Sunday, March 19, 2017

Park: Motiongate

We returned to Dubai's Parks and Resorts to visit the biggest park of those that are open, Motiongate.

From the coach stop a shuttle bus brings you to the entrance to the park. Whilst waiting for that someone had a bitchy moan that they weren't being offered a seat and had to stand for the few minutes it took to wait; the indignity of it.

The first bus left filled up so a small number of us waited for a second, much emptier ride to arrive. I'm not a fan of the park's catchphrase but it's synonymous of similar verb-adjective campaign slogans that seem to be popular today. 

Bill making his way to the rest of the group...

...who had tried their best to gather out of the sun.

The entrance is particularly cool but there was too much organising trying to arrange a group photo ("move back", "move in", "move forward") so I left the group gathered outside and headed in.

The initial impressions were really positive with a Disney style main street and a cool fountain. They were obviously influenced by The Magic Kingdom. I don't know if they have secret clubs up there like they do.

The park layout is the standard Disney hub-and-spoke model with the rear of the park home to the Dreamworks themed area. The Smurfs and Columbia Pictures areas are to the right and to the left is the theatre and Phase 2 of the park construction, the Liongate section, which is under construction.

The park currently has 3 of the 5 rollercoasters operating. This was known before we headed out so wasn't a disappointment. The first that we chose was located in the smurfs section of the park.

It was OK, Andreas seems to have liked it.

They also have a smurf themed dark ride with some great visual puns in the queue line making this more memorable than the ride itself. 

A number of characters welcome you to the DreamWorks section. There are rides on each of these films, although the "How to Train your Dragon" section was also still work in progress and closed to the public.

They surround the Dreamworks logo but the angle of it isn't right. I can see they've tried to keep the Dreamworks log visible but it's too flat to clearly see what they're trying to do with the plants.

The Dreamworks area, which is all indoors, has it's own centrepiece, an amazing character fountain that captivated everyone who approached least based on the amount of photos being taken of it. 

The Madagascar area is themed around a large travelling circus.  It looked really cool but quite open. There's room for more in here.

Their carousel is great. Check out the tigers!

Taking some time out to check out the area.

Kung Fu Panda is great too and themed around a Chinese village with some great Chinese lanterns of some of the characters.

The entrance to the park's excellent simulator ride is a cheeky trompe l'oeil effect featuring an ascent up a mountain similar to that I had to endure in Zhangjiajie. Fortunately there was no ascent to do here, just an entrance to the right.

The main attraction here is a really cool 3D motion simulator ride featuring a boat travelling down a turbulent river as you try to deliver a package to the emperor.


The Shrek area is well done (in fact, all of the park is) and there's a dark ride still under construction here. We made do with a go on the Rocking Tug themed around a table banquet and doing a quick meet and greet with the characters.

The theatre is showing a Step Up themed dance show which was so good I went to it twice. In the spirit of the original films (which I appeared to be the only one to admit to knowing) the storyline is tosh but the enthusiasm of the cast and the production of the show is great. I felt a little sorry for the cast who would have to remain professional in a near-empty theatre. The park is getting visitors but this week happened to be exam week so no school kids were visiting the park, and the few other visitors we few and far between.

The Columbia Pictures section of the park contains a decent number of attractions, including coaster number 3 based on the rather poor Green Lantern film.

The car is great though.

This area looked a bit like Universal's Amity.

At the rear of the park is Hotel Transylvania, a lengthy trackless dark ride that was still pretty good despite it obviously lacking all of the effects.  

Blast Off is a decent shot-and-drop tower 

Underworld was one of the surprise hits of the day. It's a 4D cinema show but clearly aimed at adults which makes it unique. The opening featuring a laser sight coming over your shoulder and shooting a woman in the head complete with water-spray blood splatter has become my favourite moment in 4D cinema ever! 

The rapid ride had suffered a technical issue and the park had flown engineers in to try to fix it for us to no avail. Given we're in a very hot country I can only assume the ride is very wet if they have to install heat rooms to dry off.

The buildings here are nicely themed. This one houses a kids playground with science lessons.

There's a Ghostbusters dark ride which is a shooting 3D thing. It was pretty good.

The park also has a Ghostbusters themed dark performance which is poor but good for kids. It has the Busters possessed and made to do dance routines to popular dance songs. If you like to see nerds with lasers pole dance to Taylor Swift then you might like it.

Coming later in 2017. This will give us another coaster, a launched shuttle ride themed around The Hunger Games. 

A rather relaxed banana.

The park at night. They've done a nice job with the lighting.

The park kindly laid on dinner for us, which was a really good mixture of western and arabic food. We were then given a lengthy Q&A where we got some insight on the decisions made in building the park and the plans going forward. They did confirm that the city metro will be extended beyond the park down to the site of the 2020 World's Fair. This is good for us who choose not to drive as it means you can get from the airport direct to the park. This was a really insightful session.

We finished with a lights-on ERS on the best coaster in the park (currently). The Madagascar Mad Pursuit, a Gerstlauer infinity coaster with lots of great elements and speed throughout the ride. Unfortunately the coaster can't be photographed and I think the ride is missing a soundtrack as it is deafeningly quiet otherwise.

Kudos to the park for including FREE lockers..

The park has loads of merchandising too. 

So Motiongate is a really good park that still has plenty to offer. Will it win awards? Only time will tell. The theming throughout is top-notch and the park staff are really great despite the small numbers. They're clearly keen on getting more people into the park, which I hope will occur. The management did tell us that at Eid they're very popular so the peaks do come and today was likely more of a trough than the norm. I will definitely be back at this park.

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