Kidzania is a themed amusement park for kids which is now in India too. The concept of Kidzania is excellent, but can the same be said of the execution? I will reveal my thoughts and experiences in this honest Kidzania Mumbai review.
Kidzania Mumbai is located in R-City Mall in Ghatkopar. It had been on our list of things to do in Mumbai for so long, that the kids couldn’t wait to go there once we were in Mumbai. Kidzania is a make-believe city for kids. The kids get to experience real life by role-playing a number of activities and professions. There is something in there for kids of all ages. Younger kids will have great fun enacting fire-fighters, doctors etc. Older kids can try their hand at animation and dance workshops. Kids also get to work at brand endorsed mini-establishments such as the Coke Factory or a Doughnut Shop and work behind the scenes. By doing all these activities, the kids can earn money in the form of ‘Kidzos’ – the currency of Kidzania. They can use up this currency at Kidzania restaurants, salons etc.
It goes without saying that this concept is a sureshot winner. Both my kids were super excited about this visit and I was eager to cover the visit on my blog. My Mumbai Kidzania review would have been a glowing one indeed, had not some lack of safety measures ruined our day (and the rest of our Mumbai trip). Not all of it was bad, though. I will let the pictures speak from here so you have a fair idea of the fun the kids had before the mishap.
The Kidzania Mumbai Experience
Fun Role-Playing Activities
And the Nightmare Begins…
Kidzania Mumbai has an acitivity called as ‘Dabbawala’ where the kids get to dress up like the famous Mumbai ‘dabbawallas’ and deliver lunchboxes.
The activity involves the use of these wooden carts which weigh around 20 kgs. Due to the lack of proper safety and security measures, groups of 2-3 school kids were pushing these carts in full speed all around the Kidzania city. One such group hit my daughter with full force when she was seated quietly on a bench. The impact of the cart can injure even an adult. As a direct result, my daughter was injured very badly and needed immediate medical attention.
At first, we thought that it was just a little push and the pain would go away. But when she cried out in pain even on touching her thigh, my husband realized that it was a serious injury. He called me up and I came rushing from the baby room. We waited for a wheelchair to arrive which was to take her to the First Aid room.
We continued to think that the pain would eventually subside but it did not. My daughter’s not the one to cry very easily. She has a hyper active young brother after all and the two fight more than they play! But as time passed on, we began to get a clearer view of things. This wasn’t another light injury. She was hit very badly. After 30 minutes, she still forbade us to even touch lightly upon the injured area. We were both hysteric ourselves on seeing our daughter in such pain. The staff, I am sorry to say, did nothing to make us feel better. The swelling and pain even after an hour of taking a pain-killer, made us think about the possibility of a fracture. But the doctor ruled it out and asked us to wait.
It Could Have Been Anyone!
Finally, we left the place in a lot of agony…my daughter on a wheelchair. Our astonishment on there bring no supervision or safety measures (especially with the ‘dabbawala’ and ‘DHL courier’ activities) fell on deaf ears. The kids continued to run crazy delivering dabbas and couriers. I would have scolded my daughter for not being alert enough, had she been roaming around the place when it happened. But she was sitting peacefully on a bench. Another thought that gives me goosebumps is that what would have happened if my youngest had been sitting in that corner? The 18 month old would have needed immediate hospitalization. It could have been just anyone sitting on that bench!
Kidzania Mumbai Review: Pros and Cons
I had walked into Kidzania Mumbai with no other view in mind than to give my kids a memorable day and write about it on my blog to make more people aware of a wonderful place. I was prepared to love it even before I had seen it. I had even written to the staff in advance that I was going to be there with my kids and would cover the place on my blog. Sadly, the experience was not what I had expected. Here are some pros and cons I was able to make out.
Kidzania Mumbai Strengths
Despite the awful experience, I cannot say that we did not enjoy the place at all. I told you I will give you an honest Kidzania Mumbai review and that is exactly what I am going to do. The kids had a great time until the sad incident took place. The accident was not attended to, as well as I had expected to, and could have been avoided entirely, is a different matter. Here are some things we loved about Kidzania.
- The Role Playing is at it’s best. No matter how many costumes you buy for your kids or the number of themed parties you throw for them, you cannot recreate the experience of a real city.
- The baby room at Kidzania Mumbai is exceptional! Kids under the ages of 3 will love it here. All activities are completely safe and the place is very attractive.
- While it is simply role-play for younger kids, older kids can actually try out different interesting professions and get an idea of how each one works. In our case for e.g., stop motion animation, radio jockey etc.
- Supervised activities such as Firefighting, Doctor, Construction etc. are flawless.
- The concept of a Bank account, encashing cheques, depositing money in an account, withdrawing through ATMs etc. is excellent.
Kidzania Mumbai Flaws
Kidzania Mumbai is a wonderful place as long as the going is easy. But the real test of a place is in difficult times such as these. Nobody plans for such things to happen on their vacation. But when they do, a theme park is supposed to be ready for such emergencies. Here are some very obvious flaws in their working which can turn into safety hazards for children.
My Kidzania Mumbai review is mostly based on the serious safety issues at the place. The supervised activities are conducted flawlessly. But many activities are unsupervised. The Kidzania staff is either insufficient or unqualified to handle a crowd. Kids running about with carts in their hands and with no adult looking over them, is an invitation to disaster. Treating humans like herds of cattle is sadly, a genuine concern in India. But one would expect a different level of behaviour at a distinguished establishment like Kidzania. Alas, in their desire for multiplying profits, they are creating safety hazards for kids.
Apathy of Staff and Management
While this accident could have easily been avoided with proper supervision, the apathy of the staff was shocking. None of them seemed to be concerned at all. You would expect a place that charges you Rs. 300 for one single picture and sells overpriced and bad food, to at least do everything in their power to make your child happy. I must admit I would have overlooked a major part of the flaws mentioned above had the staff been sympathetic and helpful.
The doctor was good and correct about his diagnosis that it was not a fracture, but he was not overly concerned. I was reminded of my kids’ pediatrician and her ever-smiling and reassuring face! To top this, the doctor, manager and the staff stood outside the First Aid center and cracked jokes while my daughter lay in pain. Suddenly, the only thing we wanted to do was leave!
I remarked to the manager that I could have planned my visit on a different day had I known there would be a school booking today. This was possible because I was already in talks with them over email as I was planning to cover the visit extensively on my blog. My kids are not used to ‘roughing it up’ and I would have preferred a quieter day. To this the manager replied that their capacity is of 1600 people and he only had about 600 people in there, which was less than half of what they could manage. I shudder to think how ill-managed the operations would be, with a crowd of 1600 and the existing security concerns of Kidzania Mumbai. Without a single word of apology to me or my husband, this is what they had to say to the parents of a child who had been hurt (and hurt very badly, mind you).
Our Experience Simply Did Not Matter
My daughter came out of the place on a wheelchair without as much a ‘We are sorry this happened’ or a ‘We hope you will come back again’. The staff looked awkwardly at us as we left. No smiles. No offer to use the remaining time on our tickets that was wasted. We might not have been able to go back again even had they invited us to complete our trip some other day. But they simply did not ask! The entire episode was nothing to them. For us, it had not only put my child in pain but also spoiled the day and many more days to come. Because of this terrible accident at Kidzania Mumbai, we had to abandon our plans for the next few days and stick to places with wheelchair access only, as my daughter was unable to walk for 2 full days and limped on the 3rd day.
On communicating this to the management via email, there has been a very convenient ‘no reply’.
This part has nothing to do with my daughter’s accident. It would have appeared in my Kidzania Mumbai review anyway. We all sensed immediately that most of the staff was unsmiling and unmotivated. Apparently, other parents have felt the same. There were some ‘trainers’ who were very good. But many others were tight-lipped and some were downright rude. No, my kids did not face any rudeness. They did face a lot of long-suffering sighs and bored trainers. But the school children were very badly dealt with. The trainers at the ‘Pilot training’ activity were plain rude to some schoolgirls who came in while we were waiting. I read another review pointing out the same thing. Even I was answered with bored looks as I (smilingly, may I add?) inquired about the baby rooms. You wouldn’t want to ask them any more questions that what is necessary!
Ghatkopar is a good 1.5 hour drive from South Mumbai. Since I was staying in SOBO, here is a breakdown of what this visit cost me.
- Tickets for 2 Kids and 2 Adults (Baby enters free) – 2600 after a 10% discount
- Cab Fare To and From Marine Drive to Ghatkopar – 1400
- 2 Slices of Pizza – 300
- 1 Pasta (with runny sauce) – 200
- 1 Cotton Candy – 100
- Picture CD – 1000 (or Rs. 300 per print!)
- Added Costs – I haven’t seen my daughter in this much pain EVER. You know how it is when your kids are in pain and you can do nothing about it.
- Ruined the Plans for the Next 2 Days (We did make the most of it, though. There are many places in Mumbai that are wheelchair-friendly. But we had to skip the beach, walking in neighborhoods, a Garden, a Kids Fest etc.)
Tickets’ Full Worth Not Realized
We bought 5 hour tickets for both kids and ended up visiting only for 2.5 hours, after which the doomed accident happened. We spent almost an hour in the First Aid room and then exited the place as it was not possible to continue further. The pain would not subside and even the ride back to our hotel was painful for her with each bump in the road. The kids managed to do about 4 activities each in place of the 8 that they could have done.
The food was very expensive (I am not alone in my thoughts, I find) and not to our tastes but Kidzania does not allow outside food. Parents are not allowed inside the training centers so you cannot take pictures of your child dressed up in different costumes. The Kidzania photographers do that for you but you are required to pay Rs. 300 per photo. We opted to pay Rs. 1000 for a CD containing 7 pictures.
The Kids also earned about a 100 ‘Kidzos’ that they were never able to spend or exchange. Who was thinking of that after the pain the child had to go through! We only thought of them the next day.
Again, none of it would have mattered if the accident would have been avoided and the staff was friendly.
In my Kidzania Mumbai review, I would like to stress upon the fact that Kidzania is a lovely concept with a lot of scope for improvement. With more supervision and training their staff to be friendly and kind, they can become a favorite with kids. The activities and the setup is simply mind blowing but instances like these can take away from it all. I wouldn’t compromise on the safety of my kids for a few hours of fun. And finally, it would be great if the management did not sound so money-minded and show some concern in the well-being of children, upon whom their success depends upon.