Record-breaking roller coasters, wild water slides and mind-blowing marine encounters; when it comes to family fun, Dubai has it in spades.
Record-breaking roller coasters, wild water slides and mind-blowing marine encounters; when it comes to family fun, Dubai has it in spades, writes Jennifer Ennion.
My heart is jumping out of my chest as I stand at the top of one of the world’s most adrenaline-inducing water slides. At nine storeys high, I edge closer to the Leap of Faith, a notoriously terrifying slide at Dubai’s famous Atlantis, The Palm resort. I sit down, cross my legs and then fall, down a near vertical drop – views of Aquaventure Waterpark a blur in front of me. The experience is startling, exciting and addictive, and is one of a desert-full of family-fun adventures to try in this flourishing city. Here are my family’s favourites.
There’s a healthy level of fear you feel when staring up at the Leap of Faith at Aquaventure Waterpark as it falls sharply out of an Egyptian-style pyramid at Atlantis. The scare factor inevitably increases with each flight of stairs to the top. With feet centimetres from the edge of the slide, you realise there’s no going back. That’s when you succumb, pushing forward to hurtle into a tube that shoots you through a pool of sharks and rays. It’s all over in a matter of seconds, but the adrenaline and memory lasts a lot longer. You don’t have to be a daredevil to enjoy the park, though. There is a fantastic toddlers’ play area full of mellow water slides, climbing structures and tipping buckets.
Who’s it for?
There is no age limit, as attractions are based on height. The park is open from 10am to 6pm daily.
Make sure you grab an inflatable tube and ride the rapids; young children will love them.
While you’re at Atlantis, sign up for a 30-minute scuba dive in the hotel’s stunning Ambassador Lagoon. As one of the largest aquariums in the world, it’s home to 65,000 creatures, including 17 species of sharks and rays. Experienced divers will get a kick out of being surrounded by such concentrated marine life, while beginners will take comfort in knowing they’re in a controlled environment where the sharks are fed by Atlantis staff multiple times a day. If diving is out of your comfort zone, give snorkelling a try; you won’t be disappointed.
Who’s it for?
Children aged 10 – 16 that are accompanied by a parent or guardian can sign up for any of the diving experiences.
Make sure you book in advance and take an underwater camera to capture the magic.
Fly through the sky on a Hulk-sized spaceship, go on a jungle safari or bring on the heebiejeebies in a haunted hotel at IMG Worlds of Adventure, the largest indoor theme park ever built. From dinosaur carousels and giant cubby houses to thrilling roller coasters with startling twists and drops, there is plenty to entertain the entire family. Marvel fans will relish the opportunity to ride the stomach-churning Thor Thunder Spin, as well as the tamer but clever 360-degree 3D Hulk experience.
Who’s it for?
Rides are based on height and, although tiny tots will be entertained, tweens and teens will get the most out of a visit.
Make sure you visit on a weekday when there are no queues.
Snow in Dubai is as crazy as it sounds, which makes it all the more fun to experience. Ski Dubai is a ski resort inside the Mall of the Emirates. Averaging minus-four degrees, it’s a great way to escape the city heat and is perfect for families keen to try something different. There are two main trails suitable for intermediates and beginners who have a few laps under their belts. Complete novices will want to sign up for a lesson (available from age three), held in small designated areas to the side of the main runs. One of the best things about this wintry attraction is that travellers don’t need to haul their ski gear all the way to Dubai. You can hire skis, snowboards, boots and outerwear, but make sure you pack a beanie and gloves. It is cold, after all. If you don’t want to ski, you can visit the resident penguins, ride a bobsled or climb inside an inflatable ball and roll down the slopes.
Who’s it for?
The entire family will get a kick out of it, but keep in mind children must be aged two for the snow park, three for skiing and eight for snowboarding.
Make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to get the hire gear as this can be a slow process and you don’t want it to eat into your time on the snow.
If ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ and Co. were a huge hit in your house, you’ll want to take the kids to LEGOLAND Dubai and LEGOLAND Water Park. The latter of the two has more than 20 water slides, a great play structure, a wave pool and a DUPLO area designed for children between the ages of two and 12. Kids also love it next door at LEGOLAND where there are six ‘lands’, featuring a mix of laser, submarine and coaster rides. MINILAND is bound to impress parents; 20 million LEGO bricks make up a replica city featuring Middle Eastern landmarks.
Who’s it for?
Families with toddlers and primary school-aged children.
Make sure you visit when the gates open at 10am or in the cooler evenings, as the park is largely outdoors and in the heat.
This article appeared in Holidays with Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here