KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia. Entertainment Designer. February 29, 2012. (English). -As of today, children living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, now have the opportunity to spend the day living as an adult. Some of you adults out there may be wondering why any kid would want to do such a thing; many of us adults just want to return to the carefree days of our childhood. Well, at KidZania children will get to do all adult stuff that seems like so much fun when you’re still young; and there will be no parents around to tell them how it’s done. Inside this miniature city, children ages four to twelve will take up adult roles and learn firsthand what it is like to live and work as an adult.
KidZania Kuala Lumpur is the latest addition to the KidZania franchise, which now has nine locations worldwide. The very first KidZania opened as La Ciudad de los Niños in Santa Fe, Mexico, in September 1999. Mexican businessman, López Acona, founded this educational theme park on the idea that the best way to teach children about society is through the games they already enjoy playing: specifically role-playing. Apparently he was right because business is booming for KidZania. In addition to the nine existing locations, twelve more are slated to open over the next couple of years, including one in the United States.
Each KidZania features an entire city scaled down to kid-size. The adventure begins when children say goodbye to their parents and board an “airplane” bound for KidZania. Once they arrive, they are given 50 “KidZos” (the currency in KidZania) and set out to find a career. There are nearly 100 occupations for the children to choose from, including doctor, police officer, chef, journalist, dentist, TV anchor, and so on. In their chosen roles they will earn KidZos, which they can then go spend at other establishments in the city. After a hard day of work, they can go see a movie or treat themselves to a nice meal: that is, if they’ve been saving their KidZos. There is even a bank where they can deposit their earnings and then withdraw them using a special KidZania ATM card.
The idea here is that through role-playing, children will experience firsthand the cooperation, decision-making, independence, and creativity that one needs to succeed in the adult world. Every station and activity at KidZania was carefully designed by a team of educators, psychologists, and play experts to coordinate them with school curriculums from around the world. All the important skills that children will learn in school, such as critical thinking, collaboration, and communication, are worked into the KidZania experience.
While parents cannot enter the city, there are adult supervisors, called Zupervisors, on hand to help the children get set up in their roles. There are observation windows through which parents can view the bustling city and each child is given a radio frequency identification tag in case they need to be tracked down.
KidZania may sound like the daily grind to us, but to the kids, it’s an exciting chance to do all the things that they are constantly told they are too young for.