| Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Activities

Best kids' indoor play areas

Let’s explore a not-so-hidden world of fun. Forget the great outdoors, we prove that the kids can have just as much fun indoors across the UAE, well out of the summer sun’s reach

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© ITP Images

A blazing hot summer day outside in the UAE, if you can make it that is, is a good lesson on the importance of indoor entertainment options – and the A/C of course. The summer holidays are almost here, and that extra energy kids pack isn’t going anywhere, so we’re bringing you 23 venues from across the UAE that will keep them happy and learning –no brain drain allowed this summer.

DUBAI
Caboodle

A happy haircut or good party? The tagline “pamper and play” tells you much of what you need to know about this edutainment centre. It has a lower-key, more sensitive approach to bedlam than more chaotic play places. You will still find energetic toddlers dashing around, bouncing off walls and diving into ball pools, but there is more going on here. There are even salon services, meaning kids can get haircuts and manis and pedis, which is a good option for siblings as one child can go and play while the other gets groomed. Classes such as Mini Monkeys and Baby Monkey use Caboodle as a base, or you can simply drop in for free play in a zone where parents and carers are expected to stay nearby.
From Dhs790 (membership for first child). Open Sun-Thu 10am-11pm; Fri-Sat 10am-midnight. Caboodle, Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, www.caboodle.ae (04 325 3367).

Cheeky Monkeys

The cheekiest monkeys can head to this indoor play area for different activities where fun prevails. There’s the interactive soft play, blocks stations, some organised activities and more. The environment is safe and stimulating, designed for kids aged eight and under to play and explore. Each Cheeky Monkeys location features a giant 3,000 square foot play structure for children over the age of four, a smaller play area for toddlers under the age of four, a building blocks zone, and a life-size play house. All areas have soft indoor play park equipment with extensive padding and no sharp edges. There are also free daily fun activities including puppet shows, story time, dance classes, baby yoga, fairy tale ballet, drama, and literacy and language classes.
Dhs52.5 (first hour), Dhs84 (two hours), Dhs105 (three hours). Various locations including Barsha 2, Barsha Mall, Ground Floor (04 385 0875).

CreaKids Play Zone
If you’re looking for a fully-equipped mall play area, CreaKids has to be it. Their Baby Zone designed for kids aged eight months up to four years old is filled with toys and activities. The Play Zone, designed for kids aged eight months to ten years old, features arts & crafts and more: Trampoline? Check. Multistorey climbing apparatus with slides and padded mazes to explore? Check. Role play houses to stomp around and make believe in? Check. Named after the great explorer himself, Ibn Battuta Mall is inspiring enough for young minds as it is, so this easy play area in the Egypt Court is a good option for younger children in need of a mid-shop stop-off.
From Dhs30 (Baby Zone), from Dhs50 (Play Zone). Open daily 10am-10pm. CreaKids Play Zone, Ibn Battuta Mall, www.creakids.ae (04 361 9315).

Fairytales

Want to see a place where dreams do, in fact, come true? It’s not the largest play centre in Dubai, nor is this Town Centre Jumeirah spot the most boisterous and run-around exhausting. It might, however, be the most whimsical. A princess castle and a pirate ship are awaiting little imaginations to come and bring them to life. Compared to some of the larger centres, some of that imagination is going to come in handy as there are not as many activities present here. That said, for younger children the bedtime story charm will reward better imaginations and encourage actual engagement with the environment rather than simply running around and yelling, which is probably something you'll want for them this summer.
Dhs700 (one month membership, first child). Daily 10am-10pm. Fairytales, Town Centre Jumeirah, Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 1, www.fairytales.ae (04 344 5050).

Funky Monkeys Playland

Quite what the attraction is with children sliding into a ball pool, crawling through aerial assault courses or just banging their heads against padded crashmats for an hour or two we still don’t know. Despite years of research there really is no reasonable explanation. Yet they love it. There is a loose jungle theme at this Sheikh Zayed Road facility, lending it a slight outdoorsy feel. Working on the assumption that it is too hot to play outside and you may as well play inside, it is unsurprising that this is a popular summer spot for birthday parties. Oh, there's a laser arcade for older children, too. No, adults can't.
From Dhs40 (per child, 1-hour access). Open Sun-Thu, 9am-9pm; Fri-Sat, 9.30am-10pm. Funky Monkeys Playland, Al Wasl Centre, near Business Bay Metro station, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.funkymonkeysuae.com (04 388 4114).

Hub Zero

If you’re on the lookout for a more futuristic way to spend your time indoors, this one’s for you. Hub Zero is a park, an indoor gaming park, with a mix of rides, attractions and action zones. The park is quite immersive, with challenges and interactivity being the umbrella concepts at Hub Zero. With the largest LAN gaming zone in the UAE, in addition to karaoke and party rooms, a pool hall and a retro arcade, thrill-seekers will find themselves at this all-round indoor play experience designed for older and younger kids too.
Dhs165 (premium pass), Dhs99 (kids). Sat-Wed 2pm-10pm; Thu-Fri 2pm-midnight. Hub Zero, City Walk, Al Wasl Street (800 637227).

Kids Jungle
Another jungle-themed playcare facility in Dubai. Working on the assumption (a kid told us this was true) that you can never have enough of them, this iteration can be found out in Dubai Silicon Oasis. A joy for young families in that neighbourhood, it has themed slides, climbing toys, tunnels, a ball pool and soft play to explore. On top all of that there are activities and classes every day making it a good place to regularly meet other parents while the kids run wild. Hey, it’s a jungle after all so...
From Dhs47.25 (one hour). Open daily 9am-10pm. Kids Jungle, Cedre Shopping Centre, Dubai Silicon Oasis, www.kidsjungle.ae (04 333 7388).

Kidz Palooza

The joyous thing about having 4,500 square feet to play with is that you can cram a lot in. That means there are spacious zones such as a multi-tiered playground with all the crash mats and netting a sugar-rushed toddler could hope for. Designed for kids aged zero to twelve years old, at Kidz Palooza there is also a cartoon-style mock market, a toddler town for very young ones to bump about in, an art gallery, console arcade, Lego building room and a few surprises thrown in for good measure. Boy do we just love surprises, yes we do. An onsite salon and spa for little ones makes this place even more enticing. Time for some pampering for the little ones
too, mamas.
From Dhs50 (play package, first hour). Open Sat-Wed 9am-10pm; Thu and Fri 9am-midnight. Kidz Palooza, Times Square Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.kidzpalooza.ae (04 330 7101).

Little Explorers

Designed for kids aged three to seven, this edutainment centre’s activities are favourites among Dubai’s youngest. A sanctuary of indoor activities, children learn and explore in a colourful setting that’s fun, yet also challenging enough for them to develop their skills. Little Explorers has 97 different exhibits across five zones and also holds workshops for kids – all in line with school curricula.
From Dhs145. Open Sat-Wed 10am-10pm; Thu-Fri 10am-midnight. Various locations including Level 1, City Centre Mirdif, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road (04 231 6289).

Magic Planet
Need to entertain the offspring? Kid-friendly attraction Magic Planet is spread over two floors at Mall of the Emirates, and houses rides and activities for all ages. Famously, it’s home to the XD Theatre, which was the first 4D cinema in the UAE. There’s also a massive soft-play area for the little ones, and pool tables for the not-so-little ones (hello, Mum and Dad). Fancy some bowling? There are 12 ten-pin lanes for that, too, plus plenty of food outlets to refuel in, after some arcade games. Gravity, a trampolining area, is ideal for budding acrobats, plus there’s a merry-go-round, bumper cars and more. Phew.
From Dhs105. Open daily 10am-2am (until Jul 1); Sun-Wed 10am-10pm; Thu-Fri 10am-midnight (thereafter). Magic Planet, Mall of the Emirates (04 341 4444).

Mattel Play! Town

This Meraas destination has quickly become a favourite among families, especially ones with younger kids. An indoor play area, it’s an experience based on endless fun, incorporating educational elements – in addition to teaching kids social skills through five themed zones. Designed for kids aged two to ten years old, the play centre is based on popular TV characters that children know and love – including Barney, Thomas & Friends, Fireman Sam and Bob the Builder. Aside from being located in the popular entertainment destination City Walk, Mattel Play! Town also houses its very own healthy café, and a big toy store for some extra fun.
Dhs99 (per child), Dhs55 (per adult). Open, Sat-Wed 9am-8pm, Thu 9am-10pm, Fri 10am-10pm. City Walk, Al Wasl (04 317 3999).

OliOli

Dubbed the region’s first kids’ museum, OliOli embraces the concept of positive play, empowering kids’ imagination through an interactive showcase of delightful experiences, designed to stimulate a child’s body and mind. Made up of “galleries” including Future Park, Toshi’s Nets, Water, and Toddlers, each one is a space of its own, with different elements where kids can play and explore unbound, making their own stories along the way. The museum has also become a Dubai favourite for events involving kids because of its flexibility and ample grounds.
From Dhs120 per child, Dhs40 per adult. Open Sat-Wed 9am-7pm, Thu-Fri 9am-9pm. 4th Street, Al Quoz (behind Oasis Center), Dubai, www.olioli.ae (04 702 7300).

Playdates
Every neighbourhood should have an easily accessible and convenient soft play centre. One that encourages holistic development sounds even better. If Time Out UAE Kids was in charge that would be part of the manifesto. Playdates is already established as exactly that on the Palm Jumeirah. A baby zone for under-threes and another example of the now popular pretend city concept (this one having a small house, market and doctor’s clinic) are both here. Bigger, by which we mean more boisterous, children have a shiny indoor maze and gym to gambol around in. Sounds like we have more playdate ideas now. Perfect.
Dhs45 (kids aged six months to three years, one hour), Dhs55 (kids aged 4-6 years old, first hour). Open Sun-Thu 9.30am-10pm; Fri-Sat 9am-10pm. Building 5, Golden Mile 1, Palm Jumeirah, www.playdates.ae (800 75293).

The BEEhive

This play area’s coolest feature is that it was built to resemble a beehive structure. An edutainment space, activities at The BEEhive cater to kids aged one to 12 and are designed to provide an entertaining environment that promotes creativity, cognitive development and exploratory play. Their “hives” are themed to create a unique and experience, catering to all interests which enable kids to tap into their hidden talents and explore new ones.
Dhs45 (first hour, kids aged one to five), Dhs25 (per additional hour), Dhs65 (first hour, kids aged six to 12), Dhs30 (per additional hour). Blue Bay Tower, Al Abraj Street, Ground Level, Shop No. 8, Business Bay (04 431 0347).

The Green Planet
Want to visit a tropical forest, without a trip to the Amazon? You can discover all of the wonders of its flora and fauna at The Green Planet, a bio-dome in the middle of retail and dining complex City Walk. It’s an immersive expedition into the tropic, as you take a stroll through an enclosed ecosystem to meet 3,000 plants and animals – living inside the world’s largest indoor man-made and life-sustaining tree. It’s fun, but also educational, with plenty of programmes to introduce kids to the balance of Mother Nature and the beauty of one of our world’s oldest living ecosystems.
Dhs99 (adults), Dhs74 (kids aged 3-12). Sun-Wed 10am-7pm, Thu-Sat 10am-8pm. City Walk, Al Wasl (04 317 3999).

thejamjar

Hello, jammers! Founded in 2005, thejamjar is a community arts space that promotes artists and supports the development of UAE’s arts scene through its extensive arts programme, educational initiatives and community projects. The studio and project space offer the region’s first Public DIY Painting Studio alongside a year-round exhibition and events calendar presenting a diverse range of art forms, including visual art, film, performance and music. thejamjar's Young Artist Programme is a comprehensive art programme for kids aged 8-14, where they're encouraged to use varied techniques to express themselves through art.
Dhs115.5 (DIY session), Dhs1,600 (YAP). Sat-Thu 10am-7pm, Fri 2pm-8pm, Sun closed. Unit H74, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz 1 (04 341 7303).

ABU DHABI
Action Zone
This is one of Abu Dhabi’s most fun-filled play centres, with plenty of zones hosting different activities to suit different tastes. Kids aged three to nine can spend the time of their lives at any of the zones, including Kidzone, which houses ball pools, obstacle courses and climbing areas, while tots will enjoy the Little Stars zone, fully equipped with a motion sand table, dress up area, reading corner, VR colouring games, and more. There’s also a trampoline zone for kids aged three and up, and a VR zone for older kids with the latest in gaming.
From Dhs50 per child. Sun-Wed, 9am-11pm, Thu-Sat, open 24 hours. Various locations. Mohammed Bin Zayed City, Mussaffah (02 419 9000).

BOUNCE

Imagine a massive warehouse filled with more than 80 interconnected trampolines, allowing you to literally fly through the air and bounce off the walls – there’s no better buzz. This Marina Mall venue is 30 percent bigger than the original up the coast, and features two dodgeball courts and a performance area double the size of Dubai’s. There’s also a 40m slide, one amazing “super tramp”, a 5.5m infinity wall, two never-seen-before slacklines, a big bag area that contains a whopping 110 cubic metres of air and five party rooms for birthdays or private events. Needless to say, it’s an energetic funfest like no other.
From Dhs75 (kids aged three and above, 1st session). Sun-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu-Fri 10am-midnight, Sat 10am-10pm. Ground Floor, Marina Mall (04 321 1400).

Fabyland

The name says it all – well sort of. With an array of amusement rides, attractions, and games, any child will tell you that they love spending time at this indoor attraction. Spread across 75,000 sq ft, the entertainment centre has 15 major rides, a MyTown area for kids to play and learn, more than 100 game machines, and a 30x30 trampoline, making it one of the largest family entertainment centres in UAE for children aged three and up.
From Dhs125 (entry game card). Sun-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu-Fri 10am-midnight, Sat 10am-11pm. Deerfields Mall (02 666 9772).

Ferrari World

If hair-raising rides and fast cars are your thing, head to Ferrari World on Yas Island, which is mostly housed inside a striking red dome, with rides, cafés and, of course, Ferraris. As well as learning more about these supercars, you’ll also find the world’s fastest roller coaster, the Formula Rossa. Modelled on a real Ferrari F1 car, put on your goggles and get ready to reach a speed of 240kph in just 4.9 seconds. Meanwhile, Flying Aces has the highest roller coaster loop on the planet. The brand-new Turbo Track is open now, too, which has zero gravity falls. There are karting and simulator rides, too.
Free entry and pay per ride (throughout Ramadan; from Dhs275 (thereafter). Open daily 11am-8pm. Yas Island (02 496 8000).

Fun City
A play area for kids aged 1-12 years old, Fun City is known to provide hours and hours of fun for energy-filled kids in a safe, happy environment. The Play Zone consists of a soft play structure with a variety of colourful and attractive elements to engage children. It’s a safe and clean environment for each and every one of them to engage in constructive play, developing their physical, social, mental and emotional skills. Attractions for older kids are also available.
From Dhs150 (per card, credit-based). Open Sun-Wed 10am-10pm, Thur-Fri 10am-11pm. Level three, Abu Dhabi Mall. Other locations, Dalma Mall, Marina Mall and City Mall Madinat Zayed (02 644 2588).

Funworks
Imagine a kids’ area where it’s all giggles and wondrous adventures. There are two floors full of attractions in the capital that you’ve just got to visit. At Funworks, a smaller version of Fun City, you can find adventure rides, a giant soft play area, learning workshops, toddler playgrounds and much more. There are kid-friendly dining options, and a quiet parents’ lounge for mum and dad. Their motto is “powered by play”, and that’s exactly what they have on offer, with a Mini Works area for younger kids too. Kids if all ages can have fun at Funworks.
From Dhs150 (per card, credit-based). Open daily 10am-10pm. Yas Mall (02 565 1242).

Little World Discovery Center
A concept based heavily on education meets fun, this centre is all about experiential, play-based activities for kids. Playing, creating, designing, building and role-playing, kids aged zero to three come in with a caregiver, kids aged four and above are checked in for some supervised fun. When it comes to intellectual, emotional and physical development, this discovery centre is like no other. It's time to discover a whole new world and learn a few things too.
Dhs99.75 (kids aged two and above, per hour), Dhs63 (kids below two, per hour). Nation Galleria, Corniche next to the St. Regis Hotel (02 681 8824).


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