This October the gates will formally open at Dubai Parks and Resorts, the Middle East’s largest integrated theme park destination, setting a new benchmark for leisure and entertainment in the region.
The best of East and West will come together at this 25 million square foot family entertainment destination which comprises three world-class theme parks; Hollywood-themed motiongate™ Dubai, Bollywood Parks™ Dubai, and LEGOLAND® Dubai, as well as the region’s first LEGOLAND® Water Park.
By Ashok Dutta, Hill International.
Linking all the parks is Riverland™ Dubai, a buzzing dining, entertainment and retail destination, and a Polynesian-themed family hotel Lapita™ Hotel, which will be operated by the Marriott group under the Autograph Collection. The destination is located on Sheikh Zayed Road in the Jabel Ali region of Dubai, with easy access from both Dubai and Abu Dhabi city centres and three international airports.
“We have got typical theme park stacking issues to be dealt with, but are now driving towards the opening day, ” Matthew Priddy, Chief Technical Officer with Dubai Parks and Resorts said, noting the destination has over 100 rides and attractions that will make it one of the most compelling leisure and entertainment offerings in the Middle East. “We are delivering three theme parks, one water park, lodging, retail and infrastructure in less than three years and we couldn’t have done it without an incredibly talented, dedicated team. Thanks to Hill International for being with us in every step of the way, ” Priddy said.
Hill International’s involvement with the landmark development comes under a contract it was awarded in September 2014 by Dubai Parks and Resorts to provide show/ride and construction management consultancy services for the project.
The team included experts that had worked in Universal Studios, Disney and Merlin. “Building a theme park has the same complexity of a major airport or high end hospital where all technologies have to work together seamlessly and flawlessly, ” said Peter Rahill, Project Director with Hill International. “One of our biggest tasks was integrating all of the safety, logistical and entertainment systems and coordinating the contractors of those systems, ” he added.
Project details and next phase of development
The initial phase of the destination is set across a total area of 25 million square foot, Priddy said. motiongate™ Dubai will feature five unique zones taking visitors on a journey of discovery, bringing to life some of the most recognisable Hollywood characters from the big screen. It will use latest-in-technology attractions and new-generation rides to offer a unique, high-value entertainment experience. Bollywood Parks™ Dubai is the first Bollywood theme park in the world, solely dedicated to the Indian film industry. Bollywood Parks™ Dubai will provide a physical location from across the globe to visit and celebrate the biggest names of Indian cinema. Also, as the first LEGOLAND® theme park in the Middle East and the seventh worldwide, LEGOLAND® Dubai will bring the well-known LEGO® brick to life in a unique interactive world designed for children aged two to 12 years.
While the extreme summer conditions of the Middle East will not be a major obstacle in operating the rides and the shows, complications were experienced in installing the facilities and closely monitoring the work of contractors, Priddy said.
Multiple theme park technologies shaking hands
On a project of this scale, co-ordination of all project elements and managing many different contractors has been an interesting problem. However, a team was built up that dovetailed and integrated all significant elements of the project.
“There were lessons to be learnt, while in some cases we had to do a bit of teaching also. We will have multiple technologies shaking hands for the first time at the destination. So, this requires a great deal of expertise and we are undergoing a significant phase of testing to ensure the rides operate at peak performance. Seamlessly operating such new facilities needs to be done systematically and this is applicable to any theme park globally, ” Priddy added.
Six Flags Dubai to open late 2019
Looking ahead and given demand and growth projections of the leisure and entertainment sector in the Middle East, work is now under for a second phase development of the theme park destination to not only cater to the regional but also a global market.
“We are at the end of schematic design and have broken ground on the construction of Six Flags Dubai, ” Priddy said. A Six Flags themed park has been announced for phase two and is scheduled to open in late 2019. Dubai Parks and Resorts is tracking its project well and keeping a close eye on inauguration.
“Our project looks like a city that is fast coming up and some of the iconic structures can be seen from the Shaikh Zayed Road. What I like most about building a theme park is seeing the amazement of park guests when they see attractions that they’ve never experienced before for the first time, ” Priddy said.