There is something quite liberating about running wild in an amusement park. Is it perhaps a reminder of that carefree childhood that our adult selves have suppressed or could it be a guilt-free timeout from our stress-fuelled suburban lives?
As we mull over the possibilities, this reporter had her day in the sun amidst the new World of Hunger Games at the Motiongate theme park, tucked away in the sprawling Dubai Parks and Resorts complex.
Arriving on a lazy Saturday afternoon, mere days away from Halloween, the park presented a picturesque sight, dressed in a multitude of orange and red hues. Entry to Motiongate is through the Riverland theme park, which can be a wee bit of a walk, but golf buggies are on stand-by for those who prefer a faster commute.
Motiongate serves as Dubai’s tribute to Hollywood’s golden ages, teaming up with three picture studios, including DreamWorks Animation and Columbia Pictures. However, our destination today was the Lionsgate zone, home of The Hunger Games tie-in that gives visitors a chance to experience the dystopian capitol city of Panem and it’s 12 Districts that sparked the hugely popular film franchise starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth.
LARGER THAN LIFE
If you serve at the command of Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen as her Mockingjay loyalist, then the Lionsgate zone is the perfect starting point.
The first glimpse of The Hunger Games world is a larger than life experience — with a giant replica of the Mockingjay pin paying tribute to Katniss’ deflection from the cruel dystopian tyranny.
Novices to the books or the corresponding films need not worry, as a monument to the 12 Districts that served under the command President Coriolanus Snow (played by Donald Sutherland in the films) explains the backstory of Panem’s glittering facade that is built on the blood of young innocents who are forced to participate in the annual Hunger Games — a challenge where youths fight to the death.
Hollywood stars Elisabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci also reprise their rolls as Effie Trinket and Caesar Flickerman for special AV reels.
As we took in the surrounding vista, the thrilling screams emerging the half-pipe roller coaster commanded our attention. The Capitol Bullet Train, as it is called, was our first stop. Visitors are encouraged to make use of the lockers provided in this World of Hunger Games before hopping on to the rides.
The odds were certainly in our favour as we lined up for roller coaster, with only a handful of people standing in queue, allowing us to nab the coveted front row. The ride is described as a carriage to travel from District 12 to the Capitol. However, those worrying whether the ride would drop them off elsewhere while your flip flops are left standing the starting point need not worry.
As we went through the safety checks while being strapped, visitors beware, this adrenaline-fuelled roller coaster may not be for the faint-hearted. Such was the case when our start was marred by a crying tween who simply could not fathom embarking on this particular adventure.
Two minutes later and we were off. The carriage shot forward towards the first full loop, flipping us upside down before hitting reverse and up the half pipe — all in a matter of seconds.
Even before we could catch our breath, the ride accelerated over the winding track, flinging us sideways, backwards and even defying gravity at intervals before we pulled back into the station.
While a few stumbled out unsteadily on their feet, with another sobbing her way to the exit, the thrilling experience set the stage for exploring the next ride — the Panem Aerial Tour.
WORTH THE WAIT
Sprinting towards the next attraction, which is conveniently steps away, we had hoped the wait time would be equally short, but such was not the case. Brace yourself folks, we ended up standing for close to 45 minutes, waiting it out even as several hopefuls quit the queues and made their way to exit.
Those of you who don’t have the patience to line up can, of course, purchase a fast-track pass to ease up on the wait time. Irrespective of your choice, this immersive experience is worth the wait.
Unlike the 4D thrills that you may sampled at the local cinemas or endured in those standalone rides in a food court of a local mall, this 4D simulator literally transports you within the recesses of Panem.
Armed with special 3D glasses and strapped into a our very own spaceship, the ride created an immersive 360-degree visual experience, as we travelled through Panem’s glittering skyline. However, this was no joyride as our ship came under attack by rebel forces, thrusting us in into our very own battle for survival.
Definitely a lengthier adventure compared to the Capitol Bullet Train, our only complaint (aside from the endless wait) was the seating in the second row and beyond doesn’t provide a clear view of the action as it unfolds directly ahead on the screen.
Exiting the ride, we made our way over to the quaint little Peeta’s Bakery to indulge in some post-adventure snacks — who says saving the world was an easy job?
Unfortunately, time did not permit, but the Lionsgate zone also serves up an added attraction of a live street show with hip-hop street performances.
Don’t miss it!
The World of Hunger Games attraction at the Lionsgate Zone, Motiongate, Dubai Parks and Resorts.
Tickets are currently priced at Dh165 for GCC residents. Annual passes and a Q-Fast option also available via its website.