Back in September, we took Reina to EE City at the Joy City Mall for her first round of on-the-job training (read that post here). She got to role-play as a firefighter, work in a mini-hotel, and care for a baby in the Beijing United Family Hospital-sponsored baby ward. Reina loved it, but after four hours of dealing with crowds and waiting in lines, we all felt worn out. So when we got invited to skip school for a day and hang out with some friends at Beyou World, I had mixed feelings about the prospect of another role-play adventure. This time, however, there was one critical difference; we went on a weekday.
From the moment we walked in, it was clear that Beyou was about a third of the size of EE City, but it was also nearly empty. True, we went on a Tuesday and not on the weekend as with EE City, but I was still surprised by how few kids I saw. We didn’t need to queue up for the girls to be police officers, dairy farmers, doctors, or fashion models and because we attended on a weekday, we had the run of the 10,000 square meter facility from 10am-7pm (Beyou does run two shifts on the weekends like EE City). Even better, there was no line at lunchtime for the canteen, a Starbucks one floor down, a Metro where a mom or dad could shop for nearly anything while their spouse or friend looks after the kids, and free Wi-Fi for those inclined to work/surf while there kids, well, pretend to work.
At each role-play experience, children either earn or pay 10 or more Beyou bucks. The RMB200 admission cost per child (RMB20 per adult), includes 50 Beyou currency that kids can use to buy things or try their hand at, say, cake decorating or driving, which costs 10 and 15 Beyou bucks respectively. On the other hand, most occupations that the kids try pay anywhere from 10 to 20 Beyou bucks, so the money adds up. There is even a small department store where kids are allowed to shop or they can buy soft serve ice cream with their hard-earned cash. Just like EE City, parents are not allowed on the individual job sites where trained staff educate and instruct the children on how to carry out their temporary duties. Instead, parents must content themselves with watching through windows where possible or literally chasing behind the ambulance as their child and other wannabe doctors rush to the scene of an accident (think parental paparazzi).
For sheer scale and job options, EE City wins, hands down. However, Beyou has the advantage of being near the north end of the fourth ring road, which is much closer to the Wangjing/Lido area and for people coming from Shunyi. Also, since Beyou did not have the crowds and long wait times that we experienced at EE City, the kids got to spend more time working and less time sitting around. At EE City, Reina got to try three jobs in four hours. At Beyou World, I lost count of the jobs she did in the eight hours we were there and we didn’t leave feeling exhausted. Beyou World is definitely worth checking out.
You can find out more about Beyou World by visiting their website that does have a small English section here. Like EE City, almost no one spoke English. Water, snacks, and food can be purchased inside, but it is okay to pack in your own food and drinks. Adults may leave and return, children may not. Prices for food and beverages were reasonable. Bathrooms were clean (kid-sized) and had soap. Lockers for jackets and layers (it was warm inside) are free and available on the second floor. Rated for ages 3-12 (though I imagine it is better suited for most kids between the ages of 4-10).