Officially launched on Wednesday August 31, this 1.5 million square-foot, indoor, temperature-controlled theme park (the world’s largest) is set to change the face of the tourism industry in Dubai.
Here's our handy guide to what you can expect.
THE BOULEVARD Past the ticketing section, the gates and the dominant IMG signage, you are transported onto what feels like a Hollywood film set. Above, the soundproof ceiling arches 41 metres above you, and extends over 200,000 square feet in front, while under your feet, you stomp through a miniature town with a downtown city-walk feel. Two main thoroughfares – one leading to Cartoon Network zone and the other taking you to Marvel – have a network of alleyways, shops, food outlets and more - the whole of IMG Worlds Of Adventure has 25 retail stores and 28 original food and beverage outlets - and on every corner live entertainment and interactive experiences will be plentiful.
The Haunted Hotel Starting in a “plummeting elevator”, the Haunted Hotel is an over-15s-only attraction. And the age limit is with good reason. The majority is bump-in-the-night kind of stuff, executed by wonderfully made-up and masked characters from everyone’s darkest nightmares. But the most genuinely unsettling part – complete with stomach-churning stench – comes in the human abattoir. Mannequins wrapped in blood-splattered plastic hang on a moving pulley, while body parts are hacked up in ferocious fashion by a bellowing butcher. On his operating table, corpses squirm and shake with an unedifying degree of realism.
CARTOON NETWORK ZONE The family-friendly 230,000-square foot Cartoon Network zone features all the kids’ favourite characters from the likes of Ben 10, LazyTown, The Powerpuff Girls, Adventure Time and The Amazing World of Gumball. Throughout the park there are only height restrictions, as opposed to age (apart from the aforementioned Haunted House). In Cartoon Network zone, all guests need to be is 1.5 metres tall to go on the surprisingly scary Powerpuff Girls – Mojo’s Robot Rampage. On this ride, all the girls are there and ready to take those brave enough on a dizzying ride that goes upwards and downwards, all while spinning and holding you upside down. All ages will love The Adventures of Gumball, a “dark ride”, which starts off with a video introduction in which you learn you need to save Gumball and Darwin from the “baddies” aka little creatures that are lit up and stuck to the wall, or holograms that pop out of the projector screens at you – shoot them with your laser gun and see who in the family can get the highest score.
The Shows: LazyTown and Ben 10 If you like cheery musicals, energetic and enthusiastic dancing, and colourful costumes, the family-friendly LazyTown show in the Cartoon Network zone is for you. It features dancers from across the world, flown in especially to put on live stage performances of the popular kids’ TV show with Stephanie and the entire Dance School. Around the corner, still in LazyTown, there is a soft play area and a challenging rope and ladder adventure. The world’s first Ben 10 5D cinema, made exclusively for IMG, is also here, which can host up to 1,200 visitors an hour with an exclusive ten-minute 3D movie. Oh, and the world’s largest Ben 10 retail store, too.
LOST VALLEY - DINOSAUR ADVENTURE ZONE Perhaps the most impressive area of the theme park, this zone, spanning a total of 700,000 square feet, is the largest and has been developed uniquely for IMG Worlds of Adventure. It also happens to be home to around 69 animatronic dinosaurs, both herbivores and carnivores, which sit in the surrounding foliage poking their heads (and teeth) out, moving around. These were created by a Japanese company, Kokoro, as a joint venture with the Natural History Museum. Aside from the roller coasters, there’s also a kid-friendly Dino Carousel, The Forbidden Territory, a deep jungle safari ride, and an adventure playground with ladders, tunnels, slides and more.
Velociraptor Okay, let’s start with the facts: 100kph in 2.5 seconds. But that isn’t the most terrifying aspect of this spectacular roller coaster. It begins at a pedestrian pace, past a giant screen showing dinosaurs locked in battle. Ahead, a shutter blocks the track. And then the ride lifts off, through the now retracted shutter and out into the big wide world, and gravity-defying inversions, corkscrews and turns. It’s utterly exhilarating.
Predator The dominant indoor ride at Lost Valley might not have the stand-out stats of the Velociraptor, but it doesn’t lack the punch of its super-speed sibling. Contained to two rows of four, it features a 35-metre “beyond the vertical” drop and several sharp turns that feel dangerously close to opposing parts of the tracks. Body-shocking stuff, and all visible from every corner of the zone.
MARVEL ZONE Everything from the names of the restaurants to the pantone colours (there are a lot of grey, red, white and blue) used in the décor, resembles Marvel comics and its most famous characters. Buildings like the Avengers Tower line the winding streets, and this is where you’ll find Thor’s Thunderspin, a dizzying top-spin ride with two banks of seats and two revolving arms spinning you around and around, as well as the Avengers: Battle of Ultron ride, a 3D multimedia experience and the first “dark” ride for Avengers in the world. This zone is also home to the world’s heaviest ride; Hulk Epsilon Base 3D is a 150-ton, 360-degree cinema that pivots independently at ten revolutions per minute and can host up to 100 people. Twelve IMAX screens are synchronised simultaneously and project everything in 3D. It's also a prototype, meaning there’s nothing else like this anywhere else in the world.
Doc Ock’s Revenge A terrifically unique experience, featuring four spinning carts set on one narrowly swerving, Spider-Man-themed track (the wicked web slinger chasing arch enemy Dr Octopus), the ride is housed largely behind the facia of Peter Parker’s newspaper The Daily Bugle, and leaves you feeling like you’ve been clinging on to the end of an erratic tentacle for dear life.
THE FOOD Overall, there are 28 food and beverage outlets dotted about the park. To name a few, we’ll start in The Boulevard, which is home to Flavours of Arabia, serving a selection of regional favourites, plus Waffles on Wheels, Popcorn Factory and the Samosa House. In the Cartoon Network zone you’ll find Finn & Jake’s Everything Burrito, which serves, unsurprisingly, popular Tex-Mex cuisine, plus Mr Smoothy, which is laid out to be an exact replica of Ben 10’s hang-out. Over at The Lost Valley – Dinosaur Adventure zone there’s Indian spot Spice Valley, the Churro and Pretzel Cart and Carnivore Hut (geddit?). And in the Marvel zone, you’ll find Mama Scano’s Italian, Downtown Shawarma and the currently reservation-only Tony’s Skydeck, a fine-dining spot serving steak and seafood.
IMG Worlds of Adventure