Welcome to Walley World Dubai?

May 15, 2018, 11:37 AM · One of Dubai's theme parks is about to have a Walley World moment.

If you didn't immediately get the reference, Walley World is the fictional theme park from National Lampoon's Vacation (and filmed at Six Flags Magic Mountain) that the Griswold family discovered to be closed for maintenance after an "everything that could go wrong, did" cross-country roadtrip to visit the park.

While parks close individual attractions and even entire lands from time to time for repairs and refurbishment, it's almost unheard of that an entire park would close during its regularly-scheduled operating season. But that's about to happen in the United Arab Emirates, where IMG Worlds of Adventure has elected to take nearly three weeks off, starting later this month.

That coincides with the Holy month of Ramadan in the Muslim faith this year, and the park announced that it will use the time off from May 20 to June 7 to "be working to enhance the facilities and overall guest experience."

The UAE has been experiencing a theme park building boom over the past few years. Ferrari World Abu Dhabi kicked things off when it opened in 2010. IMG Worlds in neighboring Dubai came next, in August 2016, followed by the three-park Dubai Parks & Resorts development later that year. And Warner Bros. World will open next to Ferrari World on Abu Dhabi's Yas Island in July. That gives the United Arab Emirates six theme parks, with at least three others under development, including a Six Flags and a SeaWorld.

With so many parks competing in what isn't yet well-established as a theme park market, these destinations have struggled to crack the industry's list of most-attended theme parks. While Dubai Parks has reported strong attendance gains over the past year as Motiongate Dubai finally opened all of its attractions, we haven't heard much about attendance at IMG Worlds, except that the park wasn't exactly bursting at the seams with visitors in the months after it opened.

So if there isn't a line of eager-spending visitors queueing at the doors, why not take some time after nearly two years of 365-day operation to fix up and improve stuff? Why stay open and continue to defer maintenance waiting for the Griswolds?

The UAE's other parks will remain open during Ramadan.

IMG Worlds offers a world-class collection of franchises, with the theme park rights to Marvel and Cartoon Network properties. But none of the park's attractions have broken through to the point where it has made the park a "must visit" destination for theme park fans in UAE's target markets in Europe and Asia, much less in the United States. A world's fair is coming to Dubai in 2020, which should lure more visitors to the already-popular Emirate, but whether that show will bring more visitors to the area's theme parks or siphon them away to the fair remains to be seen.

Replies (10)

May 15, 2018 at 1:25 PM

Really makes me wonder which park will close first? Should we start a pool on it? The UAE is not a big enough market for that many parks yet. Maybe one day it will become that but for right now I truly wonder how much more money their willing to spend on these money loosing parks!

May 15, 2018 at 1:31 PM

They should sell a multi-park pass. See it all for one low price.

May 15, 2018 at 2:30 PM

They simply don't have the creative team to make proper attractions like Universal or Disney. There attractions are straight from the school of Six Flags type parks. So you'll have a great IP, but then some sloppy coaster type ride. You don't get no Spiderman, Flight oF Passage, or Harry Potter type attractions.

May 15, 2018 at 2:39 PM

I'm betting this won't be a theme park destination in the foreseeable future!

May 15, 2018 at 3:57 PM

>>>They should sell a multi-park pass. See it all for one low price.

Not an entirely bad or unprecedented idea. In Blackpool there's a "Resort Pass" that covers attractions from different operators - https://www.visitblackpool.com/resort-pass/faqs/

May 15, 2018 at 4:39 PM

Wall-E World would make for a great third gate at Anaheim...

May 15, 2018 at 9:17 PM

Or the SoCal CityPass, which includes Disney, Legoland, and SeaWorld.

May 15, 2018 at 11:49 PM

But would that really be enough to generate trade to fill 6, soon to be 9 theme parks? I could imagine a single resort with maybe two gates doing well in this location but no matter how aggressively they price tickets I just can't see that there are sufficient potential visitors in the area, (and by potential I mean not just sufficient numbers of tourists but sufficient numbers of the right kind of tourist).

May 16, 2018 at 6:08 AM

I agree. I've been to Dubai a few times since the opening of the parks and just couldn't see myself making the untimely and inconivent trip from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Maybe if they had a better attraction line up I would.

May 16, 2018 at 10:20 AM

Sounds like a repeat of the MGM Grand Adventures theme park in Las Vegas in the 90s. They somehow thought that 'good enough' will ensure success, but it was lacking in quality and closed fairly quickly. Actually, most family attractions in Las Vegas which tried to be like Disney, like the ones in the Luxor, closed, except Circus Circus Adventuredome, which was always an unabashed carnival attraction. A theme park must have Disney or Universal quality if it expects to draw visitors to a new market.

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