Back in 1999, an unusual concept in theme parks opened in Santa Fe, outside of Mexico City. Two more opened in 2006—one in Monterrey, Mexico and another in Tokyo. Built around the idea of the workplace, KidZanias have been popping up everywhere, now with 14 operations around the world and more on the way.
KidZania is the brainchild of Xavier López Ancona, a Mexican entrepreneur who, in 1996, founded the idea with a group of fellow Mexican businessmen. Well suited for school groups or individuals, KidZania experiences are designed to educate and entertain in an environment that allows kids to earn—and spend—their wages after attending “university” and landing jobs.
From the KidZania website:
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.
A key component of the KidZania experience is the integration of real-world brands to sponsor the city’s business and activities. Sponsors vary by KidZania location and represent a mix of multi-national brands and local, country-specific brands. Some of KidZania’s current sponsors include American Airlines, Coca Cola, Domino’s Pizza, Wal-Mart, Mitsubishi Motors, Honda, HSBC, Johnson & Johnson, Nestlé, Sony, Unilever, Kellogg’s, Danone, and Fuji Film.