The UAE has certainly been raising the stakes (and the fun levels) when it comes to theme park entertainment in recent years, building not only the world’s largest indoor theme park but also some of the best adventure-lands money can buy. And it’s not like the place wasn’t strong in that regard in the first place, now was it? New in town? Or just need a resident in need of a refresher? Here are the five most fun-packed places for a big old theme park day out in the country...
IMG WORLDS OF ADVENTURE
Halfway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai is, well, the world’s largest indoor theme park. The 1.5-million-square-foot IMG Worlds of Adventure opened in summer last year, and is fully temperature-controlled. It’s also home to some pretty epic rides and is certainly not just for kids (although there is a dedicated area for the really small sprogs, too). Even the seemingly innocuous Powerpuff Girls – Mojo’s Robot Rampage ride packs a punch. Highlights of the park include the high-speed Velociraptor roller coaster in the Lost Valley Dinosaur Adventure Zone, which reaches 100kph in 2.5 seconds. Also in this zone – which is home to 69 animatronic dinosaurs – is the gravity-defying Predator, featuring a 35-metre “beyond vertical” drop. Two more stomach-churners are the Spider-Man: Doc Ock’s Revenge and Thor, which are both high-intensity, spinny, rides. Take a breather on the Dino Carousel or grab a snack at one of the 28 food outlets. If you’re feeling brave enough there’s also The Haunted Hotel. Don’t say we didn’t warn you… Packed with a million things for kids to do – which would be why it just won the award for Best Theme Park at the Time Out Kids Awards 2017 – this has got everything from a zone dedicated to Ben 10 to actual Haribo dispensing machines. And if that doesn’t sound like the best place on the planet, well, we don’t know what does. Like, seriously, and all that.
Dhs245 (adults), Dhs225 (kids under 1.2m), free (kids under 1.05m). Daily 7am-11pm. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, www.imgworlds.com (600 500 962).
If hair-raising rides and fast cars are your thing, then this place in Abu Dhabi is your dream spot. Ferrari World on Yas Island 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, perfect for kids of all ages.
From Dhs275. Open daily 11am-8pm. Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.ferrariworldabudhabi.com (02 496 8000).
The 18,000-square-metre Hub Zero in Dubai’s City Walk is fully state-of-the-art, using the latest technologies. Set up in collaboration with gaming companies Electronic Arts, Capcom, Konami, Microsoft and Square Enix Space, this centre has activities for all ages. It houses 3D and 4D cinema experiences, and, for a retro take on things, you can even indulge in some pinball. Or there’s a full-on laser tag battle to take part in if you’re feeling active. For more serious gamers there’s a Local Area Network gaming area, with 70 stations. But if you’re more into Pac-Man and Space Invaders, they’ve got those, too. Oh, and penalty shootouts that pit the kids against a computer and an amazing lazer zone to navigate your way through, too...
From Dhs160. Open Sun-Thu 5pm-midnight, Fri-Sat 3pm-midnight. City Walk, Dubai www.hubzerodubai.com (800 637 227).
There are many new and amazing resorts planned shortly in the UAE – looking at you, Abu Dhabi’s Warner Bros World, with your Harry Potter world and everything – but, sometimes, it’s worth taking a good look around and seeing what you actually have on your doorstep in the first place before you go looking for the Next Big Thing. For years Global Village has been putting on an amazing seasonal experience – it’s open between November and April every year – and, well, it just keeps getting better. Hot off a Time Out Kids award for Best Day Out, this incredible attraction is still going more than strong, laying on the world in a single theme park, split into nations on a massive grid. Want to experience the world, all in one single space? With a whole host of amazing rides and fun games in between? Well, look no further, because Global Village just became your new best friend, from November.
Dhs15. Sat-Wed 4pm-midnight; Thu-Fri 4pm-1am. Global Village, Exit 37, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road and Emirates Road, www.globalvillage.ae (04 362 4114).
DUBAI PARKS AND RESORTS
Billed as the biggest and best theme park experience in the UAE, Dubai Parks And Resorts has more than 40 indoor rides and attractions across its motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai and LEGOLAND Dubai complexes. Motiongate, which is based on Hollywood movie companies DreamWorks Animation, Columbia Pictures and Lionsgate, has plenty of high-octane rides and attractions including Madagascar Mad Pursuit, Hotel Transylvania, a zone dedicated entirely to the Smurfs, rides based around How to Train your Dragon and Shrek and a 4D cinema show. Bollywood Parks, meanwhile, has a ton of amazing attractions based around classic Bollywood movies, as well as live action shows. And the LEGOLAND offering is a truly amazing double-whammy: LEGOLAND (as in the one that’s not submerged in water) is packed with brilliant rides for all age ranges, and comes highly recommended. LEGOLAND Water Park, meanwhile, which sits literally next door to it, was Time Out Kids’ Best Water Park, and has to be hit right now for some of the most fun water slides and interactive experiences your brain could dream up. Our advice? Get those swimsuits on and get involved. Your family will thank you for it.
From Dhs95. Open daily 4pm-midnight. Jebel Ali, www.dubaiparksandresorts.com.