A world of adventure

Worlds of Adventure, the world’s largest indoor theme park, expects 4.5 million visitors in its first yearImage Credit: Supplied

The much-awaited Worlds of Adventure will open on August 15 as the first mega theme park in Dubai. The 1.5-million-sqft leisure and entertainment complex, developed by Ilyas and Mustafa Galadari Group (IMG Group), will be the worldfs largest indoor destination of its kind.

"The $1-billion [Dh3.67 billion] Dubai indoor theme park, which is in fact built as an outdoor theme park with a roof, is currently the world's largest indoor theme park," says Lennard Otto, CEO of IMG Worlds of Adventure. "Being temperature-controlled allows us to be fully operational throughout the year, and not be limited in terms of the attractions on offer."

The company expects the theme park to break even in a year, as it aims to attract 4.5 million visitors in its first year of operation, generating around Dh1.5 billion-Dh1.7 billion in revenue. Visitor numbers are expected to increase by 6.5 per cent in the second year.
Worlds of Adventure is situated within City of Arabia, the larger retail, residential, commercial and entertainment complex being constructed by IMG Group.

"There is enough research to prove how theme parks and amusement hubs not only drive tourism revenue but also increase the value of surrounding real estate," points out Otto.

Theme parks are a significant drawcard for any tourist destination, positively impacting the hotels that are situated within or close to the parks.

Theme parks in Dubai are set to generate close to $5 billion by 2020 as the country aims to welcome close to 25 million tourists, according to the organisers of the Dubai Entertainment, Amusement and Leisure Show 2016.

"We are not only a first for Dubai and the UAE but for this entire region," says Otto. "There is nothing out there at this scale within a four-hour radius, families have to either travel West or the Far East for world-class entertainment on this scale.

"Dubbed as Orlando 2.0, the goal is for Dubai to become a theme park destination similar to Orlando considering the region offers huge untapped potential."

Working closely with the tourism authorities, the aim is to increase the average length of stay, which currently stands at 3.5 days, says Otto. "With an all-day attraction such as Worlds of Adventure and by eliminating seasonality, we are optimistic that not onlywill tourists stay longer, but expats too will not be compelled to leave for the summer."

There will be four themed destinations under one roof: Cartoon Network, Marvel, IMG Boulevard and Lost Valley-Dinosaur Adventure, which is IMG Group's original concept. The project comprises four zones, including 25 original retail concept stores, 28 immersive food and beverage outlets and 4,500 parking spaces. The theme park will employ over 1,600 people.

The company says it is using technology to better understand the habits of visitors and subsequently develop relevant attractions.

"We are offering a uniquely immersive experience with something for everyone, with the attractions cutting across income brackets and nationalities," says Otto. "We are futureproof and have already designed a five-year roll-out plan to drive return visitation. [We have also] aligned ourselves with the Marvel and Cartoon Network 10-year outline, so we stay upto-date and relevant."

According to a report by PricewaterCoopers, UAE theme parks are set to attract 18 million visitors by 2021.

Source: Sanaya Pavri, Special to PW


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