Dubai, a desert city known for its variety of indoor attractions, upped the ante in a big way last week when it unveiled the largest indoor theme park in the world.
The park, dubbed the IMG Worlds of Adventure, measures 1.5 million square feet—or, as CNN puts it, the size of 28 football fields. It features a variety of rides and attractions branded with Marvel and Cartoon Network characters. Everything sits comfortably under one ginormous roof, about 15 minutes from central Dubai.
The $1-billion climate-controlled facility distributes rides across four “adventure zones.”
The Marvel zone features a Spider Man ride that includes a roller coaster that spins around and propels riders through a New York City skyline, plus an IMAX-like film experience where audiences can watch the Incredible Hulk kick some butt.
In the Cartoon Network area, a Powerpuff Girls–themed ride spins passengers upside-down, while a Gumball-themed experience evokes Laser Tag and has riders shooting virtual cretins.
Another part of the park, The Lost Valley-Dinosaur Adventure Zone, celebrates dinosaurs. The Velociraptor roller coaster starts inside, juts out into the Dubai desert, then heads back into the conditioned air; it also delivers eight loops and corkscrews and accelerates from zero to 60 mph in three seconds out of the gate. Elsewhere in this area, kids will love the Adventure Fortress, an indoor playground, and the Dino Carousel, a merry-go-round with nothing but dinosaurs.
The other zone in the park is IMG Boulevard, a hodgepodge of shops and restaurants and other attractions such as a haunted hotel. There’s also a 12-screen movie theater. (Think of this area as IMG World’s take on Downtown Disney.)
Overall, IMG Worlds of Adventure has 22 rides, 25 retail outlets, and 28 places to buy food and drinks.
With the price of admission for all of this 300 dirhams (US$82) for adults and 250 dirhams (US$68) for kids, many consider the park a great value.
For this reason, locals and visitors alike have flocked to the theme park to explore. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, CEO Leonard Otto said the attraction expects 4.5 million visitors in its first year, which is about 60 percent of occupancy. Otto added that the park plans to launch one new major attraction every year for the next five years, largely to keep the product fresh.
Unbelievably, IMG Worlds of Adventure likely will need all the help it can get. In October, the $2.8-billion Dubai Parks and Resorts theme park is slated to open on the main highway connecting Dubai with Abu Dhabi. At last check, this open-air destination was expected to include a Six Flags, a Legoland water park and roller coaster, Bollywood-themed rides and shows, and a Motiongate movie-themed park with a Smurfs village.
Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. In nearly 20 years as a full-time freelancer, he has covered travel for publications includingTIME, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sunset, Backpacker, Entrepreneur,and more. He contributes to the Expedia Viewfinder blog and writes a monthly food column for Islands magazine. Villano also serves on the board of the Family Travel Association and blogs about family travel at Wandering Pod. Learn more about him at Whalehead.com