Visitors look at the Legoland Park exhibit, part of Dubai Parks and Resorts, at the Arabian Travel Market held at the Dubai World Trade Center. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News archive

Dubai: Theme park revenues in the UAE are expected to increase by 78 per cent from $470 million (Dh1.72 billion) in the current year to $837 million in 2019 as new theme parks open, according to data from consultancy Euromonitor International.

A number of theme parks are planning to open in the country, including the ones by Dubai Parks and Resorts such as Motiongate, Bollywood Parks and Legoland, IMG Worlds of Adventure in Dubailand, Six Flags in Dubai’s Jebel Ali, and Warner Bros. on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island.

The projects will fill a theme park gap in the UAE, according to Nikola Kosutic, research manager at Euromonitor International.

The Dubai government aims to attract 20 million visitors annually by 2020 by widening its tourism offerings. To do so, it is working on positioning Dubai as a global entertainment destination. Dubai also aims to be a leading family destination.

“Families that come need to be entertained and amusement parks are perfect for that,” Kosutic said.

Philip Shepherd, Middle East hospitality and leisure leader at accounting and consulting firm PwC, said in a statement that the UAE’s geographic location and hotels makes the country well-placed to compete with Orlando, Florida, among the world’s most popular theme park destinations, by 2021.

Over two-third of the global population lives within 8 hours flight from Dubai. The UAE boasts both luxury and budget hotels, as well as a range of retail options, from glitzy shopping malls to old souks.

“Globally, theme parks in Europe, the Far East and the USA — Orlando in particular — dominate the market. However, theme parks in the UAE have the potential to see over 18 million visits by 2021, versus Hong Kong’s 15 million, where venues including Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disneyland and have previously dominated top theme parks in the world lists,” he said.

Dubai Parks and Resorts, located off the Jebel Ali highway, is under construction and is scheduled to open in October 2016. It will feature 73 attractions spread across the three theme parks; the four-star Lapita Hotel operated by Marriott International; and Riverpark, an entrance plaza which will offer retail and dining options.

The developer said that first revenues will come in towards the end of 2016, after October of that year, Gulf News reported last month. It anticipates a delivery of Dh2.4 billion in the first full year of operations by way of ticket sales and ancillary revenues.

Next year is also expected to see the opening of IMG Worlds of Adventure, which will consist of the Marvel, Cartoon Network, Lost Valley and IMG Boulevard zones; 28 food and beverage outlets, as well as a 12-screen cinema. The theme park, which costs Dh1 billion, is anticipated to welcome more than 20,000 visitors per day during its first year of operations.