This is #8 (and the final post) in a series on our visit to KidZania in Nishinomiya, Japan, where Anthony's day included working at a gas-station, banking, construction, driver's ed, journalism, and pilot training.
Having procured his driver's license earlier, he was still interested in renting a car so he could drive around a bit. Every time he'd tried before, there was a long line, but this time he was able to get in.
However, for reasons I didn't initially understand, he came back to us and said that he wanted to do something else. This was surprising, and it took a while to find out that the lady had told him that if he did this activity, it would be his last (because KidZania was closing soon), and was that okay? No, he wanted to play forever, so he came back to us. I quickly explained that they were closing soon and whatever he did would be his last, so he ran back to the car-rental place, but in the intervening 30 seconds it had accepted its last customer and was now closed for the day. Sigh.
It was pretty freakin' ridiculous of the lady to have said what she did, because working there, she must understand the situation. The KidZania session closes at 9pm, and with most activities taking 30 minutes, you have to get into an activity by 8:30 or you lose out. It was 8:20, and everyone was running around like a chicken with their heads cut off looking for any activity that was still open. (Activities whose last sessions were already filled displayed a “closed” sign, and pretty much all of them did by the time the lady talked Anthony out of doing the one activity he'd been itching to do all day.)
We, too, joined the headless-chicken crowd, walking at a brisk pace every which way in hopes of finding something not closed. For a moment I saw that a beauty salon had an opening, but in the intervening few seconds it took me to ask Anthony whether he wanted to do it, it closed. I should have just gone in.
Remarkably, we did find one final place that was open, a “graphic design shop”. We couldn't believe our luck as Anthony was able to take a seat in the waiting area. Others continued to come up and check, but Anthony seemed to be the last.
The graphic-design shop actually cost a few KidZo (KidZania's play monetary unit) to attend, but having worked most of the day, Anthony was flush with cash...
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 6400 — map & image data — nearby photos
Even though he had to pay, it was still hands-on work...
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 95 mm — 1/250 sec, f/4, ISO 1100 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 98 mm — 1/250 sec, f/3.5, ISO 900 — map & image data — nearby photos
As I've mentioned in these posts, KidZania is excellent for kids, but not well designed for parents. Parents pay a steep fee for the privilege of babysitting their own kids, have almost no place to sit, and can watch their kid having fun only if they don't mind being uncomfortable and in the way of others. Photography is allowed, but everything discourages it, from the weak and wildly-mixed lighting to poor or nonexistent viewing angles.
The two shots above were taken from outside through a glass wall covered with writing. I did my best to combine a nice angle with limited interference in front of the lens, but it was challenging.
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/250 sec, f/3.5, ISO 900 — map & image data — nearby photos
It turns out that he enjoyed it – he got to make some stickers from his coloring design – and photography aside, we enjoyed it particularly well because we could actually sit comfortably while he was in there, owing to the fact that the design shop was just across from a small (and real!) pizza place with outside seating. We appreciated both the pizza and the seating.
When he was done, we had some pizza and guava juice (!?) waiting for him....
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 38 mm — 1/250 sec, f/3.5, ISO 4500 — map & image data — nearby photos
While he ate, we recounted the fun of the day, then I asked him which activity was his favorite. Without hesitation he gave his answer, which surprised us to no end.
He fell asleep in the car on the way home, most likely quite contented with a wonderful day, but already wishing he could go back.
(UPDATE: We did go back, in May 2010, so the KidZania story continues here...)