"We haven't signed an agreement yet, but we will sign on soon," said Wannado Executive Director Eduardo Morones.
Wannado is an indoor quasi-amusement park that allows children to pretend to be firefighters, police, and other professions, while they earn play money toward prizes. They can ride on mini-fire engines or pretend to arrest another visitor while acting as a policeman.
"If a child wishes to learn about being a nurse, we have him pretend to do the things nurses do," Morones said. "And they do it under the guidance of [adult] helpers."
Xanadu's 60,000-square-foot Wannado City will be among dozens of games and attractions specifically designed for kids and located in the development's youth district, one of five districts the complex will feature.
Earlier this year, it was announced that Xanadu will also include a 44,000-square-foot Legoland in the children's district.
Wannado City targets youngsters ages 3 through 13, and charges an admission fee to participate. Morones, who developed the Wannado concept back in 2004 and operates a "Wannado City" in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., said the Xanadu attraction will only be the second Wannado in the U.S. A third Wannado City is currently being planned for Bejing, China and is scheduled to open sometime next year.
Although Morones said the fee structure for Wannado Xanadu has not yet been set, in Florida visitors pay $30 admission for children and $15 for adults. The attraction there is part of the Sawgrass Mills Mall.
Xanadu to open summer 2009
The $2 billion entertainment/retail development being built next to the Meadowlands Sports Complex off Route 3 was originally scheduled to open this month but has seen its debut pushed back to August, 2009.
Last winter, it appeared the soft economy was having an impact on developer Colony Capital's ability to attract tenants. A report released last January revealed that Colony Capital had lease agreements for only one-third of the Xanadu's rentable space.
The complex will have a total of 4.8 million square feet, with 2.3 million square feet available for lease.
A Xanadu spokesman said they expect to have 90 percent of Xanadu's rentable space leased by the end of this year.
Last week James Kirkos, chief executive officer of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce, said, "Everything is still on track for an August 2009 opening. I don't foresee any additional delays."
An ambitious concept, Xanadu will be a cross between a traditional high-end shopping mall, an entertainment Mecca, and an indoor sports wonderland.
Retailers will be carefully distributed throughout Xanadu's five theme-oriented "shopping districts" dedicated to fashion, home furnishings entertainment, sports, and family entertainment/youth.
The sports district will feature a few first-of-its-kind attractions, including the first indoor ski slope in the U.S. - 780 feet high - and two wind tunnels for "skydiving."
Xanadu will also feature an aquarium and the "Pepsi Globe," a 287-foot-tall Ferris wheel that will give riders a view of the Manhattan skyline and Hudson River. Each 25-minute ride can accommodate up to 520 visitors at a time in glass-encased cars.
The project will create approximately 20,000 part-time and full-time jobs and another 20,000 jobs during Xanadu's construction phase, according to the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority web site.
Xanadu was originally going to be financed by the Maryland-based Mills Corp. After it was apparent that Mills would be unable to finance the facility as it was planned, Colony Capital took over in August 2006, committing up to $500 million of equity. Colony also arranged for construction loan financing to fund the rest of Xanadu's construction costs.
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