Kidzania is without a doubt, most innovative addition to the ‘edutainment’ scene in Bangkok. This is unlike anything we have seen before and the level of fun has been raised to a brand new level. Kidzania, originally a Mexican company, has been opening family entertainment centers since 1999 in Santa Fe, then in 18 additional locations around the world. At first this appears to be another cute mini-town with pretty European style houses below painted skies – which it is. But beyond the extremely well executed craftsmanship, a much deeper level of education is brought to the kids.
Each and every one of the shops and buildings in Kidzania town is a learning experience for children from four to 15 years old. Not just some boring ‘show-how’: here kids get to be part of the shops. It’s extremely well executed and kids love it! The range of experiences is also unique as there are up to 80 different jobs to choose from, everything from being a real dentist to flying a Boeing 737! Fight a hotel fire with real water and ride a tiny fire truck to reach the scene. Rescue people with a small ambulance and bring them to a mini hospital where you get to use almost real equipment. Everything is very realistic, just smaller. Then move to the newspaper office and report to a real newsroom or a TV studio… if only real life jobs would look as fun! Each activity can accommodate small groups of 6 to 8 kids and no parents can interfere or participate. It’s a real kid’s world so mom and dad are just allowed to witness the operation and take photos… barely.
The whole thing is really well thought out, with a large lobby offering cakes, coffees and computers, all dedicated to parents so kids can finally play free without having to take care of the nagging oldies. The most appealing aspect of Kidzania is the concept of ‘how-do-they-do-it’. It’s certainly all fun and games but kids really do learn something… Everyone has to wear the relevant outfit or uniform – whether it’s a nurse, a firefighter or a lab coat to learn how to make coke in a mini factory, how to prepare sushi at an Oishi restaurant or some burgers at McDonald’s and how to change your mom’s car tires at B-Quik car centre. It’s all heavily sponsored of course, but who cares? Life out there is just like this! The kids earn ‘KidZos’ money by doing these mini jobs and can even open a bank account at the CIMB bank. This money is kept there for the kids to buy gifts at the souvenir shop on the way out. How smart from the organizers! With such a great concept and perfect location at the top floor of Siam Paragon, there is no doubt Kidzania will be a huge success. In addition, being part of such an upmarket shopping mall will hopefully ensure that two years from now the attraction will not get the usual fate of other edutainment centres, when half the features usually stop working and everything looks old and faded.