KidZania: get ready for a better world

Author:Catherine Jewell
Position:Publications Division, WIPO

KidZania offers children from age 2 to 14 a unique, interactive experience and many unforgettable and fun memories. Built around children’s love of role-play, KidZania has become one of the world’s fastest growing learning and entertainment brands. The outgoing Chief Executive Officer of KidZania’s Mexican operations, Maricruz Arrubarrena, offers an insider’s view of the company and explains what lies at the heart of its success.

What was the inspiration for KidZania?

KidZania was set up by Xavier López Ancona and his associates in 1997. The first theme park, known as Ciudad de los Niños (City of Children), opened in September 1999, in Santa Fe, Mexico City. That was when I started working for the company. KidZania is driven by a desire to make a difference to the lives of children and to ensure they become engaged and responsible citizens.

Tell us about the KidZania concept.

KidZania is an indoor kid-sized city that offers children a unique opportunity to learn and interact with other children through role-play. Our concept combines education and entertainment and is built around children’s natural desire to create, explore and play together. We believe that role-play is a really smart way for kids to learn. At KidZania, children get a chance to explore over 90 adult careers, learn how to manage money and get a grasp of the how the real world works. KidZania offers them a safe place to learn by doing, to learn from each other and to gain confidence in their abilities. Our aim is to inspire them to become great global citizens.

KidZania is a scaled-down replica of a fully operating city. It is divided into three main areas: the airport, the city center and the suburbs. Kids access the park via the airport – their entry ticket is their boarding card. The city has brick-paved streets with office blocks offering different services and storefronts with the logos of familiar brands. We make every effort to give our visitors an experience that is as true-to-life as possible.

Inside, kids can play at being adults in a host of activity locations or “establishments,” which include a fire station, a supermarket, a courthouse, a sushi bar, a hospital, a tax office and many others. We make sure each establishment is equipped with highly lifelike props so the experience is as realistic as possible.

We think of KidZania as a nation with its own language, identity, culture, government and economy. All transactions take place in our currency, kidZos. On...

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