Follow me on my $100,000 honeymoon, booked entirely using points and miles! Today we’re at a Dubai theme park with our IMG Worlds of Adventure Review.
Introduction: My $100K Honeymoon on Points & Miles
Emirates Lounge SFO
Emirates First Class San Francisco to Dubai
Afternoon Tea at the Burj Al Arab (Sky Tea at Skyview Bar)
IMG Worlds of Adventure Review
The Westin Dubai Al Habtoor City Review
Emirates First Class Lounge DXB
Emirates First Class Dubai to Paris
Park Hyatt Paris Review
St. Regis Rome Review
Etihad Business Class Rome to Abu Dhabi
Four Seasons Abu Dhabi Review
Etihad First Class Lounge AUH
Etihad First Class Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles
Going to IMG Worlds of Adventure was, without a doubt, one of the strangest and most interesting experiences I’ve had. I grew up and live in Southern California so I’ve had plenty of them park options when growing up. Between Six Flags, Universal Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Disneyland, I’ve been on rides ranging from the kiddy-type to the more intense/disorienting ones. I’ll describe how IMG Worlds of Adventure fits in a bit later.
Note that I’ve included videos as still pictures don’t do the theme park justice. I’m not very video-savvy at all, so forgive my lack of editing skills.
IMG Worlds of Adventure Review – What Is It?
I realize that many of you might not even know what this is, so a brief description seems appropriate. It’s the largest indoor temperature-controlled them park in the world at 1.5 million square feet. There are four zones, or “lands,” two of which should be easily recognizable to most (American) people: Marvel and Cartoon Network.
It was a 30 minute drive from the heart of Dubai, and seemingly located in the middle of the desert (more-so than Dubai itself). The theme park opened on August 31, 2016, just a few weeks before we arrived in Dubai for our visit.
IMG Worlds of Adventure Review – Getting In and the Crowd
I could and should have bought tickets online before going because they were offering a discount at the time. Sadly I forgot to do so, and was not looking forward to the lines there. To my shock, when we arrived there were NO LINES. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find ANYONE at all! I was truly surprised at the lack of people. We arrived just before opening, so I thought maybe it’s a cultural thing to start the day late. We paid $80 for our ticket and entered when the park opened.
As the day went on, no one else came. There were so few people that there were literally no lines, and the park personnel outnumbered the number of guests. I say that with no exaggeration.
Now, from my perspective this was FANTASTIC. I have little patience and generally dislike lines, so the prospect of being able to do/see everything I wanted on my own time was great. On the other hand, part of the fun of a theme park, at least for me, is the people-watching. There just wasn’t any of it at IMG Worlds of Adventure unless you count the staff.
IMG Worlds of Adventure Review – The Rides
Most people that are interested in going to this theme park care about the rides. Recall earlier I mentioned that there is generally a spectrum of ride types, from kiddy to intense/disorienting. Well, there were very few rides in between the two ends. Here’s a quick ride-by-ride review of each.
- Avengers: Battle of Ultron – This ride is one of the few that kids can ride. It’s similar to the Transformers ride at Universal Studios Hollywood, as your car moves from screen to screen. The graphics are not very good, but not terrible. This ride will not make you dizzy and is good for kids and I found it enjoyable.
- Spider-Man: Doc Ock’s Revenge – This was the first ride we went on, and it might as well not be themed at all. You are on a roller coaster while also constantly spinning, so you can’t see much. It’s a short ride and extremely dizzying, and wasn’t all that enjoyable. OK for kids, but very dizzying.
- Thor: Thunder Spin – When we first attempted to get in line, some park employees said that “we need at least ten people for the ride to be considered safe, so you’ll have to wait until we get more people.” First of all…that doesn’t exactly instill a bunch of confidence in the safety of the ride. Second, at this point of the morning there weren’t even ten people in the entire park yet so we moved on. We came back at the end of the day when there were more people. Sophia, having seen other rides, refused to get near it. This ride is similar to Hammerhead at Knott’s Berry farm if you’ve ever been on that. You’re seated in a long row that turns you upside down and continuously rotates, while the entire ride itself also rotates. Not good for young kids, and I was somewhat concerned for my safety after the whole “for the ride to be considered safe” comment. I lived to write this blog post, so it was fine. Again, extremely disorienting, dizzying, etc.
Lost Valley – Dinosaur Adventure Zone
If Jurassic Park had a rival and had its own theme park area, it would look like this. The theme was pretty cool actually, and it was well decorated to look like a jungle.
- The Velociraptor – This was a good, fast ride that is almost entirely outside the covered area. This is like a traditional roller coaster that you’d see at a park like Six Flags. There were loops and corkscrews, and the ride itself was fast enough to bring tears to my eyes. Part of that might be the heat of being blasted from the heat outside, not unlike Formula Rossa at Ferrari World. This is a good ride for older kids.
- Forbidden Territory – This is kind of like the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland, but dinosaur-themed. The speakers were terrible so it was impossible to follow the story line they were trying to tell. It’s a very tame ride that kids can go on. Note that there are dark scenes, loud noises, and spiders. I think it was the longest ride here and was mostly enjoyable.
- Predator – This ride takes you straight up 90 degrees at the start to the ceiling of the theme park, then 90 degrees straight back down. There are also loops and corkscrews that will make you dizzy, but the ride is fairly short. Probably not good for young kids, but I did see some 18+ year olds riding it multiple times in a row.
Cartoon Network Zone
- The Powerpuff Girls – Mojo Jojo’s Robot Rampage! – This was the kind of ride that I just looked at and said “noooope.” It spins you multiple ways at the same time, going around and around for what seems like an eternity even if you’re just watching. I didn’t try it as it seemed more like a torture device than a ride. This ride is like something you’d try if you were training to be an astronaut that would be spinning their spacecraft into a violent crash.
- Adventure Time – The Ride of OOO with Finn & Jake – This ride was a nice respite from the craziness of the other rides. I’ve never watched Adventure Time so I don’t know any of the characters, and it’s definitely a kids ride, but it also takes you (slowly) to the ceiling of the theme park to provide a nice aerial view of the park. You can get a good sense of just how big the theme park actually is. I had no idea what was happening on the ride itself.
- The Amazing Ride of Gumball – This is another ride for kids, and it’s a “dark” ride. There are lots of still pictures and screens and audio, and you get a little laser-gun to shoot objects. I again had no idea what was happening on this ride. Maybe a child would enjoy it, but if I had a kid I certainly wouldn’t let him/her on this ride because it just seemed so random.
Rides I Didn’t Go On
- The Haunted Hotel – This is more of an attraction than a ride. It’s a haunted maze that I didn’t do mostly because Sophia gets spooked easily.
- Hulk Epsilon Base 3D – There were two guys outside trying to get people to come inside for this, but we decided not to. The description makes it sound entertaining as a “360 degree, fully immersive” experience.
- Avengers Flight of the Quinjets – This one was too childish for us, and we were probably too tall anyway. Just a glorified carousel with jets instead of horses that move up and down.
- Dino Carousel – This is an actual carousel, which we didn’t have interest in.
- Adventure Fortress – This could have been fun as it’s basically a giant playground with ladders and other things. If I had a kid I’d have taken him/her. I would compare it to Tarzan’s Treehouse at Disneyland.
- LazyTown – Similar to the fortress, this one was a Cartoon Network-themed playground. Again, if I had a kid then I’d have taken him/her. Some of the ladders did get pretty high though.
IMG Worlds of Adventure Review – Food
I would call it a step below typical theme park food, but not by much. I wasn’t expecting much to begin with so it wasn’t really a disappointment, but it wasn’t fun to see churro carts with already-made churros that were sitting under a heat lamp. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were from the day before…and same goes for the pretzels.
On the positive side, I thought the themes of the restaurants were pretty good. For example, in the Marvel Zone they had “Downtown Shawarma”. If you’re a fan of the Marvel/Avengers movies, that might ring a bell as a reference from one of the movies. I thought it was clever, and they had other, similarly-themed restaurants. Sadly the food itself was mediocre, as was most everything else in the park.
IMG Worlds of Adventure Review – Summary
All theme parks I’ve been to offer a spectrum of rides, from the kiddy type to the hardcore ones. IMG Worlds of Adventure was unique in that it had rides on both ends of the spectrum….but nothing in between. Most of the rides that anyone would be excited to ride were of the hardcore, disorienting/dizzying variety. Maybe I’m spoiled from all the theme parks in California.
I know I’m getting older so maybe I’m less inclined towards the fast/dizzying rides, but I recently went on the Formula Rossa ride at Ferrari World in nearby Abu Dhabi and, despite that being the fastest roller coaster in the world at 149 mph (239 km/h), it was not in the same category of some of the IMG rides that frankly involved too much spinning.
This theme park was poorly conceived in my opinion. It is absolutely not worth visiting as a tourist attraction unless you enjoy the feeling of being disoriented and dizzy, and it certainly doesn’t get anywhere near to justifying the cost of entry. Heck, it’s not even in a convenient location.
In short, I can’t imagine anyone that would knowingly want to visit this theme park unless they drop the price by more than half.