Butterflies, spiders and scorpions – or rather, gigantic animatronics of these and other insects – are all lurking in the undergrowth at Green Planet's outdoor playground that opens on Tuesday.
Attached to the indoor, rainforest-inspired biodome, the park at CityWalk also features a treehouse with nine viewing platforms, adventure trails, hanging bridges and slides designed for children aged four to 12, plus an inflatable play area for those under six.
Fun and games aside, the park intends to educate visitors, old and young, about the important role insects play in our ecosystem. As such, each moving animatronic statue is accompanied by details about the species, plus a QR code for more information.
Some of the featured animals include eastern yellowjacket wasps, red-legged grasshoppers and even the common housefly.
The deceptively small outdoor arena is packed with edutainment features and facilities. Case in point, its different botanical sections include the palm tree garden, the Mediterranean garden and a zen garden with bamboo. Different plants and trees across the park include crown of thorns, sago palm and Philippine tea tree, plus a section with orchids and herbs.
“As the world prepares to come to Dubai for Cop28 later this year, awareness of biodiversity protection has never been more important,” says Fernando Eiroa, chief executive of Dubai Holding Entertainment, which manages Green Planet. He adds that such initiatives “bring together nature and curiosity”.
The giant animatronic bugs are his favourite part of the park, he tells The National, and guests can interact with the replicas, which makes for a “captivating experience that combines education and entertainment”.
To celebrate the launch of the outdoor section, a biologist will be on hand all week to take visitors on a guided tour, plus complimentary activities such as seed planting and bug-themed arts and crafts workshops each day until Sunday from 10am to 6pm.
The outdoor park also includes a small dining area, where guests can order from a selection of burgers, sandwiches, popcorn, smoothies and Starbucks products.
Guests can access Nature Park upon the purchase of a day pass priced at Dh69 (for one adult and one child), or visit both the park and the indoor biodome with a Green Planet day pass, priced at Dh175 per person. The Nature Park annual pass, meanwhile, costs Dh249 per person.
The Green Planet biodome replicates the environment of a tropical rainforest. It is spread across four levels and is home to more than 3,000 animals and plants. Fluffy the bearcat is the venue's biggest furry resident, and there are also the cotton-top tamarin monkey twins, and the UAE's first tamandua anteater.