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Dubai’s best theme parks and rollercoasters as city looks to trump Orlando as a destination for thrill seekers

Dubai’s best theme parks and rollercoasters as city looks to trump Orlando as a destination for thrill seekers

Mirror Online’s Thomas Bristow traveled to the world’s latest playground to find out if Dubai really can compete on a global scale

utils Dubai's best theme parks and rollercoasters as city looks to trump Orlando as a destination for thrill seekers

Imagine a world where fantasy meets reality. A place where new buildings rise overnight to scratch the sky, where beautiful beaches greet the sea and where cutting-edge technology sits beside the desert.

Imagine all that, and you start to get an idea of ​​what dubai is like.

As befits a city with big ambitions – it’s aiming for 20 million tourists a year by 2020, double the 2012 number – it’s no secret that Dubai is trying to compete with, if not beat, Orlando as a theme park destination for families.

One of its most recent offerings is the Dubai Parks and Resorts complex, 25million sq ft of fun near Palm Jebel Ali.

It’s home to a host of theme parks including Riverland, Legoland, Legoland Water Park, Bollywood Parks and Motiongate.

Those worried about the scorching Middle East sun will be glad to know that all the parks provide plenty of shade – which is great with temperatures averaging 41C in summer.


You enter the complex at Riverland, a huge plaza-style leisure and dining venue which is free to access. It contains four themed zones – The Peninsula, India Gate, Boardwalk and the French Village.

Ogre to you: Thomas poses with Shrek


Daily Mirror/Thomas Bristow)

There are nearly 60 restaurants (including some licensed to sell alcohol), food kiosks and shops. And Lapita, a Polynesian-themed resort hotel, is being built next door.

Thomas outside the impressive Motiongate


Daily Mirror/Thomas Bristow)

2. Legoland Dubai

Legoland puts the UK park near Windsor somewhat in the shade.

Nothing in Dubai comes in small packages and the indoor air-conditioned Miniland is far from mini. Much of Dubai is created out of Lego before your eyes, from the towering Burj Khalifa to the futuristic airport.

Dubai’s Legoland puts Windor’s in the shade


Daily Mirror/Thomas Bristow)

Children can also crawl inside world landmarks such as the Pyramids to take a closer look.

Kids can graduate through the Master Builder Academy, ride the famous dragon rollercoaster and pick up that coveted Lego driving license.

And because there can never be too much Lego, they will want to visit the water park too.

A huge climbing frame dominates its centre, while a lazy river – where you can build your own Lego raft – surrounds it. There are more than 20 water slides too.

The Miniworld is not so mini


Daily Mirror/Thomas Bristow)


For older thrillseekers, movie-themed, five-zone Motiongate is the very best of what’s on offer. As soon as you walk through its grand entrance you know you’re in for a treat.

First up is the magnificent Studio Central zone, themed on the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Dreamworks inside Motiongate


Daily Mirror/Thomas Bristow)

Then there are the Smurfs Village and DreamWorks zones which both cater well for kids, but have plenty to capture older guests’ imaginations – like the latter’s superb Madagascar Mad Pursuit, a fast indoor coaster in the dark.

The nearby Kung Fu Panda 4D motion simulator ride is great and while you’re there why not pop ogre to Shrek’s Swamp Celebration to see the big green guy?

The Columbia Pictures zone’s Zombieland Blast Off ride subjects your body to forces of up to 4G on the way up then brings you down gently at 1G.

The park is brand new so some wrinkles are having teething troubles, but it’s still borderline brilliant.

4. IMG Worlds of Adventure

IMG Worlds of Adventure is Dubai’s other new kid on the theme park block. On the southeast edge of the city, the whole thing is indoors to avoid the blistering heat.

Again, IMG is made up of various areas and Marvel is a brilliant attraction, helped by the franchise’s recent successes in film, but the rides are a mixed bunch.

The Thor Thunder Spin rollercoaster, is a little repetitive. Spider-Man Doc Ock’s Revenge is fun but not thrilling, In reality, the best bit about the Marvel section is just walking through and taking in the comic book world around you.

Thomas runs away from a scary hand in IMG Worlds of Adventure


Daily Mirror/Thomas Bristow)

Lost Valley was my favorite zone – it’s like stepping into Jurassic Park. And it has the two best rides. The roller coaster Predator, while short, is an exciting burst of pace offering a sheer vertical drop at the start.

The Velociraptor is longer and begins slowly before accelerating off at a speed which feels like 0-60 in two seconds.

The entire rollercoaster is outside in the desert, and full of loops, corkscrews and twists.

The Cartoon Network zone had me wishing I was a kid again with its Ben 10 5D Hero Time and The Amazing Ride of Gumball attractions.

But the Haunted Hotel in the IMG Boulevard welcome zone had me wishing I was somewhere else. This one is not for the faint of heart.

Where’s Thor when you need him?!

Other highlights not to miss

The Burj Khalifa is a must for any Dubai visitor


Daily Mirror/Thomas Bristow)

No trip to Dubai is complete without going up the Burj Khalifa (from £28pp). It’s the world’s tallest building at 2,722ft.

Rewind 50 years and this was Dubai


Daily Mirror/Thomas Bristow)

On a clear day you can see the coast of Iran 90 miles away. Also try a 4×4 Desert Safari (from £61pp) to remind you that you are on the edge of the vast Arabian wilderness.

Hold on tight – the drivers give it plenty of welly on the dunes.

Best places to stay nearby

So much to do, but where to stay? There’s only one hotel to stay at in Dubai and that’s the Amwaj Rotana.

The rooms at Amwaj Rotana


Amwaj Rotana)

Perfectly located on Jumeirah beach, you’re only a stone’s throw away from a lively coastal front and sun bathing paradise.

Don’t fancy the beach? Amwaj Rotana has two swimming pools, a spa and a gym to keep you busy.

The Amwaj Rotana hotel on Jumeirah beach


Amwaj Rotana)

And you needn’t leave the hotel for some of the best food in Dubai. The Amwaj Rotana sports the impressive Benihana. Take a seat round the grill as food of the highest order is prepped, chopped and cooked right in front of your eyes. The chefs apparently moonlight as comedians, so you’re guaranteed a giggle.

Or, if you fancy something a little more rough and ready, try out JB’s Gastropub. There’s plenty of beers on tap with live sport dominating the walls.

GET THERE: Royal Brunei flies Dreamliners from Heathrow to Dubai from £256 return.

STAY THERE: Rooms at the five-star Amwaj Rotana hotel in Dubai start at around £153 a night B&B for two adults sharing.

TICKETS: Attraction Tickets Direct sells the following in Dubai, all bookable in advance:

1. IMG Worlds of Adventure one-day tickets from £50 per adult and £46 per child.

2. Dubai Parks & Resorts 2-Day/4 Parks Anytime Ticket from £108 per adult and £94 per child.

3. Burj Khalifa Observation Deck from £28pp.

4. Desert Safari from £61pp. Boats Dubai dinner cruise from £85pp (no alcohol).

5. Dubai Helicopter Flight (15mins) from £167pp.

TOP TIPS: The Dubai sun is fierce so use sunscreen. Swimwear is unacceptable anywhere except the beach or pool.

MORE INFO: See visitdubai.com

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