With kids, a perennial – and ever-changing – topic of conversation is what they want to be when they grow up. One day it’s a firefighter, another it’s a chef. What if we told you there are not one, but two places in Beijing they can go to try out both of these careers and more?
With the colder months approaching, we figured now would be a good time to revisit Beyou World. Based in Sanyuanqiao, this role-playing center allows kids ages 3-12 to experience a variety of jobs through play. Though Beyou World can’t beat its rival – EE City in Joy City Chaoyang – for size and variety, it is far less crowded and more convenient for families living in Wangjing, Lido, and Shunyi.
The center is on the second floor of a mall called Beyou World Shopping Center just off Jingmi Lu (京密路) and the intersection of Taiyanggong Beijie (太阳宫北街). The mall is a rather ramshackle affair with a Starbucks, Subway, several Chinese restaurants, and factory outlets for Mothercare and sports brands like Nike, Adidas, Skechers, and Puma. The German wholesale supermarket chain Metro also has a branch in the basement.
A visit to Beyou World requires a bit of strategizing. Though the venue is very quiet on weekdays, it’s best to zero in on three or four “jobs” that your child wants to try the most and make a beeline for these once you get there. Kids must sign up for each job station, where adult supervisors lead activities or simulations that last 20 to 30 minutes.
Beyou World has its own economy and currency, the Beyou dollar. All kids start out with 50 Beyou dollars, which they can spend or earn at various role-playing stations. Occupations pay between 10 and 20 Beyou dollars, which children can spend on activities like cake decorating or items like snacks at the convenience store.
Parents aren’t allowed inside each job station and must content themselves with watching the kids through the window. Some jobs, like ambulance workers and public security officers, involve groups of kids marching in formation or rushing to the scene of an accident so that parents can follow behind and take pictures. There’s even a catwalk where young participants are coached on strutting and posing before being sent out into the spotlight.
Jobs include firefighter, electrician, pilot, cabin crew, maternity ward nurse, banker, postal worker, police officer, public security officer, special forces soldier, ambulance worker, doctor, lawyer (complete with powdered wigs), catwalk model, and all manner of chef (pizza, sushi, pastry, etc.). During our visit, a couple of stations such as the art gallery and the noodle shop are closed or under renovation.
As can be expected, there was a disproportionate amount of interest in all the food and beverage-related stations where kids could make their own snacks like jello cups, sushi rolls, and pizza. The policing and defense careers were also popular; we were simultaneously amused and alarmed to see kids in berets and flak vests carrying plastic AK-47s marching through the venue while shouting “Yi, er! Yi, er!” (“One, two! One, two!”) in unison.
Though Beyou World is advertised as being suitable for ages 3-12, older kids would probably get bored pretty quickly. The activities are generally more appropriate for preschoolers and younger school-age kids around 3-9 years old.
Like at EE City, everything from the signs and the instruction is in Chinese. Kids who don’t understand the language should get the hang of the activities pretty quickly, but signing up for them could be a bit of a hurdle if you don’t speak any Mandarin yourself.
Ticket prices change seasonally. Summer prices are still in effect during our visit: RMB 300 per child and RMB 20 per adult, but these are subject to change once school starts after September 6. Call ahead or consult the website for the latest prices.
Beyou World has snacks like sausages and chips and meals (including Subway) for sale, though it’s OK to bring your own snacks. There are plenty of benches, chairs, and tables throughout. There are decently clean kid-sized bathrooms with squat toilets near the exit, but no nursing rooms or changing tables. Cameras are allowed inside and free Wi-Fi is available.
If you’re hungry after your visit, head to Subway on the ground floor or any of the many Chinese restaurants. For a pick-me-up or a snack, there’s also Starbucks on the first floor. Should you need groceries (and lots of them), head to Metro.
For younger kids, there’s also a branch of Let’s Go right next to Beyou World. This play center has an indoor jungle gym as well as an outdoor climbing frame (ages 3-12) across from the mall’s main entrance.
Beyou World 比如世界
Daily 10am-7pm. 2/F, Beyou World Shopping Center, 111 Jingshun
Lu, Chaoyang District (400 630 6000, email@example.com)
Daily 7.30am-10.30pm. 1/F, Beyou World Shopping Center, 111 Jingshun Lu, Chaoyang District (6430 4036) 朝阳区京顺路111号比如世界购物中心1层
Daily 10am-10pm. 1/F, Beyou World Shopping Center, 111
Jingshun Lu, Chaoyang District (6430 4088) 朝阳区京顺路111号比如世界购物中心1层
Daily 6am-10pm. B1/F, Beyou World Shopping Center, 111 Jingshun
Lu, Chaoyang District (8455 6888, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Let’s Go 乐仕堡
Daily 10am-9.30pm. 2/F, Beyou World Shopping Center, 111 Jingshun Lu, Chaoyang District (5945 4980) www.leshibao.com.cn
This article originally appeared on page 30-31 of the beijingkids September 2015 issue. Click here to read the issue for free on Issuu.com. To find out how you can get your own copy, email email@example.com.
Photos: Sijia Chen