10 Tips For Visiting Legoland at Dubai Parks and Resorts

I love theme parks. I love roller coaster rides and funnel cake dusted with icing sugar. My last theme park adventure was almost fifteen years ago, at Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto.

Until very recently, theme parks were a rarity in Dubai. I remember going to Al Nasr Leisureland as a kid in the 80’s. It was small, and the rides were pretty basic, but for a 6-year-old in a small town it was heaven.

Dubai depends on tourists, and it is actively positioning itself as a family-friendly tourist destination. To achieve this objective, Dubai has built an enormous property called Dubai Parks and Resorts.

I heard of the opening but did not know much about it, except that there would be something called Bollywood Parks. I did not know there is a Legoland, or a waterpark, or the enormous scale of the site.

Dubai Parks and Resorts is the largest multi-themed leisure and entertainment complex in the Middle East. It consists of three separate theme parks, a water park, a themed retail and dining destination called Riverland, and much more spread over 30 million square feet. A fourth theme park, Six Flags Dubai, will be added in 2019. In other words, it is mind-boggling in size, far bigger than Canada’s Wonderland.

Legoland Dubai and Riverland opened first in October 2016, followed by Bollywood Parks, Legoland Waterpark, and Motiongate. Each theme park has different areas inside it, with restaurants, rides, games, and a host of guest services. I am convinced Dubai residents still do not have information about this incredible entertainment juggernaut. Beyond the official opening there has been little in the way of marketing.

Map of Dubai Parks and Resorts
Map courtesy Emirates 24/7
My 3-year-old niece was visiting from Singapore over the weekend and my brother was keen to take her to Legoland. They stayed at Anantara The Palm, which offered a 2-for-1 deal on tickets to Legoland and a free shuttle ride to the Parks. We decided to go on Sunday when there was a break in the rainy weather.

We arrived at 2pm and were transported from the parking lot to Legoland by tram. The park is extremely well organised, clean and beautifully landscaped, with greenery, lakes, fountains, and colourful buildings. There are plenty of bathrooms, and wheelchair and stroller access.

Legoland consists of 6 areas: Adventure, Imagination, Miniland, Kingdoms, Lego City, and Factory. Traveling with a toddler meant we could not cover everything, but we squeezed in rides, games, a meal, plenty of time on two of the many playgrounds and two visits to Miniland which displays all the region’s impressive landmarks made from lego blocks. We stayed until the park closed at 7pm.

Miniland at Legoland features landmarks of the region made of lego blocks
Lego structures at Miniland. Image courtesy The National UAE.
Besides Canada’s Wonderland, I have been to Six Flags in the U.S., Disneyland Paris, and Tokyo Disneyland. From the little of Dubai Parks and Resorts that I experienced, it is definitely up there with the best theme parks in the world, if not better.

Here are some tips to help you plan a trip to Legoland with your family at Dubai Parks and Resorts:

  1. The price of a day pass at Legoland is AED 265 and does not include access to Legoland Waterpark – this can be added to your ticket for an additional cost. Dubai residents get a 30% discount and free parking if they purchase their tickets online. A complete list of ticketing options, including multi-park passes, can be found here.
  2. Annual membership is available and a better option if you plan to visit the Parks frequently.
  3. Arrive early. There is so much to do, and if you plan to go on the weekend you may need to factor in wait times for rides. If you want to avoid lines altogether, Q-Fast front-of-line access can be purchased separately.
  4. Because the park is both indoors and outdoors, I recommend going during the cooler months of the year. I cannot imagine making this trip strapped with kids and strollers in the heat!
  5. Wear closed, comfortable shoes. The area is absolutely massive with lots to see. Avoid sandals and loose, dangling jewellery – they can fly right off on faster rides.
  6. Our tram made two stops: the first at Riverland and then at Legoland. Riverland is the gateway to Dubai Parks and Resorts and has over 50 themed retail, dining, and entertainment experiences located on a waterfront. If you want to have a nice meal this is a great option. The best part: you do not need to purchase a ticket to enter Riverland.
  7. Some rides have a minimum height requirement of 95cm for children. No exceptions.
  8. Guest services include locker, stroller, and wheelchair rentals, prayer rooms, change rooms, ATM’s, Lost and Found, and a Baby Care Centre in Imagination that has bottle warmers, microwaves, and feeding chairs for nursing mothers.
  9. Dining options inside Legoland are limited and not very good or healthy, frankly. There are more and better restaurants within walking distance right outside Legoland’s entrance, and a re-entry stamp on your hand enables you to leave the park and re-enter the same day.
  10. My niece’s favourite ride was Submarine at Adventure. If you are going with small kids, this ride is a must. Bonus: no minimum height requirement.

Sadly, there is no funnel cake at Legoland. But there is something called Granny’s Apple Fries: warm granny smith apples dusted with cinnamon and sugar, served with vanilla cream dipping sauce. I didn’t get to try it, but if you do, let me know if it’s as delicious as it sounds!

Title image courtesy Gulf News 

Guns n’ Roses in Dubai: A Lifetime Later, They’re Still On Top

When the announcement came in early 2016 that original band members Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff McKagan would reunite for a world tour, Guns N’ Roses fans everywhere let out a collective gasp. Could they really be playing together after more than two decades?

The bitter split of Guns N’ Roses in 1994 – due to personal differences fuelled by drug and alcohol abuse – made attempts at reunification impossible. For twenty years Rose and Slash were not on speaking terms, and Rose missed the group’s 2012 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. A recluse by nature, Rose withdrew from public life soon after the band broke up while Slash went on to find commercial success with new group Velvet Revolver. For fans, it was an overwhelming sense of loss for one of the greatest bands of all time.

Rose eventually resurfaced with a new line-up of GnR. In 2010 they performed at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. I was curious, so when they returned in 2013 I quickly bought tickets. True, there was no Slash. But Rose sounded great and had put together a talented group of musicians who hammered out all the hits as well as songs from Chinese Democracy. They started on time and delivered a smooth set. No riots, tantrums or controversy, hallmarks of classic GnR.

But it did not have the mesmerising performance quality that was on full display earlier this month. On March 3, the original GnR played Dubai’s Autism Rocks Arena as part of 2017’s Not In This Lifetime world tour. The chemistry between Rose and Slash is undeniable, and while they are older, more mature and sober, there is no question we were witnessing a singular musical performance. GnR gave the giddy audience a triumphant three-hour show packed with songs from Appetite For Destruction, GNR Lies, Use Your Illusion I & II, Chinese Democracy and The Spaghetti Incident. It was hard enough to process the scene. There they were, sharing the stage and unleashing Sweet Child of Mine. LIVE. It was harder still to believe they had gotten even better. This was especially true of Slash, whose multiple guitar solos were sublime.

Dubai’s Autism Rocks Arena can hold a maximum of 21,000 people. But this was GnR, and GnR 23 years later drew a capacity-busting crowd of 30,000. Hundreds of die-hard fans flew in from Pakistan, where the band has a cult following. I was surrounded by groups of teenaged boys who weren’t even born when GnR’s first album came out. Concert organisers were overwhelmed and arrangements unravelled quickly at the end. Many were stranded after the show and walked kilometres to find a cab.

For the most anticipated reunion in rock, I had to pinch myself it was happening in Dubai. It was further evidence of just how far the city had come. This would have been unthinkable in the early 90’s when GnR were at their peak; the infrastructure simply did not exist. So thank you, Dubai, for letting so many enjoy a truly incredible moment in rock history!