Think holiday theme parks and Florida instantly springs to mind, but more adventurous thrill-seeking families are suddenly beating a path to Dubai where, as Lynsey Joy from Oasis Travel’s Lisburn Road branch recently discovered, the world’s largest indoor theme park is just one of the major draws.
Talk about hitting the ground running! Last time I visited Dubai it was all about relaxed sophistication: this time I was instantly swept up in adrenalin-rush rides and family amusements, starting the action at IMG Worlds of Adventure. (How glad was I that I arrived in relaxed and pampered mood, having travelled business-class with Emirates!)
Amongst its claims to fame (and it has many), IMG Worlds of Adventure is the largest temperature controlled indoor themed entertainment destination in the world, covering an area in excess of 1.5 million square feet. Two of the four ‘epic zones’ feature the global brands Cartoon Network and Marvel, while IMG Boulevard and The Lost Valley –Dinosaur Adventure are original concepts created by the IMG Group.
From the spinning Spiderman to the awesome Velociraptor signature ride, there are thrills a-plenty with stunning animatronics and mind-blowing special effects which seem to bring the TV heroes from Cartoon Network to life. Prepare to meet your Marvel Super Heroes and tremble at the Avengers Battle of Ultron where the 180 degree mega screen is pretty well guaranteed to blow your mind.
Height restrictions apply to most of the major attraction rides, so I feel the venue is best suited to kids over the age of 7, but the fact that everything is indoors makes it wonderfully family-friendly … appealing to anyone who has queued at Disney in baking heat! Fantastic food and retail offers make this a day-long destination.
Next day (although exhausted after all that unaccustomed excitement) it was onward and upward and off to Dubai Parks, a vast and very new complex of three theme parks; MOTIONGATE™ Dubai, Bollywood Parks™ Dubai and LEGOLAND Dubai, plus the LEGOLAND Water Park, all built in the middle of the desert.
The destination also features Riverland Dubai which links all the parks and serves as a retail and food zone. There are four vibrant districts: The Peninsula, India Gate, The Boardwalk and The French Village, all set in beautifully landscaped architectural ‘sets’ so my advice is to make time to enjoy this great area.
Dubai Parks showcases more than 100 incredible indoor and outdoor rides and attractions spread across its themed destinations so doing it all in a day is a bit of a challenge – if theme parks really are your thing, then you may consider tackling it in a couple of bite sized chunks.
MOTIONGATE™ Dubai brings three iconic film studios to life: Columbia Pictures, DreamWorks Animation and Lionsgate. Be mesmerised as big-screen and animated classics from Smurfs to Shrek, How to Train a Dragon to The Hunger Games, are reimagined as roller coasters, immersive attractions, thrilling rides and more. Channel your inner Ghostbuster, hop onto a flying ride to Madagascar or go behind-the-scenes of real-life movie sets at Studio Central.
LEGOLAND Dubai is the perfect experience for young families. Kids can let their imagination soar with 40 Lego-themed rides, shows, building experiences, 15,000 Lego models made from 60 million Lego bricks, six themed lands and a mix of indoor and outdoor attractions. If you have any energy left, LEGOLAND Water Park features 20 Lego-themed water slides and attractions including the wave pool, Duplo toddler play area and Build-A-Raft River, where you can customise your very own Lego raft. It’s all very obviously focused on young children, but adults may be surprised as just how captivating the concept is for young and old.
The magic of Bollywood is transported to Dubai at Bollywood Parks™, the world’s only Bollywood theme park. Packed with action, dance and romance, this is exotic fantasy come to life in a flurry of colour, music, dance, interactive rides, multimedia theatre shows and action-fuelled experiences … and, no, you don’t have to be a Bollywood fan to enjoy this fantastic escapist film experience.
Dubai is often thought of as a destination which appeals mostly to adults, but the destination has excellent appeal for active young holiday-makers and families, with parks such as the ones I visited, plus longstanding attractions such as Ferrari World, Ski Dubai and some world-class waterparks.
If theme parks are on your Dubai To Do list, then it’s well worth talking Oasis Travel about the value options available via Attraction World tickets. Choosing the right hotel is also important and, despite its high end reputation, there are great value options in Dubai.
Address Dubai Hotels & Resorts which, together with Emirates, hosted my visit has recently opened a 3* brand called Rove Hotels. It’s no frills but has a cool vibe: perfect for people wanting to travel to Dubai, but on a limited budget. The group has an excellent range of properties, and a well-deserved reputation for outstanding service.
I stayed at the city centre 5* Address Dubai Mall, in one of its apartment-style ‘residences’ which would be perfect for families as they sleep up to four, with kitchen facilities in the room. The hotel is attached to Dubai Mall so you can literally walk from the hotel straight into the mall for shopping and some very reasonably priced eating options. Since I was last in Dubai the metro has opened, and I took a quick trip from Dubai Mall across to the old town – a journey of around 7 minutes, costing £5; a great way to get around. The hotel has an amazing pool overlooking the iconic Burj Kalifa, and I loved its pool-level shisha bar and restaurant.
Downtown Dubai has a great buzz about it and, whatever your budget, makes a great base for a long weekend escape or a longer stay. Chat to me about creating a travel plan that lets you make the most of both your time and your budget!