Edwin Omura

Apr 25, 2014, 15:45 PM

At KidZania, kids dress up in costumes and tackle jobs ranging from flight attendants with American Airlines or veterinarians for Purina to cashiers at Walmart and drivers for DHL.

The goal of the international theme park, which has 15 locations around the globe from Santa Fe to Seoul, is to provide education and entertainment for children by creating indoor cities filled with businesses sponsored by national brands.

Edwin Omura joined KidZania in 2011. Based in Osaka, Japan, he serves as the Ambassador for the Asian region, overseeing the operations of six franchised facilities in Asia. In addition to making sure each franchisee adheres to the corporate model, Omura conducts operational assessments that help provide support and guidance to help the individual facilities succeed.

“As the ‘on the ground’ person in the region, I must have a good understanding of the culture and differences of each countries in which we operate,” he explains. “One of my big challenges is convincing some of our franchisees that some of the ideas from elsewhere can also work just as well in their country as well.”

In fact, Omura points to the cultural differences between facilities as one of the biggest rewards and biggest challenges of his role. He often serves as a mediator between the franchises and brand sponsors, ensuring that their expectations are aligned and their goals are achieved. It’s a juggling act – which is just fine with Omura.

Fifteen years ago, Omura started working as a stage performer at Universal Studios in California. It was a goal of entertaining people that led him to the amusement industry.

After performing in Hollywood for a year, Omura returned to Osaka and worked with Universal Studios Japan to introduce a live show at the park. Since then, he has tackled several different roles, including stage performer, show operations manager and entertainment coordinator.

Despite his extensive background in the amusement industry, Omura is the first to admit that he still has a lot to learn. In 2010, he earned an MBA from Temple University to enhance his leadership and business skills. The desire for continuing education was one of the reasons he joined IAAPA in 2008.

“I feel the biggest benefit to being a part of IAAPA is being able to take part in their education series” Omura says.

He calls the educational information presented at annual Expos and the training programs for attractions managers and executives, “well prepared and extremely informative.” 

The chance to meet other park operators from around the globe is also one of the perks of belonging to an international organization – and it’s one of the reasons he serves as a member of the Asian Membership Subcommittee. Connecting with other operators from the region to discuss trends and best practices in the industry has helped Omura become better equipped to perform his role at KidZania.

“My favorite thing about my job is that I get to work with many different people from many different cultures and backgrounds,” he says. “I also get to work with very smart and creative people every day and that is just a joy!”