Last September, Triple Five announced Nickelodeon Universe had signed on to take a space at the forthcoming entertainment destination. Now, another kid-centric theme park is planned for the complex. According to the Wall Street Journal, KidZania, a mini-city theme park, recently signed a lease for 80,000 square feet at the megamall.
KidZania is a role-based theme park that provides children “a safe, unique, and very realistic educational environment” where children can “do what comes naturally to them: role-playing by mimicking traditionally adult activities.” Essentially a mini-city, children will find most of the same facilities as a real city, including a hospital, fire station, beauty salon, bank, radio station, supermarket, television station, pizzeria, theater, and more. At two-thirds their actual size, all facilities are designed to be ‘just right’ for children.
The concept also operates as its own mini-economy. Children can choose work in one of nearly 100 professions–anything from police officer to dentist to restaurateur–and earn “kidZos”, the park’s native currency. They can then spend this money around the park at various outlets offering products, services, and entertainment. Just like a real economy, children have access to banking services. They can open a savings account to deposit their earnings into and are provided a debit card to withdraw funds from ATMs around the city.
Truly unique in concept, KidZania blends education with entertainment in a fun and interactive way. According to the company, “psychologists, educators and play experts are extensively consulted during the development of every KidZania location” and experts say role-playing has “very positive educational, psychological and motivational benefits.”
Currently, KidZania has 20 locations in 19 countries, including Dubai, Tokyo, Lisbon, and multiple locations throughout Mexico. In early 2016, KidZania USA acquired the franchise rights for the US market. The American Dream location will be the company’s first in the United States.
“We are thrilled to provide a new learning experience to families and educators throughout the New York metro area,” said Keith Rubenstein, acting CEO of KidZania USA. “KidZania at American Dream will be a fascinating space for children to develop leadership, teamwork and financial literacy skills that will last a lifetime.”
Even with the seemingly endless setbacks, businesses continue to show faith in Triple Five’s vision of creating a premier entertainment and shopping destination in the country’s largest metro area. Representatives say Triple Five is hoping to have the mall open by fall 2018. KidZania anticipates opening in 2019.