Grupo Mágico Inernacional, developers of La Ciundad de los Niños (Kid's City) that opened in Mexico City in 1999, will be opening the $40-million, 140,000-square-foot Wannado City children's attraction in Sawgrass Mills in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, this Summer. Aimed at 4 to 11-year-olds, Wannado City is a pint-size city where "kidizens" (the children) play grown-up and take on roles such as firefighters, pizza makers, newscaster and 250 other career possibilities. Children are issued "wongs," the pretend currency at Wannado City, and it is deposited into a pretend savings account. Children must decide how to spend their wongs. They earn paychecks with each career they choose. When they run out of wongs, they move on to another career to earn more.
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Wannado City is expected to have an admission price of $23 for children and $16 for adults, so it will function more like a theme park with limited annual repeat business from local residents. It is heavily targeting the tourist market.
We normally don't cover major theme park-size attractions in this eNewsletter, but we thought Wannado City is significant because it reflects the explosion in children's attractions that emphasize edutainment, which is learning in an entertaining way. Other venues that offer informal learning experiences to children include children's museums, children's discovery gardens in Botanic Gardens, children's edutainment centers and children's discovery farms. Research shows that college-educated parents prefer edutainment attractions over pure-entertainment venues, as edutainment offers parents the opportunity to show their children a fun time while the kids are also learning. Research also indicates that Gen-X mothers in their 20s and 30s, who make up two-thirds of all moms with infant and preschool children, want their children to play and learn at the same time. (for more, see Moms Seek Edutainment for their Children)
Wannado City was the perfect fit for Mills Corp's shoppertainment approach to its malls, including Sawgrass Mills. Malls are finding that the traditional department stores anchors are suffering a sharp drop-off in popularity and ability to drive mall traffic. Entertainment is fast becoming the new anchor for many malls. Mills Corp uses shoppertainment as the main anchors for their "Mills" malls instead of department stores. (for more on shoppertainment, see Shoppertainment Captures Market Share)