Entrepreneurs love a gap in the market, and successful businessmen Mr Ilyas and Mr Mustafa Galadari saw an opportunity to develop an untapped sector in the Emirates region – entertainment.
Dubai has pretty much everything, from seven-star hotels and the world’s most expensive horse race, to man-made islands visible from space and some of the best retail shopping in the world. But large-scale theme parks with rollercoasters and stomach-churning thrill rides? It’s too hot for that stuff, ran the logic.
The visionary brothers dreamt up a solution. They would build a huge theme park, the sort to attract visitors from around the world. And the heat? Easy. They’d put a roof on top.
Their colossal creation, IMG Worlds of Adventure, owned by IMG Theme Park LLC, is set to open early next year. It spans 1.5 million square feet. And yes, that roof makes it the world’s largest indoor theme park, enjoyable 365 days a year.
Chief executive officer Lennard Otto says he’s just about ready to open the doors.
The main structure and civil works have been completed, and the rides, food and beverage, and retail are currently in the testing, commissioning and fit-out phase.
And what will visitors discover when they flood through the doors of IMG Worlds of Adventure? A massive, themed and immersive environment, ten storeys high and the equivalent of 28 football pitches.
Made up of four zones, including two global brands - MARVEL and Cartoon Network – and two proprietary brands – Lost Valley-Dinosaur Adventure and IMG Boulevard – each will comprise kiddie rides, thrill rides, restaurants and retail outlets.
The MARVEL zone features rides and attractions based on Spider-Man and The Avengers, including the Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, and boasts the signature ride Avengers: Battle of Ultron, a stereoscopic 3D multimedia experience.
The Cartoon Network zone offers a similar appeal. It is the top-rated children’s network in the region, with shows such as Ben 10, LazyTown, Adventure Time, The Powerpuff Girls and The Amazing World of Gumball all featured in the park. There will also be a 5D Ben 10 cinema and the world’s largest Ben 10 retail store. Everything in the zone, from rides to retail and restaurants, have been co-developed and branded with Cartoon Network.
The theme park has the capacity to welcome up to 20,000 visitors a day
The Lost Valley-Dinosaur Adventure zone will feature 70 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs. Mr Otto highlights one of the main attractions. “The Velociraptor launch-coaster goes from 0 to 100kph in 2.5 seconds, and will be the tallest and fastest rollercoaster in Dubai,” he says. The ride is so big, it literally bursts out of the building – the only time visitors need to leave.
For relaxation there is IMG Boulevard, the welcome zone of the park which offers a vast array of shops, interactive attractions and restaurants. For movie buffs, there is a 12-screen Novo cinema adjacent to the park, which includes two VIP theatres and a cutting-edge IMAX.
Entertainment spills out everywhere. As Mr Otto says: “Whether you are in a queue or at a restaurant or shop, there is always something to experience.
One third of the world’s population lives within a four-hour flight and within that radius lies very little in the way of direct competition
“The breadth of dining options illustrates the sheer variety of what’s on offer. There are 28 food and beverage outlets, all original concepts with 13 different types of cuisine from casual to fine dining. Not to mention 25 themed retail outlets where more than 60 per cent of the items for sale have been developed exclusively for the park.”
The theme park has the capacity to welcome up to 20,000 visitors a day. “We expect half our visitors to be tourists and the other half to be from the residential market,” says Mr Otto. “We have a captive audience here, so we expect strong local interest.”
The international market is significant. One third of the world’s population lives within a four-hour flight and within that radius lies very little in the way of direct competition.
It might seem like a stretch to lure in visitors from that far away, but Dubai is already globally renowned as a “must-see” holiday destination, and it continues to evolve and diversify its tourist appeal. As the Emirate’s first international theme park, IMG Worlds of Adventure aims to support the initiative and lead the way in this new sector.
The project was first conceptualised in 2012, breaking ground that same year. All the rides are being built in compliance with European safety standard EN13814, which governs the design, operation and maintenance of amusement park machinery, structures and safety. In addition, training of operators and maintenance staff meets the highest international safety standards. TÜV SÜD Germany is providing independent inspection and audit.
It’s clear this park will be one of Dubai’s hallmark venues. Mr Otto regards the project as a key contributor to Dubai as a family-friendly tourist destination, supporting the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, to welcome 20 million visitors to Dubai by 2020.
The value of the epic project is over $1 billion. And there are plans for further growth. “The park is built to be future proof,” says Mr Otto. “There is room to expand, and we will continue to add new rides, attractions and other facilities to keep our guests returning time and time again.”
Right now the focus is on launching IMG Worlds of Adventures to the public. People in Europe looking for an exciting family getaway will find there’s much to love about a trip to Dubai. And now there are even more reasons to visit.
There’s no doubt the launch of IMG Worlds of Adventure is going to get a lot of attention at home and abroad.