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Suzanne Barbezat

A City for Children

By June 12, 2012

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Mexico is a wonderful destination for families traveling with children. Children are accepted and even welcomed in almost every setting, and they offer a great way to get to know other families. Traveling to Mexico allows children to learn about a different culture, practice language skills and expand their horizons. Most Mexican destinations have activities and attractions that will appeal to families with young children, but one city that people don't usually consider for a family vacation is Mexico's capital, Mexico City. This is unfortunate because Mexico City in fact offers many fun and educational activities for children, including riding the Turibus, and visiting the Papalote children's museum and the zoo, both located in Chapultepec park. Another great outing for kids in Mexico City is KidZania La Ciudad de los Niņos.

Kidzania La Ciudad de los Niņos is a theme park that is like a miniature city that is run by children. Upon arrival parents purchase plane tickets for a flight to KidZania (admission to the park). Each child receives 50 kidzos, the currency of the city, to start off with, then they can look for a job at any of the pretend businesses within the city, from dental clinics and restaurants to fire stations and bottling plants. These pretend businesses are generally sponsored by real corporations, so corporate branding is ubiquitous (just like in the real world). The children pretend to be nurses, dentists, chefs, police officers, fire fighters, photographers, radio announcers, and countless other professions. They receive more "kidzos" for their work which they can spend by participating in other activities or on goods. KidZania activities are designed to help instill a sense of the workings of a city and give children a chance to try out real-world professions in a fun way.

Xavier Lopez Ancona, president and founder of KidZania, opened the first location in the Santa Fe district of Mexico City in 1999. The second location was opened in Monterrey, Mexico in 2006 and the same year the first international KidZania opened in Tokyo. There are now ten KidZania locations around the world, and the first U.S. location is scheduled to open in 2014, but in the mean time, a new Mexico City location is opening this month in Cuicuilco at Plaza Inbursa. This brand new KidZania Cuicuilco is the largest, most inventive KidZania children's theme park to date, and is more than three times bigger than any other KidZania facility in the world. It is a 150,000 square foot park complete with 90 life-like establishments, including a city hall, bank, restaurants, hospital, sport's stadium and more. The new property in Cuicuilco is also the first outdoor KidZania location. The outdoor setting accommodates an extensive driving course with a kid-sized fleet of eco-vehicles offering kids a very close to real-life driving experience, complete with driver training and a driver's license.

Ciudad de los Niņos
Kids play vet at KidZania Ciudad de los Niņos
Photo courtesy KidZania

KidZania is aimed at children from 4 to 14 years of age, and I can vouch for its entertainment value. We visited with my daughter several years ago and it was a highlight of her young life. We are most certainly due for another visit to take my son who has not yet been and to check out the new location. Activities and instructions are in Spanish, but non-Spanish speaking children will no doubt enjoy the activities and probably pick up some Spanish as they go along.

For more information about KidZania, visit their website: KidZania

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