Dubai: IMG Worlds of Adventure could be the theme park you never had growing up in the Middle East.
The new 1.5 million-square-foot theme park, which is gearing up to open in Dubai on August 31, is targeting tourists that come from countries that don’t have large-scale theme parks, says its chief executive, Lennard Otto.
“It is key for us to focus on markets that don’t have these types of attractions. So instead of people flying to the West or Far East, they could focus on flying to Dubai,” he told Gulf News in an interview at IMG Worlds of Adventure on Monday during a media preview.
The indoor theme park, owned by Dubai-based Ilyas and Mustafa Galadari (IMG) Group, is located along Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road (near Arabian Ranches, next to Global Village). It is expected to attract 4.5 million visitors during its first year of operations and more than 30,000 per day, with an equal split between residents and tourists.
It will stay open all year round, even during the summer months, when Dubai traditionally sees a lull in tourism. But IMG Worlds of Adventure hopes to change that.
“We will drive tourism in the summer months,” Otto said.
Dubai is known for having glitzy shopping malls and hotels, but not for large-scale theme parks, the likes of Disneyland or Universal Studios. But Otto thinks that will change as more theme parks open in the city.
Another major theme park coming to Dubai is Dubai Parks and Resorts, which will consist of Bollywood Parks Dubai, Motiongate Dubai, Legoland Dubai and Legoland Water Park. It is scheduled to open on October 31 and will be joined by Six Flags by 2019.
Nikola Kosutic, research manager at global consultancy Euromonitor International, said the theme parks market in the UAE was valued at Dh1.8 billion in 2015. That’s expected to hit Dh2.8 billion by the end of this year and over Dh7 billion by 2020.
“All of the UAE’s theme parks, including IMG Worlds of Adventure, will contribute 0.43 per cent to the country’s economy by 2020. However, their indirect impact is larger as they are expected to increase [the] average stay of tourists, increase average daily spend and contribute to the development of the accommodation and transportation sectors,” Kosutic said.
What’s there to see?
IMG Worlds of Adventure costs more than Dh1 billion, paid for by a mix of internal equity and Dh1.8 billion in bank loans. IMG Theme Park expects to generate around Dh1.5 in revenues during the first year of operations, with an annual growth rate of 7 per cent until 2020, according to Otto.
The theme park features more than 20 rides and attractions based around dinosaurs and Marvel and Cartoon Network characters, as well as a 12-screen Novo Cinemas facility, The Haunted Hotel, 28 food and beverage stores and 25 retail outlets. It consists of four themed zones: Cartoon Network, Marvel, IMG Boulevard and the Lost Valley-Dinosaur Adventure.
Some of the major rides at the park include Avengers: Battle of Ultron, which is an interactive ride, allowing visitors to fight alongside Avengers characters and Spider-Man Doc Ock’s Revenge, a 400-metre spinning coaster.
IMG Worlds of Adventure currently has over 100 actors and entertainers to keep visitors entertained. Many of them come from the UK, France, Italy, South Africa and Eastern Europe, Otto said.
Tickets to the theme park are available on the IMG Worlds of Adventure website. Adult tickets are priced Dh300, while tickets for children under 1.2 metres in height cost Dh250. Prices of fast-track passes start at an additional Dh125. These will allow visitors to stand in special queues and cut down queue time by 90 per cent, Otto said. Prices of the VIP ticket will be announced a day before the park’s opening, he added.
IMG Worlds of Adventure was scheduled to open in 2014 but it was delayed a number of times. In April, IMG Group said the theme park would open on August 15 but pushed the date back to August 31 because it is “currently fine-tuning the last remaining details.”
The theme park has space for further expansion, Otto said in April, adding that the company is looking to launch several new attractions over the next five years.
The standard opening times are from 10am to 10pm from Sunday to Wednesday, and until midnight from Thursday to Saturday.