Our Theme Park Virtual World Tour Continues in Dubai

April 11, 2020, 4:35 PM · Less than an hour up the road from our last stop on Yas Island and just over the border between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, stands our next Virtual Roadtrip destination, Dubai Parks and Resorts.

Dubai Parks and Resorts is the second-largest theme park resort in the world by number of land parks, with its three parks ranking behind only the Walt Disney World Resort's four. Connected by the Riverland shopping and dining district, the three parks make a fun weekend getaway for globetrotting theme park fans. When paired with the Yas Island and the nearby IMG Worlds of Adventure park, Dubai Parks and Resorts help make the United Arab Emirates a fun week-long visit for any theme park lover.

If I may, a quick lesson for U.S. readers — Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai are part of the United Arab Emirates, which is an independent nation on the Arabian peninsula in the Middle East. There are seven "emirates" (think, states in the US) in the UAE, of which Dubai and Abu Dhabi are by far the largest. Dubai is both the name of its emirate and the name of that emirate's largest city, as is the case with Abu Dhabi, which also is the nation's capital.

The UAE is by far the most liberal nation, culturally, among the Arab nations in the Middle East. As I heard countless time when visiting IRL, "This isn't Saudi." As a visitor, you can just dress and act like you're in Orlando here and no one will give you a second look. You'll find plenty of "Western" brands through the UAE. Heck, you will find an Olive Garden, a Famous Dave's, and a TGI Friday's in Riverland. Dubai and, to a lesser extent, Abu Dhabi are huge get-aways for tourists from India and Europe, but actually less so for many people from elsewhere in the Middle East, as the UAE has a reputation among some for being "too Western."

For a visual overview of the city and the region in "model" form, let's start our Dubai Parks visit at Legoland Dubai and check out the world's first indoor Miniland, which recreates many local sights.

The prettiest park here is Bollywood Parks Dubai, themed to world-famous icons of Indian cinema.

Screen-based attractions dominate this small park, but I love the unrestrained spirit of these attractions, each themed to popular Bollywood franchises.

The movie theme continues at the resort's largest park, the Western-focused Motiongate Dubai.

We get more dark rides over here, including the interactive ride Ghostbusters Battle for New York...

The trackless ride Hotel Transylvania...

...And the Smurfs Studio Tour.

But the top land in the park is its indoor Dreamworks Animation land, featuring the Mack inverted powered coaster, Dragon Gliders.

And the Shrek's Merry Fairy Tale Journey dark ride.

Thanks for joining us on this swing through the Middle East. Now it's off to the Dubai airport for a pretend flight to our next virtual destination - Singapore!

When the parks reopen in real life, be sure to visit our travel partner for tickets to Dubai Parks and Resorts.

Theme Park Insider's Virtual Roadtrip:

Replies (1)

April 11, 2020 at 8:18 PM

I was looking forward to this write up all week. It's good to hear about these parks and your insight is really helpful with explaining the UAE. I can look it up but I believe a Sea World is also on the way, maybe. The UAE is definitely on my travel list. Someday...

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