I’m all for indoor play areas for children, but if there’s one thing that can make me not want to try a place out is a ridiculously high entrance fee. We have tried a lot of places, they all tend to be the same, so it’s a bit of a hard sell for me to go to a place that would charge more than Php500 (US$10)*.
This place charges P900 for kids 4 to 17 years old, and P630 for adults. It doesn’t include a snack, a freebie or anything (like a welcome drink, haha). BUT this place is not like any of the indoor playgrounds that we’ve ever tried before.
And not to sound like an advertorial, (NOT a paid write-up, mind you, just sharing our experience) but once inside, you’d completely understand why the fee they charge is more expensive than the rest because it’s in a class all it’s own!
This place is none other than Kidzania!
We went here with my daughter’s best friend, her mom, and her nurse. They have been here a couple of times already, and have even recently visited Kidzania in Kuala Lumpur. They couldn’t wait for Akira to experience it too, and for the two girls to try all the activities together. Us too!
The place doesn’t look it at first, but it is huge. Kidzania has two levels at 8,000 square meters. At first I couldn’t believe our companions wanted to be here as early as 10 am (that early? to play?), but later on I realized that just half a day would be so bitin (not enough) for the kids, and a waste of good money.
To really enjoy Kidzania, stay the whole day.
What to do first
After ‘checking in’, and getting their first 50 Kidzos, we decided to get Akira a Kidzania passport. It’s Php250 (US$5) for one, and comes with perks like earning additional Kidzos for certain jobs, or getting a discount when you have to pay for other activities.
The passport also works like a loyalty program, where once you reach a certain number of stamps, the passport holder gets upgraded in Kidzania citizenship status.
Hats off to the brains behind Kidzania’s micro economy, they really thought of everything!
The activities we tried
We tried a lot of activities, and tried to do some more, but there is no way anybody can try all the activities in one day, even without snack breaks! That’s also one of the great things about Kidzania, there’s always something new to look forward to.
The girls ‘trained’ to be firefighters first.
It included a ride around Kidzania in a fire truck, which was great fun for the kids (also a mini workout for the parents and yayas that had to jog after the truck for photos).
Baby care and surgery
The St. Luke’s hospital in Kidzania houses three role-play activities – the baby care training center, the operating room, and emergency care (where the participants pretend to be medics and get to ride the ambulance).
Baby care was something the girls chose, and it was great because it is one of those activities where the grownup companion can come in and participate too.
I didn’t expect it, but this activity tugged at my heartstrings, just seeing my little girl dutifully and gently ‘care’ for the pretend baby. She did well, too, changing the diaper and swaddling the baby all by herself. I caught a glimpse of a wonderful ate (big sister), God willing.
A funny thing here though, the baby dolls are super lifelike and physiologically accurate. Aki didn’t realize she chose a baby boy, and when it was time to change diapers, it was the only time she’s ever really seen male genitals. She was shocked and perplexed and taken aback, and I had a lot of explaining to do, so priceless.
This is one of the cool food-related activities where the kids get to take home or eat the finished product. In our girls’ case, the finished cheese and pepperoni pizza conveniently ended up as their lunch, too!
Yellow Cab in Kidzania serves as an activity center for the kids, and a food kiosk, so everyone gets to enjoy pizza slices, chicken wings, pasta and Sola iced teas!
For the mini divas and future thespians, Kidzania has several offerings. They can learn what it takes to become recording artists, theater performers, or join the street parade and in dazzling costumes.
This street dance bit served as a fitting culminating activity as Kidzania approached closing time. All the attendants of the activities end up joining the parade too, and are sure to say goodbye to your little one. Talk about ending the day on a high note!
Tips and notes
What Kidzania is trying to teach is something I am very much down with: independence, and a practical view of the world. Here they push for a ‘kids first’ mindset, where the adult attendants give some guidance and instructions but always encourage the kids to try and do the activities on their own.
Embrace the concept. Try not to help when it comes to putting on outfits, or try to relax on the coaching. This is the time to stand back, marvel at what your kid can do, and take a lot of photos!
Each activity differs in duration. Some of the more tedious activities, like the cooking ones, tend to take longer (about 45 minutes), while some just take 15 minutes. There are usually signs posted by the entrance as to what time the next batch will start the activity, so feel free to queue up, or come back and try something else in the meantime.
There are official photographers that snap photos of the kids after they do an activity. Since grownups can’t go inside some of the areas (like the aviation center, for instance), they get to take the good photos. These photos are for sale – a bit pricey at Php250 (US$5) per piece – but make wonderful souvenirs! Choose well!
Since Kidzania espouses independence, kids that are too young won’t really be able to do the activities. For kids aged 3 and below, there is a play pen area. I also spotted a parents’ lounge and a breastfeeding area. The parents’ lounge has a McCafe too, so goody.
When it comes to food and drinks, visitors can buy from the kiosks and restaurants inside the establishment only. Some of the food-related hubs – Yellow Cab, Coca-Cola’s bottling plant, Lady’s Choice cooking center, McDonald’s – allows the kids to take home what they made. For grownups, there’s Via Mare. My tip is to bring a big bottle of water before going inside, and coffee in your own cup. It’s going to be a busy day!
It feels strange a little bit, ‘making the kids work’, but if anything, the activities don’t feel like work at all. I haven’t seen a kid that didn’t take to the activity. Everything is new, everybody is excited to try the next thing, get a lot of stamps on their passports, or buy something cool from the department store with their hard earned Kidzos.
For next time, Aki has her sights set on being a dentist, a vet, and a police officer. If it’s not your kid that is already thinking of the activities that she wants to try for next time, for sure, it’s you! Have a great time!
Kidzania Manila is in Park Triangle, North 11th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Opening Hours is from 9 am to 4 pm Tuesday to Friday, 10 am to 5 pm Saturday and Sunday
*Current exchange rate Php49.545 = US$1 according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas