Dubai | As summer temperatures soared outside, the world’s largest indoor theme park, featuring popular Marvel and Cartoon Network-branded rides, opened its doors to the public on Wednesday in the Middle East’s tourist hub of Dubai – the latest in a myriad of new attractions here.
The first visitors at the 1.5 million square foot -park reflected the diverse crowds that visit and live in Dubai, home to the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Middle 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 the full face-veil, rode alongside tank-top wearing British tourists and Indian families on the park’s roller coasters and attractions.
Several families with young children complained that some of the rides stalled several times.
Others said they were thrilled by the adventure park’s indoor boulevard that 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 today as temperatures rose to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) outside.
Ali al-Subai, a visitor from Saudi Arabia, said he was happy the Gulf region has a place like this to visit during the summer. The 26-year-old said 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 said.
“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 USD 1 billion park earlier today.
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 is to host the World Expo.
Last year, some 14 million people visited Dubai, according to the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.
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, said they enjoyed the park more than Universal Studios in Singapore.
They said the IMG Worlds of Adventure park wins in their opinion – because of shorter lines and more exciting rides.
They beamed after riding the Velociraptor roller coaster that swoops through the indoor park, then juts out into the Dubai desert surrounding the park before going back inside.
Another main attraction is the Predator roller coaster, with its sharp, vertical drop.