WANNADO City started out as an amusement park for young children in the early 2000s.
The park officially opened in 2005 and closed in 2011 after just six years.
What was Wannado City?
Wannado City was a children-only amusement park located at Sawgrass Mills Mall Sunrise, Florida, in the greater Fort Lauderdale area.
The park’s main focus was treating children like adults by providing 250 booths with jobs that allowed them to choose a career, including participating in an archaeological dig, staring in a Broadway play, or playing the part police officers or firefighters.
The intent was to teach kids to make “big decisions” and “learn independence, patience, and the value of choice,” according to Wannado City’s website.
Wannado City encouraged children to adopt an adult-like mentality by taking them to a mini-city to “play grown-up and live their dreams in a realistically designed city.”
Parents were encouraged to participate in the experience by encouraging their children to make their own decisions and to get involved, by allowing a child journalist to interview them, or by agreeing to a child advocate to take them to court.
Upon entering the city, the children received a check for wongas, an official currency of Wonnado City.
The “kidizen” could then decide for themselves how to use the currency, either opening their own bank account or spending the money at a facility.
Once the money ran out, the kids had to choose a new career to earn more.
How did Wannado City get branded companies into their park?
Wannado City garnered sponsors from day one, including State Farm, which was a new and unknown bank at the time.
The bank was tempted to sponsor the park because it offered a marketing opportunity.
Wannado City used sponsors like State Farm to create an experience that feels real, and when the amusement park turned to the bank, they jumped at the opportunity.
“How great to have a 3- or 4-year-old with his first bank account and debit card from State Farm,” Bobby Wilkinson, State Farm’s sponsorship manager at the time, told the Washington Post in 2005.
“We can introduce this brand to children early on and make parents aware that we are a State Farm Bank.
“And if we can introduce this brand to these kids early on, that increases the potential that they could be lifelong customers.”
Likewise, Spirit Airlines stepped up their marketing campaign when approached by Wannado City.
Lynne Koreman, Spirit’s senior director of marketing and communications, told the outlet their goal is for “all kids to think good things about Spirit.”
She continued, “When they’re sitting around at home planning the family vacation, we hope everyone will be like, ‘We’re flying Spirit, right?'”
Wannado City ended up with 60 different venues with 250 jobs for the “kids” to consider.
Why was Wannado City closed?
A sense of nostalgia for the Wannado City amusement park has resurfaced ten years after its permanent closure.
The company announced in December 2010 that it would close on January 12, 2011 due to financial reasons.
At the time, the company said in a statement: “Over the years [we] has undergone many operational changes and corporate reorganizations, trying to achieve a business that at least breaks even”, referring to its financial situation.
“Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in the matter.”
The closure resulted in the loss of 314 employees, all of whom received “severance pay and transitional assistance,” the company said.
Sawgrass Mills vice president Luanne Lenberg told CBS News that the new space vacated by Wannado City would allow the mall to attract new retailers.
“These are new stores — new stores and big brands that would love to be on Sawgrass, and unfortunately we couldn’t accommodate them,” she said.
Wannado City eventually moved the closing date from Jan. 12 to Jan. 2, but the company didn’t give a reason.
The company’s statement thanked those who visited Wannado City, saying, “We appreciate their patronage and loyalty and understand their concerns.
“However, our closure is an unforeseen event, so we invite them to use their pass as often as possible during these two months as we move into our grand finals.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5732357/what-was-wannado-city/ What was Wannado City? | The US sun