Speaking to Breaking Travel News in London earlier this year, Dubai Tourism chief executive, Issam Kazim, explained that the emirate was seeking to diversify its tourism offering.
While not rejecting the luxury hospitality roots that have made the emirate a byword for sophisticated travel over the last decade, Kazim detailed how the destination would seek to offer more to families and mid-range travellers, while also expanding into new markets.
A key part of this development has been the opening of a series of new attractions, not least Dubai Parks & Resorts.
Rising from the dusty scrub land to the south of the emirate, the new theme park is the largest integrated destination in the Middle East.
Visiting in October this year, we were welcomed to the Motiongate section of the park for the day – and loved what we found.
A movie inspired theme park showcasing some of Hollywood’s most beloved characters, guests arrive to be greeted by a large central boulevard, overflowing with icons of the silver screen.
Characters from DreamWorks Animation, and Columbia Pictures, including the Smurfs, greet visitors as they make their way through the rides.
Here you can go beyond the screen and immerse yourself in the magic of Hollywood, ensuring fun for the whole family year-round.
Spread across five zones, guests of all ages will be entertained by 27 key rides and attractions, including five roller coasters, multi-media dark rides, interactive play labs, media-based theatre shows, plus a full program of roaming entertainment and live dance performances.
Inspired by 13 of Hollywood’s most beloved live action and animated films, guests are transported into the world of movies including Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, Hotel Transylvania, Ghostbusters, The Smurfs and The Hunger Games.
The highlight for me was the Green Hornet: High Speed Chase.
While the Capitol Bullet Train Hunger Games roller coaster is on offer to the hardened visitor, the Green Hornet offered just the right amount of exhilaration to see us queuing straight up to go on again.
With nine family-friendly restaurants, 15 themed retail outlets and the 1,000 seat Hollywood Theatre also on offer, guests have a full range of choices for dining, entertainment and relaxation beyond the rides and attractions.
If you have a little more time to spend, Lapita is a Polynesian themed hotel, part of Autograph Collection by Marriott.
Located in the heart of Dubai Parks & Resorts, it is perfect for families who want to stay close to all the parks as part of an extended visit.
The hotel offers 504 rooms, including 60 suites and three villas providing ultimate comfort and relaxation.
All rooms have Polynesian decoration elements, warm and bright colours, transporting guests from the moment of arrival to an exotic destination.
All rooms offer private balconies with views of the resort and the parks.
For those who want to add more privacy and luxury into their experience, the three villas offer private terrace, patio and plunge pools.
There is plenty to do away from the scarier rides at Dubai Parks & Resorts
While Motiongate is perhaps the most suitable for visiting adults, there is plenty on offer to younger explorers.
LegoLand Dubai is a unique, interactive theme park for families which brings the well-known Lego brick to life in a playful learning environment.
Right next door, LegoLand Water Park, the region’s first water park catering to families with children aged two-to-12, will open in 2019.
At the same time, Bollywood Parks Dubai is a first-of-its-kind family theme park that features rides and attractions based on the authentic Bollywood experience.
The entire destination is connected by Riverland Dubai, the free to enter themed recreational hub with a multitude of dining, shopping and unique entertainment options that connects the theme parks, perfect for friends and families of all ages.
Construction has also commenced on Six Flags Dubai, the first Six Flags branded theme park in the region.
Scheduled to open in 2019, Six Flags Dubai will be the fifth theme park at the Dubai Parks & Resorts destination and will include 27 rides and attractions for all ages across six themed zones.
Situated in a quickly developing part of the emirate, on route to capital Abu Dhabi, Dubai Parks & Resorts is also something of a pioneer.
While it would be an exaggeration to say the geographical location is ideal today, as illustrated by the largely empty car parks, the resort is part of a wider attempt to shift the focus of Dubai as a whole southward.
The new Dubai World Central Airport is rising from the ground near-by, dragging the emirate’s centre of gravity toward the theme park.
It would be no shock to discover that Dubai Parks & Resorts was at the very centre of the action in just a few short years.
In the meantime, for those with a little time to explore the emirate, Dubai Parks & Resorts offers more than enough for the whole family to enjoy for a day, two, or even three!
Dubai Parks & Resorts is the first integrated resort destination in the Middle East.
It is the home of three world-class theme parks and one water park, as well as Riverland Dubai, the grand entrance plaza, and a Polynesian themed family resort.
Find out more at the official website.