Mills Corp. is taking its shoppertainment concept one step further with the introduction of a new amusement park tenant at its Sawgrass Mills property in Sunrise, Fla., near Fort Lauderdale. Called Wannado City, the 140,000-square-foot interactive concept will open this summer as the mall's newest anchor and will offer children aged 4 to 11 the chance to act out their dreams of becoming police officers, singers, airplane pilots or reporters under the guidance of coaches who will teach them basic skills and games. The park resembles a movie backlot with 60 themed areas, including a hospital, an airport including a salvaged Swedish DC-9 jet, a TV station, a circus tent and a theater. Children must work for currency called “wongas”, which they pay to adopt baby dolls from the hospital, attend the circus, or make a stop at the beauty salon.
Parents can watch their kids fight fires or perform surgery, or they can shop the mall. A security system assigns bracelets that can be tracked on the park's computer terminal map to parents and children as they enter.
Inspired by a similar park called “City of Children” that opened in 1999 in Mexico City, the $40 million venture will charge $22.95 for admission and feature a gift shop, private party rooms and restaurants.
Wannado City will open a second location at Mills' Meadowlands' Xanadu mall in New Jersey in 2005, and the concept's owner, Fort Lauderdale-based Wannado Entertainment, is searching for sites for 10 more Wannado Cities in major U.S. markets, particularly on the West Coast.