Back in the last century, kids often learned about the world of work with a makeshift table, a hand-lettered sign, and a cold pitcher of lemonade. Today, there’s Wannado City, an amusement/education park where youngsters can try their hand at more than 100 different occupations in about 60 venues. Located a few miles west of Fort Lauderdale, Wannado is drawing healthy crowds and raves for its attention to detail.

“We empower kids to create reality-based experiences,” says general manager Curtis Parks. “It’s entertainment first, but there’s a huge educational byproduct.”
Wannado is modeled after a real city, so there’s a broad gamut of jobs, ranging from supermarket clerk and pizza maker to broadcast anchor, film director, and archaeologist.
At one of Wannado’s most popular venues, the hospital, playing doctor means more than throwing on Dad’s old white shirt and taking Spot’s temperature. After a short training session, the junior docs scrub in for surgery. Working under bright lights, they operate on lifelike mannequins, cutting into “skin” that feels and looks authentic. A trained volunteer guides them through the process of removing a kidney stone.

Created by Luis Javier Laresgoiti, chief creative officer of Wannado Entertainment, a division of Mexico-based CIE Amusement Parks, there’s talk of eventually spreading the Wannado concept to Chicago, New York, and other cities. Kids may or may not “wannado” any of these jobs for a living, but Wannado City gives them a glimpse of the world that lies beyond high school.


IF YOU GO: Wannado City is open every day of the year. Admission: $30 for kids ages three to 14, $16 for anyone older than 14. Call (888) 926-6236 or go to www.wannadocity.com for directions, hours, group rates, and special events.