The Morning News has a piece today on KidZania, a theme park for kids where they work and buy stuff just like grown-ups.
But at the heart of the concept and the business of KidZania is corporate consumerism, re-staged for children whose parents pay for them to act the role of the mature consumer and employee. The rights to brand and help create activities at each franchise are sold off to real corporations, while KidZania’s own marketing emphasizes the arguable educational benefits of the park.
Each child receives a bank account, an ATM card, a wallet, and a check for 50 KidZos (the park’s currency). At the park’s bank, which is staffed by adult tellers, kids can withdraw or deposit money they’ve earned through completing activities — and the account remains even when they go home at the end of the day. A lot of effort goes into making the children repeat visitors of this Lilliputian city-state.
A US outpost of KidZania is coming sometime in 2013.