DUBAI: FUN IN THE SUN

Jane Knight

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - NEWS - JANE KNIGHT

The jazzy theme-park mu­sic stops for a minute and is re­placed by the call to prayer re­ver­ber­at­ing around the rides. “You don’t get that in Or­lando, Florida,” I quip to my son. “But then this isn’t re­ally Or­lando stan­dard, is it?”

“No, but it’s get­ting there,” says my 11-year-old the­mepark con­nois­seur. Which is quite a state­ment, con­sid­er­ing that, like an ac­cel­er­at­ing roller­coaster ride, Dubai opened four be­tween Au­gust and mid-De­cem­ber 2015, with an­other two on the draw­ing board. The emi­rate that’s home to the world’s tallest build­ing, the largest shopping mall and the most lux­u­ri­ous ho­tel is set­ting its sights on fam­ily at­trac­tions.

With­out a Mouse or a Harry Pot­ter broom­stick in sight, it aims to be­come a sec­ond Or­lando, part of a plan to at­tract 20 mil­lion vis­i­tors by the time of the 2020 Expo (from 14 mil­lion in 2015). In a way it’s a sur­prise it didn’t hap­pen ear­lier in this fam­ily-friendly desti­na­tion, where ho­tels are geared up for young trav­ellers, with kids’ clubs and great ser­vice. Fun ac­tiv­i­ties abound, from desert sa­faris to an in­door ski area, which means you can (and we do) go from sand to ski in a mat­ter of hours. There’s the 828m-high Burj Khal­ifa to visit for ul­ti­mate class­room brag­ging rights and a cou­ple of ex­cel­lent wa­ter parks.

Part of the prob­lem with theme parks here, though, is Dubai’s soar­ing sum­mer heat, with tem­per­a­tures reg­u­larly climb­ing to 40C or higher. Which is why we’re stand­ing now in the in­door theme park that is IMG Worlds of Ad­ven­ture, the size of 28 foot­ball pitches — the world’s largest in­door park, nat­u­rally. The ceil­ing is clev­erly sound­proofed which, con­sid­er­ing the vol­ume of my screams after we as­cend ver­ti­cally, then tum­ble down the Preda­tor roller­coaster, seems rather a good idea. There’s more scream­ing at the Ve­loci­rap­tor, a coaster that takes us from 0-100km/h in 2.5 sec­onds, burst­ing out of the in­door area to twist and corkscrew in the desert heat be­fore re­turn­ing with some hi­lar­i­ous windswept hair­styles.

This Lost Val­ley sec­tion of the park, like the other two themed ar­eas, has thrill and chill rides, with a di­nosaur carousel and ad­ven­ture play area and some cool mov­ing

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