Bottom line: If we lived next to a KidZania, we’d go all of the time. KidZania is an award-winning theme park that functions like a real city, except that it’s run by kids who are having fun while learning important life lessons about independence and how the world actually functions. It’s a combination of education and entertainment…or edutainment!
While in Mexico City, we visited KidZania Cuicuilco and though my shy 5-year-old more or less clung to my leg throughout the entire visit, she’s still telling her friends about it. And, she loves the KidZania characters, seen in the photo above.
What Is KidZania?
KidZania provides kids ages 4-12 the opportunity to appreciate what it’s like to be an adult. The theme-park city is built to scale for children with incredible attention to detail. There are paved roads, storefronts, kid-sized buses and cars as well as opportunities to perform hands-on tasks. Kids rotate through over 100 activities and trades of their choosing in order to earn KidZos, the currency of KidZania. If they’d like to go shopping, make jewelry or participate in leisure activities, they must spend KidZos to do so. When they run out of KidZos, they go back to work. It’s a great way for them to learn money management!
Also, kids under age 4 have special areas such as Gerber Orchard where they can learn how to make bottled baby food and the Evenflo Day Care which is a special area for babies under age 2. They can cruise around with mom and dad, too.
Current locations include Santa Fe (Mexico City, Mexico), Cuicuilco (Mexico City, Mexico), Monterrey (Nuevo Leon, Mexico), Jakarta, Lisbon, Seoul, Santiago, Dubai, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Koshen (Japan) and Bangkok (opening March 29) with future locations including Cairo (2013), London (2015), and the United States (2015). The location in the United States has yet to be revealed.
KidZania gives shy, clingy children like my daughter the opportunity–even if just for a few moments, in our case–to break out of their shells. Shy children benefit from watching other children do things they personally find intimidating. Outgoing children shine by participating in these occupations and activities with gusto. Some just dive right into it.
My daughter was on the younger end of the spectrum, but I saw plenty of other kids her age tackling occupations with ease. It took a while, but she eventually chose DHL as her occupation and thought it was amazing.
She and two other girls delivered various packages to shops around KidZania and then reported back to DHL with delivery confirmations. It was very cute. As you can see, the uniforms are very life-like.
Around The City
The first occupation we observed was about dog training, complete with real dogs. Children learned about grooming and the importance of respecting animals.
Behind us, a team of enthusiastic firefighters put out fake fire. A bus transported kids around the city. Behind the scenes, kids are making chips, pizza, cereal bars and more. Some are busy recycling or even designing their own cosmetics while others are driving electric cars. The list of activities is quite long as the KidZania Cuicuilco location is the largest park yet at over 14,000 square meters. Zupervisors are adults who help kids complete their tasks while keep things orderly and safe.
We witnessed a Cartoon Network-themed parade that around lunch time, too. Kids can participate in the parade.
Upon checking into KidZania, each child is given a passport that is stamped based on various activities completed, a check for 50 KidZos (must be cashed at the KidZania bank) and a tracking bracelet that records where they are and where they have been. When hunger strikes, restaurants serving kid and adult favorites (sushi, even) as well as snacks are easy to find. Real currency is required, however!
The Value Of Role-Playing
Regardless of language or where you were born, role-playing is a universal form of play and has positive educational, psychological and motivational benefits. My daughter doesn’t speak Spanish, but was able to perform her DHL and other tasks with the other children. It was very neat to watch them communicate and laugh together.
Role-playing is fun – and has very positive educational, psychological and motivational benefits. Psychologists, educators and play experts are extensively consulted during the development of every KidZania location to ensure our curriculum content matches school areas of focus: creativity, critical thinking, communication, confidence, and collaboration.
In addition to role-playing, artistically-inclined kids, like mine, can craft and do art. She loved making jewelry and keeps these beaded dragonflies in a special place, to this day.
So, What Do Parents Do At KidZania?
Of course, parents can and do follow kids around to observe the benefits of edutainment.
However, at KidZania Cuicuilco there’s a business center and spa for parents! Kids are monitored over video surveillance and wear the tracking bracelet in this very secure facility. Plus, there are plenty of KidZania employees around. Do what you feel comfortable with.
We took a car from Four Seasons Hotel Mexico, D.F. and the Sunday (no traffic) journey took about 30 minutes. It was easy. KidZania (either the Cuicuilco or Santa Fe locations) is recommended by the hotel concierge as a fun activity to do in Mexico City with kids.
Cost in pesos and converted to USD at the current exchange rate:
Toddlers (2-3): $160 ($13 USD)
Children (4-12): $240 ($19 USD)
Adults: $160 ($13 USD)
What is cool is that you check in at an Interjet desk, just like at an airport. In fact, there’s a big Interjet airplane outside check-in. And, what’s genius about getting the businesses involved is that now my daughter really wants to fly Interjet somewhere.
Wherever your family travels take you, check to see if there’s a KidZania location. New locations are popping up all over the world. You’ll hear about where they land in the US from me, as soon as I know. It would be a great spot for a birthday party.
*Thanks to KidZania Cuicuilco for providing us with tickets and to Chiq for showing us around. We loved it!