Dubai - The ultimate theme park destination

By Shereen Shabnam


Ten years ago working as PR & Business Development Director for theming consultants, MTE Studios, we struggled to explain to developers what theming meant and what immersive experience centres were. Often we would refer to our projects like the Mercato Mall where we did the scenic paintings or explain the reason behind Ibn Battuta Mall Courts and why were themed along a storyline.


Fast forward, today there are over 40 operational theme parks in the Middle East and more on the way or in planning stages. Experience centres and theme parks are firmly back on the agenda in the Middle East and nowadays when I walk into meetings with my Business Development card for themed architecture or start a dialogue on immersive experience centres, my potential clients already know what I am talking about.


In UAE alone, theme parks and experience centres are expected to generate billions of dollars worth of revenue especially as the Expo 2020 aims attract over 20 million tourists.


Majority of the theme parks are in Dubai given that we started talking about this genre ten years ago as the architects in our office frantically designed over 500 drawings for Dubailand under a year. 


Then we art directed what was then one of the biggest project models of a mixed use development to go on into the visitor centre of Dubailand and guests to the centre were overwhelmed by the themeing elements but visually what is in the models and what materialises are very different stories.


We now have multiple theme parks with YAS Water World and Wild Wadi being pioneers. IMG Worlds of Adventure is now open for an all-day adventure offering access to over 20 signature rides and attractions, including live shows and a 5D cinema experience.


Dubai Parks and Resorts, the region’s largest theme park destination will open its gates to the public end of October. This unique destination will be comprised of three theme parks - Bollywood Parks™ Dubai, MOTIONGATE™ Dubai, and LEGOLAND® Dubai, together with LEGOLAND® Water Park.  The destination will also include Riverland™ Dubai, a themed retail, dining, and entertainment experience, along with the Lapita™ Hotel, a Polynesian-themed family resort.



While UAE hosts most of the region’s theme park projects, Qatar and Abu Dhabi are also planning major theme parks to attract regional and International tourists with innovative theme parks and amusement centres that entice visitors attract revenue.


The UAE will however remain the ultimate theme park destination and we have a round up of what you can look out for when setting on an adventure that will thrill and evoke all your senses.


Bollywood Parks™ Dubai

Bollywood Parks™ Dubai, the first-ever Bollywood themed park in the world, brings a flavour of Bollywood and Indian culture through immersive rides, delicious food, stunning live performances and extravagant entertainment. It will feature cinematic rides and attractions for families and visitors of all ages to experience recreations of some of Bollywood’s biggest blockbusters such as Don, Lagaan, Sholay, Krrish and RA.One, through state-of-the-art 3D and 4D systems, as well as a stunning  stunt show, live performances and hot sets based on the Dabangg, Rock On!! and Zindagi Na Milegi Na Dobara.


Amazing cuisine will take centre stage at each of the Park’s six themed restaurants and no trip through Bollywood would be complete without the one-of-a-kind Bollywood performances.


At the heart of Bollywood Parks™ Dubai lies its crowning jewel, the magnificent Rajmahal Theatre, an 850-seat opulent theatre that will host a separately ticketed Broadway-styled Bollywood musical several times a week, the first of its kind in the region.



MOTIONGATE™ Dubai, the largest Hollywood-inspired theme park in the Middle East, unites three legendary film studios for the first time within one theme park – Sony Pictures Studios including the Smurfs, DreamWorks Animation and Lionsgate. Visitors will be given the chance to go beyond the screen and immerse themselves in the magic of Hollywood, ensuring fun for the whole family and creating memories to last a lifetime.


The fully-indoors DreamWorks Zone featuring 12 exciting rides and attractions including roller coasters, dark rides and interactive adventure areas, plus five live entertainment experiences.


LEGOLAND® Dubai and LEGOLAND® Water Park

LEGOLAND® Dubai is the ultimate world of year-round LEGO®-themed adventures for families with children aged 2-12. LEGOLAND will feature over 40 interactive rides, shows and attractions and 15,000 LEGO model structures made from over 60 million LEGO bricks.  It is designed to provide a full day’s interactive, theme park experience.


The water park will feature more than 20 water slides and attractions, each offering a different and fun-soaked experience. LEGOLAND Water Park will offer a full range of amenities, including dining and retail outlets, changing rooms, cabanas, guest services, first aid and prayer rooms.


Riverland™ Dubai

Riverland™ Dubai, a uniquely themed retail and dining destination at the heart of Dubai Parks and Resorts. This themed dining, retail and entertainment destination is open to everyone with or without a ticket to the adjoining parks. Riverland has four themed zones that offer a fascinating glimpse into some of the greatest eras of the past. With more than 50 shops and restaurants and a range of entertainment from street performances to festivals and concerts there is something for friends, families and couples to enjoy at Riverland.


Lapita™ Hotel

The Lapita™ Hotel is a Polynesian themed family hotel with 501-rooms and three villas and is part of the Marriott Autograph® Collection.  The hotel will bring an exciting, new and fresh approach to family vacations and is custom tailored to the needs of families, including adventure playgrounds, kids/teen and adult fun pools, child friendly and designed F&B outlets, family spas as well as spaces and facilities designed for adults to relax and enjoy.


Luna and Nova – Ambassadors of fun

Luna and Nova have been created as the official Dubai Parks and Resorts Ambassadors of Fun and will welcome guests to the destination. They will be an integral part of the company’s marketing and promotional campaigns over the coming months, and appear throughout the destination once open.


IMG Worlds of Adventure:

IMG Worlds of Adventure promises guests an immersive indoor theme park experience, bringing together the best international and local interactive entertainment and globally recognized characters and Super Heroes. At the park there are four unique worlds all under one roof, Cartoon Network and Marvel as well as the Ilyas & Mustafa Galadari Group’s original concept the Lost Valley-Dinosaur Adventure joined together by IMG Boulevard.


The park is fully indoors and comprises four zones including 25 original retail concept stores, 28 immersive F&B outlets, over 1,600 employees and 4,500 parking spaces. IMG Worlds of Adventure is the first of the IMG Group’s planned developments in the leisure and entertainment industry with future expansion projected both locally and internationally.


Theme Parks as well as the upcoming science centres and museums and amusement centers are set to change the landscape of UAE’s entertainment and edutainment arena.


Having a teen in the house obsessed with opera performances, it felt that Dubai Opera was the best thing to happen in our neighbourhood. But we are in for a bigger ride with the theme parks and attractions such as the Dubai Frame, Dubai Water Canal, Union Museum, Dubai Ferris Wheel and the museums in Abu Dhabi.


With the new openings in October next month, the country is well on the path to becoming a global player in theme park attractions and we, as theming specialists couldn’t be happier. 



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