One example of this approach is KidZania, an experiential learning center that teaches children ages 4 to 14 through role-playing. With the first US location set to open in Dallas next year and Chicago in 2019, the company is seeking to expand in across the country.
Each KidZania is a highly detailed world of let’s pretend set in a mini-city (complete with buildings, paved roads, and even vehicles) that allows children to role-play in more than 100 occupations and professions, such as doctor, reporter or truck driver. While performing tasks children earn KidZos (KidZania’s currency) and the money is kept in the KidZania bank for children to spend at the gift shop and on KidZania’s activities. To make the experience as authentic as possible, companies sponsor local landmarks and businesses. Kids may fly a British Airways plane, for example, or operate an H&M store.
Price Point: A session typically costs from $30 to $50 per child, depending on the location. Parents can drop off their children for a session, which lasts about four to five hours, or they can stay to watch from a deck that looks over the scene.
Target Market: Families with children ages 4 to 14 years old
History and Expansion Plans: KidZania was founded in 1999 in Santa Fe, a suburb of Mexico City. The company now operates in 24 locations around the world, including London, Dubai, Tokyo and Bangkok, with each location receiving about a half million visitors a year.
In the US, KidZania USA is owned and operated by a partnership led by E2W. The first locations in the country will go into Dallas’s Stonebriar Centre in 2018 and Chicago’s Oakbrook Center in 2019. The Dallas location will be built from the ground up, while the one in Chicago will occupy the upper level of an existing Sears store. The company expects to roll out 20 more U.S. locations over the next decade.
Site Requirements: As with any indoor theme park, each KidZania requires a lot of space to operate: 60,000 square feet and 30-foot-high ceilings. According to company representatives, the activity centers also are best suited to suburban areas with families and schools.