We spent Day 3 of the boys' half-term holiday at KidZania, this insane place where children can pretend to be cooks, cops, barbers, surgeons, airline pilots, firefighters, manga artists, pizza chefs, photographers, even Coca-Cola bottlers. Grownups, mercifully, are not admitted into the various work/role-playing areas, which are all incredibly well-staffed. The moms did help the kids navigate the place a little, and did a fair amount of nudging when they seemed indecisive or otherwise at loose ends, but mainly we sat around talking and drinking coffee and occasionally taking pictures. The place is headache-inducing, with the cacophonous acoustics and dim lighting (as in most casinos, it's always dusk in Kidzania-land) but the boys absolutely loved it, and I can think of worse ways to occupy them for a day (like Tokyo Disney, with its endless lines - ugh).
Interestingly, KidZania started in Mexico City in 1999; the Tokyo franchise opened in 2006. There are KidZanias in Jakarta, Lisbon, Dubai and Seoul, and supposedly there will be KidZanias in the U.S. come 2013. Not sure if they all operate the same way, but the KidZania here is all about waiting in line, undergoing a thorough briefing of rules and procedures, donning uniforms (surgical caps are required under any headgear), etc. There's a lot of preparation before there's any action. And yet the kids don't seem to mind. In six hours, they managed to complete seven jobs.
Conor's dance card, nearly full:
Dylan, the cop
Conor, the cook
Conor, the barber