“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I remember vividly I wanted to be an engineer, and realised later on that I couldn’t even last one whole day in school. Choosing a career is one of the biggest decisions I’ve ever made, but how do kids really find out what they want without experiencing how it works in the real world? Maybe they could figure it out at KidZania!
Instead of the rides and rollercoasters synonymous with theme parks, KidZania provides children a unique and very realistic educational environment, where work actually means fun. The ‘edutainment’ theme-park hosts children between the ages of four and fourteen; and allow them to do what comes naturally to them, role-playing by mimicking traditional adult activities. Children do all the running, while Adults can only watch from what’s called the Parents’ Clubhouse.
The indoor theme park is a city built to scale for children, complete with buildings, paved streets, vehicles, a functioning economy, and recognizable destinations in the form of “establishments” sponsored and branded by leading multi-national and local brands. As in the real world, they get to carry out jobs and get to earn Kidzos (Kidzania currency) according to choice of occupation either as a fireman, doctor, police officer, journalist or shopkeeper.
They are also able to “work” at establishments with real life business activities like hospitals, where they could perform a transplant on a dummy patient, theatre, where they could act in a stage play, assist guests at the inn by working as a housekeeper or a front desk associate, or be a pharmacist at the drug store. You can even get a degree at the university and advance your career to get paid more! The list just goes on.
Each job, which takes place in a 20-minute time slot, is rewarded with different salaries, with a surgeon being top earner and policeman lower down the pay ladder. One of the advantages is children learn the most important skill in any commercial environment: the art of earning, saving and spending money. The youngsters are paid in kidzos, which they learn how to deposit in their own savings account in the park’s designated bank during their first visit.
From there, they can spend their hard-earned currency on items and services within Kidzania, which is also part of the role-playing fun. KidZania even has its own “language”—short phrases that are delivered in a combination of English and something that an alien in a low-budget sci-fi movie might speak and adults who staff the establishments and guide the children through the activities are called Zupervisors.
Kids between the ages of 0 – 3, can also enjoy Kidzania but they are limited to various activities aimed at toddlers like RightZkeepers’ Residence/Urbano House, Science Lab/School House and Kindergarten, where they get to learn creativity, play and have fun.
Currently, there are more than 19 KidZania centres around the world with many more opening this year and coming ones. Launched about 15 years ago in Mexico as the La Ciudad de los Niños (“The City of the Children”), the theme park is now available in over 15 major cities including Tokyo, Doha, Dubai, London, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Cairo and Istanbul.
Kidzania’s tag line is “Get Ready for a Better World,” which is in its own sense, true, and the settings can attest to that; it isn’t just a simulation of the real world, it’s a preparation for it.