It’s been a big month in theme parks in the UAE, with the official opening of Dubai Parks & Resorts in Dubai Sunday, news that IMG Worlds of Adventure are opening yet another venue, Legends, and Miral announcing that SeaWorld is coming to Abu Dhabi. By the time the Expo comes to the UAE in the year 2020, almost every popular movie and animation brand you can think of will have a home in one of the theme parks currently under construction or newly opened. Here’s a scoop on where to go – when, where and why.
IMG Worlds of Adventure, City of Arabia, Dubai
This park, which stole the title as the world’s biggest indoor theme park from Ferrari World, has over 20 signature rides and attractions. In the Marvel-themed area, you get your stomach flipped in all directions on the ‘Thor Thunder Spin’ gondola, or roller-coast with Spiderman on the ‘Spider-Man Doc Ock’s Revenge’. In the Cartoon Network zone, kids can dance and sing along to the Lazy Town show, shoot lasers with Gumball, or fill up on a Ben 10 smoothie at Mr Smoothy. You can also enter what is (we hope) Dubai’s only haunted hotel (with spooky smells to boot), or take a selfie with an animatronic dinosaur.
The 12-screen Novo Cinema will open in 2017.
The park is owned by IMG Worlds, the entertainment arm of Ilyas and Mustafa Galadari Group.
• Adults Dh300 and children Dh250. www.imgworlds.com
IMG Worlds of Legends
Connected to the current IMG world of adventures by a sky bridge, this park, which is set to open in 2020, will be the home of attractions from six global brands – Nickelodeon, Mattel, Ubisoft, Pokemon, Saban Brands and Cartoon Network. Young visitors can steam ahead with Thomas the Tank Engine, build away with Bob the Builder and Megabloks, or go cowabunga with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Older visitors might prefer to fight evil with Assassin’s Creed, a ride based on the popular video game. For the first time in the UAE, anime fans get their own themed space too, which features attractions based on One Piece and Dragon Ball Z. Like one of the park’s branded characters, Dora the Explorer, you’ll need a map to get around, as the nine unique zones are spread over 2 milllion square feet. Like the other IMG Worlds-owned park next door, its indoors – but with a handy retractable roof over some areas, to let in some Dubai sunshine.
Dubai Parks and Resorts: Motiongate Park
This is the biggest of the DPR parks at a whopping 4 million square foot, and marks the first time that three of Hollywood’s most legendary studios (Dreamworks Animation, Sony Pictures Studios and Lionsgate) have been brought together in a theme park. Visitors can blast at ghosts in the world’s first Ghostbusters theme park attraction.. Kids can try to outsmart brainy Smurf in an animated interactive theatre show, watch a dance show inspired by the Step Up movies, or take a coffin-like carriage through a Hotel-Transylvania-themed Monsters Hotel. Even waiting for kids to finish their rides can be entertaining, if the ride is near one of the park’s 15 street performances and live entertainment shows. Of the park’s 27 attractions, 21 are completely indoors and five are roller coasters.
Tickets for Motiongate are sold for a preview price of Dh250 and Dh215 for kids and seniors until March 31 2017, as not all of the rides will be ready.
Dubai Parks and Resorts: Bollywood Parks
This 1.7 million square feet park is the first theme park in the world to be completely inspired by Bollywood movies. Its 16 rides and attractions are based on Indian movies from the last three decades, starring Bollywood bigshots such as Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, and Farhan Akhtar. In the 3D immersive tunnel ride Don: The Chase, you can try to catch Shah Rukh Khan in a high-speed car chase around the streets of Dubai. The park’s elaborate centrepiece is the Taj-Mahaj-inspired ‘Rajmahal’, an 850-seat theatre where you can catch a performance of the Bollywood musical Jaan-e-Jigar . It’s the grandest of seven stages dotted around the park, where up to 30 live Bollywood -themed musical shows are performed daily.
The nearby ‘Mumbai Chowk’ zone replicates the hustle and bustle of downtown Mumbai, recreating its bygone cinemas, buses, street markets and landmark station, Victoria Station, complete with a life-size train.
A one day pass is Dhs245 for children and seniors, Dhs285 for adults, or Dhs755 for an annual pass.
SeaWorld, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
The UAE will get the one thing it was lacking – a world class aqua-themed attraction– when SeaWorld opens in 2022. The park will, like its American counterparts, contain thrill-rides as well as ocean creatures to marvel at. SeaWorld will also focus on educating visitors about ocean conservation, with a research, animal rescue and rehabilitation centre, as well as a chance to partake in virtual scientific expeditions and deep-sea dives.
Dubai Parks and Resorts: Legoland Water Park (proposed)
The UAE isn’t short on water parks, but this is the only one where visitors get to construct their own vessel to slide on, using lego bricks. You can also build your own mini-lego boat to race, slide down with a friend on a double tube on the ‘Twist’N’Spin, or bob about on a Lego-themed wave pool. The park is made up of over 15 water slides, which are all geared towards families with children aged two to twelve years old.
The exact opening date has yet to be announced, but when it does open, prices will be Dh240 per adult and Dh205 for children and seniors.
Dubai Parks and Resorts: Legoland Dubai (open)
This park, which is aimed at families with kids aged 2-12, is the world’s seventh Legoland, but the first to open in this region. It features 40 interactive rides in six themed areas, and features 15,000 Lego models made from more than 60 million bricks. In the dome-shaped Miniworld, you can witness lifelike miniature Abras ferrying passengers about on Dubai Marina and a Lego version of the Burj Khalifa, complete the Dubai fountain light show.
Dh295 per adult and Dh250 for children and seniors.
Six Flags Theme Park, Dubai Parks and Resorts
This Dh2.6 billion park, which is currently on target to open in late 2019, will be operated by the US-based Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, which is the world’s largest regional theme park company. It will include at least three world record-breaking rides – one of which, according to the Wall Street Journal, will be the biggest roller coaster in the world. As well as five other roller coasters, the park will also boast four aerial attractions, a 340-metre long rapids ride and three performance spaces. The 27 rides will be spread across six themed zones: Thrillseeker Plaza, Magic Mountain, Fiesta Texas, Great Escape, Great Adventure, and Great America. Construction of the park started at the beginning of last month and is expected to complete in late 2019.
Clymb, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
Although we’re not sure if this ‘leisure destination’ counts as a theme park, its certainly bound to appeal to thrill seekers. Miral is building this development, which when it’s finished in 2018, will boast the world’s widest flight chamber for sky diving (9.75 metres), and the tallest indoor climbing wall (43 metres). Clymb will also include retailers, restaurants and a space to host parties.
Fox Studios, next to Dubai Outlet Mall
This 4 million square foot park will contain attractions based on 20th Century Fox’s favourite brands, such as the Simpsons, Ice Age, Night at the Museum, Planet of the Apes and Titanic. It’s believed to be currently scheduled to open in 2020. However, the project is rumoured to have been shelved, as no announcements have been made about the park since last year and the Al Ahli Holding Group who are behind the project were unavailable for comment.
Warner Bros, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
This US$1 billion indoor theme park, which is set to open in 2018 with 19 rides and attractions, is being developed by Miral Asset Management. Although no announcements have yet been made yet as to which brands will feature, the park’s website hints at a tie-in with DC Comics, and features pictures of Batman, Superman, and Captain Marvel, as well as Warner Bros cartoon favourites Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny and Scooby Doo.
Sega Republic, Dubai Mall
This is two-level indoor park was developed by Emaar Entertainment in association with Japanese games-maker Sega and opened in 2009, making it relatively old by Dubai standards. The 76,000 square foot park, features 16 high-octane rides and more than 170 games, from motion simulators and virtual experiences to skill and redemption games. You can experience a 9-metre drop with Sonic the Hedgehog, bomb down ‘Giant Slider’, the tallest slide in the Middle East, drift-race virtually in a life-sized car, or experience the rush of the rope as you tackle Sega’s new rope obstacle course.
Pay either per ride (max Dh30) or Dh300 for a platinum power pass allowing unlimited access.