Magazine article New Internationalist

Capitalism - the Theme Park

Magazine article New Internationalist

Capitalism - the Theme Park

Article excerpt

Most theme parks are built on fantasy. Disney's Magic Kingdom, for example, is a saccharine dreamscape presided over by a giant mouse. But the theme park I took my daughter to last week has nothing to do with fantasy. On the contrary it was a harsh lesson in the brutal realities of capitalism.

KidZania is an amusement park with 19 branches worldwide, each comprising of a small, indoor city where kids perform real life jobs in return for hard cash - or KidZos, a currency which, post-Brexit, is more stable than Sterling.

It claims to be an 'educational entertainment experience' with the motto 'Get ready for a better world'. But after my four hours in the bleak consumerist Lilliput, I left certain that far from being a 'better world' KidZania was just as stressful, confusing and awful as the real one.

The whole thing starts with a perfect reconstruction of a chaotic airport check-in desk on the first day of the school holidays. Everyone is then tagged like petty criminals before the kids are sent off into the big wide world of work. I had to question my daughter's life choices after she turned her nose up at a career as a pilot, rejected the chance to train as a surgeon and opted instead to put a shift in as a hotel chambermaid, for which she earned the princely sum of eight KidZos. A true proletarian.

The place is like something Adam Smith and Walt Disney might come up with if they had stayed up all night together drinking and doing good quality acid. They really don't sugar the pill of life at the mercy of the market very much at all. …

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