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.
Chris Floyd
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.
Chris Floyd

KidZania Rules the Malls

Kids Role-Playing
Kids Role-Playing
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.
Chris Floyd
Parents Shop While Kids Work
Parents Shop While Kids Work
Most KidZanias are conveniently located in malls, allowing parents to shop while their children pretend to work
Chris Floyd
Malo Clinic
Malo Clinic
Children fascinated by oral hygiene or just eager to play with a dummy’s teeth (and who isn’t?) can visit the Malo Clinic at KidZania in Lisbon
Chris Floyd
Pretend House
Pretend House
In this pretend house sponsored by Portuguese paint giant Cin, children dress up in red, paint-spattered smocks. This might be more exciting in person
Chris Floyd
Firefighting
Firefighting
Though it doesn’t pay a lot of Kidzos, KidZanians relish firefighting with child-size fire trucks and fake hoses that extinguish real-looking flames
Chris Floyd
Johnson & Johnson Infirmary
Johnson & Johnson Infirmary
At the corporate logo-emblazoned Johnson & Johnson infirmary, children don scrubs and play with the innards of a dummy
Chris Floyd
Television Studio
Television Studio
A confident-looking TV production worker prepares the set as some KidZanian celebrities take their places at the spotlit podium
Chris Floyd
Food Vendors
Food Vendors
It may not smell quite like fish, but this KidZanian food vendor’s wares earn a convincing once-over from a passing shopper
Chris Floyd
Police Department
Police Department
A squad of earnest children learns about roll call and law enforcement at the KidZanian police department
Chris Floyd
Emergency Services
Emergency Services
Even KidZanian cities need emergency services. Here, two children attend to an "injured" KidZanian in an ambulance
Chris Floyd
Supermarket
Supermarket
A colorful, make-believe supermarket full of busy KidZanian workers and shoppers
Chris Floyd