One of our best family adventures this year was our February half-term trip to Dubai, comparing and contrasting its new theme parks. I’d always wondered about Dubai: it seemed like the kind of ‘Marmite’ destination you either love or hate – and not a cheap one at that. But with a slew of new openings plus classic offerings such as desert dune-bashing in SUVs, it was time to take our adventure-loving, adrenaline-fuelled sons to find out whether it was indeed our kind of place.
First stop was the vast Dubai Parks & Resorts, comprising LEGOLAND® Dubai and its waterpark, Bollywood™ and the Hollywood-themed MOTIONGATE™. Some of the latter, including the world’s first Hunger Games rides, wasn’t yet open at the time of our visit, but what we did experience was hugely impressive and great fun. All our boys, aged 14, 12 and 9, loved the LEGOLAND® waterpark, while the youngest Zac was thrilled by LEGOLAND® itself (read our LEGOLAND® Dubai review).
"We only skimmed the surface of Dubai during our week there. We especially loved venturing out on desert safari for quad-biking, dune-bashing, camel-riding and a barbecue under the stars."
IMG Worlds of Adventure, open since mid-2016 and the world’s largest indoor theme park, delighted them even more. Superhero fiends and dinosaur-lovers, they were in heaven with its Lost Valley prehistoric rides and attractions and Marvel rollercoasters and experiences. Highlights were the superb Forbidden Territory dark ride, Predator and Velociraptor (Zac’s first upside-down coasters), and a spinning Spider-Man coaster. And because IMG is all indoors, it’s a great option for summer holidays in Dubai, when temperatures really soar.
There’s so much more of Dubai to explore, of course, and we only skimmed the surface during our week there. We loved venturing out on desert safari for quad-biking, dune-bashing, camel-riding and a barbecue under the stars. The Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo in the scarily vast Dubai Mall was surprisingly large and utterly fantastic, especially the boat ride. We didn’t make it up the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, due to the queues, but we did love dining on the terrace of the Social House, a relaxed, child-friendly global restaurant in the Dubai Mall, where as well as seeing the Burj and its beautiful nocturnal illuminations, you get in-your-face views of the Dubai Fountain with its iconic choregraphed displays each afternoon and evening.
We recommend staying at the Jebel Ali Palm Tree Court, part of the Jebel Ali Golf Resort (see below, with riding stables, water sports and tennis centres, kids’ clubs, sea-plane rides, a spa, and 15 restaurants and bars. The resort runs complimentary shuttle buses to central Dubai as well as to Dubai Parks & Resorts. To book your Dubai family holiday call 020 3633 0653 or fill in our enquiry form.