Mumbai: KidZania, the international Mexican chain of indoor theme parks, built around the concept of role-playing, will soon expand its footprint to southern India.

Imagination Edutainment India Pvt. Ltd, the company which holds the KidZania franchise for India, will invest 100 crore to set up the theme park spread over 75,000 sq.ft in the south. The company is currently assessing the feasibility of setting it up in Bangalore or Chennai.

It is expected to make an announcement before the end of the year. The new outlet will open doors by the end of 2017, or early 2018, said a spokesperson for the company.

This will be the third outlet for the chain. KidZania already has a presence in Mumbai, which will turn three this month, and another in Noida, Delhi, which was launched in May.

Imagination Edutainment is a privately held company. While 74% of the company is owned by KidZ Inc., Comcraft Group, Xander Group and Maxfield Management Ltd, the remaining 26% is held by actor Shah Rukh Khan in his personal capacity.

While the key driver for the business are ticket sales to pint-sized customers aged 4-14 years, corporate sponsors—brands and services—also make up a chunk of the revenue generated by the park which immerses its visitors in simulated reality.

A scaled-down city for children, KidZania allows them to role-play in the “city for kids" where kids can spend KidZos, or local currency, on food and merchandise, but more importantly, earn by working at a scaled-down version of urban establishments, service industries and branded retailers, where they can sign up for their first job.

The number of brands that have come on board at KidZania has grown in the last three years. The Mumbai establishment, which was inaugurated in 2013, started with 19 brand partners. Today, it has 36. The Noida theme park opened this May with over 30 branded establishments. “That’s almost double of what we had when we opened doors in Mumbai," said Viraj Jit Singh, chief marketing officer of KidZania India.

The park in Mumbai will soon launch a stock exchange, the first for KidZania globally, where kids can work as fund managers and learn about the workings of the stock market, mutual funds, investments and savings. The soon-to-be-announced attraction will be supported by a financial services company.

Brands currently integrated at KidZania include Big Bazaar, Coca Cola, Godrej Securities, Nerolac paints and Health Spring hospital, among others. The park also has Maruti and Hyundai car showrooms. Children can also become a radio jockey for Radio City, a show host for Star TV or a chocolatier at the Cadbury factory at the park.

According to Viraj Jit Singh, brands add credibility to the experience. However, it can cost them approximately 45-55 lakh annually to set up a branded activity and this number could go up to 2.5 crore depending on the amount of space, type of activity, and consumer goods and machinery required for it.

The park offers brands an experiential marketing opportunity so as to help them cut through the clutter. “It’s a sustainable engagement, unlike a mall activation," said Singh, pointing out that parents were more open to letting their children near activities, where they were learning something. “Most parents, steer clear of mall activations," he said.

The 97,000 sq. ft Delhi establishment, which was set up in May at a cost of 92 crore, has already logged in 1.25 lakh visitors within 100 days of existence. At an investment of 84 crore, the 75,000 sq. ft Mumbai establishment, located at R-City Mall in the suburb of Ghatkopar, is expected to break even this year.

The theme park is now also looking to widen its consumer base by opening up its properties, after operational hours, for corporate, team-building workshops and dinner for employees. “The idea is to re-programme the experience for adults to participate in assets you already have established, to drive corporate visits in non-operational hours," said Singh.