Futuristic Dubailand Theme Park City Growing Ahead With $55 Billion

DubailandIt’s a fact that Disneyland fits inside Disney World’s parking lot.  Now double up Disney World and you almost match the planned footprint of Dubaiworld.  That’s unimaginable, and sure to haunt my dreams.

The largest collection of theme parks in the world is growing in Dubai, an enormous development of “pleasure zones” with no completion date in sight. They’re not short on money (having raised $55 billion in private investment for the first phase alone); the open end date is largely attributed to the park’s relentless ambitions to expand and develop.

It’s going to be a new city in the desert, a metropolis of actual and virtual fun-tastic amusements where you can live and work and play (and undergo surgery and food shop and be arrested).
Dubai Sports City dubailandThe project was unveiled in 2003, with initial plans to spread six distinct “worlds” over 100 square miles. There is Attractions and Experience World, Sports and Outdoor World, and Eco-Tourism World, followed by Themed Leisure and Vacation World, Retail and Entertainment World, and Downtown World.  In total, the complex promised 45 “mega-parks” and hundreds of lesser attractions.

Then, like Sleeping Beauty, it fell asleep.

The 2008 global money mess saw most of the projects shelved and the workforce fired. American entertainment giants including DreamWorks, Universal Studios and Six Flags dropped out of the project.

But Dubai development is relentless, and last September, Dubai Properties Group announced the revival of their Mudon residential project, estimating early 2014 completion.

dubailand banner, dubaiSome construction resumed this year, with the 72,000 square meter Dubai Miracle Gardens opening last March.  Four areas are now operational, but still undergoing construction:

Actual development has clearly scaled back.  The reality, pictured below, is incompatible with artists’ renderings.

Dubailand first phase

But this is Dubai, surely someday some variant of this thing will hatch. And what about its environmental impacts?

Attempts to find a formal assessment proved futile; it’s possible each development is being treated as a standalone project.  But positive features promised by, say, “Eco-Tourism World” are surely be offset by the “Snowdome”  that will house a mountain ski deck and snow play area, a toboggan run and ice rink, and something called a “penguin-arium”.

Author disclaimer: I’m allergic to theme parks.  Scratch that: I hate theme parks.  Revise that. I’d chew off my right arm rather than spend time in another American theme park, historically the world’s biggest and loudest and most crammed with overspent, overstressed families. But I have kids, there’s no escape.

The official tagline for Disneyland – I’m talking the original Pasadena park – is “The Happiest Place on Earth”, an ironic claim given the armies of crying kids and frustrated parents, standard ticket-holders every day I went.

What will Dubaiworld’s catchphrase be?

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8 thoughts on “Futuristic Dubailand Theme Park City Growing Ahead With $55 Billion”

  1. clayjoslyn says:

    it’s a beautiful place but they can use that money for something more useful in my opinion. how to get more likes on vine

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  3. laurie says:

    I’m not so sure about that Robb. Since most have access to the tools you describe – congestion will still be problematic.

    Modern developments in the Disney parks are sorting us into a caste system (which may have always existed – I’ve been outside the States so long, memory blurs). I do recall standing for 90 minutes waiting for our turn at antiquated Space Mountain – while the pre-booked Fast Passers sped by us on the adjacent lane. Not so awful except there is no escape – at 20 minutes plus, you’re in the belly of the attraction, no way to walk out (had me wondering what happens in a fire or emergency).

    No question that food offerings have improved in these parks, and most of us know the basic tips (go to fave rides during the nighttime “Electric Light Parade” when folks line the streets and few are queuing up for rides).

    Now the news and comedy shows are abuzz with the story of wealthier patrons hired the disabled to get them to the front of the line. Given most Americans get a 2-week vacation, and the cost for a family of four rivals R/T travel to a foreign country – it’s astounding that these places still hold any appeal.

  4. Laurie says:

    Great observations –

    As with office space and retail development, these investments depend on people spending money in order to realize proper returns. Who exactly is the target user for this place?

    I was in Ferrari World last year, and my kids were stunned by lack of lines for the rides – except for the World’s Fastest Rollercoaster – and even that involved less than 15 minutes in a queue. (By comparison, crowds require that you’ll wait 10 times that to get on Walt Disney’s old Magic Mountain).

    At least it’s creating fun jobs for architectural renderers!

  5. Catherine LJ says:

    Dubai can’t seem to get enough of itself. How much more ego-boosting does it need? Instead of spending all that money on theme parks, why not spend it on Islamic education, particularly concentrated on the environment. That’s just my point of view, of course, but environmental action should be one of the Middle East’s priorities as we are made stewards of the earth by Allah after all.

  6. nader karam says:

    here we go again with these mega dubai projects that manage to get people shouting WOW. In reality dubai has mega problems and hides behind the publicity of these “mega” projects. no investor will ever repeat the saga of 2008/2009 when dubai government big corps failed to pay billions of owed money to contractors and vendors. Today they still have not paid. in 2009 the debt was estimated at above $100bm. contractors, vendors, suppliers, companies, employees and everyone struggled and still struggle except the dubai government. thousands of people fled dubai while thousands are in jail for financial matters. dubai government must and should pay their debts first before spreading the news about such $55bm projects. if u dont have the money for it then u dont need it.

    1. Catherine LJ says:

      “mega problems” : LOL!

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