What did you want to be when you grew up? This is one of the eternal questions children all over the world are asked. At the Kidlandia complex in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv kids can try out a range of career options in a magical miniature world designed to offer entertaining and educational insights into future professions.
Located inside the Blockbuster retail and entertainment center, Kidlandia first opened its doors to the public in March 2014. The 4,700 square meter theme park features an intricately detailed child-sized replica of a modern town, complete with road signs, street names, lampposts and 45 different establishments including everything from a bank and a supermarket to fitness club, beauty salon, medical clinic and police station.
This miniature urban environment allows children to try out over one hundred different professions, with professional guides offering insights and allowing kids to engage in educational role-playing while dressing up in the appropriate work uniforms. In order to help youngsters learn the value of money, transactions take place using a special Kidlandia currency modelled on the Ukrainian hyrvnia. To maintain as much authenticity as possible, other Kidlandia documents also mirror their grown-up Ukrainian equivalents. Kidlandia staff are specially coached, receiving regular internal training updates as well as support from the theme park’s professional partners. Guidance also comes from child psychologists, who help to make sure every activity is both interesting and useful, with an emphasis on developing teamwork, decision-making abilities, independence, creativity, and leadership skills.
Investing in the future
The theme park has averaged over 250,000 visitors annually during the first two years of operations, with numbers continuing to grow. Given the background of national political instability, economic hardship and military conflict that has accompanied Kidlandia’s arrival on the Kyiv scene, this is a particularly noteworthy achievement. Kidlandia General Manager Elena Rusanova confirms that the theme park’s popularity has been relatively unaffected by the challenging economic climate in the country. She attributes this success to Kidlandia’s ability to present parents with the option of fun activities coupled with an investment in their child’s future. “Despite the difficult economic environment and the ongoing crisis, the Ukrainian family entertainment segment has remained quite robust,” she explains. “While many people have been forced to consider cutting down on everyday expenses, they tend to avoid saving when it comes to their children. Instead, people still want to invest in educational and leisure activities for their kids.” Rusanova claims this durability has been good for the Blockbuster center as a whole, attracting families who then also go on to become customers of other businesses within the complex.
Based on the success of the Kyiv Kidlandia theme park, Rusanova sees potential for the expansion of the brand and the possible development of national and international franchise networks. “Our experience in Kyiv has demonstrated how Kidlandia can serve as a powerful anchor for shopping and entertainment centers. This has brought it to the attention of Ukrainian and international commercial real estate developers. We are always happy to share our experience and welcome negotiations on possible Kidlandia franchises with Ukrainian and international companies,” she comments.
Corporate partners add to authenticity
The theme park has already attracted a range of corporate partners, with many of the stores and shops in the Kidlandia theme park carrying the logos and brands of their real-life Ukrainian counterparts. This is all part of the Kidlandia philosophy of making this miniature world as close to the real thing as possible. As Rusanova explains, Ukrainian and international companies increasingly recognize that it is also good for business. Current partners include companies like the ‘Silpo’ supermarket chain, ‘Yagotinskoye Dlya Ditey’ dairy produce company, ‘Oberig’ medical center, ‘Shell’ petrol station, ‘Nova Poshta’ courier service, ‘Ukrbud’ construction company, and many more. “Kidlandia serves as a unique platform for what is a new and highly effective form of brand promotion. It allows companies to reach a large number of potential future consumers, acquainting them with the brand and its key values. We are constantly working to involve new partners in order to build a realistic and sufficiently diverse urban infrastructure. Companies also often approach us independently, seeking to participate in the Kidlandia theme park experience,” says Rusanova. “It is good to see brands thinking globally and recognizing that Kidlandia is not just a way to promote their brand to today’s target audiences, but also a platform to communicate with younger audiences and educate their potential future clientele.”
The management of Kidlandia are optimistic about expansion of the franchise in the coming years, and expect to develop further corporate partnerships as their miniature city keeps pace with the development of the Ukrainian capital itself. Rusanova says she remains focused on the core objective of the theme park – educating young Ukrainians. “We are making a contribution to the education of the next generation,” she offers. “It will be a generation of leaders, of open-minded and creative people.”
Kidlandia Theme Park
Blockbuster Entertainment Center
34V Moskovskiy Avenue, Kyiv, Ukraine