Years ago, when I was a kid, playing with friends involved a lot of role-play. Of course, we didn’t call it that. We called our games Ghar-Ghar or Teacher-Teacher, depending on what roles we decided to take on. When I told Samhith about those days, he burst into loud, raucous laughter, one that erupted, to my irritation, every time he remembered that conversation over the next few days. That, however, didn’t stop him wanting to go to KidZania, an indoor theme park, which uses the concept of role play to keep kids engaged, occupied and happy, for several hours at a stretch.
Now, it was me who was not too enthusiastic about the idea. He would surely have fun. It was, after all, meant for kids to have fun. But what about me? When we enjoyed role-play we didn’t drag our parents into it! KidZania did mention a parents’ lounge, a spa and other attractions for parents, but I am not really a mall person, or one who can happily sit in a spa! And thus it stood, with Samhith regularly reminding me that I had to take him there, and me assuring him that yes, I would, someday.
And then, last week, an invite popped into my email, from Blogadda, inviting me to KidZania with my son, and I jumped at the chance. Now, I could busy myself photographing and thinking of things to write about, while Samhith amused himself doing whatever he wanted to, and I signed up for the programme happily!
We arrived at KidZania well in time, and waited with a few other bloggers and their kids, none of whom I knew. Eventually, the Blogadda Team arrived, and ushered us inside. Samhith was so excited; we were the first inside, just in time to hear the KidZania staff welcome the first visitors of the day with their anthem.
Once inside, it felt like it was another world altogether. We were on the third floor of the R City Mall, but it felt like we were indeed in another city – one with neat roads, lots of buildings, trees, and yes, even a clear blue sky! It is amazing to think of something so beautiful being created inside a mall!
While I gaped around, fascinated by how the place functioned, Samhith was off, a clear mandate in mind (on the advice of his friends who have visited before), to make the most of the day. It was just 10AM, and we had till 3 PM to explore KidZania to its fullest extent.
|Trinkets for sale... at a price, of course!|
I will not write about the many hats Samhith donned, over the course of those 5 hours. The KidZania website has detailed write ups on all the activities and possible role-play options there. Instead, I will just give you a glimpse through this collage...
Those were just a few of the activities he participated in, while I roamed around, trying to get a feel of the experience second hand! While I was most impressed by the design (as I have already said), I was also impressed with the staff. They have obviously been trained well, but their enthusiasm and patience shines through, and gets across to the kids. I saw them help out kids who were confused, I noticed them interest a kid who was staring around, bored, and I also saw them placate a toddler who was crying for his mom! Meanwhile, they also helped the kids with the role play, offered advice to increase their earnings, and pointed out empty or available slots to do things while others were occupied. Theirs is not an easy job, and that they do it with a smile is what makes the experience special for the children!
|Kids queuing up|
For parents, it is the idea of children spending hours in a safe, and positive environment, which is the biggest lure of KidZania. This is a place where kids can learn to be on their own, without fear of getting lost. The fact that they are given notes which resemble real money makes them feel responsible, and earning the money only makes them more aware of just how tough it is. In these days, this is something well worth teaching kids. Besides, the advantages of role play are many, and I can’t reiterate that enough.
|A realistic window, curtains and all|
The 5 hours sped by, faster than I imagined, and Samhith only agreed to leave when he was told that the bank would close, and he had to add his earnings to a debit card, if he wanted to save them for next time. So yes, he is now the proud owner of a KidZania Debit Card, and can’t wait to go again!
|Banners for the Painting School|
Will I take him again? I guess I will, because I saw just how happy he was, and how he hardly came near me for those 5 long hours. Plus, they have wifi there, in the Parents Lounge. Maybe that’s where I will go, the next time, now that I don’t have to click photos or write about it!
|A real gola shop... I am sure kids would have loved to operate this one too!!|
This post is a part of the KidZania bloggers meet activity conducted by BlogAdda and KidZania. The thoughts and views expressed are my own.