I’d like to start this blog by saying I have not been incentivised to write it. We were given complimentary tickets in exchange for my previous Kidtropolis post, and I’ve written this purely to capture the day.
The event was held inside East London’s impressive ExCel Centre, which was easy for us to get to on public transport. The DLR stops next to the building, which meant no wandering the streets looking lost.
The best thing about Kidtropolis is that once you’ve paid for your tickets almost everything is free. There are around fifty activities and two live mini-stage shows included in the price. We were also lucky enough to win both ballots, which meant we got a Next Step meet and greet, as well as a dance lesson with their choreographer Amy.
Of course there are extras to spend money on – such as food, drinks and merchandise – but absolutely no obligation to buy it. We took food with us, which saved tons, because it’s expensive once you’re inside.
Kidtropolis is pegged as the best kids show in the UK, and I can totally see why. I think it’s safe to say there is something for all children within their advertised age range of 2-12. I can’t think of anywhere else on earth where it would have been possible to meet the Lorax, Darth Vader, Next Step, PAW Patrol and Flawless within the space of a few hours.
As you’d expect the big stars are security protected, but some can be found wandering around chatting to fans. There are lots of opportunities to collect autographs, which is fully anticipated with the back page of the (free) programme being left blank, and marked autographs.
We had the afternoon session, which ran from 2-6:30pm, and our first live show started at 2:30. This meant dragging the kids away from the fun they were having on the 200ft obstacle course, which they’d all decided to gravitate towards first. It felt rushed, and the stage wasn’t particularly well sign posted, but we got there just before the show started. It was well worth persevering with, because Flawless were absolutely amazing to watch (see next section).
After the show the children wanted to get autographs and learn some dance moves with them. This meant we got completely distracted and forgot about the dance lesson we had won in the ballot, which started at 3:30. By the time we remembered around 3:45, it was too late to join in. Polly and my friend’s girl were gutted, and as you can imagine there was lots of mummy guilt for not getting them there on time.
That wasn’t the only unfortunate event that occurred. About thirty seconds after going inside the Next Step live show at 4:30, Clara said she needed to go to the toilet. As the show was only going to last around 20 minutes, I said to her that we’d run there and run back as fast as we could. It was very dark inside, and whilst running back I tripped over. I was convinced I was fine, until it was pointed out by security that I was covered in blood. Turns out I’d cut my elbow quite deeply, but thankfully didn’t need any stitches. While I was being patched up by the fabulous paramedics, my friend made sure the girls got to their meet and greet. I arrived just as our party was at the front of the queue, and managed to photobomb the pictures.
The Flawless live show was nothing short of incredible. The level of coordination and effort going into that type of dancing is simply stunning, and a visual smorgasbord to view.
They had a huge mixed age troupe up on stage, and all the children had a turn to dance. Their sheer determination shone, and they were all an utter joy to watch. I didn’t realise they ran a dance school in central London on a Sunday morning, am thinking it might be worth checking out at some point for my girls.
I’m sure the Next Step show was brilliant too, if only I’d seen more of it. Polly and my friend’s 9yo were chuffed to bits to meet their idols and be cooed over. Myles signed Polly’s t-shirt and she has plans to put it in a frame so she can worship it.
I’d say the best part of Kidtropolis was the children getting to make the decisions about where to go and what to do. Properly hanging out with the stars was a huge draw, and will provide them with many happy memories.
Tips for next time
I’ve asked myself if I’d go again next year, and would definitely like to if it’s on again. We got the ExCel Centre nice and early, and got the children to write lists of everything they wanted to do and see.
In hindsight, I think six kids aged 3-11 and only two adults was pushing it, because with the best will in the world, balls are going to get dropped. In our case it was the dance lesson.
There was so much to do that it would have been impossible to get through everyone’s list. I think next time I’d be tempted to have a maximum of two similar aged kids per adult. Unfortunately, when you have to cater for bigger age gaps in general, you’re always going to come across this sort of dilemma.
Older children are perfectly safe to roam around independently, and there are clearly marked meeting points in case anyone gets lost.
My friend’s 11yo was in the gaming section for big chunks, but they aren’t security tagged, so if you have a smaller child who likes to run off then you’d have to keep a very close eye on them.
Overall, it was a fab day out, and we made lots more memories to add to the bank with our dear friends.
Oh, and for anyone who was wondering, my arm is healing up nicely thanks.