Dubai, home to the iconic Burj Khalifa, claimed another superlative in 2016 when the world’s largest indoor theme park, the IMG Worlds of Adventure, opened in the city. Located in the heart of the “new Dubai”, it is 20 minutes away from both Dubai International Airport and Dubai World Central Al Maktoum International Airport, and a short drive away from the city centre.
Built at a cost of US$1bil (RM3.9bil), the indoor park boasts a Marvel-themed section where all your favourite Avengers are assembled, a first-of-its-kind 3D ride with 18 IMAX projectors, and a hair-raising Haunted Hotel.
The park is the size of 28 football fields, measuring a whopping 1.5mil sq ft in total. It is split into four themed zones complete with prehistoric jungle trails featuring 70 life-like animatronic dinosaurs created by Japan’s Kokoro and a labyrinth of city streets.
“One of the main challenges was building an indoor park in the middle of the desert with incremental weather conditions without compromising the integrity of the rides and attractions,” observes Alan Lee, the director of marketing of IMG Worlds of Adventure.
The rides were housed in a special warehouse until it was time for installation. During installation, the rides – due to their size and scale – were lowered into the building through an open rooftop. Once inside, they were protected by large tents until all of the installations were completed and the roof was installed.
The main reason why IMG Worlds is indoors is because temperatures in the desert can go up as high as 50°C in the summer.
The Marvel Zone is arguably the star attraction, with rides featuring iconic characters such as The Mighty Thor and Captain America as they take to the skies in the Quinjet to battle Ultron. Other highlights include Hulk Epsilon, a 100-seater ride that takes you on a spin with the angry green giant in a 3D environment, and Spider-Man Doc Ock’s Revenge, a fantastic 400m spinning roller coaster that propels you through the Manhattan skyline.
Another signature attraction is the Lost Valley Dinosaur Adventure’s The Velociraptor, which sets the record for the fastest and tallest roller coaster in Dubai. The ride features eight stomach-churning loops and corkscrews. Its most thrilling aspect is the part where it shoots riders out into the desert and back indoors at 100km/h in 2.5 seconds!
Then there is the Cartoon Network Zone that boasts such family-friendly attractions as Adventure Time, LazyTown, The Powerpuff Girls and The Amazing World of Gumball. It also contains the world’s first Ben 10 5D cinema that can host up to 1,200 viewers at one time. The cinema screens an exclusive 10-minute movie.
Last but not least is the Haunted Hotel, which promises a truly terrifying experience. The walk-through attraction is a maze of corridors and creepy characters, including a blood-drenched butcher surrounded by hanging corpses. Lee notes that some visitors have thought it was a real hotel and wanted to book rooms there for the weekend.
“Our amazing mix of intellectual properties is one of the factors that sets us apart from other theme parks in the world. This is the only place in the world where you can find Cartoon Network and Marvel together.”
Lee adds that the park is designed to be fully immersive. Boring queues are made more bearable with various media platforms playing videos of the rides and their stories. To skip the queues, simply upgrade to Fast Track at an additional cost of RM218. After the ride, visitors exit into a retail store inspired by the theme of the ride.
Food is another standout feature at the park. It houses 28 original F&B outlets serving Arabic, European, American and Pan Asian cuisines.
There are also 25 retail outlets offering over 5,000 product lines, 60% of which are park-exclusive toys, collectibles, fashion and accessories. For example, the Marvel Vault store offers limited edition items signed by Stan Lee.
According to Lee, the park was constructed to be “future-proofed”. “When we built it, we intentionally left some areas open for future expansion. We plan to add more rides and attractions in the coming years.”
In fact, it recently opened a second wing, the IMG Worlds of Legends, featuring nine unique zones that brought together globally celebrated entertainment brands such as Ubisoft, Mattel, Nickelodeon, Saban, Pokémon, Toei Animation and TV TOKYO.