Gregory P. Knoop, KidZania USA chief development officer, said the KidZania Dallas location in Frisco’s Stonebriar Centre has developed a plan to reopen safely once that approval comes.
“We would very much like to open and meet the needs of the community that we are an integral part of in a very safe environment,” Knoop said. “[When reopened] we will only be able to accommodate a fraction of the density we did previously.”
The Frisco facility closed on March 15 amid the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. KidZania USA then laid off its retail and corporate employees June 18 after being closed for three months.
Knoop said some of those employees have since been rehired, and the necessary staff is in place to reopen.
In addition to safety procedures and sanitation protocols, KidZania is likely to use infrared scanning technology to take people’s temperatures before they are allowed into the business, Knoop said. He also said he expects the business will do its scheduling online to closely monitor attendance.
The company has done surveys, Knoop said, and KidZania's management staff believes there are parents who are ready for the business to reopen.
“I think we are going to see groups of organized parents who are looking to get their kids out of the house in a very safe environment,” Knoop said. “[Attendance would be] not for the purposes of free play, but for the benefit of educational interaction and social interaction for their children in a very safe environment.”
KidZania’s 85,000-square-foot location at Stonebriar Centre features a scaled city that allows children up to age 14 to role-play different careers. Knoop said the organization has also been working on ways to expand its programming to dig deeper into the educational aspect behind the careers the business features.
“I would love to think that [local schools] will be visiting us quickly in terms of field trips, [but] I don't think that's a realistic assumption,” he said. “I think they've got to concentrate on what they'll have to do within the four walls of their own institutions and then how to work with remote learning.”
He said KidZania’s expanded programming aims to support that remote learning. He did not share specific details of KidZania’s educational plans with Community Impact Newspaper, but said the business does plans to present its expanded programming plan to local school districts.
KidZania is classified as “an interactive museum/library” by the state, Knoop said. And while libraries are allowed to operate, the management team at Kidzania is waiting for clearance to be able to do more of the hands-on activities, he said.
“We're waiting for more of the fun interactive part,” he said, noting the organization is in regular contact with the state, county, local health department and city officials.
For customers who pre-purchased tickets to the KidZania Dallas location at Stonebriar Centre, the company's website states they will be able to use them on a future date through Dec. 31.
KidZania opened its corporate office for all U.S. locations in Frisco in August 2019. The KidZania location at Stonebriar Centre opened in November 2019 as the first location in the U.S. The company started in 1999 in Mexico City and has 29 locations across the globe.