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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Khazanah, Boustead in RM50m KidZania venture

A RM50 million educational theme park from Mexico, KidZania, will open by early 2012 at a new building in Mutiara Damansara in Selangor, just across from the Curve shopping mall.

The award-winning indoor park, which allows children to role-play adult occupations in a replica city with activities designed to mimic real-life and functioning economy, is popular in cities like Tokyo and Jakarta besides its home country.

"It is a commercial investment but it also hits the right note on all fronts. We are excited. This world-class facility will fill the current void of entertainment and education in our tourism sector," Khazanah Nasional Bhd managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar said at a press conference in Selangor yesterday.

Once completed, the park will create 400 jobs in the service industry, he added.

The project, an 80:20 joint venture between Khazanah and Boustead Holdings Bhd, is the second theme park investment for Khazanah after the RM750 million Legoland in Iskandar Malaysia.

KidZania Kuala Lumpur is expected to attract 500,000 visitors a year. Boustead, developer of Mutiara Damansara and owner of the Curve, will tear down a building currently occupied by McDonalds to build a seven-storey structure to house KidZania Kuala Lumpur. The theme park will take up about 60,000 sq ft on levels six and seven of the new building, which will be linked to the Curve via a sky bridge.

Xavier Lopez Ancona, founder and chief executive officer of KidZania S.A. de C.V., said Khazanah may recoup its investments in as soon as five years based on the hot response for its parks in Tokyo and Jakarta.

"The typical payback period for theme parks is around seven to nine years," said the Mexican entrepreneur who started the first KidZania in the Santa Fe Shopping Mall in Mexico City in 1999.

Entrance fees in Jakarta are priced around US$12-US$13 (RM42-RM46) for kids, while accompanying adults pay a lower price of about US$9 (RM32), Ancona said.

Other operating revenues also come from food and beverage sales and fees paid by marketing partners who want to put up their brands in the mock-up city.

KidZania also owns and operates another park in Monterrey, Mexico. It is building a third one in the country at Cuicuilco.

Outside Mexico, KidZania operates through franchise in Lisbon, Portugal; Jakarta, Indonesia and in the Japanese cities of Osaka and Tokyo. In Tokyo, tickets are sold out every day since its opening in 2006, with 955,000 visitors last year alone.

New KidZanias are coming up in Dubai, Seoul, Shanghai, Bangkok, Santiago (Chile), Mumbai and Istanbul.

By Business Times (by Chong Pooi Koon)

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