Connecting the three theme parks, Lapita Hotel and a waterpark, Riverland Dubai is where you need to start your Dubai Parks And Resorts adventure. You have to pass through here to get to any of the theme parks, and best of all, it’s free of charge. Stop off to refuel before hopping into the roller coasters at LEGOLAND, taking your front row seats at the region’s first home-grown Bollywood musical, or even getting a photo taken with Princess Fiona and Shrek at motiongate Dubai’s DreamWorks.
India Gate Before you set foot into the world of Bollywood, there’s a collection of food and beverage outlets at the entrance to Bollywood Parks. India Gate might not have the physical similarities to the structure with the same name that stands proud in New Delhi, but this is a foodie delight, with restaurants including Maharaja, Bol Gappa, Wok Chi and Barbecue Delights. This part of Riverland Dubai has been designed to mimic 1930s India with its vibrant colours and flavours. And to help relax your theme park-weary feet (this is going to be a legitimate concern in the coming months; you heard it here first), this section has an express reflexology centre. Feet First offers de-stress massages, and deep-tissue reflexology to revive your tired feet.
The Boardwalk Relive the heady days of 1950s America at The Boardwalk, which neighbours motiongate Dubai. Reminiscent of the Sunset Boulevard and East of Eden era, this zone is home to a range of casual diner-style eateries. Expect the likes of Tortilla, Shake Shack and Ella’s Creamery glittering along The Boardwalk. British celebrity chef Tom Aikens is also due to open his second casual dining restaurant, Tom’s Kitchen Deli, in this part of the theme park. If your sugar levels are low after all the adrenaline-fuelled rides, head to Fuzziwigs Candy Factory, which stocks more than 500 varieties of sweets, vintage treats and fudge. Just remember to comb your hair back and pop that collar à la James Dean when strutting along this nostalgia-filled pavement.
The French Village Postpone your plans to visit the south of France, as you can find it in the form of a quaint village at Riverland Dubai. From the cobbled streets and buildings with exposed bricks to the bougainvillea creepers along the structures, every little detail has been thought out extensively at The French Village, making it the most handsome section of Riverland Dubai. The “town square” has a working water wheel, making it a great spot to give those selfie sticks a workout. Traditional French music acts as the soundtrack for this part of the park, to keep you entertained while you visit The Bagel Bar Coffee House, Le Pain Quotidien, Leopold’s of London and Pascal Tepper. Aside from the medieval Mediterranean-style outdoor dining scene, The French Village also houses a Dubai Duty Free shop, Boots Pharmacy, I Love Dubai and Gallery One.
The Peninsula Taking a leaf out of the architecture books of the early 19th century, is the island in the middle of Riverland Dubai known as The Peninsula. This spot meanders around the river, with plenty of al fresco drinking and dining options. Being the only licensed spot at Dubai Parks And Resorts, The Peninsula is where you’ll find The Irish Village, Katsuya by Starck, Parle, Big Chefs and Ecco Pizza & Pasta. This area also has an open space similar to an amphitheatre for outdoor concerts and festivals. Over the summer months, a large indoor multipurpose venue will host parties, meetings and weddings.
The river The kilometre-long, six-metre-deep river that runs through the middle of Dubai Parks And Resorts is arguably the main attraction of Riverland Dubai. As it meanders through the park, it offers access to all the food, beverage, retail and entertainment outlets. Expect soon-to-launch boat rides to take you on the river, with views of the French Riviera-style architecture, Las Vegas-inspired strip, and the Island Plaza. The river also features floral gardens, two pedestrian bridges and entertainment along its banks. Stop by here for the street jugglers, abra rides or to feed the fish. Each park entrance is marked with a significant park icon: LEGOLAND has a fort made of, well, LEGO; Bollywood Parks has a metal sculpture of dancing hands, and motiongate Dubai has a camera reel; all of which can be seen from the abras. Free. Open Sun-Wed 10am-11pm; Thu-Sat 10am-midnight.Riverland