KidZania makes London debut with global flagship, with two more UK locations planned

by Tom Anstey | 25 Jun 2015

Edutainment provider KidZania has launched what the company's founder and president, Xavier López Ancona, says is the company's global flagship inside London’s high-end Westfield Shopping Centre.

Targeted at children aged 4-14, the £30m (US$47.2m, €42.1m) KidZania London is offering a one-of-a-kind experience to the UK, with the recreation of a pint-sized city for children to experience real-world jobs in the ultimate role-play activity.

Designed to educate and empower children, KidZania offers role-play sessions across more than 60 different professions, crafted to ensure they learn essential life skills including financial literacy, teamwork and independence.

The 75,000sq ft (6,700sq m) mini-city starts with a trip to the airport – 'Heathrow Terminal Five', with up to 1,700 visitors entering for each four-hour session through 'immigration'. From there they enter the city, where they find the streets lined with over 60 establishments, including a Hospital, Police Station, Fire Station, Airline and Theatre, with each offering exciting activities in a safe environment.

“I’m very happy Kidzania has been embraced by different cultures all over the world,” said López Ancona, speaking to CLAD. "We started in Mexico 16 years ago. Seven years later we opened our second facility in Monterrey and the same year we started the franchise scheme in Japan. Today Kidzania is all over the world. Now London is our global flagship.”

Entrepreneur Joel Cadbury is behind the investment for the project. Cadbury, who owns the franchise rights for the UK for KidZania, was a key part of the brand making its way to Britain, according to Ancona.

“When we were looking for a franchise partner for the UK, there had to be chemistry,” said Ancona. “Second, we wanted a business partner that does good for the community. We’re committed to making money but also to being very educational. We want a partner that shares these values. We also look for partners from the hospitality industry because they have great customer experience. With Joel it was check, check, check. As such, he is a great partner for us.”

“Everything appeals about this brand,” Cadbury told CLAD. “The fact that it’s in 15 countries, five continents and has 41 million visitors around the world appeals to us. The fact that we’ve seen it in most places around the world and it’s changing the world appeals to us.

“I think it’s more relevant here possibly than almost any other place in the world because of the educational content of it. Very simply, children can only aspire to what they know exists and that’s what KidZania is doing. It’s opening kids' eyes to the real world.”

Cadbury and Ancona also revealed to CLAD that there are plans to first open a second KidZania facility in east London, before expanding to the north of the UK, possibly to Manchester or to a location between Manchester and Birmingham.

KidZania London expects to get 1 million visitors a year at the Westfield location, which would make it one of the most-visited KidZanias in the world.

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Edutainment provider KidZania has launched what the company's founder and president, Xavier López Ancona, says is the company's global flagship inside London’s high-end Westfield Shopping Centre. Targeted at children aged 4-14, the £30m (US$47.2m, €42.1m) KidZania London is offering a one-of-a-kind experience to the UK, with the recreation of a pint-sized city for children to experience real-world jobs in the ultimate role-play activity. Designed to educate and empower children, KidZania
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Dentists in training at the launch of KidZania London
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