Miral is the developer behind several other attractions on its Yas Island site in Abu Dhabi, including the existing Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld parks and the upcoming Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, which opens in 2018. In 2008, SeaWorld announced a project for the UAE at The Palm Jebel Ali in Dubai, which also would have included Busch Gardens, Aquatica, and Discovery Cove parks. However, that project died in 2009, along with several other developments in the UAE that were cancelled in the wake of the Great Recession.
Park development is back on track in the UAE, however, with this year's debut of IMG Worlds of Adventure in Dubai and the opening of the separate Dubai Parks & Resorts development, which includes the recently opened Legoland Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, and Motiongate Dubai, which opens this weekend. A Six Flags park is slated for that resort in 2019, as well. IMG Worlds this month announced plans for a second park at its development, which sits between Dubai Parks & Resorts and the Yas Island development, helping to create an emerging chain of themed attractions connecting Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE.
For context, the distance between Dubai Parks & Resorts and Yas Island is about 42 miles, which is the same distance between Universal Orlando and Legoland Florida.
The announced parks will establish a presence in the UAE for many major theme park and filmed entertainment companies, including SeaWorld, Six Flags, Merlin (with Legoland), Warner Bros., Sony (at Motiongate), Lionsgate (also at Motiongate), and Nickelodeon (at IMG Worlds). Even Disney and Universal will have an indirect presence, with Disney's Marvel licensed to IMG Worlds and Universal's DreamWorks Animation occupying a land at Motiongate. Yas Island also is home to a Formula 1 race track that hosts the annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and Dubai is preparing to welcome a World's Fair in 2020.
This will be SeaWorld's first theme park outside the United States, "and will integrate up-close animal experiences, mega attractions and a world class aquarium, bringing the latest technology in visitor engagement," according to a SeaWorld press release. Consistent with SeaWorld's recent announcement that it would stop breeding orcas, there will be no Shamu show or orca habitat at the Abu Dhabi park. SeaWorld Abu Dhabi also will include the UAE's first marine mammal "research, rescue, rehabilitation and return center" for injured and distressed animals in the Persian Gulf region.Tweet
The few parks that have cropped up in Dubai all suffer from the lack of vision or creativity.
SeaWorld will continue to be negatively portrayed with Blackfish. This will dissipate over time as their attraction mix continues to move away from live animal shows and more towards rides and high tech attractions.
That's the fatal mistake right there. The indoor park in Dubai reminds me of the MGM Grand Adventures in the 90s in Las Vegas, which opened with anemic theming and closed quickly. You only have one chance to make a first impression. DCA probably would have closed too if it didn't have the benefit of being Disneyland's overflow pressure valve.
As for the rides, they played it safe for the opening, with proven concepts. We'll see in the future if they can innovate.
This is the Middle East, whilst the UAE might not be Qatar, I don't think they'll take kindly to any sort of protest against a foriegn investor splashing cash.
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