Last out the blocks behind LEGOLAND and Bollywood Parks, motiongate Dubai has arguably the highest expectations to live up to across the entire Dubai Parks And Resorts complex. With comparisons to world-famous film-themed parks such as Universal Studios Theme Parks and Walt Disney World inevitable, anticipation has been through the roof, especially since the six-week delay in the launch was announced in October.
Signature openings at the mega-project just up the road in Jebel Ali have been staggered across the best part of the past two months, with the central Riverland area of restaurants and bars dripping bits through gradually, and the Polynesian-themed Lapita Hotel set to spring into action in early 2017.
But what of the Hollywood-inspired motiongate? Time Out was among the first through the gates to check it out.
1 It’s gone big on the Hollywood theme
Film fans will find it impossible not to fall in love with motiongate from the first time they set eyes on the heavily-themed entrance. Giant golden cinema equipment such as showreels, cameras and ticket booths dominate the view up the long path from Riverland, and once inside, the enclosed set-like style of Art Deco building frontages are a throwback to the golden era of the Silver Screen. Guests are greeted with music from the likes of Frank Sinatra right through to the jazz-infused classical music of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and performers turn the tree-lined streets of Studio Central into their very own stage.
2 It’s the product of unprecedented collaborations
Unlike Disney’s and Universal’s dedicated parks, motiongate calls on several major film studios to bring the movies to life. DreamWorks, Lionsgate and Sony Pictures Studios have, for the first time anywhere in the world, collaborated to create a world of wonder and excitement for all ages and interests, which is how The Hunger Games looms over Smurfs Village, and Zombieland stares down on Step Up! In total, there are more than 15 significant flicks represented in a range of ways, be that roller coasters, theatre productions or retail and food and beverage outlets.
3 Scream if you want to go faster
While theming things and shipping in some iconic memorabilia – for example, the queuing area of The Green Hornet boasts the actual stunt car used in Seth Rogan’s 2011 hit comedy – is all well and good, any theme park worth its salt is marked by the calibre of its roller coasters. And on that front, motiongate offers plenty for all ages, combining the latest technologies, such as on Ghostsbusters’ interactive shoot ’em up, with some more traditional rides – Zombieland’s 56-metre tall Blast Off tower – and the river rapids Swallow Falls (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs). The Hotel Transylvania “dark ride”, a suffocating whizz around a gorgeous Gothic castle, to the Smurfs Studio, a whimsical edutainment spectacular in an enchanted village of overgrown mushroom homes, the effort in ensuring eyes and ears are occupied at all times is to be commended.
Elsewhere, the real white-knuckle experiences come from the world’s first The Hunger Games coasters, specifically the Capital Bullet Train, a 360° thrill ride that sends enthusiasts forwards, backwards, upside down and through supersonic speeds; it, along with the Panem Aerial Tour, will open to the public in January 2017.
4 Eat, drink and enjoy themed food spots
What theme park would be complete without a vague attempt to turn fast food into something fun? So, attached to Ghostbusters: Battle for New York we have Slimer’s Diner, and by Kung Fu Panda’s “Unstoppable Awesomeness”, foodies can tuck into Mr Ping’s Noodle Shop. But taking the top spot in terms of aesthetics is Baby Brent’s Luncheonette, the extravagantly decorated tribute to Cloudy wth a Chance of Meatballs, where giant hamburgers and pizza slices smash through ceilings, ice cream cones drizzle from the roof, and a spaghetti tornado dominates the central part of the restaurant.
5 The whole world’s a stage
While across the way the first-ever Broadway-style Bollywood musical will rock the stage at the eye-catching Rajmahal Theatre, motiongate has its own theatrical event to capture the imagination. More than 18 months in planning, it’s the first time the Step Up! franchise has been adapted for the stage. But if you haven’t seen the films, worry not, because this is a totally original story, set in Dubai’s Jebel Ali port. Centred around a group of wannabe dancers competing for a shot at the World Hip-Hop Expo, it features songs by the likes of John Legend and House Of Pain, while the high-octane performers incorporate trampoline and bungee wall stunts into the act. The purpose-built theatre can hold up to 1,000 people.
Characters from the films interact with guests throughout, while performers (recruited as part of a global campaign) pop up on stages at intervals during the day.
6 There’s more to come
Several elements are, at the time of writing, still applying finishing touches, most notably the gigantic DreamWorks area. Dominating the entire south side of the park, the “blue box”, as it’s affectionately known, houses 12 attractions, including the fastest roller coaster in the park and nods to How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar and Shrek. Lionsgate, meanwhile, will open in 2017.
Dhs250 (adults), Dhs215 (kids aged three to 11). Promotional rate until Mar 31, 2017. Dubai Parks And Resorts, Sheikh Zayed Road, opposite Palm Jebel Ali, www.dubaiparksandresorts.com.
You could fit five A380 aeroplanes wing-to-wing inside The DreamWorks Zone. It’s just that big. Oh, it’s also 22 metres high at its tallest point.
The number of performing staff – almost five times the number of people involved in hit West End show The Phantom of the Opera.
The number of 15-metre-high palm trees in the park. If laid side-by-side, they would be equal to more than three times the length of Golden Gate Bridge.
The total number of parking spaces available, spread across two car parks. This includes VIP parking, too.