A rendering of the planned American Dream Meadowlands complex in East Rutherford — Courtesy: Triple Five
By Joshua Burd
An education-themed entertainment center is slated to occupy 80,000 square feet within the planned American Dream complex in East Rutherford, the operator said Monday.
Known as KidZania USA, the company describes itself as the world’s fastest-growing experiential learning center facility, with 24 locations in 19 different countries. The New Jersey is projected to open in 2019, in what the operator said will be a “mini-city” where children ages 4 to 14 are empowered to role play more than 100 real-life professions.
Those roles include everything from a board member and baker to doctor and truck driver, according to a news release. KidZania describes the offering as “an experiential learning space.”
Each facility receives around 500,000 visitors a year.
“We are thrilled to provide a new learning experience to families and educators throughout the New York metro-area,” Keith Rubenstein, acting CEO of KidZania USA, said in a prepared statement. “KidZania at American Dream will be a fascinating space for children to develop leadership, teamwork and financial literacy skills that will last a lifetime.”
KidZania is the latest tenant and entertainment operator to commit to the massive retail and entertainment project at the Meadowlands Sports Complex, which is being developed by Triple Five. The company took over the stalled project in late 2010 from its previous owners, but has since faced its own delays at what was formerly known as Xanadu.
Published reports say the developer has yet to sell roughly $1.5 billion in bonds needed to resume construction, despite announcing plans to do so last year.
KidZania was founded in 1999 by Mexican entrepreneur Xavier Lopez Ancona, the news release said. The concept is based on the premise “that children want to learn by participating in the real world,” the company said, pointing to research that shows that “providing children with access to real-life activities that both entertain and inform” will better prepare them to build life skills and stay focused in the classroom.
Every KidZania “mini-city” is tailored to the city in which it is located, complete with buildings, paved streets, vehicles and a self-contained economy fueled by a currency called “kidZos,” the news release said. In each location, real companies sponsor KidZania landmarks and businesses to help make the experience as authentic as possible.
KidZania’s current industry partners include British Airways, Coca Cola, Mitsubishi Motors, Honda, Johnson & Johnson, Sony, Kellogg’s, H&M and Fuji Film. The company has existing locations in cities such as Mexico City, London, Tokyo.