Dubai opens massive Marvel-branded indoor theme park

Sunday 18/09/2016
A woman waits for the Powerpuff Girls – Mojo Jojo’s Robot Rampage ride to begin at the IMG Worlds of Adventure amusement park in Dubai, on August 31st.

Dubai - As summer temperatures soared outside, the world’s largest indoor theme park, featuring Marvel- and Cartoon Network-branded rides, opened to the public on August 30th — the lat­est in a myriad of new attractions in Dubai.
The first visitors at the 140,000-sq.-metre park reflected the diverse crowds that visit and live in Dubai, home to the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Middle East’s largest mall and a man-made island in the shape of a palm tree that is dotted with luxury hotels.
Saudi women dressed in abayas, the traditional loose black robes and full face-veil, rode alongside tank top-wearing British tourists and Indian families on the park’s roller coasters and attractions.
Several families with young chil­dren complained that some rides stalled several times. Others said they were thrilled by the adventure park’s indoor boulevard that leads visitors through Marvel and Car­toon Network zones, a “Haunted Hotel” and a Lost Valley Dinosaur zone.
The IMG Worlds of Adventure park recorded about 3,000 visitors August 30th as temperatures out­side reached 38 degrees Celsius.
Ali al-Subai, a visitor from Saudi Arabia, said he was happy the Gulf region has a place such as this to visit. The 26-year-old said he trav­els to Dubai at least four times a year and hopes his country can someday open similar theme parks.
“It’s very, very nice. Better than I imagined,” he said. “We wish for this in Saudi Arabia — the rides, the cinemas.”
The adventure park is one of two major theme parks opening this year in Dubai, part of an effort to attract 20 million tourists annually by 2020, when the emirate is to host the World Expo. Last year, about 14 million people visited Dubai, ac­cording to the Department of Tour­ism and Commerce Marketing. The highest share of visitors came from neighbouring Gulf countries, with Saudi Arabia topping the list.
Teens Abdullah Jameel and Sul­tan al-Suweidi, both from Dubai, said they enjoyed the park more than Universal Studios in Singa­pore. They said the IMG Worlds of Adventure park wins, in their opin­ion, because of shorter lines and more exciting rides.
They beamed after riding the Velociraptor roller coaster that swoops through the indoor park, then juts out into the Dubai desert surrounding the park before going back inside. Another main attrac­tion is the Predator roller coaster, with its sharp, vertical drop.
Spider-Man, too, has his own ride, a spinning roller coaster that propels riders through a New York City skyline, soaring much like the fictional superhero would as he fights to save the city from the sinister Doctor Octopus. A Cartoon Network-themed Powerpuff Girls scrambler glides and spins riders upside down, while a 5D theatre experience takes guests through an animated Ben 10 battle scene.
The park aims to attract up to 30,000 visitors on peak days. Along with its 22 rides and attractions, the park offers visitors 25 retail and 28 food and beverage outlets that are expected to contribute nearly a quarter of the park’s overall rev­enue. At the high-end Marvel Vault store, an extravagant Hulk-inspired gold display that holds a pen with precious stones costs about $31,300.
Despite thrills at every turn, Brit­ish tourist Tariq Collins said the en­try ticket cost of $82 for adults and $68 for children was “a bit pricey”. He said there were not as many at­tractions for his 5-year-old daugh­ter as he had hoped there would be.
“Apart from that, great. Very nice­ly done,” he said, before adding that some of the rides were not working.
Park Chief Executive Officer Len­nard Otto said this was not uncom­mon in the theme park industry.
“No theme park today, whether it’s Disney or Universal, has 100% upkeep time on their rides,” he said. “Rides will break. They’re the same as any other technology. The key for us to try and manage the experi­ence after that.”
Otto said the park plans to add five attractions in the coming five years. It’s “definitely a new feather in Dubai’s cap” and helps fill a gap in the Gulf market for quality enter­tainment destinations, he said.
In October, a $2.8 billion theme park is to open on the main highway connecting Dubai with Abu Dhabi, the UAE seat of government. Dubai Parks and Resorts will feature a Six Flags, a Legoland waterpark and roller coaster, Bollywood-themed rides and shows and a Motiongate movie-themed park with a Smurfs village.
Abu Dhabi is already home to Fer­rari World and is planning a Warner Bros-themed park.
(The Associated Press)