“Motiongate Dubai Brings Cinematic Adventure to Life” Motiongate Dubai
With the children grown-up and having been to the Florida theme parks on several occasions over the years as well as those in the UK, Paris and Singapore I thought our ‘Disney’ days were over. Enter the teenager on her Christmas break from university with a friend in tow and we found ourselves heading to Dubai Parks and Resorts conveniently located on the E11 between the two Emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Not going to lie, those gigantic Florida parks have forever set our expectations high for any theme park experience, so even before the off Motiongate had a lot to live up too. Things got off to a great money saving start with 2-4-1 entry using the Abu Dhabi Entertainer, a two-park ticket that also included entrance to the Bollywood Park.
First glimpse of the park reveals the huge oversized movie reel that marks the entrance of the park, once inside you walk down a street lined with 1920’s style buildings filled with retail shops and cafes. As a Hollywood-inspired theme park, Motiongate reminded me of Florida’s MGM Studios with its rides and character driven activitiations based on popular movies such as Shrek, The Smurfs, Ghostbusters and The Hunger Games. Even though we visited on a weekday it was surprisingly busy with long queues for every major ride that ate up our time. Add to that multiple malfunctioning rides that were closed for periods of time it meant that we had to miss out some rides and shows, we didn’t even make it to the Bollywood park.
Nicknamed ‘Hollywood in the Desert’ the park, which opened in December 2016, is spread across five zones with twenty-seven rides and attractions inspired by thirteen of Hollywood’s action and animated films. First up was the Columbia Pictures zone home to The Green Hornet: High Speed Chase which can be described as more family-friendly than thrilling, a ride that sees you career through a junkyard in a rapid-response car.
There’s something strange in the neighbourhood, who you gonna call? Well Ghostbusters of course where you can show off your ghost-busting skills (or lack of them in my case) by shooting as many creatures as you can in a NYC backdrop. You compete against the opponents in your vehicle, with scores recorded on screens and the winner is shown as you round the final turn. The Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs water ride and Zombieland Blast off tower drop rides both had ridiculous long queue times (we even tried later) so we had to miss those out. The vampire themed Underworld 4D experience was quite frankly a little odd.
I was excited about about seeing some smurfs in Smurf Village, having collected the figurines as a child, only to be disappointed. We walked through the village at the beginning and end of the day and we still didn’t see any characters, however the colourful toadstool houses were cute but this zone is definitely designed for younger children.
The Dreamworks zone is the largest in the park with fourteen rides and attractions including one of Motiongate’s biggest crowd pleasers, Shrek. Even though it had maintenance issues on our first try we preserved and returned later to ride Shrek’s Merry Fairy Tale Journey.
A gentle ride around the activation tells Shrek and Fiona’s love story through a series of scenes with puppets and those well-known movie tracks. The Madagascar Mad Pursuit rollercoaster was fast and exciting and a definite favourite in our party. The Dragon Gliders ride was closed and then re-opened with a long wait so that was dismissed as was Kung Fu Panda: Unstoppable Awesomeness for the same reasons. This indoor zone was realistic and well executed for each theme despite the various malfunctions.
Lionsgate has the first roller coaster in the world inspired by The Hunger Games movies, the thrilling Capitol Bullet Train half-pipe roller coaster was another winner for our group of thrill seekers. The 4D hovercraft simulator Panem Aerial Tour had long queues so we gave it a miss, we also didn’t have time to visit the retro style Hollywood art Deco theatre where a hip-hop show based on the Step Up movies (popular in our house for many years, ummm Channing Tatum need I say more) is performed.
The girls enjoyed the various roller coasters once they got on them, I would recommend paying out the additional money for Q-fast passes to do more than one park in a day or even better finish the first one. While the park itself was actually better overall than I expected I was disappointed that all the food and beverage kiosks in all areas were closed and that we didn’t see any characters or street shows.
The ‘full program of roaming entertainment and live dance performances’ that was promised was non-existent, did I mention that I didn’t even see a smurf. All these things are a given and well executed at any Disney or Universal Park I have ever visited. We didn’t visit the fifth zone, Studio Central where you are transported into the Golden Age of Hollywood at the real life working movie studio set in New York City.
We decided to have dinner at Riverland, the dining and retail area that connects all the parks. After traipsing around to find a bridge to cross to our chosen restaurant Tom’s Kitchen Deli (and being directed there by a security guard) we found it had permanently closed down even though it’s still advertised on all the signs. The next venue, The Cheesecake Factory, was fully illuminated but also closed so we settled on the Irish Village where the pub style food was distinctly average and I wouldn’t rush back.
As well as the Motiongate and Bollywood attractions, Dubai Parks and Resorts is home to Legoland and the Legoland Water Park. Visitors can now even stay in the centre of the action at Marriot’s Polynesian themed Lapita Hotel. Late next year, Six Flags Dubai will be opening its doors for all those thrill seekers who enjoy riding the big roller coasters.
Despite all the closed rides, long wait times, lack of characters, food and beverages options (especially much needed coffee) we had a good day and I would return to visit Bollywood and I’m sure Six Flags will be on the agenda once it opens. However, I wouldn’t hurry back to Riverland as I was really disappointed with it’s layout and visitor accessibility, closed venues and food choices.
Thinking of visiting Dubai Parks and Resorts? Then look out for deals to save money, try the Entertainer App that offers 2-4-1 entry as does the Etisalat Smiles App (certain days only). Annual Passes can be purchased for those who invisage going often and there’s also a GCC Residents Offer with up to 50% off on advance bookings. Top tip, buy Q-Fast passes to fully enjoy the whole park.
Location: Dubai Parks & Resorts, E11 between Abu Dhabi and Dubai (just after the Last Exit food truck park).
Buy tickets online here
Winter Timings (17th September 2017 – 30th April 2018)
Saturday – Wednesday: 11am – 10pm and Thursday – Friday: 11am- 10pm
All view are my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2018. All rights reserved.