Image Credit: Supplied

If it is adventure — the really scary kind — you crave, then come August 15, “check in” to The Haunted Hotel at the IMG World of Adventures in Dubai.

Stretching across 1.5 million square feet, IMG Worlds of Adventure, owned by the UAE-based Ilyas and Mustafa Galadari Group, is an indoor theme park close to Global Village on Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, with four worlds: Marvel, Cartoon Network, Lost Valley and IMG Boulevard.

It’s all pretty family-friendly — with an exception: The Haunted Hotel.

Without revealing too much about the attraction, Markus Mack-Evan, project manager and the man behind the development of the concept, told tabloid! that one had to experience this “unique” attraction for themselves and its “uniqueness is described by the way the haunted attraction has been executed”.

How is The Haunted Hotel unique to the region and why do you think Dubai needed such an attraction?

When IMG started creating the IMG World, we saw there was nothing as such in the market at this scale. Halloween events obviously have been a great success for any theme park around the world too. [So when we were] building a world-class indoor theme park, we said we need [an experience like this] and we have to build it right since all these scary elements — such as in TV series — are coming up around the world.

If you look at the market, you’ve had some haunted house experiences [here such as the ones] at Global Village and recently in Dubai Mall. While I haven’t visited the one at Dubai Mall myself, I think they are restricted at 13 years and we are at 15 years, so we are a little bit more scary than them. And the other one, it’s not like they did not try to catch the market but did not have the opportunity to the same scale and size we are building to.

We have a very extensive, very threatening script which was exclusively created for IMG World by our design team in the US. Based on that script [we have] the two Donavan Brothers, who are introducing you to The Haunted Hotel, and we have put a lot of really scary peaks into that script. That’s why [the experience] has been rated at 15 years. I think this is the only attraction [at the park] you wouldn’t consider a family experience as it is more for the older teenagers and adults.

Tell us about the conception and execution.

Rather than a challenge or problem it was an opportunity... unlike other world attractions — such as at Disney — IMG Adventures is going to be a one hundred per cent immersive experience.

The first draft concept came up in mid-2013 when the first sketches of the script were written. From then we went line by line into the video and projection element, like when the Donavan Brothers are talking to the guests. We had unique costumes designed, which went through several reviews, including those with the Galadari family — in fact they were very much involved in reviewing every single element of the attraction.

Once everything was finalised on paper, we evaluated the market, around the world actually, where we could purchase our unique design and we found different partners in the US, working with the big theme parks, and the Hollywood element who worked with us on the masks, then we had our costumes produced in Hong Kong.

Would you say it’s a ride similar to the Tower of Terror ride at Disney Hollywood Studios?

The entrance or introduction to the experience might be similar to the former hotel in Tower of Terror but that’s where the similarity ends. Our attraction is a walk-through while the Tower of Terror is a ride. This 15+ attraction is not a ride as there is no vehicle that takes you into the experience. Plus we have live actors through the entire attraction who are interfacing and interfering with the guests as they walk through.


The name — The Haunted Hotel — and the initial news about it sounded as if this was a property where guests can go for an overnight stay. Do we see that happening in the future?

Unfortunately, if a guest wants to come and book a night, that’s not possible. But we are looking forward to doing some overnight haunted experiences.


The Marvel-lous experience

IMG Worlds of Adventure will open on August 15 (with the exception of the 12-screen Novo Cinema). Tickets, Dh300 for adults and Dh250 for children, are online at IMGworlds.com. They give all-day access to over 20 rides and attractions, live shows and a 5D cinema experience.

The park also includes 25 retail concept stores, 28 F&B outlets, over 1,600 employees and 4,500 parking spaces.