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A somewhat Dubai-ous trip (UAE Jan 2019)

Coming up in this part: Abu Dhabi sights, mild peril, fantastic indoor coasters, great dark rides, mediocre dark rides and an incredible missed opportunity for a restaurant tie in.

Over the past few years, Dubai and Abu Dhabi have had a bit of an explosion of parks and coasters, and this, combined with me having annual leave in January and very few other parks being open at that time led me to pan a trip at reasonably short notice. At even shorted notice, NathP decided to join me and come along too.

Things started out with us arriving at Abu Dhabi airport very early in the morning and picking up a hire car. With a few hours to kill before any parks opened we decided to do a bit of sightseeing, driving past the grand central mosque, various palaces and skyscrapers, and having a brief preview of things to come by driving past Ferrari world. After this we drove north to the Dubai parks complex for the first coasters of the trip!

The Dubai parks area consists of a Universal city walk style area, a Legoland park, Bollywood park and Motiongate. We had a 2 parks in 1 day ticket, so decided to start out in Legoland, partly because it had 2 coasters, and partly because it was still really early, and it opened a couple of hours before the others.

This was my first ever Legoland and I was worried it might be a bit overly kiddy, but it was still good fun. We started out having a look around the miniatures world which is in a big dome in the centre of the park. There were some rather impressive models there, including a huge one of the Burj Khalifa.


We then went to do the dragon coaster which was good fun. I think it’s a clone of ones at other Lego parks and seems like a good coaster for kids wanting something a little bigger than wacky worms. We also shamefully did the mini dragon coaster for a +1 and then checked out some of the dark rides.


The dark rides weren’t really that memorable, there was an Egyptian tomb shooting one where you shoot lit up targets, a 3d cinema Ninjago thing and most interestingly there was a submarine ride, similar to the one at Disneyland with real fish and sharks around you as you go around in a mock submarine. There was some mild peril added to the ride whereby you had to press a button for some random reason which saved the day. I’m pretty sure the day would be saved without pressing it, but hey, if it makes little jimmy think he’s achieved something today then I guess it adds to the excitement.

Next we visited the Lego factory to see how bricks are made (spoiler – they use moulded plastic) which was a bit pointless as the only bricks they make are souvenir Lego factory ones.

After a morning in Legoland it was time for the main event of the day – Motiongate.

Immediately walking into this park it gave off a universal studios sort of vibe, with the main street entrance leading off to themed worlds. We started out going for some lunch in Hotel Beastro, which was nicely themed like the nearby Hotel Transylvania ride. We both got a gigantic burger, and after lunch we checked out the dark ride next door.


Hotel Transylvania probably sounded better on paper when they were designing it, it’s a trackless dark ride and I can imagine the pitch of driverless pods eerily gliding past one another though a grand hall into various alcoves could have been good. Unfortunately, it misses the mark by quite a bit. The main hall you go down is really rather barren and has very little of interest in it, and the alcoves you go into just had mostly static characters repeating the same line as you went past. I’ll admit that I know pretty much nothing about the IP the ride is based on but it really was rather underwhelming.

Next door to that ride however was something more interesting – Underworld 4D

This was a 4d cinema but probably the most surprising thing was how bloody and gory it was! It didn’t seem to have much in the way of warnings for children either. To give you an idea, the opening shot showed the slaughter of a bunch of people and a big pool of blood going down a drain and flowing onto a vampire. The show itself was pretty entertaining, well executed 3d and incredibly smooth high frame rate motion that really made the action sequences pop. The direction was a little odd however as it couldn’t seem to decide if it wanted to be a first-person perspective or not, with there being long shots from that point of view but then a cut to something else.

Also in the area was Ghostbusters – battle for new York. Now, I’ve done the ghostbusters ride at Heide park and wondered if it would be the same thing.

It wasn’t.

It kind of feels like it’s about 25 years too late, it’s a shooting dark ride, set around the time period of the first and second films with some decent call backs to them, but it really did feel rather dated. Whilst the exterior of the ride looked pretty good, there just weren’t that many scenes during the ride, and the scenes that were there felt a bit half assed. The shooting part of the ride was just pointing at 2d screes which for a modern park that is only 2 years old really felt like it should have been something more modern.

Next up we did the rapids ride, Cloudy with a chance of meatballs: river expedition. Again, the IP was a bit lost on me, for some reason the ride was filled with “foodimals” - giant versions of vegetables in animal forms. I suppose this probably made sense if you knew the source material, but that didn’t stop the ride being fun. The theming was generally pretty good and the rapids had a decent layout, I got slightly wet on it but in the hot weather of Dubai I quickly dried off.

We did the Green Hornet coaster next and went through its reasonably detailed queue line. There was a mock up of the car inside which looked kind of cool, but their choice to use a fairly forgettable film as the theme of this ride seems a bit odd, it came out in 2011 after all and didn’t seem to make much of a lasting impression. The ride itself is decent, a gerst Bobsled which rides pretty much as you would expect it to. It’s about as memorable as the film it’s based on, so maybe in that sense it’s incredibly well themed?


Next we headed to the Lionsgate area and the hunger games land. I think they really missed out on a hunger games restaurant here, all they had was a small cart called “Peeta’s Bakery”, Surely the very name “Hunger games” lends itself to some sort of buffet or big restaurant!
Anyway, Lack of appropriate food theming aside, there are 2 attractions here, Capitol Bullet train – a MACK launch coaster and Panem Aerial tour – a motion simulator.

First up the coaster – This was great fun, forwards-backwards-forwards lunch that sends you back up a vertical spike before going into a loop and the rest of the ride. Whilst short, the elements they packed in are pretty good with some nice airtime and positive Gs. Other than the vertical loop there’s also a small zero-G roll which was nice, especially with the MACK trains and lap bars. Later we had a night ride on the coaster and it looked even better in the dark, lit up all red and menacing. Overall it’s a pretty good addition to the park, short but sweet and easily reridable.

The Panem Aerial ride was also pretty good too, it's similar in mechanism to one of those trolley rides with a wrap around screen, such as you find at movie park germany or cinecitta. I thought it was very well done though, the screen was big enough that you couldn't see the edges from where you sat so it was really immersive and the 3d was wall implemented too along with the motion. This was the sort of experience I had been expecting from motiongate and it made a great ride.

Next, we headed indoor to the DreamWorks building.

Immediately the building impresses with a gigantic fountain featuring the characters that will be inside, this area clearly has had a good deal of money invested in it.

First up was the Shrek area, which looked fantastic! The whole area was wonderfully detailed and the shots below barely do it justice.


Inside the area was “Shrek’s merry fairy tale journey” – another trackless dark ride! This one was actually really well done. Instead of it being just a simple retelling of one of the Shrek films, It’s set up as Shrek putting on a puppet show of the first film to his extended family. As such, there a bit more of a fairy-tale charm to it, and all the models are made up as puppets which just gave a new spin on an old story and made it more interesting. Don’t miss this one if you go.

The next area we went in to was the “how to train your dragon” area and it looked absolutely fantastic. Lots of nice details everywhere and a well themed swinging pirate ship. The only thing out of place seemed to be the Dragon flame grill with the slogan “eat like a Viking” which served the well-known Viking foods of curries and schwarma.


The star attraction of the area however is of course Dragon Gliders, a MACK inverted powered coaster, similar in design to Arthur at Europa park. The ride itself is a mixture of dark ride and some coaster elements. The dark ride park is very well done with detailed sets, a variety of effects and a coherent story told throughout the ride. Almost all of the ride is going along this enclosed quite narrow dark ride path before the very end when you emerge out in to the open above the main Viking area and zoom high above it giving some great views to really appreciate the theming. It really is a special moment when you burst out like that. We rode it a couple of times throughout the day and it never seemed to get old.

Next up was the Madagascar area which was also indoors and had a great fairground theme to it.


This was home to the “escape from Madagascar” coaster. Now I’d not done a lot of research about the park, and in my head, I think I had it mixed up with a coaster at IMG worlds. I thought this was a standard gerst Eurofighter model but I was rather pleasantly surprised to find it was a unique infinity coaster. We boarded the clamshell fitted trains and exited the station turning to the left. I fully expected to find a vertical lift hill but was pleasantly surprised to see a LSM launch track ahead of us. There’s a brief animatronic pre-show before the launch and then boom! The ride starts! The launch has a bit of a kick and after that there’s a really fun layout in the dark – unexpected turns, airtime hills, and some nicely placed theming as you zoom through around the track. There’s tight rope walking hippos above you and a human animal cannonball as just some of the theming you fly past. The ride is great fun and we rode it many times. With plenty of airtime, unexpected turns and interesting elements it’s a great coaster.

The final indoor area was Kung Fu Panda themed and contained another dark ride. This one was a fairly typical motion simulator, based on transporting some sacred scroll or relic on a boat. The ride had two boats but only one was operating as the park was really quiet, and was a fairly typical ride with motion and the occasional water splash. I’m not sure if it was because it was only one side was running, but the right hand side of the 3d film didn’t seem to be working properly and only really worked when you looked straight ahead or to the left. Overall, it was a decent ride but not as good as some of the others in the park.


We made sure to get plenty of re rides on the two hit coasters, bullet train and Madagascar, but eventually it was time to leave the park. Overall the park has a nice mix of rides and is a great day out. The theming for the most part is spot on and if you’re ever in the area it’s well worth a visit.


Coming up in the next part – IMG worlds and Global village aka what would happen if Blackpool decided to build Epcot, but with predominantly middle eastern countries represented


Hyper Poster
Thanks for the report - an interesting read for me as I'm visiting Dubai/Abu Dhabi next week. I am actually considering buying the 2 parks 1 day ticket too but was worried it might be a bit of a rush doing both parks in one day. Did you feel you comfortably got both parks done without too much rush?


Hyper Poster
Thanks for the report - an interesting read for me as I'm visiting Dubai/Abu Dhabi next week. I am actually considering buying the 2 parks 1 day ticket too but was worried it might be a bit of a rush doing both parks in one day. Did you feel you comfortably got both parks done without too much rush?
I recently did both parks in the same day and in hindsight I probably could have squeezed in Bollywood as well. Legoland took about an hour to ride everything I wanted to and look round Miniland and Motiongate is generous with its opening hours so you'll have enough time to do everything plus rerides even if Legoland cuts into Motiongate opening hours. Also the walk between parks is 5-10 minutes which makes doing both in the same day nice and simple.

Loving the report daviddoc, looking forward to hearing what you made of IMG and the Abu Dhabi parks.
We rode everything for adults at Legoland and had plenty of time at motiongate to ride everything with plenty of re-rides, so I didnt fel we were rushed or short of time. I was considering doing the bollywood park though as it had some interesting looking rides and seemed to be aimed more at adults. Legoland does open a couple of hours before motiongate and bollywood though so if you want to maximise your time, go there at opening


Roller Poster
Nice trip report! Yeah we didn't feel rushed at all at Legoland / Motiongate and got plenty of re-rides. Look forward to seeing the rest! :)

Matt N

CF Legend
Great report @daviddoc! Nice to hear your opinions on the UAE; it's certainly a place that is catching my eye as more people visit! It kind of strikes me as the Florida of Asia so to speak from the perspective of someone who hasn't visited, and I'd really like to go some day!
The next day we headed to IMG Worlds of Adventure, the self-proclaimed largest indoor theme park in the world! The drive took us past their blue fire clone and into a nearly empty car park, it was almost completely deserted.



We went inside and were greeted by the brightly lit IMG boulevard with lots of shops and restaurants all enticing you to spend money.

We followed the red carpet past the haunted hotel and ended up in the first “world” of the park – Lost Valley

The area was decently decorated, but for an indoor dinosaur area, there weren’t all that many dinosaurs. I’d of though adding a few animatronic ones would have livened things up a bit. We rode their “Indiana jones and the temple of dinosaurs” knock off ride “Forbidden territory”, which was similar to the Disney rides it tries to emulate but not as good. I think the plot has something to do with trying to find hadrosaurs and their eggs to save the species - because everyone’s favourite dinosaur is a hadrosaur. Dinosaur favouritism aside, the ride just didn’t seem that polished, there were a few bits where the set lighting was obvious and broke immersion, or your eye was drawn to some black plastic covering some part of the ride. There was a part where the car starts going sideways which initially just seemed weird, but I think the effect they were going for was being washed down stream. This could have worked, but the only water was a waterfall that you turn at and no water flowing below or to the side of the car, it just felt like you were driving bumpily sideways. Some of the animatronics were decent though, including a t rex encounter and some suitably large sauropods.


Next up we got the indoor cred “Predator”, a fairly standard gerst Eurofighter 320+helix model. Sadly it has the old style trains with OTSR rather than clamshells which was a bit disappointing. There was a bit of roughness in the second turn around too, with the first right turn causing some nasty headbanging. I don’t really understand why a new park went for old trains though, it makes no sense as the MACK blue fire clone at the same park has lap bars only and inversions too.


The other major ride in the Lost Valley area was the blue fire clone “Velociraptor”.



If you’ve ridden blue fire you’ll know what to expect, except this has a dinosaur theme and launches you from a nice air conditioned room into the blazing desert of Dubai. There’s also a giant screen that shows some dinosaurs as you pull up to the launch section, but I really didn’t think this worked well. The screen is longer than the train and you turn a corner to be along side it, which means what you see is very distorted from the shallow angle you actually view the screen from. Imagine looking straight on at a picture of a dinosaur then turning it 90 degrees to one side and you get the idea. The ride itself though is good fun, as any blue fire is. There’s a little bit of a rattle to the ride but not so much that it makes it unpleasant, and the blue fire layout is pretty solid. It’s been a while since I did the original and the last inversion seemed to feel a bit faster in this version, but that could just be poor memory on my part. There’s a couple of outdoor theming elements too, such as dinosaur bones, but it doesn’t look as cool as it does on the park map.

Speaking of the park map, did no one proof read this thing?

Also, they got the colour of predator wrong, although it’s interesting that there seems to be hints at a new indoor coaster in the section next to it.

Anyway… the next area we visited was the Marvel Zone, and the first ride was Spiderman: Do Cocks Revenge?, or Doc ock’s revenge! – the sign wasn’t that clear….

I must say, the ride has the best themed netting of any ride – spider webbing makes total sense!

I didn’t actually realise until after I got home that day that the ride is a clone of sierra sidewinder at Knotts. The ride feels pretty intense in parts with some decent positive Gs and it’s mostly indoor behind scenes with some nice comic book cut-outs of skyscrapers and characters. The overall ride works very well though, there’s decent theming throughout the queue line and the spinning and layout work well to make it nice and re-ridable. I’d say it definitely leaves more of an impression than sierra sidewinder anyway. Sadly, that means the park doesn’t currently have any unique coasters, but what it lacks in uniqueness there, it makes up in unique dark rides.

“Avengers :Battle for Ultron” is a pretty good dark ride, It’s a similar mechanism to the Spiderman or transformers rides at universal, but this had a more interesting loading mechanism, whereby you walk on to a front facing parked vehicle (that we initially thought looked a bit like how you get on the tower of terror) then it pulls away backwards as your pod is picked up by a helicopter. There’s quite a cool scene where you see the reflection of the helicopter carrying your pod in a mirrored skyscraper that’s synced really well with movement, before the hulk smashes through the skyscraper windows. Unfortunately, this scene is about 70% of the way through the ride and I think it would of made a much better opening shot to immerse you in the ride. The mix between 3d screens and live sets was pretty well done, I’d put it on a par with the afore mentioned Spiderman and transformers ride, a big bombastic 3d experience with all your favourite avengers showing up at some point. We rode it a couple of times and overall it gets a thumbs up from me.


There was also a Thor themed top scan which we didn’t ride. The enclosed nature made it look a little like talocan, but it looked like it had old style restrains which are just really uncomfortable if you’re 6’2 tall like me.


My favourite ride in the marvel section though was “Hulk Epsilon Base 3D”. Despite the ****ty name, this was actually a really cool and unique ride. The best way I can describe it is as the bastard lovechild from some sordid affair involving of a Tagada, Turtle Trek from Seaworld, a planetarium and Mission Space from Epcot.

Basically, it’s a 3D 360° dome cinema, with a rapidly rotating and tilting floor with seats set out in a circular formation. It’s plot involves you as visitors to a military facility being evacuated in an IRIS vehicle, which stood for something like Intelligent Rescue of Idiots Sitting, or maybe something less unflattering. I initially though the supervillain – a big headed green alien, was probably Brainiac – not realising that that’s a DC character, and on looking up the ride, it’s actually some other big-headed green dude called “Leader” - who I had never heard of. Anyway, the plot is big headed green dude hacks military robots and Hulk and Iron Man have to save the day while your escape vehicle um.... escapes. It’s very well done however, the roof of the escape vehicle dome that you’re in stays for the most part like a metal dome with the rest of the 3d screen showing the action surrounding you. This allows for some cool effects such as Iron Man appearing to fly inside the dome of the vehicle and hulk holding, spinning and throwing the outside of the vehicle. At some points the spinning was reasonably intense, producing some not inconsiderable G forces, so if you have a particularly weak stomach and disliked mission space then this may not be the ride for you. We ended up riding this twice, as I honestly have never ridden a dark ride quite like it before and thought it was very well done. It seemed like things worked better if you sat on the right side as you enter and sitting towards the edge gives you a more intense ride and a wider field of view of the action surrounding you, so grab a seat there if you can.

We had lunch in the marvel area, visiting a pizza restaurant which was quite expensive for what it was but had a nice salad buffet thing and the pizza was tasty too.

We then did the haunted hotel which is a spooky walk through with live actors. The exterior theming looked pretty cool and the experience starts out with a spooky fake elevator ride that splits up two groups of people as they enter. The walk-through ahs some fairly standard scenes – spooky bedroom, gory kitchen, graveyard etc. I’ve done quite a few hunts in my time and this was pretty average overall. Nothing particularly innovating, but nothing especially badly done. We were obviously visiting in off-season, and the haunt didn’t seem to have that many actors, so maybe it’s a bit more impressive at peak season.



The final section was the Cartoon Network land and we rode most of the rides there. First up was “Adventure time: The Ride of Ooo, with Finn and Jake” which was a suspended dark ride that went through a few scenes and did a bit of a scenic tour above the cartoon network land. Now, I am at least slightly familiar with adventure land so the scenes made a little sense to me, but I don’t think Nathan had seen the show before, so he seemed rather confused by the whole thing. Lumpy space princess, Marceline the vampire queen and the ice king surrounded by penguins probably don’t make much sense if you’re not remotely familiar with the source material. The ride again felt a bit half assed and undercooked, with mostly static scenes and repetitive audio playing. The highlight for me was the funky chiptune soundtrack though, which was probably better than the ride itself.


There was a powerpuff girls air race, which seemed a bit odd to me, as it’s a fairly intense ride for the theming. For some reason, there seemed to be a lot of air races in UAE, with even some of the smaller mall fun spots having one. I don’t find it a very enjoyable ride so we decided to skip it to.

We walked past the Lazytown area which has a pirate themed rope course that was an upcharge and did the “Amazing Ride of Gumball”. This was another IP that I hadn’t heard of but it made a semi decent shooting dark ride. Mostly its shooting at screens with some surrounding theming on yet another trackless dark ride. Compared to some of the other rides it wasn’t that memorable, but that may be something to do with my lack of knowledge of the source material.

The other ride in the area was “Ben 10 5D Hero time”. Now Ben 10 is another kid’s TV show that was a bit after my time (despite having ridden the boomerang coaster at Drayton). So as someone unfamiliar with the series, my impression was that it was about some illegal child labour at a plumbing agency in space, and a kid that could turn into a random robot for whichever plot convenient reason was most beneficial. The ride itself was decent, your typical multiple-D cinema attraction, but nothing was particularly outstanding about this.

After a few repeat rides on our favourite attractions, we decided to go visit global village for an additional 2 coasters. I’ll save the delights of Global Village for the next post, as it’s a bit late now, but it sure was an interesting experience.


Hyper Poster
Loved reading your in depth thoughts on the rides there. IMG seems to be most people's least favourite park in the UAE which I agree with but it's still outstanding. Avengers and Velocoraptor is a killer headliner duo and the other dark rides and coasters are of a high standard, especially the Hulk one where like you I couldn't believe how fast and forceful the spinning was.

I think a lot of the criticism comes from the big dome and lack of atmosphere compared to other parks in the area. While it's a pleasant place to walk around and there's gorgeous theming in places it doesn't pop and feel alive and full of details like say Warner Bros does. It's a shame each area can't be fully enclosed, if the Marvel and CN areas were brighter and each areas soundtrack more prominent then it would feel like the park had more personality. IMG does have a few nice quirks though such as a funky looking land train and a huge area of beanbags and cabana like huts of comfy seating near Velocoraptor.

I definitely had a great day here but in hindsight that might have been because it was day one of my big exciting trip and the park was completely dead. Later on in the week I remember walking round Warner Bros thinking 'wow this is all so much better than IMG' but that was more due to WB being absurdly good than IMG being average.

Looking forward to hearing about Global Village!
So… the infamous Global Village.

Looking on RCDB before the trip, I expected this to be a small carnival, but I was wrong, the place is MASSIVE! We decided to head there in the evening, shortly before sunset after our time at IMG worlds. The drive there proved to be a little more confusing than I expected, I think we drove around the perimeter which helped get an impression of just how big this place is.

We parked up and wandered in. It was pretty cheap to get in (15 dirhams I think, which is a little over £3) The entrance area is a bit scattershot with its theming, containing a model of the Burj, but also the tower of London, Sydney opera house, the colosseum and some Japanese style temple.



Weirdly, this was probably the busiest park we visited during the whole trip. It certainly felt more geared towards the locals rather than the more westernised attractions of the other parks.

The best way I can describe this place is imagine Epcot, but much more tacky and garish, and with much more middle eastern countries represented. Every represented country has this huge façade with a market inside. The place is absolutely massive though.


It was also a bit strange that the different markets inside the countries seemed to have a lot of the same shops, and there didn’t really seem to be any unique localised shops or restaurants in them. Most of them stank of overpowering incense and outside of the main entrance didn’t really seem to have much theming inside that made sense.



The country selection was a bit strange as a westerner. Africa and the Americas only had a single area between them, but places like Bosnia and Syria each had an entire section to themselves.
I can only think what the imagineers would make of a Syria section at epcot!






We headed to the fairground area, as there were 2 creds to get! There were actually some pretty big rides there too, with a drop tower, star flyer and booster all towering above the area. Rides were on a pay per attraction basis so we ended u only doing the coasters, as any other rides that looked remotely interesting such as the ghost ride were excessively expensive


First coaster was London loop – a vekoma junior boomerang, identical in layout to the one at Energylandia or Paultons. Given that most of this area has more of a travelling fair ground vibe to it, it was actually quite surprising to see something like this here. The name didn’t really seem to make much sense, as there was little theming relating to London and there’s not a loop in the ride. It was smooth though and as a modern boomerang did the job fine.

The other coaster was Mumbai express – an SBF spinner. These things seem to be the new wacky worm and are popping up all over the place. This one wasn’t really anything special. Didn’t have any theming to speak of really and pretty much was just a +1 coaster.
By the time we had done the coasters the sun had fully set and although I wasn’t sure it was possible, the park became even more garish by night





There were a couple of shows scattered around the park too, We caught the tail end of a decent stunt show which included cars driving though a vertical loop.
We also saw a water show that was decent, but lacked the magic and frogsh of something like Aquarina at Efteling.


We also saw a little bit of a Bollywood dance show on one of the stages whilst we got something to eat. There were lots of options for food there, I ended up going for a fajita steak place which turned out to be more a cheesesteak than a fajita and Nathan had a burger with fried cheese

Despite the garishness of a lot of the park, there were actually a few nice looking bits.
If you’re in the area though, then I’d say it’s well worth stopping by, especially as it’s open late and is so close to IMG worlds.


Coming up in the next part of this trip report: Our day of random cred whoring around Dubai, visiting VR park, and going up the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world.
We had an extra day to spend in Dubai, so started off doing a bit of touristy stuff and visiting various places to ride a few extra coasters.
The first park we visited was Adventureland, located in the Sahara centre mall towards the north of Dubai.

Despite being crammed in to a mall, there’s actually 3 coasters here that weave between the other rides and Criss cross over each other. It’s really quite impressive that they managed to fit this many in, and each of them seem to be a custom model. The place operates on points card basis, whereby if you top up a certain amount you get some bonus points. After a wander around and some slightly taxing maths we got enough points to do all 3 coasters. There were a couple of other rides dotted around but nothing that looked all that interesting, including an air race, which I’m starting to think is a mandatory requirement for parks in UAE.




The first coaster we did was their Zamperla moto coaster – Rocket Cycles. It was actually not that bad. Unlike most moto coasters it had a lift hill rather than a launch and after that they managed to squeeze n quite a few twists and turns despite the apparent lack of space.



The next coaster was Forrest train, which is a custom powered coaster that was barely more than a monorail. They advertise the two powered coaster as a slow one and fast one and unsurprisingly this was the slow one.

The final coaster at Adventureland was Kukuclan (not to be confused with Cú Chulainn), another powered coaster but with a bit more speed and variety to the layout

With all the coasters done we jumped back in the car to face the joys of driving in the centre of Dubai. For a modern place, I must say that the roads aren’t always very sensibly designed. Our route to the next mall with coasters involved so much lane merging it was crazy. I remember one particularly stressful bit where we had to merge left twice then right twice into heavy traffic all within the same junction!

After a rather stressful drive we made it to our next destination – Sparky’s at the Al Ghurair Centre mall. Sparky’s seems to be a chain of indoor parks with branches dotted throughout the emirates.

This one had a unique spinning coaster with the very original name of “Roller Coaster” We went to ask for a ticket to ride it but we were disappointed the only way to ride anything was to buy a sparky’s card which was 150 dirhams! Fortunately, you can use that card at all the Sparky’s parks, and there was one with a coaster in Abu Dhabi that we were considering going to. We decided to share a card between us so we ended up doing a few of the other attractions dotted around. The coaster itself was decent, they sent us around twice and somehow one ride had a lot more spinning than the other. It makes good use of the space though and had two lift hills which is quite impressive for an indoor mall coaster! There was even an indoor ice rink too!

We did a shooting dark ride where you sat in a chair in front of a screen and shot zombies. We then went to the 3d cinema and were greeted with a folder of films we could watch. We picked a space coaster one as it seemed most coastery, but the guy indicated we should do a 2012 disaster explosiony one instead and proceeded to put it on. The illusion of choice, I guess. The film was ok, a bit jerky in bits and had PS2 era graphics, but it could have been worse.

We wandered past another fairground outside the mall which had a go gator in it, but we decided it was a bit too shameful to do, so jumped back in the car and headed to the final park of the day – VR Park or PVRK as they seem to like to style it
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After some more scary Dubai driving, we arrived at the Dubai Mall at the base of the Burj Khalifa. This mall was HUGE, it even had a massive aquarium in it and a waterfall.



Our main reason for coming here though was the VR park and the coaster it contained. Now I’ll admit I’m quite a fan of gadgety technology and own an Oculus Rift, but I was curious to see how a park dedicated to VR would work.


We’d picked up a groupon coupon that let us on 7 of their attractions, so the first one we did was of course their coaster – Dubai Drone. I was quite curious to see how they’d implement VR on a spinning coaster as the match didn’t seem to be a good one. The VR part is set up as being in a mini helicopter/drone flying around Dubai, but it was really badly done. The spinning just didn’t work with VR. Looking at the distant scenery seemed fine, but the cockpit of the drone you were sat in just kept snapping violently to try and line up with the motion of the spinning coaster – a task it failed at miserably. It was really laggy and jerky and at a few times with the spinning of the coaster you ended up looking at the back of the seat of your drone before it snapped awkwardly back in place. For a park dedicated to VR, this attraction just doesn’t work. The coaster itself seemed decent and smooth and would probably be fun if they ditched the VR.


The next ride we did was Dune Bash, which was a motion simulator with VR. I think the ride mechanism was the same as things like wild jungle at joypolis/Lotte, whereby you get on a vehicle and it drives forward a little into a room with a big screen and effects, except instead of the screen, you’re wearing a Gear VR headset instead.

Now please excuse me if I get a bit technical here, what I’d call “proper” VR is when there’s 6 degrees/axis of freedom – looking up/down, left/right, tilting side to side, moving forwards/backwards, moving up/down and moving laterally side to side. Every VR coaster I’ve done has only had the first 3 which can work OK on coasters, as your head is usually in a fairly fixed position due to the coaster restrains, so you don’t notice the other missing dimensions. Other things where your head is less fixed in place though can cause quite a bit of motion sickness.

So, Dune bash is set up as an off-road driving thing. When you put the headset on, you’re in the passenger seat of a 4x4 as it drives over dunes and the usual collapsing bridges and encounters with scorpions etc. Where the experience goes wrong however is the headset only offering 3 degrees of motion and your head moving back and forward repeatedly, despite your point of view staying fixed which makes it rather nauseating instead of being fun. Nathan was looking quite pale after it so we had a seat and watched the spinning coaster do it’s thing.

After 2 disappointing experiences we had a look around and found some proper room scale VR experiences using the HTC Vive. The first was “The Raft”, a co-op shooter where you float down a river on – you guessed it- a raft! There were various beasties to shoot and the game was a decent length. The coop aspect worked well too, although it was a little funny that Nathan appeared in game as a woman. The only problem was the room space they had set up was slightly too small, so if you tried to grab things at the edge of the raft, then your hand hit a wall. If they’d made the room just a little bit bigger then it would have worked perfectly, which considering the park is set up with VR in mind, is a pretty lousy oversight.

We did a couple of interactive mazes too which worked rather well. The set up was in a square shaped area but the VR and level design made it seem like more, as there were some elevator sections where the floor vibrated as you moved up or down. One of the mazes had you shooting skeletons with a crossbow as you explored and another had you using a torch to light your way. Unfortunately, the torch one was marred by technical problems for me, as the torch tracker initially didn’t work so I was more stumbling around in the dark until I took the headset off and got the operator to reset it.


We had a go at a shooting one as well with a full sized tracked gun which worked ok until the gun also stopped tracking and was either unresponsive or jumping about the screen. We also did a Rabbids sledging thing which was a much better motion simulator thing than the dune one.
Overall, the park was an interesting experience, although there seems to be quite a lot of technical problems that they really should have ironed out by now. If you’ve never experience room scale VR though then it’s definitely worth a visit, although I’d probably try and ride the coaster without VR and skip the Dune Bash ride.

After leaving VR Park, we got some food and then went to see the Burj Khalifa. The ticketing system was a bit weird, initially they offered us the option of going al the way to the top or half way which was marketing garbage, as they corresponded to floor 125 and floor 148, which isn’t exactly half way. The floor 148 version was much more expensive too, coming in at nearly £80! They then said we couldn’t buy tickets for floor 125 at the desk, but could buy them on our phones. Seriously, how dumb is that. After a bit of faff with connecting to Wi-Fi and navigating the webpage on our phones, we managed to get tickets to floor 125 and headed up the super-fast lift.

Now I’ve been up a few tall buildings in my time – CN Tower, the big one in Berlin, Sears tower, and a couple of others I Think, and I reckon the overall experience of height doesn’t change all that much. Once you’re past a particular point of height, the actual difference is pretty negligible. I find the same thing with star flyers, a 200ft one gives a pretty similar experience to a 400ft one. As such you did get a pretty impressive view, but I wouldn’t say it was more impressive than other tall buildings. I’d say the Burj is much more impressive from the outside than the inside. The views are still decent though!



For the price, I’d say the Burj isn’t really worth it, actually, I’d probably recommend trying to go up one of the other skyscrapers in the region, as you’d get a similar view and sensation of height, but you’d also be able to have the Burj in your photos too, so it’s more recognisable as Dubai.

There was a big fountain at the base of the Burj, which did a nice water show every half hour or so. It probably has the tallest jets of any water show I’ve seen, and it was kind of neat watching it from above while up the tower.




After a long day of cred whoring and touristing, we headed back to the hotel for the final night in Dubai, because tomorrow, we were going to Ferrari Land and ride the fastest rollercoaster in the world!
So, Ferrari world… (sorry, this trip report got waylaid by a fresh trip to Mexico…. I’ll try and finish this one before starting that at least anyway).


First up the big one, the world record holder, the 150mph Formula Rossa

Now this wasn’t my first trip to Ferrari world Abu Dhabi, as I’d previously made a stop over there en-route to japan, but there had been several changes since I went
When I first went, the park was pretty new and Mission Ferrari was still under construction with an enticing half twisted horseshoe roll type element poking out of a building and flying aces in pieces sitting outside.
Since that visit though, flying aces has been completed as has test track. Mission Ferrari though is STILL under construction.

So… the coasters
Formula Rossa – great fun, the launch just keeps going and going until you hit max speed and you crest the hill. For some reason the trim on the hill wasn’t as noticeable as the last time I went. It’s kind of like Kingda ka’s hill in that its hitting the breaks, but also an airtime hill, so you’re thrown out of your seat while still breaking. After that element you dive into a figure 8 of some high speed and high intensity turns with some floater air in between. After that it’s a couple of bunny hops before you hit the breaks and take in all that has just happened
These turns are quite intense and I experienced some grey out with the sustained g-force. The airtime on this ride though is almost exclusively of the floater variety, which is a little disappointing. I think if it was trimmed slightly less on the first element then the bunny hops hit on the way back to the station could give some decent ejector air. Unfortunately, if this was the case though, it would probably make you black out on the preceding turns of the ride. Everything has to be a compromise, I guess.


Now the main new coaster for me on my trip to UAE – Flying aces. The most obvious comparator for this is of course SkyRush – a coaster I love, except for the thigh-crush aspect. (my tip is ride it in Halloween whilst wearing a big long coat that gives extra padding against the restraints).
One of the more surprising things for me was how well themed the queue line was. It’s like a little trip into the ww1 trenches with some crashed planes and a forwards operating base setup. I was half expecting Blackadder and Baldrick to turn up with some hair brained scheme to avoid riding the coaster.


Once you pass the queue line though you’re ready to experience the ride proper – and what as ride it is!


From the start, the lift hill is a cable lift and is probably one of the fastest cable lift hills out there. It kind of made me want to shout GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES!!!! As it pulled you of the station

The ride itself is great intimin goodness and in hindsight, It probably beats SkyRush.
After the insanely fast lift hill, you have a great first drop – especially in the back where you start to experience airtime way earlier than expected because of the speed of the lift hill and angle of drop. The first drop is great, then its straight into the non-inverting loop – which feels more like it inverts you twice than not at all.

After that it’s a high airtimey turn to the right, a quick airtime speed bump and a tight right hand turn with some totally insane sideways diagonal/lateral ejector air. I love intimin craziness.

After that, it keeps up the speed through some tight turns, bunny hops and a final neat inversion linking into some final tight turns before you hit the break run and catch your breath. It’s truly a phenomenal ride, one of the best in the world.

One thing I think you should be sure not to miss if you visit this park though is the go karts.

Now I’ve done several go karts in my time and I have to admit that I’ve been underwhelmed by most of them. In my experience, more often than not, you pretty much just have your foot flat on the accelerator as you drive round the track, frequently understeering and being unable to overtake.

These go-karts are different

Very different.

The key thing is that these ones are electric and have a decent amount of torque, but applying this torque to the track is difficult, as you have slick tyres and the track is also slick vinyl, resulting in very little grip.
This means that the cars are very tail happy and are so much fun to power slide they have a wonderful tendency to oversteer. You really have to break for the corners too, as otherwise you’ll crash into the barriers – you just can’t travel flat out for the whole track.

(for those not familiar with the terms, Understeer = you turn the wheel and the front wheels lose grip and skid resulting in turning less and crashing into a wall, Oversteer = you turn the wheel and the back wheels lose grip sending you into a spin and crashing into a wall)
I loved the sensation of drifting around the corners, controlling the slide by feathering the throttle whilst counter steering, desperately trying to find enough grip to keep my speed up and make a good lap time.
The other great thing is that your lap is timed, so it’s really a battle against the clock. The winner of each session is whoever posted the fastest lap time and this time it was me. Here’s a picture of the final leader board if anyone wants to try and beat my time!

I also managed to lap Nathan, which was fun, and made victory all that much sweeter.

Back to coasters though, and in addition to the big two, there’s also a racing coaster with no less than 4 launches on each track. It’s a ride that fits very well into the Ferrari theming, in that it’s not got any big rises or drops and the whole thing is close to the ground with minimal banking so it feels more like you’re on a race track. Whilst I wouldn’t say this makes for a brilliant coaster, it does make a very appropriate ride for a Ferrari themed park.

We also had a go on the linked multi player Ferrari driving motion simulators

One slight issue I had with this though was it wasn’t really clear what sort of driving model you were working with. Was this an arcade “drift to your hearts content” type game, or was it an accurate simulation of driving a Ferrari on a track without driving assists like traction control. I felt it was somewhere in the middle, probably with a slightly heavier lean towards simulation than arcade. It took a lap or so to get used to it though. If you want to win the race, my advice is to drive slow and steady. Seriously, the number of cars that piled up on the first corner as you sailed by after breaking early was a bit crazy. Unfortunately, I don’t think the hardware running the simulation was quite up to what it should be, and it was really quite jerky in places.

The final coaster they have is turbo track, another launched intimin. It’s short but sweet and the seating arrangement means you can either face forward or backward for the launch. It launches you over a hump, kind of like Pulsar at Walibi Belgium, so you get a little bit of airtime from that, plus the floatyness of the spike part of the ride.


Finally, I should probably mention the dark rides. They were in general… a bit crap. One has you taken through a Ferrari advert about how they make a car, one is a 3d ride where you follow an annoying CGI character who steals your fathers car keys, and theres also a soarin’ ride, with added Italy and cars. There was a kind of shooting dark ride too, but instead of shooting you had some kind of car tool that you solved problems with by dragging and dropping stuff. It’s kind of hard to explain.

Anyway, with Rossa, Flying aces and Go-Karts, this was a really awesome park and packs a punch few other parks can equal.

In the next part – Warner Bros World
We visited Warner Bros world the following day, to find it again mostly empty.


The theming inside though was very impressive, I particularly liked the Gotham city area as it was full of all the grungy neon Gothic stuff you would expect.




One of the first rides we did was the batman and the forbidden journey / Knight Flight or whatever it was called. This was the same tech as used in the harry potter ride, but I’d say it was less well polished. The screens don’t move with you as they do in the harry potter version, so the transition from video screens to live sets is a bit more jarring and obvious. Still, it wasn’t a bad ride and some of the live sets, particularly the poison ivy bit were good, albeit a bit reminiscent of the womping willow. The queue line and ride interior were well themed though, including a fake elevator section which is interrupted by batman recruiting you.

Also in the batman area was a joker fun house, which was decent, but not particularly stand out. The best bit was at the start though with some creative uses for video screen and a surprise floor drop.

In the Gotham area there was also an amazingly well themed disc o coaster based on the riddler. This thing just looked great with the lighting and smoke effects, it even went over water giving some cool reflections. There’s some pretty well themed disc o’s out there (Plopsa, Asterix etc.) but this is probably my favourite one.


The justice league ride was sadly shut for all our visit so we went and did the superman 360 battle for metropolis thing. This had quite a good “pre-show into full show” fake out, where you’re stood in queue line then it goes dark and then the TV sets in the queue disappear and you’re surrounded by the 360 3d screen. It wasn’t bad, the 3d worked well, but it was nowhere near as good as the hulk 360 thing at IMG.

The final ride in the metropolis section was Green Lantern Galactic Odessy. Now this is a ride that I was very impressed by, and we rode it a couple of times. It’s basically Sorain’, but with very well done 3d and much more intense motion. I know pretty much nothing about the green lantern, but this ride was really good. The 3d was smooth and highly detailed and the story made sense and had a good flow to it. For a flying theatre, you’re also thrown around quite a bit which makes it a more intense ride. It had the extra stuff like smells for the different environments too. I’d say it’s probably the best soarin’ style ride out there, and the only one that I’ve chosen to ride several times on the same day rather than the usual “ one and done”.

We wandered into the flintstones area and did the log flume there. It was pretty nicely themed and thankfully you didn’t get that wet in the splashdown. Don’t get me wrong, in abu dhabi a wet water ride makes sense, but the seeing as the whole park is air conditioned and indoors, it makes a lot less sense to be walking around soaked.

Next to the flintstones was a looney tunes area which houses one of the two coasters at the park – fast and furry-ous, which is a road runner / wyle e coyote themed intamin family coaster. While not earth shattering by intamin standards, it made a pretty decent ride and while far from extreme, was very re ridable. The first drop into a dark section in the back was particularly good.


We ended up wandering back through the Gotham section and caught a live show based on the joker’s birthday. Now one thing I will say is full props to the cast member playing Harley Quinn as she truly nailed the role and stole the show. She had all the mannerisms, cadence, and accent of the character perfected, and really seemed to enjoy portraying the role. The joker on the other hand was really a bit “meh” and wasn’t nearly as entertaining in comparison. Nathan was even pulled up for a bit of audience participation, and who doesn’t love that! After batman saved the day and defeated the joker and Harley (boo!) there was time for photo ops. I think he got a bit bat-butt-hurt that I didn’t really want a photo with him though!




The other coaster in the park is Tom and Jerry themed Swiss cheese spin – a fairly standard spinning coaster, but the trains were nicely themed at least. The queue line also had quite a lot of detail to it and overall made a decent ride.


In the same area as tom and jerry is a great scooby doo ride. This is a trackless dark ride (as so many rides in UAE seem to be), but this one makes great use of the technology. You see one of 3 different scenes in each section of the ride based around a different member of the scooby gang, but to me, the highlight was a bit that was kind of like a hall of mirrors, except there was an additional ride vehicle containing shaggy and scooby that ran into you and it all played out a bit like a chase scene. I think this was a great use for the dark ride system and really felt original.

We also did an indoor ropes course type thing based around Teen Titans? - whoever they are. It was decent, but a bit confusing, as it was built on 3 differnt levels, but there wasn’t really a clear route for you to follow, as you could go both clockwise and anti-clockwise around each level. Fortunately, there were quite a few passing places where you could hook your cable to the side and let someone go by. At the top there was a roll glider zip line coaster type thing. I wouldn’t count it as a cred, but its hard to really say on paper what the difference between it and Pteranodon flyers is, and a lot of people count that!



After getting our exercise on the ropes course, there was also another trackless shooting dark ride, this time themed to some sort of looney tunes / ACME postal delivery service. It suffered from the problem a lot of these rides have in that you’re too busy shooting at stuff to take in the rides story or effects properly. I think we rode it once without shooting anything and it was just as enjoyable. The 3d worked fine and was of good quality throughout.

After the day at warner bros world, we headed to make the most of our left-over sparky’s card credits and went to ride the coaster at their branch in abu dhabi. This was a more typical coaster, but with a custom layout and creative use of the floor space it had to work with in a small mall park, it was decent. I wouldn’t go out of the way to ride it, but if you’ve some time or sparky’s points to kill and want to see another UAE mall and food court to boot, then you can always consider making the trip.


In the final part: Yas water world, and the only (I Think) spite of the trip.
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Hyper Poster
I absolutely loved Warner Bros World when I went there a few weeks ago. The number of dark rides and their quality took me by surprise. My opinions on the place are mostly the same as yours. I absolutely loved the Disk-O with all the light and smoke effects. The Scooby Doo ride was good too, probably my favourite dark ride in the UAE.

And that zip line thing is totally a cred. I counted it.
The last new park of the trip for us was Yas water world – home to the only roller soaker coaster still running in the world.

We arrived and the park was pretty much deserted, there was probably more staff there than there were guests. Sadly, several of the bigger rides were shut for maintenance. The overall theming of the place was pretty well done, and some areas even reminded me a bit of Klugheim at phatasialand.

The coaster was better than expected too, it actually gives a really nice swooping scenic ride around the park, under and over slides and rocks. It was a bit disappointing that the water bombing part of the ride wasn’t working, but with so few people in the park, the chances of us actually successfully water bombing someone was really low. Bandit bomber was also a milestone for Nathan too – his 1100th cred!


The water slides were good too, there was huge drop one that gave quite an extreme wedgie, a giant double down one that had a scary amount of freefall airtime as you go over the edge and 5 different snake slides which each offer something different. Each snake was a ring-based slide but some were based on speed, others twists, others toilet bowl or funnel type elements and one was listed as special effects – which ended up just being some coloured lights as you go down.



The other ride they have there is a sinking/floating/flooding 3d theatre. Basically, it played a 3d movie with water effects then at one point the whole theatre floods up to about your hips as you’re sat watching the film. On their website they describe it as “the world’s most immersive cinema experience” and I’m honestly not sure whether the pun is intended or not. The film itself was pretty bad – some story about a lost pearl and bad parenting, wrapped up in probably some of the jerkiest poorest frame rate 3d films I’ve seen.

We didn’t spend the whole day at yas water world and instead returned to Ferrari land for more rides on rossa and flying aces. Thankfully out 3 day ticket seemed to allow park hopping, even though the way they phrased it was quite confusing and they seemed to stop selling the 3 day ticket altogether after we had bought them.

We also tried for one extra bonus coaster in the form of the drifting coaster in yas mall, but sadly it was in pieces and never opened. Still, as spites go on this trip, there could have been much worse ones!

Overall though, we had a great time in UAE and I think it’s definitely worth a trip out there. January/February seems to be a really good time to go too, as queues were pretty much non existent. You may want to consider going sooner rather than later though, as I’m not sure how sustainable so many parks are with such low attendance. UAE seems to be in a bit of a weird place where it wants to attract more western type tourists but at it’s heart, its still quite a conservative place. There’s supposedly a six flags and even more parks under construction, but whether they will ever get completed is another question. It’s kind of as if they’ve tried to build all of Orlando at once without letting it expand at a more natural rate. Rome wasn’t built in a day and magic kingdom, Hollywood studios, animal kingdom and epcot didn’t all open on the same day either.

And so ends the trip report! Hope you've enjoyed reading it!


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January/February seems to be a really good time to go too, as queues were pretty much non existent. You may want to consider going sooner rather than later though, as I’m not sure how sustainable so many parks are with such low attendance.
I think they're just always like that. :p

At least in Jan/Feb the weather is halfway bearable! :D


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January/February was perfect when I was there the same time the year before. Perfect weather to be outside. I wouldn't go near in the summer.