A Theme Park for Playing Grown-up
KidZania, the global chain of theme parks where children take on adult work roles, allows kids between the ages of four to twelve to do what comes naturally to them: role-playing by mimicking traditionally adult activities. As in the real world, children perform “jobs” and are either paid for their work (as a fireman, doctor, police officer, journalist, shopkeeper, etc.) or pay to shop or to be entertained. The indoor theme park is a city built to scale for children, complete with buildings, paved streets, vehicles, a functioning economy, and recognizable destinations in the form of “establishments” sponsored and branded by leading multi-national and local brands.
On entering KidZania, children are given radio-frequency tags – so they can’t leave without an alarm going off – and handed 50 kidzos – KidZania’s currency. These they can deposit in the KidZania bank, which is staffed by children of course and offers 10% interest – to retrieve later using bank cards at pretend ATMs. Or they can spend it on souvenirs and junk food. They can then earn more by working – between five and eight kidzos for a 25-minute shift, depending on the job. Kids earn a salary in “kidzos”, and though they are required to pay a 20% tax on their earnings, they decide what they want the taxes spent on: education, the environment, hospitals or roads.