A whole new world just opened up for Filipino children through KidZania Manila, a unique educational entertainment (edutainment) center featuring a man-made scale city where kids can role-play as adults.
Beginning today, KidZania Manila will go into its soft-opening run to welcome kids aged four to 14 to live out their dreams and explore their possible futures.
Before the much-awaited date, KidZania Philippines State Governor Maricel Pangilinan-Arenas and KidZania founder Xavier Lopez, together with other stakeholders, hosted a media preview of the 9,000-square meter facility, located at the Park Triangle in Bonifacio Global City, on July 29.
Sharing the success story of KidZania in his speech, Lopez said, “KidZania started 15 years ago in Mexico City, and it has been a very good ride. It was very successful in the beginning in Mexico so we started taking KidZania to as many children as possible around the world.”
Today, the unique concept is available in 20 different cultures and 25 cities including Japan, Korea, India, Malaysia, and Thailand in Asia; Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Cairo and Instabul in the Middle East, Portugal and England in Europe, and Brazil and Chile in South America.
Asked why his next choice was the Philippines, Lopez said it was a very “obvious decision” for the company.
According to him, the Philippines just like Mexico is a young country with 30 percent of the population comprised of children concentrated in Metro Manila. Filipinos families, he added, also “value education and love spending time together.”
Another factor Lopez considered is finding the best partner in bringing his “business with a purpose” to the country. He did so with Play Innovations Inc., a subsidiary of ABS-CBN Corporation. And finally, he also landed the perfect location at Park Triangle inside bustling and booming Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.
“I am certain that Filipino children will love this place and make it their own. They will have fun in learning something useful when they grow up,” he enthused.
Meanwhile, Pangilinan-Arenas expressed pride and honor to finally open the doors of KidZania Manila, which took 33 months in the making, beginning with extensive research among children, parents, teachers and government officials, and then the actual construction of the kid-sized city, complete with paved streets and transport systems.
Moreover, to make KidZania Manila more believable, the facility partnered with over 40 real-world establishments present in the Philippines.
The Manila Times spotted established companies and institutions like St. Lukes Medical Center for children who want to be doctors and nurses; Centro Escolar University for those interested in education; and the Bank of the Philippine Islands for finance. There are also dining outlets, a hotel, a salon, shopping centers, a bookstore, and more.
One of the highlights of KidZania Manila is the Cebu Pacific aviation academy where a real cockpit has been installed. There, aspiring pilots and flight attendants could learn how to fly airplanes and service travelers.
The Cebu Pacific flight simulation is just one of the countless role-playing activities that children can choose to do in this truly amazing establishment.
Moreover, to make the learning experience more relevant in the local setting, Pangilinan-Arenas explained that KidZania Manila is supporting the Department of Education’s K to 12 program “that helps children focus on their specific interest and giftedness.”
What they did, according to the top executice, was put together a matrix of all the establishments and roles they have at KidZania, and then design activities that complement the educational program’s tracks, namely Sciences, Academic, Sports, Arts and Technical-Vocational.
So children who are into arts can try acting at the theater or recording at the studio. Those interested in the academe can enroll at the university or become teachers themselves. Kids who are into physical activities can become police officers or firefighters, while those who love the sciences can become doctors or nurses.
“This is authentic assessment,” Pangilian-Arenas shared. “So we encourage parents to allow their children to choose their activities and the profession.”
She further noted that parents cannot follow children inside the establishments to allow them to be independent.
A real experience
Besides having over 100 role-playing activities, KidZania as a whole offers real experiences because children can also drive electric cars, cook food, enroll in classes, and shop for necessities.
Upon arrival at KidZania, kids also receive 50 Kidzos, which is the center’s very own currency.
“First they can use the money to open a saving account at BPI to earn interest,” explained Pa-ngilinan-Arenas. “They can also spend it at the tiangge or the department store. Or they can use it to get a degree at the university. And when they do so, their pay scale goes up when they start working.
“If they run out of Kidzos, they cannot buy Kidzos,” she warned. “They have to work again to get paid. Basically, it teaches children the fundamentals of economy.”
With this, Lopez added, “We really want to teach them how to save money in the future. We also urge the children to give back [because]with the money they earn, they can donate to our charities for underprivileged children.”
KidZania Manila is open seven days a week, with one shift Mondays through Thursdays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and two shifts on weekends (Friday to Sunday) and national holidays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the first shift and 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. for the second shift.
For details on ticket prices and booking, visit manila.kidzania.com.