Dubai opens mas­siveMarvel-branded in­door theme park

China Daily (USA) - - TRAVEL | LIFE - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Dubai, United Arab Emi­rates

As sum­mer tem­per­a­tures soared out­side, the world’s largest in­door theme park, fea­tur­ing pop­u­larMarvel and Car­toon Net­work-branded rides, opened its doors to the pub­lic at the end of Au­gust in the Mid­dle East’s tourist hub of Dubai — the lat­est in myr­iad new at­trac­tions here.

The first vis­i­tors at the 140,000square-meter park re­flect the di­verse crowds that visit and live in Dubai, home to the world’s tallest sky­scraper, theMid­dle East’s largest mall and a man-made is­land in the shape of a palm tree that is dot­ted with lux­ury ho­tels.

Saudi women dressed in abayas, the tra­di­tional loose black robes, and full-face veils rode along­side tank-top-wear­ing Bri­tish tourists and In­dian fam­i­lies on the park’s roller coast­ers and at­trac­tions.

Sev­eral fam­i­lies with young chil­dren com­plain that some of the rides stalled. Oth­ers say they were thrilled by the ad­ven­ture park’s in­door boule­vard, which leads vis­i­tors through Marvel and Car­toon Net­work zones, a Haunted Ho­tel and a Lost Val­ley Di­nosaur zone.

The IMG Worlds of Ad­ven­ture park recorded about 3,000 vis­i­tors on Aug 31 as tem­per­a­tures rose to 38 C out­side.

Ali al-Subai, a vis­i­tor from Saudi Ara­bia, says he was happy the Gulf re­gion has a place like this to visit dur­ing the sum­mer. The 26-year-old says he vis­its Dubai at least four times a year and hopes his coun­try, too, can one day open sim­i­lar theme parks.

“It’s very, very nice. Bet­ter than I imag­ined,” he says.

“We wish for this in Saudi Ara­bia — the rides, the cin­e­mas.”

Dubai ruler and United Arab Emi­rates Vice-Pres­i­dent Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Rashid toured the more than $1 bil­lion park ear­lier on Aug 31.

The ad­ven­ture park is one of two ma­jor theme parks open­ing this year in Dubai, part of an ef­fort to at­tract 20 mil­lion tourists an­nu­ally by 2020, when the emi­rate will host the World Expo. Last year, some 14 mil­lion peo­ple vis­ited Dubai, ac­cord­ing to the De­part­ment of Tourism and Com­merceMar­ket­ing. The high­est share of vis­i­tors came from neigh­bor­ing Gulf coun­tries, with Saudi Ara­bia top­ping the list.

Teens Ab­dul­lah Jameel and Sul­tan al-Suweidi, both from Dubai, say they en­joyed the park more than Universal Stu­dios in Sin­ga­pore. They say the IMGWorlds of Ad­ven­ture park wins be­cause of shorter lines and more-ex­cit­ing rides.

They beamed after rid­ing the Ve­loci­rap­tor roller coaster, which swoops through the in­door park, then juts out into the Dubai desert be­fore go­ing back in­side. An­other ma­jor at­trac­tion is the Preda­tor roller coaster, with its sharp, ver­ti­cal drop.

Spi­der-Man, too, has his own ride, a spin­ning roller coaster that pro­pels rid­ers through a New York City sky­line, soar­ing much like the fic­tional su­per­hero would as he fights to save the city from the sin­is­ter Doc­tor Oc­to­pus. A Car­toon Net­workPow­er­puff Girls scram­bler glides and spins rid­ers up­side down, while a 5-D theater ex­pe­ri­ence takes guests through an an­i­mated Ben 10 bat­tle scene.

The park aims to at­tract up to 30,000 vis­i­tors on peak days. Along with its 22 rides and at­trac­tions, the park of­fers vis­i­tors 25 re­tail out­lets and 28 food and bev­er­age out­lets that are ex­pected to con­trib­ute nearly a quar­ter of the park’s over­all rev­enue. At the high-end Marvel Vault store, an ex­trav­a­gant Hulk-in­spired gold dis­play that holds a pen with pre­cious stones costs al­most 115,000 dirhams ($31,300).

De­spite thrills at ev­ery turn, Bri­tish tourist Tariq Collins says the en­try ticket cost of 300 dirhams for adults and 250 dirhams for chil­dren was “a bit pricy”. He says there were not as many at­trac­tions for his 5-year-old daugh­ter as he’d hoped.

“Apart from that, great. Very nicely done,” he says, adding that some of the rides were not work­ing.

The park’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Len­nard Otto, says this is not un­com­mon in the theme-park in­dus­try.

“No theme park today, whether it’s Dis­ney orUniver­sal, has 100 per­cent up­keep time on their rides,” he says.

“Rides will break (down). They’re the same as any other tech­nol­ogy. The key for us is to try and man­age the ex­pe­ri­ence after that.”

Otto says the park plans to add five more at­trac­tions in the com­ing five years. It’s “def­i­nitely a new feather in Dubai’s cap”, and helps fill a gap in the Gulf mar­ket for qual­ity en­ter­tain­ment des­ti­na­tions, he says.

In Oc­to­ber, a $2.8 bil­lion theme park is slated to open on the main high­way con­nect­ing Dubai with Abu Dhabi, the UAE seat of govern­ment.

Dubai Parks and Re­sorts will fea­ture a Six Flags, a Le­goland wa­ter­park and roller coaster, Bol­ly­woodthemed rides and shows, and a Mo­tion­gate movie-themed park with a Smurfs vil­lage.

Abu Dhabi is al­ready home to Fer­rar­iWorld and is plan­ning aWarner Bros-themed park.

AP

Two teenagers look at a statue of the In­cred­i­ble Hulk that in­cludes a fancy pen on sale at the IMG Worlds of Ad­ven­ture amuse­ment park in Dubai.

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