The Zoo Skate Park offers kids a fun and safe environment to hang out where they can feel part of the furniture. Time Out Kids caught up with Mari De Villiers from The Zoo Skate Park to find out more.
In a not so inconspicuous location in Al Quoz, a new type of skate park has risen from amongst the warehouses and superstores. And not just a skate park, or a place where kids can skate, scooter and rollerblade, The Zoo aims to offer something more for little nippers. The skate park is the brain child of Mari De Villiers and her husband Carl, and it’s their vision to create a safe place with a community inspired atmosphere where kids can hang out, play and feel comfortable in an edgy and cool environment. They want the kids to feel part of the building and part of a history they can create together, the opposite of a stuffy, hands off environment that can often be the result of corporate marketing machines.
The skate park opened in April and as well as being the largest indoor skate facility in Dubai, it has already become a popular place for kids to learn to skate, or for more experienced kids to just free wheel as they please within the safe confines of a secure, courteous and respectful environment. And those are the values that Mari and Carl are intent on building the business on. The community aspect is very important to them; building a place where kids can feel a sense of belonging. Mari went on to explain that they plan to introduce community open evenings that will focus on topics relevant to the lives of kids and teens and offer a place where kids can come and skate and hang out and chat afterwards if they wish, or skate and watch movies and so on. Events are also part of the plans for the skate park with demos, famous athletes, meet and greets, competitions, skate bus tours to other skate facilities in the region and much more.
The skate park itself is housed inside a warehouse - the skate ramps have been expertly designed and fitted by USA professional skate ramp builders and the entire facility is Municipality certified and licensed as well as having fully comprehensive insurance to safeguard all park users, big and small. Additionally, the skate park manager is also a nurse and staff and instructors are all first aid trained.
Everyone under the age of 18 must have parental permission to join in – a waiver must be signed by a parent only once, and is then kept on file to be referred to for next time. Kids can either bring their own equipment to the skate park or rental boards and helmets are available for rent at Dhs35. Helmets are mandatory unless a parent has signed a waiver. Scooters, skateboards and rollerblades can all be used at The Zoo, though BMXes are not permitted as the pedals cause damage to the ramps.
Beginners can start on the half pipe which was designed especially with them in mind, and as kids learn and gain confidence, they can progress through the varying features of the ramps including the vert for the more experienced - then box and rail features for tricks and jumps. More experienced kids on the wheels of their choice can jump straight in and go wild for Dhs30 per hour, Dhs50 for two hours, or Dhs75 for an all-day pass. Lessons are also available from experienced skate instructors – group lessons are charged at Dhs135 per hour for groups of three to eight people and private lessons are Dhs195 per hour for one person.
Rates are also available for small groups, siblings or friends.
The Zoo Skatepark is open seven days a week from 1pm-8pm on weekdays and 10am-10pm on weekends. Lessons are currently available to be scheduled in the mornings on weekends. Better get your skates on!
The Zoo Skatepark, Warehouse 1, Al Manara Street, Al Quoz, www.facebook.com/thezooskatepark (04 338 6126).