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BA News3-minute read

The sky’s the limit

What did you want to be when you grew up? A policeman? A nurse? An airline pilot? KidZania, one of London’s most popular attractions, lets children act out their future aspirations in a city created just for them

“Children can only aspire to what they know exists,” says KidZania’s global director of education, Prof Dr Ger Graus OBE. And, from taking care of sick animals in the Pet Wellbeing centre to testing out their flying skills at the refreshed British Airways Aviation Academy, kids of all backgrounds aged four to 14 can try their hand at an exciting range of real-life professions. It’s more than a great day out: each fun-filled activity supports the development of all sorts of modern-day skills, as well as opening their eyes to who they might like to become.

Brave new world

KidZania London, based at London’s Westfield London shopping centre, has reopened following extensive safeguarding preparations.

Interestingly, while KidZania has been closed, there has been a very real shift in children’s interests. In 2017, more than three quarters of children aged six to 17 years aspired to be YouTubers, vloggers and bloggers. Now, however, according to research by Kids Insights, scientists, teachers, supermarket workers, doctors and nurses are the new superheroes of the Covid-19 generation.

“Over the past few months it has become clear that children have witnessed and experienced the value of rewarding jobs and careers,” says Graus. “The pandemic has had a huge impact on children’s personal aspirations for the future.”

Siz children stand beneath the Kidzania log smiling with arms in the air

High flyers

Aspiring pilots will be itching to ‘earn their wings’ at KidZania’s British Airways Aviation Academy, which was developed in collaboration with the airline to be as fun, educational and similar to the real thing as possible. One of KidZania’s most popular experiences, it also reflects BA’s desire to encourage kids everywhere to consider the high-flying career of cabin crew or airline pilot. In the A319 cockpit simulator, kids can learn a range of routes using real flight paths – and must overcome some of a pilot’s biggest challenges while in the air.

“This isn’t a pipe dream,” says Kate Beesley, BA senior first officer. “This is actually something that they can do. A vision of what they can potentially be.”

“Hours of research, testing and flights back and forth to Paris have allowed KidZania’s Experience Team to create a unique role-play experience unlike any other,” explains head of experience, Denise Mangaram.

That drive for realism meant that only the real thing would do – back in 2015, the body of an actual A319 aircraft was lowered through the Westfield roof. It now measures more than 18 metres long and weighs over 15 tonnes. 

Children can also play the part of the on-board crew and, once their training at the British Airways Aviation Academy is complete, parents of cabin crew trainees can board the plane and be served as passengers.

One future pilot’s words say it all: “I can’t wait until I turn 18, so I can apply to BA for real!”

KidZania London is open every day during October half term, with reduced visitor numbers and new safety measures making it safe and fun outing for families. Executive Club Members can save 15 per cent off standard ticket prices. Prebook tickets online now to avoid disappointment.