This isn’t your typical theme park for kids. It more closely resembles a fully-functioning nation. For kids. Opening at the Fort in 2014, KidZania is a fully-realized city built to scale for kids. Kids between the ages of 4-14 years will be able to take on different hyper-realistic jobs, earn and save their own currency, and even earn citizenship.
Just how real is hyper-real play?
When you take your child into KidZania, you enter via the nation’s airport and your child is given a boarding pass plus a check worth a couple of KidZos, their local currency. Your child has the option to place KidZos in a bank to earn interest, spend it on different amenities within the city or “work” to earn more. You cannot and will not be able to purchase additional kidzos for your child.
When a fire breaks out (a pretend fire guys, no need to worry) in the city, it isn’t just the fire fighters that are mobilized. Kids who have taken on jobs at the hospital and police stations will be there to assist while the kids who have chosen to be in the media can cover the event for the local news.
Your kid just can’t just drive around KidZania. He needs to take a driver’s exam. Also, taking on additional courses like a masters Degree can help increase their ‘salary.’ Also, there are taxes.
Upon entering, a child gains “tourist” status and can work his or her own way to becoming a full-fledged citizen of KidZania complete with rights and responsibilities. A child can be accompanied by a parent but an adult with no child cannot enter unless he or she secures a special VISA pass.
From police officer to dentist to restaurateur, each KidZania offers NEARLY 100 role-playing activities in more than 60 establishments with a range of difficulty to meet the abilities and interests of every child. Kids work to earn kidZos, KidZania’s own currency, so they can pay for goods and services in the KidZania city. Pilots navigate airplanes, television anchors read the news, police officers perform detective work and chefs cook up tasty food. KidZania is a complete city with a hospital, fire station, beauty salon, bank, radio station, supermarket, television station, pizzeria, theater, and much more. At two-thirds their actual size, all facilities are designed to be ‘just right’ for children. Getting started is simple: kids pick an occupation, learn about their job, don a uniform, and start EARNING AND SPENDING KIDZOS…and having fun!
The KidZania franchise is the first major project of a company called Play Innovations, under ABS-CBN. The team is headed by the ‘Governor’ Tita Maricel Pangilinan-Arenas (who I met in the telco industry) and is set to open their first branch near Fully Booked in November 2014. Kidzania originated in the 90’s in Mexico and has expanded across several countries in the west and in Asia.
For the Philippines, #KidzaniaManila will have a number of unique qualities including the stress on the agricultural and fisheries sector, biodiversity and conservation. The philosophy is clearly Authentic Assessment, which is a relatively new trend in curriculum design (yes I’m an educator by course so please indulge this geeky segment). Authentic Assessment is a more Socratic approach to learning where the inputs of the child based on meaningful learning are used to develop a curriculum. In other words, KidZania is fully compatible with home school, progressive and yes, the new K-12 program that allows a student to specialize in a field after some time.
Right now, KidZania Manila is looking for industry partners who can help give a name to close to 100 establishments within the city. There’s nothing like having your brand be recognized by tens of thousands of children who have role-played in your salon, restaurant, delivery service, department store, clothing brand, or media outlet for a decade. To learn more about business opportunities at KidZania Manila, email [email protected] or call them at +632 551 2395. Check them out at kidzania.com.ph.