Where Children Pretend to be Adults

Children at KidZania spend the day role-playing at various careers. Among the simulated jobs are pilot, dentist, and judge. Illustration by Nishant Choksi

If you have a child between four and fourteen that wonders what it’s like to be grown up, one solution is to take them to a KidZania theme park. Unlike your typical ride-oriented park, KidZania parks provide the opportunity for children to play adult roles in their own scaled-down city. The parks are completely enclosed so kids can roam freely amid buildings from different historical periods. The KidZania website (https://kidzania.com/en) promises over 100 careers that children can try.

Upon arriving at a KidZania park, kids are given 50 kidzos, the park’s version of money, which can be deposited and accessed with a debit card. Participating in a career activity can earn more kidzos, which by the way can be used at any of the parks around the world. Kidzos can be spent by renting electric cars or in the miniature city’s department store.

The concept has become so successful the company has invented a backstory. From the website: “The time had come. Enough was enough. Something had to be done and kids were the ones to do it. ” From that first inspiration came a definition of rights, independence, a nation, and a city. Quite an ambitious concept!

There are currently 27 KidZania parks around the world. Unfortunately, the only location in the U.S. is in Dallas; there is a walk-through video of that location at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvsGKih4Tk8. However, according to the website, parks are planned for New York and Chicago.

In any event, it’s a very sophisticated approach to educating children about adult responsibilities.

An excellent article on KidZania is “When I Grow Up” by Rebecca Mead (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/01/19/grow? ). The illustration came from that site.

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