UAE 06/18 – Legoland Dubai + Motiongate

Fortunately no early start was required for today, so I managed to sleep for 1000 hours as well as find time to slither to a supermarket for supplies.

On the way I encountered this.

I had thought about making time for going in, but parks and sleep were the priorities for now, so settled for a few snaps from the outside. I’ll save it for a non-solo trip.

Time to hit up Dubai Parks & Resorts. They’ve got some odd car parking here, the signs keep conflicting and switching between VIP parking only and ALL parking. It wasn’t just me who was getting confused by this, as by the time i reached the ticket barriers, some people were causing a scene and trying to reverse out of there rather than pay the displayed prices on the booths. I carried on anyway and asked them about ‘normal parking’. It’s still in the same area and costs £4 rather than £20 and just isn’t advertised anywhere for whatever reason.

You don’t get to park in the shade again (sorry car), but you do get to wait in a tent for a little train to take you to the parks. While waiting they give out free water to adults and ice pops to children, then the train proceeds to bypass the VIP section while they stand staring in shock. Great stuff.

The only park open this early is:

Day 2 – Legoland Dubai

Having done what I consider to be too many iterations, I try not to actively seek out these parks any more, but as it was open for 3 hours outside of Motiongate and part of a cheaper deal, it would be rude not to get the creds wouldn’t it.

Actually quite liked the place, mainly because it was completely dead and there’s far worse places to kill a couple of hours.

The central hub of the park is the indoor Miniland, but while everyone got caught up in that, I powered straight outside to the Kingdom area. How predictable.

#1 Dragon

Oh look, one of those Dragon rides again.

Staff were super friendly and excited to see the first customer of the day, rather than hating their life like in most Legolands. Something I noticed both here and in other parks in the country is that the staff are really good with children, which I can’t say I’ve ever particularly noticed in any other place.

Same old dark ride section of the ride, just a little newer looking. Same old ride outside, closer to Malaysia than Germany in smoothness thankfully. Job done.

#2 Dragon’s Apprentice

The other cred had fired up by now, so got that knocked off as well. Again, very friendly for some strange bloke riding a kids coaster at Legoland on his own. No judgment here.

This was my first experience with entire outdoor park sections in this part of the world and I found myself darting between shade spots as quickly as possible. Quite fun really. Might as well tick off the dark rides.

Oh, Lost Kingdom Adventure again. The really, really short one that’s just a circle layout. Played a game of how many different effects can I spot and set off, good little sit down.

Always cautious of these now, after powering into Billund’s expecting it to be a ride and finding out that it was just an aquarium.
Submarine Adventure here is a ride, and I think I liked it more than Windsor, mainly due to having a sub to myself.
Still feel like it needs a little more spectacle though. When the dramatic music hits and it says “welcome to the city of Atlantis”, there’s just a small lone pyramid with some lego knobs on top. I want some huge epic set to look at. But it’s Legoland.

Well that’s the park done in 40 minutes. Time to chill in Miniland.

Yay Lego pics. These are probably the best parts of all the parks, because they have all their unique builds relevant to the location. I wish the same level of creativity went into the ride lineups.

This was an Eid exhibit where you can build your own lantern for the display.

Stuff vs Burj

Lotte wins of course <3

Burj vs Burj

Got lost in this area for about half an hour. Still not enough time killed. There was a sandwich board up advertising the 4D showtimes. Fine…

Ended up with the obnoxious Nexo Knights film again. Marginally better than having to suffer through the one based on the Lego Movie, but ugh. Best part was the audiences over the top reactions to all the 4D bits. I remember being wowed like that the first time in Disney, age 12. What happened?

Another sandwich board made it clear that I also had time to try the Ninjago puppet stage show.

Ok, I’m intrigued.

This was actually pretty good. It ain’t no Lion King, but it was rather clever and refreshing to me at least.

So there we go, a reasonably happy experience at a Legoland property. Off to the next park.

Maybe next time.

The Riverwalk area between the parks here is really nice, aside from the lack of shade. Kept up the vampire routine and powered swiftly to the park entrance, still a little too early.

There was a small group outside also waiting, and they began doing bag checks early so that we could move forward to the turnstyles. After a short while they stopped this and just let the crowd build up outside, confused, resulting in a rather awkward 15 minutes of either staring down the staff at the turnstyles, or at the guests behind who felt like they were missing out (hopefully the VIPs again).


The call comes in. And we’re off. All that time I’d been having a bit of a tactical think, so super cred mode again, I knew where I was headed.

Straight into the massive Dreamworks building.

Via Toothless of course.

Now is not the time to appreciate this magnificence.

#3 Madagascar Mad Pursuit

They do have locker rules in this park, but they’re free (for an hour at a time) and automated with minimum hassle. So that’s a win. There’s a great queueline for this ride (theme of the day), circus style, that passes through a little runaway cart with lots of imaginative posters on the walls.

Can’t help but think of Kärnan when I see these Gerstlauer Infinity trains now, which makes me fearful in a good way. Something tells me this won’t quite be the same experience.

Pretty much the same turn into a dark ride section and hold before the launch as Velociraptor the previous day. I don’t know my Madagascar, but something is said about the animals and the bad guy and it being time to escape the circus.
The train launches through a psychedelic tunnel and into the main darkened ride area. It’s good fun, but you can feel like it’s holding back a little, being aimed at such a family market with the IP. There are hills in the layout that could kill at higher speed, but the ride just doesn’t quite want to that to you.

It also features a few effects that light up as you pass by/through and a brief section into the area outside the ride entrance for guests to get a little off-ride glimpse, in the same vein as Spiderman the previous day.
The experience ends on the brake run with an angry bear in the cart, those penguins and a statement along the lines of ‘people in love are never happy’, which made me laugh every time.

Time to make the most of that free locker. In my narrow minded view of getting the creds done, I’m powering off to Dragon Gliders next and BOOM.

#4 Dragon Gliders

I’m taken aback. That’s a bloody spectacular area I’ve just walked into. I wasn’t prepared for this. Found myself just meandering around in amazement for a while, rather than going into the ride. I already love this IP, love the films, and they’ve done it so much justice. The staff guy at the entrance is wearing a themed costume and completely out of character for myself I have to tell him how amazing that is. Ahhhhhh!

The queue is really detailed and atmospheric, with a bit of Gobber action on audio, some posters and drawings teaching you about dragons as well as a selection of animatronics, screens and other effects.

On to the hardware then. I didn’t quite ‘get’ Arthur. It was all a bit something and nothing, like a cool concept but poorly executed, though maybe that’s just IP bias.

I get this, it’s just done right. 90% dark ride and 10% coaster. There’s a fantastic mix beyond physical sets and screens, including some clever projections and story-telling shadows. It has a fresh story, going on a bit of an adventure with Hiccup and Astrid. You stumble upon a mean icy dragon and have a bit of a fight with it, survive, and then return to Berk for a bit of a celebration which is when the ride just opens above the main off-ride entrance plaza again.

This part works so well. There’s so many little easter eggs around inculding the catapult sheep everywhere (21 sheep salute).
And then the ending hits, where they’ve captured the relationship between Hiccup and Toothless perfectly in a single animatronic and sound clip.
And then Gobber’s voice speaks to you through on-board audio: “Not at all what I expected, look at you… still alive.” Again, made me laugh every time.

No time to let that sink in, back out into the sun. There’s more Mack goodness afoot.

#5 Capitol Bullet Train

I was a little confused as to how this was a concept. I don’t like the Hunger Games, so much as respect it. Seen the films once and sort of enjoyed them, but can’t really stand to see them again.
So how is a Mack launch coaster going to be a high speed train into the city? A train which in the film they amusingly claim does 200Mph like that’s some mind blowing futuristic achievement. For a train. Have they not been to China?

It doesn’t make sense, but they’ve made a reasonable attempt. The queue is full of boarding procedures and announcements, lots of posh luggage around and a glimpse into one of the trains with posh food inside. By the end of the ride (the brake run) they’ve made it feel more like the city, with a subtle change in architecture and some billboards up.

So what’s in between all that? Got in the back of the train first, with personal recommendation from the staff bloke who said “it’s the best seat: good in the spike.” It is good in the spike.
The first warm up launch is rather amusingly slow, as the loop is so close to the launch track and it only goes a quarter of the way through it, but as with the others of this type it’s the backwards one that catches you by surprise.
The loop itself is lovely and floaty, there’s a few twists and turns and one really sharp multi-directional airtime hill which is probably the highlight of the ride. I’ve said before that Mack always nail their inversions and the other one in the layout is really good, but then it’s all over a bit quick.
Solid fun, but nothing spectacular.

#6 Smurf Village Express

Smurf Village Express came next. I had it in my head that it was a Vekoma Junior (a likely assumption) but definitely thought to myself while riding ‘this seems better somehow.’ Oh yeah, it’s a Gerstlauer. They always nail their family rides.

#7 Green Hornet: High Speed Chase

One more Gerstlauer then and it’s a slightly custom Bobsled thankfully. No more than a one and done though. Not sure what the theme was inside, then it’s just concrete outside.

Sat behind a couple of Indian blokes who after making such a huge fuss about getting on it, rode it with the most amusingly unphased stances. Clearly just a +1 for them as well.

Well that’s all the creds knocked out in 45 minutes again, better go check on my locker.

Went to Kung Fu Panda land from there. Another really, really nice area in the Dreamworks bit. Sadly the ride here was down all day, but could have been worse.

Shrek’s Merry Fairy Tale Journey it is then. Less than 0 expectations for this, cos ugh, Shrek. Absolutely loved it.

It’s just a retelling of the first film, but with the premise of Shrek and Fiona putting on a puppet show to retell the first film to their kids. This is styled really cleverly in a wonderful dark ride that’s packed full of great detail.
It has some fancy ‘trackless’ moments with the vehicles splitting off from your neighbouring cars into a 2 lane path. In one of these in particular near the end, I’m not sure if it was just the sudden difference in scale of one of the sets, but the 2 cars end up side by side going into a big church scene that was a real ‘wow’ moment.
Then the dragon eats the short bloke (in a hilariously low budget puppet show manner) and the wedding happens, the cars turn round on the spot, and the cardboard cut out guests in the pews change. Great stuff.

Panem Aerial Tour was a bit of a mixed bag. I thought it would be a flying theatre ride for whatever reason. Then once inside it made me start to think it was an immersive tunnel. In the end it was just a simulator in a curved screen.
Similar with the story. Thought it was going to be as described in the preshow, just a nice sightseeing flight over the capital and some of the districts. Then there’s a signal breaking through and rebels talking, oh maybe they’re gonna interweave that plot a bit. Then the ride is mostly 90% just that plot, a bit of a high speed flying chase through the city in a sub par simulator and nothing like it promised.
Was better in my head I think. Soarin’ over some fictional lands. Would have done the job better.

Positives though – another nicely themed queue with information about all the different districts, and then an actor as one of the nasty security blokes (peacekeepers?) sneaking up on people after the preshow and scaring them silly.
Also the sign outside said 30 minutes, I asked if that was because it runs time slots, or from an actual queue. The response was “mmmmmm a bit of both.” It was actually a walk on.

Ghostbusters: Battle for New York was again, rather good. Slightly too high a ratio of screens for the shooting sections, but very nicely themed. Ended a bit abruptly. Didn’t take a picture.

The list just keeps going. Hotel Transylvania. No idea what this was. Absolutely loved it.

Another pseudo-trackless dark ride, the highlight of which is a huge open hallway with tons of crossed pathways and cars everywhere going in all directions between scenes. On the first go I was all alone for this moment and it just filled me with childlike excitement and glee.

Second go was ruined by having a couple of British tourists behind me constantly moaning about how bad it all was. Really?? You don’t know what good is. Can’t take them anywhere…

I normally skip drop towers unless I think they’re of particular interest, but it was so quiet everywhere I thought I might as well have a go on this one. 60 minute queue – 10 times the national average. Nope.

Hung around outside Underworld 4D, wondering whether it was actually open. The show time board was outside, but awkwardly blocking the door, and the exit shop was all boarded up with a sign saying closed.
It was open.
Yet again, a very nicely themed queueline. Preshow was a bit awkward, standing around watching a screen of clips from the movies(?) and some story about a vampire.
The actual experience was rather bizarre. Obviously it’s more dark and graphic than your average 4D show. I liked the beginning with someone getting shot through the head synced with a water effect to the audiences faces, but it never got better than that. The rest is done from a POV perspective of the vampire bloke getting into fights, though the seat movements fell way short of what was going on. Need the Ben10 hardware.

The Smurfs Studios Tour had too many good rides come before it. It was alright. Did the job.

Think that was everything covered bar the rapids, which I had planned to vampire later. With a couple of hours to go until sundown, decided to go chill in the Dreamworks area again.

Had a very nice tofu & noodles dish from the Kung Fu Panda area (my kinda scene). Still a strong showing from the park food around here.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was alright. Couldn’t work out who made it. It had some interesting pacing, moments where it would almost come to a standstill before rushing off again. Not sure if they were planned or not. I got mildly wet, but it wasn’t brutal enough for my taste in water rides. Had possibly the weakest queue of the park too, comprising of just cattlepens and a couple of TV screens.

Dragon Gliders broke down for a bit unfortunately, but then it got dark and I had some night rides on Capitol Bullet Train instead. The former also fixed itself before the end of the day so I managed to finish on that high.

All in all, another great day. Properly impressed with the quality of attractions and overall appearance of this park and the bar has been set even higher now. Watch out IMG.

I’ll leave you with the park’s best pun.

Day 3

UAE 06/18 – IMG Worlds of Adventure
Korea + Japan 04/17 – Greenland

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