We went with our nieces to KidZania in Osaka. Kidzania’s an educational theme park that got its start in Mexico City and now has locations all around the world, including 2 in Japan. There are plans to build one in the US.
Kidzania’s a brilliant concept – its a secure child-sized replica of a city where children can role-play “jobs” in a corporate-sponsored office or factory. Jobs such as baker, surgeon, pilot, fireman, financial analyst, train conductor, radio personality, news anchor, etc. After each job, they get paid in Kidzania currency that they access by opening a bank account, make withdrawls using an atm, and use it to buy food and goods. They can also apply for a credit card. The kids are on their own including finding employment, waiting in line, and asking for information – the parents mainly observe (i.e. sleep) or they can go shop or dine (one parent must remain in the park), since the KidZania is the anchor for a shopping center.
Its always nighttime in Kidzania – part of the appeal since kids usually aren’t allowed to stay up that late and can play “grown-up”. Numerous security measure are in place, each child and parent are tracked with a bracelet.