Playground for life skillls
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte
Kidzania Manila, the play city where kids do the things that grown-ups do, opens its doors to children ages 2 to 14 on Friday, August 7th at the Park Triangle in Bonifacio Global City. With 8,000 square meters of play space, youngsters will get to play grown-up roles and live out each of their dream careers in a span of five hours per visit.
“Manila is the 20th metropolis in the Kidzania universe, an all-access facility for kids; a play city of context and community with a sense of cultural memory like the beauty of folk art and music that's has been put in the wayside and forgotten by the barage brought about by the digital revolution.
”It's an amazing city and a world of its own where the concept of entrepreneurship enable kids to choose jobs and maybe become that very person someday. It's a safe haven for children to play, especially those who believe in the power of play. Kidzania empowers children to believe in their innate gifts and how they can be of service to others,“ enthused Manila state governor Maricel Pangilinan-Arenas.
The enclosure is a play city built to scale for children; complete with paved streets, transport system, and a functioning economy. Every detail is intended to project authenticity: from the activity itself, to uniforms and costumes, to the work gear and tools as well as the city interiors.
From police officer to recording artist to urban farmer, kids can choose from over seventy immersive role-play activities. They can become firefighters to the rescue, pilots off to adventures (yet safely tucked inside a simulation booth), or even paramedics who save lives. And when kids work, they earn wages in currency called the KidZos. So the more they work, the more they will earn. Kids can opt to save their initial 50 KidZos, which will bear interest; shop 'til they drop, or use it to study a degree, that in turn will hike up their pay grades.
“Kidzania means Land of Cool Kids! However, its former trade name was Ciudad de los Ninos (City of Children) 16 years ago (Sept 1, 1999). Manila is the 17th country outside of Mexico. Back home, there are two Kidzania centers in Mexico City and another one in Monterey. It's an economy and kids get to earn more than what they spend,“ shared founder and CEO Xavier Lopez.
Kidzania is one of the fastest growing global educational entertainment brands with facilities all over the globe from Mexico to Tokyo unto London. Manila is the 20th Kidzania city in the world, and the first of its kind in the country. “We can't wait for Filipino children to finally enjoy the unique role-play experience that the arcade offers. Kids will play and learn together, figure out what makes a good city, and collaborate in helping run their own community.
“Each game will spark dreams and imagination; empowering kids to believe that they can make a better world. It has captured the imagination of kids worldwide,” intoned Manila's state governor.
Role-play at Kidzania provides a fun, authentic and powerful developmental experience that will help prepare kids to understand and manage their world. Their tagline, 'Get Ready for a Better World,' believes that realistic and imaginative role acting can promote change, inspire global citizenship, and build strong community awareness.
More than just a family entertainment center, the facility creates a kid-centric immersion where kids are in charge. The Mexican brand has partnered with over 40 real-world brands which help bring realism to the kid-sized territory, providing children with reality-based activities and skills that they can use later in life. They can open their bank accounts, attend classes in the university, file their taxes, shop for necessities at the supermarket, and even drive electric cars.
“Parents and adults are not allowed entry into the play spaces. They can wait for their children in designated places like the Sky Lounge, the Theater, and the TV studio. 52 establishments offer one or two work rooles and there are 70 roles available now that kids can portray in 30 minutes. Kids can try five or six roles in a single visit.
”The role-playing is very real as they imitate how adults act. Industry leaders and companies who care for kids were chosen as part of the simulated economy. When kids ran out of KidZo money, they simply work to get more because they cannot buy above the 50 KidZos they received when they first registered. So they learn to earn,“ continued Madame Arenas.
Locally franchised by ABS-CBN's subsidiary Play Innovations, Kidzania is an interactive kids' city combining inspiration, fun, and learning through realistic role playing of children ages 2 to 14. They can independently explore a kid-sized city with over 100 exciting roles to choose from.
Each experience is designed to empower children, giving them the confidence to be their best selves, and the inspiration to be great global citizens. One of the world's most inventive, most awarded, and fastest-growing kid's educational entertainment concepts, Kidzania has 20 locations in 17 countries, including Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Turkey, Portugal, England, Abu Dhabi, Russia, Brazil, and the Philippines.
“Finding the right partner with the same values is our primary concern. We have partnered with the hospitality and service sectors, restaurant chains, theme parks, and media groups. Since we deliver great experiences to kids, finding the key people to run the facilities is our biggest challenge. Our most valuable asset therefore is manpower.
“Filipinos are more artistic and more engaged than other countries. We prepare kids for bigger things in life. The interactive play space has 70 replicas of real life stations; all teaching kids with socialization, negotiation and networking skills.,“ he continued.
Headquartered in Mexico and founded in 1997, Kidzania opened its first park in 1999 with a private ownership. Kidzania Manila is open seven days a week, with one shift of five hours on Mondays through Thursdays from 9 am to 4 pm (Php 750); then two shifts on weekends from Fridays to Sundays and all declared national holidays beginning with a 9 am til 2 pm shift, and then 3 pm 'til 8 pm (both at Php 1,000). “The weekday shift will be more frequented by school children on field trips. Here, children pay in full while parents/adults who accompany them pay a discounted rate. The Manila outlet has a balanced mix of partners with 60 per cent multinationals and 40 per cent local brands. It's business with a purpose where kids do big things. It would take maybe five years to recoup the $24-million investment spent to raise this center,” Sr. Lopez said in closing.
Thirty per cent of Manila's 25-million population is composed of children. Kidzania is a family destination that can accommodate 1,800 kids at one time. For more information about Kidzania Manila, simply visit the Web site, manila.kidzania.com.