Indoor kiddy edutainment at the world’s biggest mall
A city built entirely for kids? Uh Huh. That’s the KidZania concept. With branches now in 26 countries, KidZania transports kids from the grown-up world in their own role-play environment where they will take on new careers and learn how to earn and spend, just as we do in the real world.
Whether you live in Dubai and are looking for a great way to beat the heat, or for tourists looking for fun activities during a Dubai stopover, grab your boarding passes and get ready to learn some new lingo as we take you on a tour of the KidZania Edutainment world.
Our reviewer for this experience is our little Miss Z, on her girls-only weekend with Mum in Dubai. We were guests of Novotel World Trade Centre Dubai in partnership with Dubai Mall attractions.
This post is part of our series Discover the UAE – come and read all of our family-friendly UAE adventures
How it works and our experience at Kidzania Dubai Mall
For those unfamiliar with the KidZania concept – it’s a lifelike city built just for kids. From the start, kids are charged with their own itinerary and must decide what activities they will take part in, whether they will earn in new careers or spend money on activities and how they’ll use their hard-earned cash – Kidzos.
Once you enter the Kidzania world, parents stand back, because it’s time for the “Zupervisors” to guide the kids through their chosen activity. KidZania is an international kid’s Edutainment brand with branches in 26 cities – and many more to come.
Whilst the concept is very similar worldwide, each branch will have its own unique activities too with local corporate brands involved in sponsoring the various career activities.
Upon arrival, children and parents are electronically tagged to one another, you are issued your boarding passes, kids cash in their opening Kidzos balance at the bank and off you go to choose your next career.
There are activities that earn kids a paycheck at the end, which other activities will cost you – the key for kids to understand is what to invest in! It’s worth doing a quick “lap” of the city first (its spread over 2 floors) to see how you’ll plan out your day.
You could easily fill a whole day of activities if you pace yourself – but with so much to do in Dubai Mall, perhaps allocate 4 hours to get a real feel for it – and your money’s worth.
Activities for the kids at Kidzania Dubai
So as we mentioned, many popular activities translate across the different branches, just with different corporate sponsors depending on what corner of the world you are in. All up Dubai has more than 40 real-life role play experiences to choose from. Popular activities in KidZania Dubai include:
- Flight Simulator
- Kinder Chocolate Factory
- Tiffany Cookie Making
- Make your own Pizza at Pizza Express
- Radio broadcasting at Star FM
- Emirates Driving Institute
- NAFFCO Fire Station
Each activity has a sign on the door explaining:
- Whether you earn Kidzos or need to pay Kidzos
- How many children can participate at once (normally groups are around 6-8)
- How long the activity will take (most are 20-25 minutes but some more involved ones take as much as an hour)
- Suitable ages
- A clock showing how long until the next group can commence
Activities don’t have fixed time slots per se. As soon as a few kids are lined up (or up to the maximum group they can take), the Zupervisors will close the door and flip the countdown clock on until the next activity.
This is really helpful to understand if it’s worth lining up or should you find something new to try. Note, only kids are permitted to line up, no holding spots for them in one activity whilst they’re busy at another.
If you are on a Premium ticket, you are entitled to two “skip the queue” fast passes. In fairness to all they are not valid on the most popular of activities, but at most you can cash these in but only 50% of the group can be fast passes – just do the maths before spending a long line queuing.
Premium ticket holders can also take on an extra bonus seasonal activity. At the time of our visit in January 2019, it was KidZ Detective where they were given clues and had to solve a crime – this turned out to be one of Miss Z’s favourites for the day.
A little note on ages
If your kids are not confident yet to leave mum/nanny’s side, I’d suggest this is NOT the place for them, yet.
Even though toddlers are accepted in some activities, for the sake of all the other children, only place your child in an activity when they are confident and ready to work independently.
You cannot line up on a child’s behalf, and once an activity starts the door is closed. You can, of course, look through the glass at most, and you’ll be given a photo opportunity. Or if it’s an activity they need to run around the city by all means follow, but do not interfere. Rant over.
Tips for KidZania first-timers
There’s a lot to get your head around as a first timer and it can be a little overwhelming (for the parents trying to coordinate it, let alone the kids trying to comprehend what they are supposed to do independently). So as “experienced” KidZania veterans now, what can we pass on to help your day run smoothly?
- It really pays to research what the kids might be interested in most. Pick out 2/3 must-do activities and then slot other secondary choices around these, especially during busy times you don’t want them to spend half the day in a queue (It’s not as bad as Disneyland in July, but who likes to wait, right?)
- Be realistic; There’s no way you will get through all the activities in a day – and don’t expect your kids will find them all fun.
- As soon as you’re through the boarding lounge, obligatory photo taken, cash in your Kidzos voucher at the bank (it’s kind of hidden in the middle, not as clearly signposted as you’d think – ask the staff for directions).
- Kids need to be reminded they will need to do a mixed of earning and paying activities. Just like in the real world it can’t be all play and no work! They will soon get the concept that they can earn more and do more later. Some activities like racing cars will have a pre-requisite of attending driving school first.
- Your kids are responsible for their own belongings throughout so it’s best to either purchase them a lanyard or they should take a small purse/backpack with them to store their cash, any queuing passes, paZZports.
- Become a CitiZen and save in future. International PaZZports are purchased at additional cost (I believe 35AED) but are internationally transferable and remain valid until they are 17 years old (though really the activities are designed until kids are about 12 so weigh this up). If you get them stamped from the start, they can start earning quicker and get bonuses at each branch.
- Although Kidzos are issued for activities, there are opportunities to spend real cash too, so things like meals can be purchased in UAE Dirhams – AED.
- Kidzos though cannot be transferred back to real cash. If this is a once ever trip, they might want to spend us much as they can – in activities or the shop. If you think you’ll visit again or another of their branches around the world, store up your Kidzos and PaZZports.
- All activities are in English, but signage is also in Arabic.
- As you leave, you need to pass through immigration again, they will verify you’re exiting with the right kids and remove your security tags.
For the parents at Kidzania Dubai…
Let’s be honest, especially with the slightly older ones there’s only so long we need to smile encouragingly through the window! There’s a small coffee shop next to the Inventing Room on the ground floor called Bubble Bar & deserts, or head to the parents’ lounge on the upper level. There’s free wifi and TV in this room they I’ll admit looked a little grubby and uninspiring.
Note children over 120cm, the parent does not need to accompany the child throughout. Under 120cm you must stay in the building and pay the entry fee. You’ll also be pleased to know if you’re smartphone battery is running low there are charger stations, as well as lockers for keeping any shopping, extra sweater etc that we know parents inevitably end up carrying!
Corporate sponsorship and kids activities at KidZania
There’s no denying corporate sponsorship is how the KidZania model operates, Wouldn’t it be lovely if we lived in a world without ads, right? Reality check; corporate sponsorship is how most things this world operate. Sporting matches, radio, TV – our website (that’s how we can afford to keep things running and bring you reviews, itineraries and giveaways without cost to you).
As long as the experiential activity itself is kept front and centre, which I believe KidZania tastefully does I don’t object to this type of corporate sponsorship. I know others disagree.
Practical information and how to book KidZania Dubai
Where is KidZania Dubai
KidZania is situated in the entertainment end of Dubai Mall, 2nd floor (look for signs to the cinema if entering from inside the mall). Driving or being dropped by a taxi, head for “Cinema Parking” – P7 [Parking levels and Mall levels differ so it can get a little confusing!]
KidZania Dubai Opening Hours
They are open weekdays (Sunday to Wednesday) 10am to 10pm, weekends (Thursday to Saturday) 10am to 11pm – yes Kids in Dubai stay up that late! Perfect for when the littles have jet lag though!!!
Ticket Pricing for KidZania Dubai
This can be a little mind-boggling so bear with us as we try our best to explain the options! (as at January 2019)
- Children under 120cm MUST be accompanied by an adult who pays 75AED (pensioners 65AED)
Ticket prices are then broken down for kids as follows:
- Under 2 years old – FREE (Use of Fun First Nursery with an adult PAID)
- Toddlers 2 to 3 years – 105AED ($28USD) Includes 50Kz
- Economy 4 to 17 years -180AED ($49USD) Includes 50Kz
- Premium 4 to 17 years – 250AED ($68USD) see extras below
How to book your KidZania Dubai tickets
You can book your KidZania experience via travel bookings apps which we find an ultra-convenient way to keep all your attraction tickets together (and can be cheaper too – click below to see if there are any monthly specials happening):
**Advance booking will save you lining up on the day as you can use the express queue, and will save you money as they are heavily discounted to the door price**
If you are looking to book parties or annual passes (not a bad idea, especially if you think you might be in Dubai over the hottest summer months) then best check the latest pricing and offers with Kidzania direct.
Staying with Novotel?
Book their family packages and you can save up to 30% on popular Dubai attractions including KidZania – learn more here.
Is Premium and the “fast pass” needed?
Upgrading from Economy to Premium will get you:
- 50Kz extra to your opening balance
- 2 fast passes
- 20AED food voucher (use at Pizza Express, Chipstik, Sweet Land & Bubble bar)
- 20AED retail store voucher (not transferable to kz)
- Access to seasonal attractions (in our case the Kid Detectives)
If you’re coming afternoons, especially on weekends and school holidays then yes, you’ll get value from this ticket add on. They limit fast passes to 50% of entries to each activity so they won’t guarantee a queue jump but will help. If you are planning to be there over a meal time too, this will help with some of the activities that require actual CASH not Kidzos (like Pizza Express).
The retail voucher translates into real cash, but there is nothing in the retail shop for 20AED, you will end up needing to fork out an extra 20AED anyway just to purchase the cheapest item in the retail store. I don’t really see this as a bonus, it cannot be combined or exchanged into Kidzos.
Personally, I would only invest in Premium over Economy if you knew it was going to be a whole day activity and you are going over a peak tourist time.
I would reiterate, go early in the day. Emiratis have a very late in the day culture so opening time is the best way to beat queuing at almost any of Dubai’s popular attractions. Miss Z didn’t need to start lining up for things until early afternoon.
Want more family ideas in the UAE? We’ve got 100+ of them here recommended by UAE parents
Globetrotters Recommend KidZania Dubai
KidZania is a fun day out for your super curious kids, ideally in your 5 to 9-year-old range is spot on (though older and younger kids will benefit too). In a hot city like Dubai it’s a great indoor sanity saver.
Overwhelming at first, but once you get your bearings on how the system works the city is easy enough to navigate and kids will start to get more ambitious in the activities they will try and the concept of earning money will kick in.
It was great to see the show of independence from my Miss Z. 18 months on from her first Kidzania trip and she was certainly driving all the decisions and completely understood the cost/benefit system.
I do find it a shame they need so many Kidzos to actually purchase anything at the end in the shop – after two KidZania days, Miss Z still cannot make any purchases she really wants from the retail shop.
Instead, she is wisely saving them up for her next KidZania visit which is also a great skill for her to learn. We know we will continue to travel to other cities that have KidZania branches.
Although Miss Z was desperate to do something just on her own for this visit to Dubai, it was apparent quite soon after we arrived that she wished she had her brothers with her! She was a little lonely until the place started to fill out with more kids, so I’d suggest its a great venue to bring a sibling or friend along too.
The huge variety of activities on offer at KidZania Dubai means that you could have several return experiences and enjoy something different each time. Miss Z very much enjoyed her KidZania Dubai experience and cannot wait to return next time with her little brothers.
Thanks to Novotel Dubai World Trade Centre and KidZania for organising our visit.
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Disclosure: We were guests of KidZania Dubai, arranged in conjunction with family vacation packages at the Novotel World Trade Centre Dubai. We were not paid to write a review and as always, all opinions are our own. This article contains affiliate links and advertising that may earn us a small commission. Our full disclosure policy can be found here.
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