Stepping into the play/work world of KidZania Manila
Jennifer Ong (The Philippine Star) - August 10, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - It only made sense to be asked to step away from a bank counter when you are not the one with something to transact. After all, banks take customer privacy (and security) very seriously. And that commitment does not stop even when they are dealing with their youngest customers, like my son who is not even five. In KidZania Manila, kids are the main customers. This is a world run for kids, by kids. So yes, the BPI branch inside KidZania will not honor transaction from me. After all, I am not aged four to 14. And I do not earn KidZos (KidZania currency).

I got the opportunity to learn a bit more about KidZania a few months ago. But nothing I had read prepared me for the expanse of KidZania Manila. It is not a play place. More accurately, it is an 8,000- square-meter play world complete with a functioning economy, a currency (KidZos), and job vacancies that children can readily fill upon entry. This goes beyond pretend play as you and I once imagined it. KidZania envisioned a place where children could find work, try working, and even receive basic skills training. I would say, that’s a lot more than any of us could have access to as a child.

The next time you head over to Bonifacio Global City, you may want to take your children to the newly opened KiZania Manila. It’s a three-storey building located in the newly opened Park Triangle.

The moment you enter, you will feel like you’ve just stepped into an airport (you are traveling to a different world after all). Here, the Cebu Pacific check-in process is pretty straightforward, but since the destination is KidZania, the airline has made the experience a little extra special. While you do get issued a boarding pass, you and your child also get issued electronic bracelets. And just to be sure you will be able to figure out your way around, you are also given a map. Meanwhile, your child also receives a BPI bank check worth 50 KidZos (KidZania’s currency). Let’s call this a little starting-out-in-the-world allowance.

Soon as we were checked in, my son Enzo was anxious to get playtime started and I was anxious to see if he was going to like the place. This place is absolutely unlike any play spaces I have ever taken him to. Instead of a playground, you get an entire pretend play space with its very own play economy. Inside, your child has access to 40 real-life brands that can give him real-life work or (close to) real-life training.  Once inside, your child can choose to be just about anything he wants for five solid hours.

Initially, my son wanted to learn how to drive. After all, he could get a driving lesson and then, possibly earn a license with A1 Driving. The problem though was he was not tall enough to reach the pedals yet so instead, he decided to try working in a Shell fuel station where he took a shift servicing cars for 20 minutes while sporting the Shell employee cap. After a job well done, Enzo earned his first 10 KidZos.

After that, he was interested to go ahead and try another job. So we went upstairs and found the ABS-CBN Studio where the studio staff was hard at work preparing for a broadcast. Make no mistake, the cameras in this studio are all real. In fact, there is even a green screen in case your child wants to report on the weather just like an actual weatherman.

In the meantime, Enzo was interested in learning how to work the camera so he decided to become a camera operator. Wearing a headset which the technical director used to communicate with him, he worked on focusing a subject as well as panning the camera (a critical skill when taping any show).









Afterwards, Enzo was looking to get his hands dirty so we were off to a small organic farm where he got to learn how to plant. Empowering kids through knowledge is actually one of KidZania’s strengths. Aside from farming, kids can also take on other lessons such as making chicken nuggets the way Purefoods likes it. On the other hand, kids can’t get enough of the flight training that Cebu Pacific readily provides onsite.

Some people may think that pretend play is just like any other kind of play. But studies have shown that it is actually more than that. In fact, a study done by Doris Bergen for Miami University back in 2002 entitled “The Role of Pretend Play in Children’s Cognitive Development” revealed that “there is a growing body of evidence supporting the many connections between cognitive competence and high-quality pretend play.”

Moreover, Bergen wrote, “If children lack opportunities to experience such play, their long-term capacities related to metacognition, problem solving, and social cognition, as well as to academic areas such as literacy, mathematics, and science, may be diminished. These complex and multidimensional skills involving many areas of the brain are most likely to thrive in an atmosphere rich in high-quality pretend play.”

Enrich your child’s knowledge with a few hours of pretend play. KidZania Manila is open every day of the week and offers two shifts (9 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.) for kids each day. This unique play world had its soft opening  last Aug. 7 while parents could already check out the place’s online ticketing starting Aug. 3.

Ticket prices for both parents and children vary. Children aged four to 14 can come and pretend play in KidZania Manila from Mondays to Thursdays for a ticket price of P750.  The price goes up to P1,000 from Fridays to Sundays.

As for adults (anyone aged 15 and above) and toddlers (aged 1 to 3), the price for entry from Mondays to Thursdays is P420 while Fridays to Sundays, it’s P550. Infants can come in for free. For more information, visit

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