It was my first time at IMG Worlds of Adventure and I mustered up the courage to try as many rides as I could. That’s saying something, as I’ve always been one to sit out thrill rides, my spine would tingle as I’d watch people lurching up and down the roller coasters from a distance. But there’s something utterly amusing about IMG Worlds, the largest indoor (excellent, given Dubai heat) park in the world at 1.5 million square foot, a spirited reminder of characters that have shaped our childhood and adult lives. I headed to the theme park on a warm Wednesday evening and what I experienced was quite unlike anything else.
I was Alice in the wonderland that is IMG Worlds, as I made my way down its spectacular zones, Marvel, Lost Valley - Dinosaur Adventure, Cartoon Network, and IMG Boulevard that houses retail shops and, ahem, the Haunted Hotel. My horror threshold is terribly low so I didn’t take the plunge, but the actors outside the Haunted Hotel were commendably every bit spooky as they tried to lure guests in. This is one of the most popular attractions of the park and there are surprises at every step.
Haunted Hotel in IMG Boulevard zone
Next, I headed to Avengers Battle of Ultron, joining superheroes the likes of Iron Man and Thor in the fight against Ultron. This stereoscopic 3D ride is a class apart in technical ambition; its elaborate theatrics and realistic special effects created an action-packed immersive experience. The ride kept me on the edge of my seat with its high theme and thrill quotients. At one point, my Quinjet was on the edge of a building and fell off only to be saved by my fellow superhero, and victory was ours.
After I emerged victorious in the fight against evil, I moved on to witness Hulk take on his archenemy, The Leader. The Hulk Epsilon Base 3D offers a 100 seat ride system with 360 degree projection screens and motion, and I was a VIP who needed to be transferred to a safe space away from the battle scene. The twists and turns were so gripping I couldn’t look away. The ride is the first of its kind, a cinematic marvel.
Marvel zone at IMG Worlds of Adventure
I changed zones and visited the Forbidden Territory in Lost Valley, my personal favourite. This is a safari ride that features 70 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs, and I had to find a way out of the jungle that plunged deeper into darkness as I moved further down. Dim lighting, ominous sound effects and directives from the command centre made the ride an authentic, spine-chilling experience for me. I got goosebumps as the ride went back and forth to get me out of the forest. I kept coming face to face with the dinosaurs, escaping them by a hair.
There’s so much more to experience at IMG Worlds, it merits a full day at minimum. The Velociraptor, for instance, is a thrill-ride lover’s dream. The 1.1km roller coaster moves at a speed of up to 100km in 2.5 seconds, making its way out from and back to the Lost Valley.
Forbidden Territory in the Lost Valley
With the adventurer in me now awake and quenched, I arrived for Iftar at Flavours of Arabia, one of the theme park’s 28 food and beverage outlets, each of which offers a different cuisine. The Iftar menu reflected the restaurant’s regular offerings – simple, delicious Middle Eastern classics in generous servings and appetising presentation. The lentil soup was rich in flavour, a drizzle of lemon and, voila, it was so good I asked for another serving. Then, a platter of tabouleh, fatouch, beetroot salad, hummus, moutabal and vine leaves, served with Arabian bread fresh out of the oven. Among other delights were fried kibbeh and cheese rolls, their crispy exterior with a soft, gooey surprise on the inside.
Main course featured mixed grill of well-seasoned, perfectly charred chicken kebabs, kofta and shish taouk. The lamb ouzi was so tender it melted in my mouth, and Jallab drink cleansed my palate. Desserts included fresh fruit, and a mix of traditional desserts such as the creamy mohalabiah, and bite-sized pastries. My favourite? A vanilla cake piece of heaven with a layer of Lotus Biscoff biscuits.
Mixed grill at Flavours of Arabia
Of course, I also struck a pose with my new friends, Spider Man, Iron Man and Captain America, and well, the slightly less buff, mister Gumball, from the popular Cartoon Network series. I left the theme park with a newfound love for adventure and for the space that offers families and friends the chance to step out and enjoy together, especially on Eid, as IMG Worlds offers rides and a host of activities for the occasion.
These include live action dinosaur performances, debut appearance of the complete Cartoon Network character line-up including Johnny Bravo and The Powerpuff Girls, celebratory dances, face painting, movie screenings and more, all amid Arabian-themed decor.
Eid timings at IMG Worlds of Adventure are 11am to 12 midnight from 25 till 28 June. For more information visit IMGworlds.com