“After five years of providing a learning experience for children, Play Innovations Inc. has decided to cease the operations of KidZania Manila effective 31 August 2020,” reads a statement issued today that we imagine broke many a child’s heart.
With the COVID pandemic, which have forced people to stay inside their homes for an extended period, the establishment suspended operations so that it does not contribute to the virus’s further spread. This hurt the business’s revenue. “Even if we are allowed to operate in the future, the ‘new normal’ will prohibit mass gathering and require children to remain at home. These conditions have left us with no choice but to close the play city’s doors permanently,” the statement says.
Launched in August 7, 2015, KidZania Manila is a franchise from entertainment center chain of the same name from Mexico. It is the brand’s 11th location in Asia and 20th in the world. The idea behind it is to create a city that is scaled for children: buildings, establishments, and a road system. Designed for kids 4 to 14, it has more than 55 establishments as well as its own functioning economy and currency. According to a 2016 tally, KidZania attracts around 360,000 visitors annually. It has also been lauded for its educational-entertainment efforts by the likes of the Anvil Awards, which gave KidZania two trophies in 2017.
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There are 29 currently active KidZanias in the world, including Tokyo, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Doha, London, Sao Paulo, Johannesburg, Dallas, and Mumbai. Last month, KidZania Singapore in Sentosa Island was forced to close down because of challenges to its business brought about by the pandemic. The closure affected around 103 employees, which they offered severance packages and job placement programs and opportunities.
KidZania Manila is preparing the same for its employees. “Our hearts go out to our employees. We are doing everything we can to aid them at this time of uncertainty, including paying out severance benefits as mandated by law and providing job placement programs for them. We appreciate all their hard work,” reads its statement. “We are also grateful to our industry partners and the schools and families who have trusted us over the years.”
The statement ends with a message of hope for what it calls its “kals,” or generation KidZania. These are the kids “who have spent time with us with unrelenting passion and spirit, which we hope they will keep alive as they face the future and build a better world,” the statement says.