Artists perform at the grand opening of Dubai parks and resorts on Sunday evening. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Three years after construction began at the Dubai Parks and Resorts, the Dh13 billion attraction was officially inaugurated on Sunday, December 18, by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Shaikh Mohammad was accompanied by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Amal Al Qubaisi, Speaker of the Federal National Council, Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, and other senior officials.

Located in Jebel Ali, close to the Expo 2020 site, the inauguration as attended by media from around the world and officials. Two hundred children from the Awqaf and Minor Affairs Foundation and the Make A Wish Foundation were also invited to the event, which saw a special show performed by dancers and actors from the attractions various parks.

Lookalikes of Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Aamir Khan danced to their biggest hit songs.

 Alan Menken, the Oscar, Grammy and Tony Award-winning composer behind the scores of classic films such as Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, Beauty and the Beast and Sister Act, who wrote the attraction's theme song, All the Wonders of the Universe, performed the composition with his daughter Anna Rose.

“It was irresistible,” Menken told Gulf News tabloid! in an earlier interview, about writing the song. “I just imagined how a magical theme park might spring to life in the middle of the desert.”

The show, which lasted about 30 minutes, ended with a massive fireworks display.

Spread over 2.8 million square metres and consisting of three main theme parks — Legoland Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai and Motiongate Dubai — the project has seen a phased opening, starting with Riverland Dubai, the central attraction that connects all the parks, on October 31.

Shaikh Mohammed, whose directives it was to launch the project, has been personally involved at every stage. He toured the park on October 29, saying the project would become a cultural and tourist landmark that would elevate the UAE’s position as a regional and global family entertainment and tourism destination.

Legoland Dubai is part of a themed chain of parks inspired by the popular construction toys, while Bollywood Parks Dubai is a first-of-its-kind attraction dedicated to the everything Bollywood.

Motiongate Dubai is inspired by Hollywood movies and will feature attractions and content from DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate and The Smurfs. Riverland Dubai, the ‘reception’ area for all the parks, is itself a themed area with hundreds of dining options and a river at its centre. Visitors can also stay at the Lapita Hotel, a Polynesian-themed resort, managed by the Marriott Group.

This is just the first phase of Dubai Parks and Resorts, which is expected to be fully built by 2019. Six Flags Dubai, part of the world’s largest amusement park chain headquartered in Texas, will be the fourth theme park to open. Estimated to cost Dh2.6 billion, it will feature 27 rides and attractions across six zones.

“We are very proud of the destination we have created for the UAE and its visitors, and thank our partners, guests and shareholders for their support of this complex and unique destination,” said Raed Kajoor Al Nuaimi, the chief executive officer of DXB Entertainments, the company that operates Dubai Parks and Resorts, ahead of its opening day.