What was Wannado City? | The Sun

WANNADO City started out as an amusement park geared to young kids in the early 2000s.

The park closed officially opened in 2005 and closed after only six years in 2011.

What was Wannado City?

Wannado City was an amusement park exclusively for children at the Sawgrass Mills Mall Sunrise, Florida located in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area.

The park's primary focus was to treat children like adults by providing 250 stalls of workstations that allowed them to choose a career including going on an archaeological dig, starring in a Broadway play, or taking on the role of a policeman or firefighter.

The intent was to teach kids how to make "important decisions" and "learn independence, patience, and the value of making choices," according to the Wannado City website.

Wannado City encouraged kids to take on an adult-like mentality by placing them in a mini-city to “play grown-up and live out their dreams within a realistically designed city."


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Parents were encouraged to take part in the experience by encouraging their children to make their own decisions and be involved by allowing a kid journalist to interview them or agree to have a kid lawyer take them to court.

Upon entering the city, kids were given a check for Wongas, a Wonnado City official currency.

The "kidizens" would then be able to decide for themselves how to use the currency by either setting up their own bank account or spending the money at an establishment.

Once the money ran out, kids would have to select a new career to make more.

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How did Wannado City get brand name company's in their park?

Wannado City garnered sponsors from day one, including State Farm, which was then a new and unknown bank.

The bank was enticed to sponsor the park because of the marketing opportunity it provided.

Wannado City used sponsors, like State Farm, to create an experience that feels real and when the amusement park reached out to the bank, they jumped at the opportunity.

"How awesome to have a 3- or 4-year-old with their first bank account and debit card from State Farm," Bobby Wilkinson, then State Farm's manager of sponsorships, told The Washington Post in 2005.

"We can introduce that brand early to kids and bring some awareness to parents that we have a State Farm Bank.

"And if we can introduce this brand early to these kids, then the potential that these could be lifelong customers just increases."

Likewise, Spirit Airlines was boosting its marketing campaign when they were approached by Wannado City.

Lynne Koreman, who was Spirit's senior director of marketing and communications told the outlet that their goal is for "all the kids to think good things about Spirit."

She continued, "When they're sitting around home planning the family vacation, we hope everyone will be saying, 'We're flying Spirit, right?'"

Wannado City ultimately boasted 60 different venues with 250 jobs for the "kidizens" to consider.

Why did Wannado City close?

A sense of nostalgia for the Wannado City amusement park has resurfaced ten years after it closed its doors for good.

The company announced in December 2010 that it would be closing on January 12, 2011, citing financial reasons.

At the time, the company said in a statement, "Throughout the years, [we] went through many operational changes and company restructures, trying to achieve a business that would at least break even," referring to its financial status.

"Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in the matter."

The closure resulted in 314 employees losing their jobs, all of whom received "severance benefits and transition help," the company said.

Sawgrass Mills Vice President Luanne Lenberg told CBS News the new space that was vacated by Wannado City would allow the mall to bring in new retailers.

"These are new stores — new stores and major brands that would like to be at Sawgrass and unfortunately we have not been able to accommodate," she said.

Wannado City ultimately moved up its closure date from January 12 to January 2, but the company did not provide a reason.

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The company's statement thanked those who had visited Wannado City, saying, "We appreciate their patronage and loyalty and understand their concern.

"However our closing is an unforeseen event, therefore we are inviting them to use their pass as much as possible during these two months as we enter our grand finale."

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