Attendance jumped again at Dubai Parks & Resorts last year, but the number of people visiting the resort's three theme parks continues to lag initial expectations for the resort.
The resort welcomed nearly 2.8 million visitors in 2018, according to DXB Entertainments. That represents a 22 percent increase over 2017, which was the resort's first full year of operation. However, the 2.3 million visitors the park drew that year fell well short of the 6.7 million visitors that the resort had forecast for its first full year.
Dubai Parks & Resorts includes three theme parks: Motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, and Legoland Dubai. DXB Entertainments did not break out attendance for each park. The parks are connected by the Riverland Dubai shopping district, which includes the Lapita Hotel. Occupancy soared at the hotel in 2018, rising from 35 percent in 2017 to 60 percent last year. Occupancy was even higher in the fourth quarter of 2018, with 63 percent occupancy for the quarter and nearly 100 percent during Christmas week.
DXB Entertainments noted that 40 percent of the resort's visitors came from outside the United Arab Emirates, and that the resort is targeting international visitors to boost attendance in 2019. However, the resort will not be helped by the opening of the planned Six Flags Dubai park, as the resort put the plans for that expansion under review in November. Six Flags Dubai had been intended as a "greatest hits" of the Six Flags thrill park chain, with individual lands themed to its top U.S. parks.
Dubai Parks & Resorts also wasn't helped by not having the DreamWorks Animation land at Motiongate Dubai — considered by many visitors to be the highlight of resort — ready when the resort opened officially in December 2016. That undercut initial marketing efforts for the resort, which has posted substantial financial losses since its opening.
It's too early to tell whether Dubai Parks & Resorts will be helped or hindered by the opening of Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi on nearby Yas Island. That Abu Dhabi resort area now offers two world-class theme parks, with Warner Bros World joining its neighbor Ferrari World. And Yas Island's developer Miral plans to add a SeaWorld park in 2022. Dubai also will be hosting a world's fair in 2020, so the UAE is boosting its appeal to themed entertainment fans around the world. Whether Dubai Parks & Resorts will be able to ride that increase — or be left behind by it — remains to be seen.Tweet
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