connect to the Siam station by BTS. At Siam Paragon, you’lll also find Siam Ocean World , another key attraction if you’re going to Bangkok with kids.Doors open at 10am on weekdays and 10.30am on weekends and public holidays and I recommend you to go early as it may get crowded especially during weekends, term breaks and of course their local holidays.According to their website, there are more than 80 activities and trades that kids can experience. Before we entered, we tried to set Sophie’s expectation right that we may only be able to cover 5 -6 jobs since we were planning to stay for 5 hours and there was a school excursion the day we went.
We learnt a couple of lessons from our last visit to Babyboss in Taiwan and got Sophie to decisively join the queue once she decided what she wanted to do while one of us went to check out the rest of the city.But before we got started, we need to visit the bank to cash out her cheque where she received 50 KidZo, which is the currency kids will earn and use to pay for services or buy things in KidZania.The first stop – the Fire Station.After putting on their fire fighter uniform, these little fire fighters had to attended a briefing to understand what their duties entailed. Of course, you don’t have to worry about the language barrier as KidZania gets lots of overseas tourists and there’ll always be staff to find out if any kids need translation.Once the briefing is over, they get to hop on the fire engine that will take them to the site that needs their quick thinking to extinguish the fire. This usually causes a commotion as the fire engine really travels round KidZania operated by a adult and lots of kids will follow behind too .On level two, we spotted a few bottling and assembly line for Meiji (our favourite brand of milk), coca cola, some peanuts brand which I forgot.Since there were already a few boys in the line for the Meiji Milk Factory, I got Sophie to join them so that they can quickly hit 8 kids and start the activity.To find out if a certain activity is suitable for your child, you can check out the information like recommended age, duration required for the task, amount of KidZo that can be earned and the numbr of kids they take in for the activity.The bottling plant is really functional where kids can learn the process of how milk is bottled and the nutritional value it contains. For such a task, the staff emphasized the importance of having clean hands while they carried out their role.
See how proud Sophie was of her very own bottled strawberry milk that she got to take back. And while she gets to earn Kidzo in some other activity, she had to pay 10 Kidzo for this task as she gets to take back her own product.Along the way, we spotted this amusing scene where the little detectives were trying to find the perpetrator of a crime scene and look how the officer was trying to get the detectives to identify him.