Want to make the most of your day at the new Bollywood Parks Dubai but not sure how? The new park, which is off Sheikh Zayed Road near Legoland Dubai has five zones packed with attractions – Bollywood Boulevard, Rustic Ravine, Royal Plaza, Mumbai Chowk and Bollywood Film Studios – plus restaurants and food carts. The choice can appear overwhelming. We have a handy guide to help you get maximum enjoyment out of your day, Bolly-style.
1 Shoot ’n’ smile
Start with an attraction based on the biggest film in Indian cinema – Sholay. The 1975 “western” starred Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra as escaped convicts Jai and Veeru, who agree to help a former policeman, Thakur (Sanjeev Kumar), deal with deadly bandits led by the cunning Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan). The high-energy 3-D escapade inspired by the film is located in Rustic Ravine and involves firing a laser gun at the baddies to score points. However, animated sequences featuring Thakur-Gabbar memes might have you doubled over in laughter, making any shooting impossible.
2 Thirst quencher
Slake your thirst with a glass of fresh ganna (sugar cane) juice from one of the carts in Rustic Ravine. The stalls are piled high with sugar cane, and the staff, clad in jewel-toned kurtas, feed each stick through a noisy, grinding press to slowly fill up each cup. The drink is usually made with ginger and lemon in India, but the straight-up version is equally refreshing. A cup costs Dh10.
3 High fliers
Hrithik Roshan is the heartthrob star of the Krrish ride, which is based on his superhero drama of the same name. The exhilarating 3-D extravaganza, in Bollywood Boulevard, features the title character helping you to dodge explosions and villains as he guides you to safety. Tip: pick a seat in the row farthest from the screen if you really want to “fly high”. Next door is Ra.One, a 4-D extravaganza inspired by the Shah Rukh Khan film with which it shares a name, but it pales in comparison to Krrish.
4 Meet the ‘stars’
Get up close and personal with Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan – well, their lookalikes at least, who headline regular dance routines staged throughout the day at various locations. The three doppelgangers, who have the actors’ mannerisms and signature moves down pat, find themselves mobbed by excited fans wanting selfies after each performance.
5 Dance until you drop
Sign up for Show Me Your Jalwa, a workshop led by trained artists who will teach you how to dance, Bollywood-style, to a medley of recent chart-toppers. It is an outrageous half-hour of crazy moves that will probably have you out of breath within minutes – but it’s a lot of fun, especially if you have friends with whom to laugh as you try to match the steps. Classes are held every 90 minutes or so and are free (check programme for timings).
6 All aboard to refuel
Tuck into Mumbai-style street food at this quaint railway-themed restaurant. You order at the station and then eat inside a “train” – a series of realistic-looking carriages fitted with booths. The overhead racks are piled high with all manner of luggage and tiered lunchboxes. Here is our pick of three delectable dishes to try: pav bhaji (Dh19), chole bhature (Dh20) and samosa chaat (Dh18). The roof of the station doubles as a stage.
7 Roller-coaster ride
Head back to Rustic Ravine for Lagaan, a thrilling 4-D jaunt inspired by the film of the same name, which starred Aamir Khan in the lead role. The introduction is rather long, but the heart-stopping virtual “roller-coaster” ride more than makes up for it. Your 3-D glasses will get splashed with rain, and cool winds will whip the hair around your face as you scream your way up and down high cliffs and round loop-the-loops.
8 Become a Bollywood star
Based on the road-trip drama Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (You Only Live Once), which was filmed mostly in Spain, this attraction draws some of the biggest crowds, perhaps because some lucky members of the audience are picked to star in sequences shot against green screens. It is especially fun to watch the recreation of a couple of iconic scenes from ZNMD: skydiving in Seville and running with the bulls in Pamplona.
9 Last stop
End your night at the Rock On!! nightclub, a watering hole conveniently located near the exit. Themed around the musical blockbuster starring Farhan Akhtar, the club features a live band called Magik, named after the group in the movie, and memorabilia from the film also lines the walls.
10 On the way out
Souvenir shops at theme parks are usually full of overpriced merchandise, but this mug featuring a serious-looking Chulbul Pandey, the over-the-top character played by Salman Khan in his action superhit Dabangg, is hard to resist. The best part? The gun-shaped handle. It costs Dh69.
Bollywood Parks is open from 2pm until midnight on Thursday and Friday and 2pm to 10pm Saturday to Wednesday. A one-day ticket costs Dh285 for adults (ages 12 and over) and Dh245 for children ages 3 to 12. Parking costs Dh50 and visitors get bus transfers to the park. Email [email protected], call 04 820 000 or visit www.bollywoodparksdubai.com
* Christine Iyer