The UAE has long been a great part of the world to set up home with your family. But the past two years in particular has seen it explode its offering – not least when it comes to its theme parks.
If you have not yet had the chance to visit any of these entertainment behemoths, then this holiday season may well be the perfect time to start. Whether it’s the vast, brilliant, four-zoned indoor theme park that is IMG Worlds of Adventure (go there for dinosaurs, Marvel characters and more), the sprawling metropolis of fun that is Dubai Parks and Resorts (home of the Legoland and Legoland Water Park double-bill as well as movie haven Motiongate), Ferrari World (roller coasters, as well as lots of the famous red cars) or even a Wild Wadi or an Aquaventure, before you make that call there are some things you need to consider.
What age is best for you to introduce your kids to amusement parks? How safe will they really be when they’re there?
To find out, we asked our good pals at Fabyland, the “futuristic” state-of-the-art family entertainment destination for kids of all ages that has super cool rides like the Family Swing, XD Dark Ride, Clip N Climb, Bumper Cars and many more, to give us their top tips on what you need to consider before you take the theme park plunge this season. Here’s what they had to say...
What’s an appropriate age to introduce your child to an amusement park?
Whether it is a simple kiddie ride at your local supermarket or community park, it is a smart idea to introduce your toddler to a few rides earlier, before hitting a bigger amusement park.
The flashy lights and loud music can be overwhelming for some children. It can be incredibly frustrating to take your children to an amusement park to only then realise that they are either too shy [to go on the rides] or they do not qualify to go on them due to height restrictions. Most amusement parks list the height requirements on their website, so make sure to take the time to check them out before visiting the park.
It is a general rule for children below the age of 12 to be accompanied by adults. While the ideal age for parents to introduce their children to any entertainment facility would be three years and above.
That said, toddlers below the age of three can be taken to playgrounds and amusement parks. In fact, it is good for them to do so, for them to watch other big kids playing, to help them overcome any fear or insecurity that they may have.
When introducing your child to an amusement park for the first time, it is advisable to visit the venue when it is less crowded, like on a weekday for instance. From the ages of three to 10 months, kids can enjoy play areas, slides and other rides with their parents.
Most amusement parks have soft play areas and kiddie rides designed specifically keeping in mind the safety of the little ones. Kiddie rides are designed for young children to ride without adults, so you can sit back and watch while they safely explore.
We would encourage parents to spend more time with the bigger kids, aged four to 12 (especially the shy ones), by including them in arcade games or other skill games. Physical or skilled games that help you win tickets that can then be exchanged for gifts or souvenirs, have proved for a long time to be entertaining for kids of all ages. Make sure you engage yourself in the games too, and in activities involving the entire family. Playing together helps to strengthen bonds not just with the parents but with siblings too.
At the park, some rides require your child to be of a certain age or height. Make sure to confirm this with the operators beforehand for safety purposes. If you notice that your child is uncomfortable or trying to get off a ride while in motion, signal to the operator right away. Most amusement parks are understanding and supportive and will stop the ride.
Parents of children with any medical history must be aware of the warning signs and obviously only explore rides that are safe. It is always better to be safe and consult with a doctor.
Lastly, there are a few things that Fabyland, one of the leading amusement parks located at Dubai Festival City and Deerfield’s Mall, Abu Dhabi, would like to advise parents to keep in mind whenever they are taking children to an amusement park:
1. Keep your child hydrated during the entire visit.
2. Try avoiding the sun from 12 noon to 3pm, especially during the hot UAE summers.
3. Follow park rules – do not encourage your children to break any park rule. Chances are they will do the exact same thing when you’re not there next time.
4. Make sure someone is watching your child at all times.
5. Ensure your child always takes a short break in between each of the high-speed rides.
Fabyland Dubai Festival City (04 288 1490), Deerfields Mall, Abu Dhabi (02 666 9772).