Twelve years ago, a former private equity guru with no children opened the first indoor theme park at which parents could pay for their kids to pretend to work at professions ranging from nursing and fashion photography to firefighting and radio announcing.
Dubbed KidZania, the edutainment facility that Xavier López Ancona opened in Mexico City proved so successful with families and corporate sponsors that KidZanias have spread to Dubai, Jakarta, Lisbon, and Seoul. More are under construction in Kuala Lumpur and Santiago. Ancona plans to open one somewhere in the U.S. in 2013.
KidZania’s business model begins with an urban metropolis whose residents will pay money to come indoors. It must have a wealth of young families and a concentration of corporations that can pay KidZania to build branded, role-playing establishments inside "cities" scaled for children. Procter & Gamble (PG)’s Safeguard soap sponsors a pavilion in Mexico City’s KidZania, while Coca-Cola (KO) has teamed with KidZania to offer kid-sized bottling plants at five locations.
KidZanian "workers" are paid in KidZos, redeemable for merchandise. There’s even a KidZanian language. Click here
to see kids playing at working in Lisbon’s KidZania.