Monday, May 23, 2005

At Play in a Grown-Up World (Washington Post)

At Play in a Grown-Up World is a terrific story by Caroline E. Mayer about a new indoor theme park that lets kids try out different careers. "The size of 2 1/2 football fields, this $40 million indoor theme park near Fort Lauderdale provides 3- to 13-year-olds with what its developers say is a taste of the grown-up world. They get to "play" at more than 100 professions, from attorney to paleontologist, dentist to pizza maker, hairdresser to detective. For their hard work, they earn Wongas, which can be spent on cookies, rock climbing or carnival rides purchased from park employees, or manicures and hair styling done by other role-playing youngsters.

But what's real life without brand names or corporate marketing? As Wannado's chief creative officer, Luis Javier Laresgoiti, says, a city without corporate names "doesn't look like a real city."

So it's no surprise that the theme park aggressively courts brand-name firms as sponsors to give companies an opportunity to reach out to children and their parents in hopes of turning their Wannado enthusiasm into can-do spending."

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