Thrills and spills: a tour around IMG Worlds of Adventure theme park in Dubai

A churning stomach, a messed-up hairdo and a wobbly walk — those were the after-effects of testing a 30-second ride at IMG Worlds of Adventure theme park in Dubai. The 1.5 million square-feet indoor theme park, the largest of its kind in the world, will open on August 31, when it is expected to welcome […]

A churning stomach, a messed-up hairdo and a wobbly walk — those were the after-effects of testing a 30-second ride at IMG Worlds of Adventure theme park in Dubai.

The 1.5 million square-feet indoor theme park, the largest of its kind in the world, will open on August 31, when it is expected to welcome more than 5,000 visitors.

The multibillion dollar entertainment destination is divided into four zones — Marvel, Lost Valley, Cartoon Network and IMG Boulevard — with the winning formula of immersive games, interactive attractions, thrilling shows and exciting rides, all in an air-conditioned, soundproofed enclosure.

The park — which was developed with design input from the Walt Disney Company, which owns superhero business Marvel Enterprises and TV channel the Cartoon Network — is located on the outskirts of the city, close to Global Village.

Developers Ilyas & Mustafa Galadari Group expect the indoor attraction to be a huge favourite with families during the hot summer months in particular. And with its Marvel Vault store stocked with exclusive merchandise, and a 12-screen Novo Cinema scheduled to open at the end of the year, they also hope to attract serious collectors — and perhaps some stars of the Marvel cinematic universe for movie premières.

The theme park also has 28 food outlets and 25 shops in each zone. After a four-week soft launch, the park will be able to accommodate 30,000 visitors a day — 4.5 million are expected in the first year.

I was given a sneak peek of the attractions before the public get to experience the thrills.

IMG boasts of having Dubai’s fastest and tallest rollercoaster, the Velociraptor. The 1.1 kilometre-long ride, in The Lost Valley’s Dinosaur Adventure Zone, goes from 0 to 100km in 2.5 seconds. I didn’t get to try that during the media tour, as the management wanted to avoid any potential throwing-up incidents.

We did get a shot on the Predator, a hair-raising 30-second ride that begins with a 90 degree climb and ends with the sharpest drop in the region. It took me several minutes to regain my composure — and appetite — afterwards.

The Lost Valley isn’t the first zone visitors encounter, so they will have plenty of time to muster up courage to take on the white-knuckle rollercoasters.

Guests first walk into IMG Boulevard, a 200,000 square feet central section that separates the Marvel and Cartoon Network zones.

“What is unique about the park is that each zone has its own unique appeal,” says Lennard Otto, the park’s chief executive officer.

“We wanted the attractions to be as diverse as possible to carter to the entire family. We have rides and attractions for the kids, for thrill-seekers and even for the elderly, who want a more relaxed approach to the park.”

Before we are left to explore on our own, we are made aware of strict rules that prevent visitors from taking photos or filming videos while on the rides. As part of the strict safety measures, the attractions are fitted with CCTV cameras and any attempt to use a camera will immediately shut down the rides.

A camera would be useless in the The Haunted Hotel, the boulevard’s main attraction. We were greeted by a sinister bellboy who directed us into the dark, smelly hotel, which has cobwebs hanging from the roof and ghouls and zombies that pop out to scare the living daylights out of guests.

The Cartoon Network zone has been set up to appeal to younger visitors, with The Amazing World of Gumball and Powerpuff Girls-themed rides.

Teenagers and adults will find The Lost Valley — the largest of the four zones, at 700,000 square feet — and the Marvel area, with superheroes including Captain America, Iron Man, Spider Man and Hulk part of the storylines of the immersive rides, more to their taste.

“This is the first time Marvel has a full city and not just individual rides in a theme park,” says Otto. “You find Marvel characters walking around throughout the day, and even the dining concepts are inspired by the movies.”

The setting changes from sparkly bright colours to a green-and-gold foliage as we enter the Lost Valley, which has 70 animatronic dinosaurs spread around the zone.

As we move into the Marvel Universe, the scene transforms into the streets of New York, with the flashy Stark Tower Complex towering over all the games and food outlets.

Thrill seekers will make a beeline for the Spider-Man: Doc Ock’s Revenge ride, a 400-metre spinning coaster that propels riders through the New York skyline with the superhero, tasked with saving the city from the energy stealing Doctor Octopus. The ride lasted a few minutes and several people got off in a rush to find the closest toilet. Even though I felt dizzy, I was able to remain for round two.

Other attractions include the Avengers Battle of Ultron, a dark ride that immerses guests in the world of The Avengers in their fight against android arch-villain Ultron.

The Thor Thunder Spin is shaped like the hero’s hammer, in which riders spin at high speeds. If you manage to emerge without feeling even a little queasy after all the spinning, end your trip with the famous shawarma wrap — highly recommended by Iron Man in the first Avengers movie — at Downtown Shawarma.

• Tickets for IMG Worlds of Adventure cost Dh300 for adults and Dh250 for children. Fast-track tickets cost an additional Dh195.

Visit www.imgworlds.com to purchase and for more details

Source: art & life

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