August 14 2007

Forget your traditional definition of an amusement park, Wannado City leaves behind the cotton candy, the solicitors of large stuffed animals, the mindless entertainment and trash. Instead the “city”� has redefined child entertainment with aspirational activities, all of which are framed around the question: “What do you wanna do when you grow up?”�

Wannado City was crafted from the vision of Mexican-born Luis Javier Laresgoiti, who had a eureka moment while watching his daughter “play executive” on his business phone. Laresgoiti, with the backing of several major corporations has crafted a dream world where children are encouraged to take on an adult profession and see where it takes them. The park is located in Sawgrass Mills Mall in Southern Florida.

Each venue has its own concentration, such as the Motorola-sponsored M-Lab that focuses on innovation and invention. The M-Lab turns each visitor is given a white lab coat and transformed into an “M-Ventor.”� The children are encouraged to work together on a technology-based game to solve a difficult problem. Once they’ve solved the situation at hand, they’re greeted with a congratulatory “Mission Accomplished”� banner.

M-Lab however, goes far above and beyond the standard protocol for children’s playthings. The space was designed in collaboration with Motorola and Gensler, a self-proclaimed “global design, planning and strategic consulting firm.” The M-Lab lures passer-bys with its façade — clad in stark aluminum and panelite — which contrasts with the surrounding “quaint village” motif. Inside there are seven chambers, each meticulously designed depending on the room’s task at hand. The end result is a realistic series of rooms that embrace each child’s fantasy of becoming the next influential innovator. By L. Harper

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