Fans of Kidzania Singapore are feeling a wave of sadness, while some are worried about getting their refund, as the popular indoor theme park at Sentosa announced that it is closing its doors for good after four years.
On Facebook, Instagram and e-mail to its followers, the company said its theme park will not be reopening upon the lifting of Covid-19 circuit breaker measures and other social restrictions.
“We’ve had the pleasure of being here for four years. We’ve had the joy of entertaining and educating one million kids,” the company said last evening (June 16).
“We thank you for joining and helping us build a billion memories. ZanK-U and good-bye,” it said, using a term it often uses – a play on “thank you” and “Kidzania” – to express its appreciation.
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“We will get there…” so they sing 🎵 It pains us knowing that @kidzaniasingapore won’t be there when #covid19 social restrictions are lifted though. The indoor park has just announced that it will not be reopening 😢 Zank-U for the past four years of fun and memories, Team Kidzania SG ❤️ . #wewillmissyou #farewell #kidzaniasingapore #kidzania
Singapore enters the second phase of its reopening after the circuit breaker period on Friday, but tourist attractions, both indoor and outdoor, have still not been given the green light to reopen.
The Kidzania theme park gives children, aged three to 17, a taste of different careers such as firefighting, window washing, medicine, photography and journalism through role-playing in an interactive mini-city.
Entry to Kidzania Singapore costs from $25 to $62, depending on age. Besides tourists and families in Singapore, it is also popular with group visits from primary schools, childcare and student-care centres.
It advised customers with unused tickets and annual passes to e-mail: email@example.com
Kidzania Singapore was among a number of attractions that rolled out digital initiatives earlier this year in response to the circuit breaker period. The company launched a social media content series called #KidZaniaAtHome in April, when it celebrated its fourth year of operation.
But it said it has been a challenge for it “to achieve the returns needed over the years”, and this has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Aside from zero ticket revenue due to the temporary closure since early April, revenue has also been impacted as commercial partners have reduced their participation due to financial constraints and cost control efforts,” it added.
The closure will affect 103 of its employees, who will all “receive appropriate severance packages with salaries, medical and other benefits paid up till their last day of service”.
“It is the intent that the severance package, which stands on the higher end of the industry norm, will go some way to ease any difficulties for team members over the next few months,” it said.
The attraction added that it is “currently conducting workshops and working with several employment bodies to assist staff in finding new employment as quickly as possible”.
The Kidzania brand is an international franchise with 29 facilities in 22 countries worldwide according to its website, including locations such as Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Manila.
News that the popular theme park will not reopen has left many parents and children feeling downcast.
Mrs Zara Ong, housewife and mother of two sons aged seven and nine, said that she and her family were very upset to hear about the closure.
“Our trips to Kidzania were always so enjoyable and educational,” said Mrs Ong, 43, who takes her kids there three to four times a year. “My boys got to explore in a very safe, friendly and encouraging environment. We love that the children get to decide what they want to try out, get a feel of how it’s like to do the different jobs and learn the processes.”
Her older son Natanel, nine, said: “I don’t want Kidzania to close. I like it there as it is fun. This is the only place I get to be on my own to explore for the whole day.”
Mrs Nurul Diyana Norazmi, 27, an administrative executive who has a five-year-old son, said: “It’s really very sad that Kidzania has to close down after just four years of operation in Singapore.”
Asked about the closure of Kidzania Singapore, experts said the business outlook for such attractions is bleak. Given that restrictions on many entertainment venues have not been lifted, more such venues might be on the brink of closing down.
Dr Sharon Ng, 46, Associate Professor of Marketing at the Nanyang Business School at Nanyang Technological University, said: “Though there are some subsidies from the Government, the fixed cost for many of such entertainment venues is very high. Psychologically, many consumers will also be cautious about going to crowded places.
“Coupled with the lack of tourists which make up a significant portion of their target market, this will dramatically reduce their revenue.”
Dr Leonard Lee, 48, deputy head of research at the National University of Singapore’s business school, shared a more optimistic view, saying businesses must learn to adapt.
“These companies could transform these challenges into opportunities, take a hard look at their core competencies, and reorient themselves by offering other more outbreak-resilient services.”
“Companies that are agile and are able to be the first movers may not only survive the pandemic, but also thrive in the long run,” he added.
A version of this article first appeared in The Straits Times; additional reporting by Young Parents.
(Photo of building: Kidzania Singapore; other photos and video: Young Parents)