What to expect at huge ‘Hollywood in the desert’ theme park set to open in Dubai
Motiongate Dubai has announced a swathe of rides and facilities at a sprawling theme park due to open in October next year.
Dubbed “Hollywood in the desert”, the 1.9 million-square-foot park is on Sheikh Zayed Road within Dubai Parks and Resorts (just before the Abu Dhabi-Dubai border), and is a collaboration between Motiongate Dubai and three big Hollywood studios – Sony Pictures, DreamWorks Animation and Lionsgate.
When completed, 3.1 million visitors are expected in the first year and they will be able to enjoy 27 immersive attractions – including five rollercoasters, a water ride containing more than 793,000 gallons of water, interactive play labs and multimedia theatre experiences – all inspired by 13 Hollywood films.
“Three-and-a-half years ago, we sat down and brainstormed with the studios what movies would be the best fit for the park and how to design the rides,” said Stanford Pinto, chief operating officer for Dubai Parks and Resorts.
“There’s a story to tell in every ride. When you pick a particular movie, it has to blend in with the rest of the park. Hence we’ve got the Lionsgate Zone that’s geared more to the teenagers and tweens, Sony has a darker feel, and then there are the more fun family rides with DreamWorks.”
Guests will arrive in the 8,000-capacity car park, or possibly on the metro – organisers are in talks with Dubai RTA to build a station for the park.
The magic will begin from the moment you step inside, says Motiongate’s general manager Guido Zucchi.
“Everyone will be impressed by our monumental facade,” he said. “From the entrance, the main boulevard is themed like the executive offices of movie studios, with retail and food and beverage options. There will be a lot of street animation and shows, so you will never be alone in the park, you will always be next to a character in the streets.”
From there, guests will reach the central hub. On the right will be Sony Studios Zone, where rides are inspired by Sony’s Ghostbusters, The Green Hornet, Underworld, Zombieland, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Hotel Transylvania (the second instalment of the spooky comedy is out in UAE cinemas tomorrow).
The seven-minute-long, 42-metre-high Hotel Transylvania ride, designed to appeal to children, will be housed inside a 2,800-sqare-metre castle. Passengers will ride on 27 trains on a journey that follows the story of a bon voyage surprise party organised for Mavis.
“It’s a trackless ride involving vehicles with four seats each, so you’ll always be surprised where the train is driving you,” Zucchi says. “There will be lots of vehicles crossing each other.”
Next door is Hotel Bistro, a family dine-in, 280-seat restaurant where zany Chef Quasimodo will bring comic relief during private breakfasts. Characters from Hotel Transylvania will also meet and greets guests and treat them to performances of songs from the film.
The nearby Smurfs Village, set up with colourful giant toadstools, will contain five attractions designed for the youngest guests.
The DreamWorks Zone – “big enough to fit five A380 aeroplanes” – will feature 12 attractions inspired by top DreamWorks animated feature film franchises, including Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon and Madagascar.
The How to Train Your Dragon ride is the one Zucchi says he is looking forward to trying out. “The dragon attraction will be absolutely unique worldwide, it is one of my favourites,” he said. “It will feature lots of media interaction, with driving people around. Nowadays, amusement parks all over the world are going multimedia and interactive, so this is a huge component of many of the rides.”
Lionsgate Zone will contain a theatre for 1,000 people, as well as themed attractions from the movies The Hunger Games, Step Up: All In, and Step Up: Revolution.
On site, more than 11,000 workers are busy on the job.
“Most of the underground infrastructure is now complete,” Zucchi said. “Meanwhile, the majority of the rides are currently being built all over Europe – “in Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK,” Pinto said. “We’ll be tackling pricing over the next month. Annual passes will be available and a queue system enabling quick access to most of the rides.”
Pinto says he has been looking to his 11-year-old daughter for inspiration for what the park needs. “I pass ideas by her — I’m a rare case of a dad who has been to more theme parks than his daughter,” he said. “Most of us in the industry are like big kids. We are in the business of fun.”
Updated: September 15, 2015 04:00 AM