HAS new US$1 billion (£758m) indoor amusement park in dubai will boast a Marvel Comics-themed area; a first-of-its-kind 3D ride featuring 18 IMAX projectors; and a hair-raising Haunted Hotel where visitors must be aged 15 and over.
At first glance, the dusty surroundings of IMG Worlds of Adventure – exterior landscaping is still to be finished and the road leading to the park was only ugly last week – cast doubt on the August 31 opening date.
But step inside the temperature-controlled hangar and you’ll discover an impressive family funhouse. Spread over an area equivalent to 28 football fields, the park is split into four themed zones with prehistoric jungle trails and a labyrinth of city streets.
The Marvel zone is the star attraction, with rides featuring iconic characters such as Thor and Captain America, and Tony’s Skydeck, a fine-dining seafood and steak restaurant based on Iron Man’s alter ego Tony Stark.
Highlights of the zone include Hulk Epsilon, an 100-seater ride that takes you on a spin with the angry green man in a 3D environment, and Spider-Man Doc Ock’s Revenge, a fantastic 400-metre spinning rollercoaster that propels visitors through a New York skyline with Marvel’s famous web-slinger.
The Cartoon Network zone has family-friendly attractions based around popular characters including LazyTown, The Powerpuff Girls and The Amazing World of Gumball. It also contains the world’s first Ben 10 5D cinema, which will host up to 1,200 visitors an hour with an exclusive 10-minute movie.
The Lost Valley – Dinosaur Adventure zone features one of the park’s flagship attractions, The Velociraptor, which shoots riders out of the park and into the desert at 100 km/h in 2.5 seconds. The area also boasts 70 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs that took Japanese firm Kokoro five years to create, with incredible attention to detail such as hand-sculptured scales going in to every one.
Lastly, IMG Boulevard is a largely dining and retail area with the genuinely terrifying Haunted Hotel. The walk-through attraction is a maze of corridors and creepy characters. A blood-drenched butcher surrounded by hanging corpses is especially gruesome, hence the age restriction.
Food is another standout feature. Lennard Otto, chief executive of IMG Worlds of Adventure, says the park has invested heavily in its food and beverage offering. “We wanted to kill the typical notion of overpriced, bad food that is unfortunately the norm in theme parks around the world. So we’ve created 28 unique concepts, including some linked to the characters, offering more than 13 different types of cuisine,” he says.
As much effort has gone into managing that great British obsession: queuing.
“We will use a heat mapping system within the park to monitor where people are and then send entertainment teams out to move people around if we feel they’re congregating too much in one location,” says Otto.
Waiting times for rides will be displayed on digital screens throughout the park and visitors can download an app that will pinpoint their location using GPS and direct to them to rides with shorter queues.
According to the Otto, the UAE has the potential to become “Orlando 2.0”. IMG Worlds of Adventures is the first of four major theme parks to open in the emirate this year. Hot on its heels is Dubai Parks & Resorts, an integrated resort made up of three parks including Legoland Dubai, due to open on October 31.
“Within the next five years, we will have the same amount of large-scale theme parks [as Orlando] and there will be eight parks in the UAE by 2019,” Otto says.
“The infrastructure here in Dubai is far superior to that of Orlando. Dubai has more hotel rooms than Orlando, a bigger food and beverage industry and Dubai’s airport has twice the number of passengers than Orlando’s.”
IMG Worlds of Adventure is located 20 minutes from each of Dubai’s international airports. Tickets cost AED 300 for adults (£62) and AED 250 (£52) for children and can be purchased online at www.imgworlds.com.
IMG Worlds of Adventure in numbers
US$1 trillion build cost
1.5 million square feet in size
12 columns supporting the 41-metre dome
4 areas within the park
28 food and beverage outlets
25 merchandise stores
1,500 employees from 59 countries
29 different languages spoken by the staff
30,000 visitors expected per day
4.5 million visitors predicted in its first year of operation