World's largest indoor theme park opens in Dubai

August 31, 2016, 12:43 PM · The world's largest indoor theme park opened in Dubai today. IMG Worlds of Adventure fills 1.5 million square feet with attractions themed to Marvel, Cartoon Network, dinosaurs, and more.

The park's management has ambitious goals for the development. "We are excited to have launched the world’s largest indoor theme park today, which will be a major tourism attraction for Dubai, the surrounding regions and the rest of the world," Lennard Otto, Chief Executive Officer of IMG Worlds of Adventure, said in an opening statement. "As the first international theme park to open in Dubai, we expect to host over 4.5 million people in our first year of operation, transforming the entertainment and leisure industry forever."

An annual attendance of 4.5 million would put the park right on the edge of the world's Top 25 most attended theme parks last year, as reported by the annual TEA/AECOM analysis. That also would have put IMG Worlds of Adventure in the top five most-visited parks in the Europe and Middle East reporting region, edging Walt Disney Studios in Paris and coming in behind Disneyland Paris, Europa Park, Tivoli Gardens, and Efteling.

Here's a promo video from the park, of today's opening:

And here is the park's line-up of attractions:


Cartoon Network

Lost Valley

IMG Boulevard

The park is open 365 days a year, with initial operating hours posted as noon-10pm daily. Adult tickets are US$82.69, at today's exchange rate and can be bought on the park's website. "Ultimate Fast Track" passes are an additional $53. Annual passes are $679.36. Parking is free.

With Ferrari World in neighboring Abu Dhabi and Motiongate, Bollywood Park, and Legoland Dubai opening in the Dubai Parks and Resorts complex next month, the United Arab Emirates soon will have five world-class theme parks, including IMG Worlds of Adventure.

Replies (24)

August 31, 2016 at 12:58 PM · Looks great! Judging from pictures and videos, it's definitely one of the best indoor theme parks worldwide. I don't know how I'd rank it compared to outdoor theme parks such as Disney and Universal though. Dubai promised to become a serious competitor for Orlando and I'm still waiting for that.

I'm especially interested in the "Avengers Battle of Ultron" 3D dark ride. Is it a Spiderman/Transformers style dark ride?

August 31, 2016 at 1:09 PM · I think this region is becoming the first real true competitor for Orlando.
August 31, 2016 at 2:28 PM · Looks like a cheap 'Six Flags' type resort.
August 31, 2016 at 2:50 PM · I wanna go to THAT Six Flags. ;-)
August 31, 2016 at 2:52 PM · I think, at this point, that it is clear the UAE very much is trying to pry some of the European market from Florida. I will leave to our readers in Europe to tell us how effect they think that will be.
August 31, 2016 at 3:36 PM · Europeans like to enjoy alcohol on their holidays...
August 31, 2016 at 4:45 PM · Looks impressive, but I'm not sure it's $82.69 impressive. That's quite a ticket price for the small number of attractions.
August 31, 2016 at 4:58 PM · The Avengers ride is a Transformers style ride. Don't know if it's as good though. The Hulk attraction sounds the most interesting as it's a new concept.
From the videos I've seen and preliminary reviews, this has exceeded my expectations. But 4.5 million visitors is way too optimistic. Ferrari World doesn't even get a million visitors in a year, though this looks better than Ferrari World (which I think is a fatally flawed theme park cum car dealership).

The UAE has quite a way to go to compete with Orlando for theme park fans, but in a few years it might get there. The big test will be the three parks opening in October by Dubai Parks and Resorts. If they are as good as they appear they will be, then the UAE starts getting more attractive to European theme park fans (especially if the US border patrol increasingly becomes Fortress America and there are more mass shootings). And then Warner Bros. and Six Flags in a few years could be the tipping point. There may even be a Sea World park. The water parks in the UAE are already some of the best in the world. Still, the two biggest players are missing from the UAE so far: Disney and Universal.

August 31, 2016 at 7:59 PM · On it's own, I don't see any reason to travel for this park, but I would definitely include it in a trip to the area. The park does look very good, but nothing appears groundbreaking and it is quite expensive given the small size (as a comparison, it's about 40% the size of Disneyland). I just don't see any way they'll get 4.5 million visitors...half that would probably be a stretch even if they draw significantly from the same crowd coming for the Dubai Parks and Resorts properties (which, in my opinion, look much better).

I am curious to see what happens with all this theme park development in the UAE. In five years, it will probably be either a must visit destination for theme park enthusiasts (aka the Orlando of Eurasia) or it will be a ghost town since the tourism never materialized. I'm hoping for the former, but I would not be surprised by the latter.

August 31, 2016 at 9:03 PM · It's going to come down to cheap flights, isn't it?
August 31, 2016 at 10:21 PM · I live in Abu Dhabi and will probably check this place out Saturday. My expectations are not very high as Ferrari World has always been a disappointment. Although to be fair, FW has made some great additions and improvements recently. And I wouldn't call it a car dealership, more of a car museum. Also, you can definitely buy and consume alcohol in the UAE, for any concerned and thirsty Europeans. And the dirham has been pegged to the 1 U.S. dollar (= 3.6725 dirhams) since 1997.
September 1, 2016 at 12:48 AM · For us Western expats, it's a car museum, but for the Emiratis it's a dealership ;-)

I agree that Ferrari World has improved in the last year, but still has quite a way to go to become a must-see destination even when in the UAE (especially with all the cool stuff opening in the next few years from new theme parks to world-class museums Louvre and Guggenheim).

September 1, 2016 at 12:56 AM · As an European (if that exist) I haven't heard anything in the news about this. I follow the many starts and stops of good looking projects but the only one that has becomes reality and I care for is the Bollywood theme park.It looks unique and beautiful. But like the other parks it's really small.
If Universal would open a big park (or 2) I would consider because the flight is a bit shorter and the jetlag will be hardly there but for now I have no reason to stop vacationing at Universal in Florida.
September 1, 2016 at 2:37 AM · My question is how they have the rights to Marvel IP? I would have thought there's no way Disney would relinquish any more rights to their IP, and this park isn't Universal, so how has this happened?
September 1, 2016 at 4:03 AM · They got the rights a few years before Disney bought Marvel. It was back in 2007, that a local UAE company (part owned by the Dubai government) called Tatweer bought the rights from Marvel to make a complete Marvel theme park. At that time Tatweer had plans for numerous theme parks in a new part of Dubai dubbed Dubailand. Then the financial crisis of 2008 hit Dubai hard, and Tatweer went under with it, but its agreement with Marvel was inherited by the new company Galadari, that took over the Dubailand area. I'm sure Disney is not happy about this Marvel land in Dubai, but they can't stop it either as it's all legal.
September 1, 2016 at 8:05 AM · I don't foresee Abu Disney any time soon, so the Marvel rights shouldn't matter too much, even if they plan to expand or add Marvel attractions at Disneyland Paris.

It's too bad there are so many small parks in this area rather than one or two Disneyland-sized parks. Or Universal-sized parks. Going small just seems half-hearted and disappointing to me.

September 1, 2016 at 8:51 AM · Being I haven't even seen WWoHP yet, I'll just add this to the "when I've done everything else" list.
September 1, 2016 at 11:40 AM · Very true, Tony. And I like the Abu Disney nickname, Gabriel. Cheers.
September 1, 2016 at 11:44 AM · >>>>Europeans like to enjoy alcohol on their holidays...

Dubai is known for being Western-Friendly. Westerners are permitted to drink there (its actually become a bit of a party town...)

September 2, 2016 at 9:56 AM · I was in Dubai a few weeks ago.. Definitely very lively and very Western friendly. As a matter of fact, sometimes you'd think you were in the States.
September 2, 2016 at 7:49 PM · Hi! I am from the Phils and my family is coming to Dubai this sept. For 2 weeks. IMG WORLDS is part of the iterinary. Is it true that not all rides are open as of now?
September 3, 2016 at 11:41 AM · Interesting but on the videos I saw, it lacks the top notch theming and détails that is now standard in the Disney and Universal offerings. However, the problem for theme parks in this region of the world could be more a geopolitical one than issues with theming.
September 3, 2016 at 2:22 PM · Did they get the rights from Disney to use Marvel in their parks? I wonder how that works.
September 4, 2016 at 4:35 PM · @Max
I answered that question about 10 posts up. ;-)

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