Kidzania. A standalone metropolis for kids just below the age of seventeen. A Kidzania citizen is entitled to several perks in this metropolitan city such as discounts in establishments and at the same time getting paid more for working in those establishments as well. Immigration for Kidzania Singapore opened in May, just in time for the upcoming school holidays in June. So what is it like in a Kidzanian world?
Well, for starters, Kidzania offers kids the chance to be independent and to have a look at the “working” world where adults rule. I mentioned “working” instead of the “real” world here because it sort of promotes that thought. I’m not saying that it is not good to let children experience a working world, but it is limiting to a child with a bigger imagination. So let’s take it at face value for now. The first time a kid enters Kidzania, they are issued some Kidzanian currency and an ATM card. All of these work well within Kidzania and immediately teaches kids the value of money and the importance of putting money in the pot. Opening a bank account automatically bumps the kids spending money, so it is recommended to stand in line and queue up at the bank as the first course of action. It is also recommended to pick up a map from the immigration counter because the place is deceptively big.
With money in hand, the kids are now free to roam around in their virtual world. Kids can use their money for various activities and if they ever run out, they can always queue up for a job somewhere. Here’s the deal, some establishments do have pre requisites such as passing an eye-test to get a driving license or a personal accident insurance before dangerously enrolling as a mountaineer. Simple things that are quite commendable as a tool to show children that life isn’t as easy as they may think. You can also spend your Kidzzos (that’s Kidzanian currency) to go and attend school or learn a skill or two. Getting higher education at the learning lab allows kids to earn more at certain establishments. This depends on what kind of class they took at the Learning Lab. They have to pay to learn, but they get something for it in return (just like how we adults are told to eat up courses for becoming relevant). Like I told Matthew, it is a good investment. There are skills that you pay to learn but have no financial advantage to your Kidzanian life, but hey, they can be fun (you know, just like us adults investing in our hobbies that cost us without any returns?). You do see the trend here, right?
Kidzania is a good place. It offers a lot to kids in terms of living in a normal world. And its a brilliant concept to teach kids the value of money and working hard (because everything in the bloody department store will cost your kids an arm and a leg’s worth of working). But that’s about it. The problem that I see with their utopian world is that it suggests that life is about working and spending your money. It has little to show kids how to be creative and to make their own dreams. It shows them a dream, a dream of a normal “working” world. And I’m afraid that it becomes subliminal to the point where all the establishments in Kidzania are recognizable real world establishments that we go to or work at.
On another note, entry is expensive. Especially if your kids want you to be with them inside Kidzania. As a caveat, only kids 8 years old and above are allowed without guardians/parents/slaves in tow. But of course, every parent and a half seems to want in on the action. For crying out loud, the point of make believe in Kidzania is to foster citizenship and independence among kids, so please stop being mother hens. Let them queue, let them hang out, let them do what the heck they want. It’s a kid’s place, let them be kids. There are enough adults supervising and managing the entire city to keep things in order so they don’t need “volunteer” parents bossing their kids about.
So should you bring your kids to Kidzania? Yes, of course. It is a great experience. Once may not be enough, in which case, get the Pazzport to get more out of your visit. Else, spend all the Kidzos before you leave the city (remember, its only worth something within Kidzania).