KidZania Manila theme park: A nation where kids rule

By Kathlyn dela Cruz,

Posted at Jul 30 2013 06:44 PM | Updated as of Jul 31 2015 08:48 PM

MANILA -- "A nation where kids rule."

This is how KidZania, an interactive family "edutainment" (education entertainment) center, envisions its first facility in the Philippines.

KidZania is a theme park which resembles a real city -- but with establishments only two-thirds their actual size -- where children can have education and entertainment through realistic role-playing of adult jobs.

Children aged 4 to 14 can independently explore over 100 role-playing activities in this kid-sized city, depending on their interests. They can run the city as pilots, police officers, chefs, news anchors, firemen, doctors or bankers, among others.

"In KidZania, we really believe in the power of role-playing," said Play Innovations Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer, and "governor" of KidZania Maricel Pangilinan-Arenas during a press conference in Makati City Tuesday.

"Our vision is to really ignite the hearts and minds of children everywhere, empowering them to believe that they can actually contribute, get actively involved in creating a better world," she added.

(L-R) Play Innovations Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Maricel Pangilinan-Arenas; KidZania Global Chief Operating Officer Andres Fabre; and Play Innovations Inc. Industry Partnerships Director Cecille Marino

KidZania, which is currently present in 13 locations in 10 countries, is set to open an edutainment facility at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig by November 2014. It is franchised by Play Innovations Inc., which is under ABS-CBN Corporation.

The facility's aim is to "help Filipino children explore in different ways what they might be one day," Pangilinan-Arenas said.

She said KidZania Manila can help Filipino children activate their imagination, learn through personal experience and be prepared for the "real world" as early as 4 years old.

Through its hyper-real, role-playing activities, children can learn about various careers and later on, the concept of managing money.

Children who work in KidZania earn KidZos, their local currency, which they can either save in banks or spend for other activities in the city.

"It's so important that we have children to grow up into adults who love what they do...because love and passion create excellence," Pangilinan-Arenas said.

The P1 billion edutainment facility will also incorporate real-world brands into establishments to provide children with an "authentic experience" when exploring the center.

KidZania in Manila

Pangilinan-Arenas said Play Innovations Inc. will customize activities specific for Filipino children by incorporating the country's agricultural and fisheries sectors into the city.

She said disaster preparation activities will also be included to help children know what to do when facing calamities, floods or fire, and be able to work together for the situation to be resolved.

"We really like KidZania Manila to show children how it is possible to have a community of children that work together, that collaborate, where children can share their own giftedness and also learn to be more accepting, be more tolerant, and more than anything else to share," she added.

Andres Fabre, KidZania Global Chief Operating Officer and "minister of state" of KidZania central government, for his part, explained why they decided to expand in the Philippines.

KidZania Inc., which opened its first park in 1999, is headquartered in Mexico.

"We share the same family values. Families are strong in the Philippines as well as in Mexico... We, as Mexicans and Filipinos, put a lot of attention on the education of our kids...and make sure kids get well-educated," Fabre said.

Both Fabre and Pangilinan-Arenas said KidZania Manila can also complement school education, noting the Department of Education's K-12 curriculum , which aims to help students be ready for work after graduation.

"This is all about empowerment of children," Fabre said.