Located at the edge of Dubai Motion gate is similar to IMG Worlds of Adventure, Motiongate is a movie themed park packed to the brim of IPs. It was fairly easy to get to from central Dubai via a Taxi and is located in the Dubai Parks and & Resorts area just by the last exit along Shiekh Zayed Rd heading towards Abu Dhabi.
From walking into the park you can see it’s heavily influenced by Disney and Universal with a hub layout and a mainstreet leading up to the centre. But you can easily tell that they worked on a much tighter budget, as the buildings feel vey much like a facade, there’s lifeless feel to them, and that feeling kinda of follows through to the rest of the outdoor sections of the park. We let the boys pick the first ride, as one of them is not quite 1.3m yet we went for Green Hornet, a coaster we could all ride.
This is Gerstlauer Bobsled, and although according to RCDB it is actually a custom model. The way it sits in the park on flat ground in such a tight space gives it the feel of an off-the-shelf design. The station consists of a brick (New York style?) building that houses a small queue with some theming elements and screen, apprently the car inside is related to the film? If I’m honest I knew nothing about this film so I feel any references were completely lost, I do question how relevent the theme is in all honesty.
Anyway onto the ride experience, it’s pretty fun! I can’t really elaborate on individual elements, but it does pack in all the wild mouse staples, tight unbanked corners, a few swooping drops, a few small pops of air and your done. It’s not a bad experience and definitely fun, but it is kind of forgettable.
VERDICT A standard bobsled full of all the elements you’d expect. It’s a good for the whole family, but the definition of a filler ride.
After this we moved around the area, the Ghostbusters and Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs rides were down so we tried the Hotel Transylvania trackless ride. I think conceptually it was ok, but the all the animatronics were completely static so again felt abit lifeless.
Their ZombieLand drop tower was a nice surprise though. It has a scaremaze kind of vibe to it while waiting to board and is a full little concept for a drop tower. The ride cycle packed quite a punch too, I’m usually a wimp with drop towers, but actually enjoyed it. The area fwelt a little dead though so we moved on over to their indoor section based around Dreamworks animation. It’s fairly dark in their though and they don’t allow any loose articles in the queues, so excuse the lack of photos here.
The inside section is divided up into four sections based on Dreamwork’s largest franchises, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar & How to Train Your Dragon. They really step up the level of detail and theming inside the building with plenty of references throughout and alot more life! Each section has a small number of attractions with a single major one, two of which are rollercoasters. It’s a nicely balanced area and was definitely impressed.
We decided to head to the back and go on the MACK powered inverted coaster in the How to Train Your Dragon section. This area was clearly the best themed area of the park, they really captured the vibe of the movie, with different levels of pathways, trees lining the edge and that fantastic soundtrack playing all around.
This is only one of two MACK Powered Inverted Coasters in the world, and you can tell it was expensive, there’s a lot to it, the trains are an array of blinking lights. It kind of bridges the gap between a dark ride story telling experience and something more thrilling, maybe inspired by the likes of Forbidden Journey. The whole thing was definitely a highlight of the trip (I’ve always loved the films which helped). The open trains feel so open as you get whipped about between the scenes, and they were all exciting and loud.
When you hit the finale your blasted out over the entire area with the theme tune blasting, it’s quite magic and a great moment for the kids, and I thought the wind down with a toothless animatronic was a pretty adorable ending.
VERDICT Overall the coaster never delivers anything too intense, but it is a perfect ride for the family and a great example of using a known IP to tell an exhilarating story.
MADAGASCAR MAD PURSUIT
Next up we headed over to the other coaster, I wasn’t really aware of what happened on this coaster apart from the fact it is a Gerstlauer Infinity Coaster. It’s presented well from the outside, as you queue in a big circus tent but honestly there’s no indication of the experience untill you board the thing.
The trains are very very comfy, we need more infinity coasters with lap bars for sure. There’s a small show scene you go through once you leave the station, it’s kinda filled with awkwardly static animatronics. Then after a small stop you hit the launch.
And JEEZ! This ride is great! The launch packs a punch and it has to be one of the smoothest rides I’ve ever ridden. The initial top hat has some great air and the whole ride keeps it’s pace right untill the brakes. There’s plenty of force mixed with snappy transitiions and pops of air. A really fun ride.
VERDICT An unexpected gem here! Really comfortable and smooth with an nice amount of intensity. It does feel like it’s abit off the shelf and the in-ride theming is a bit lacklustre, but overall I’m impressed.
We rode a few other attractions inside (Shrek was pretty good) but found being in the dark surrounded by flashing lights was a bit nauseating after a while so we headed back outside to get the final credit I was really looking forward to.
CAPITOL BULLET TRAIN
I was one of those people who got caught up in the Hunger Games books and films, so it was pretty cool to see some of District 12 recreated in person. Your greeted firstly by huge mocking jay statue and information on each district and the stage where Katniss volunteered. The rollercoaster’s station is themed to the train station that would take people from District 12 to the Capitol.
Conceptually I really liked the idea for the ride, but it lacked the level of detail and atmosphere I think. It still had that dead slightly dated feel that the rest of the outdoor sections had. There were come character actors though who were capitol guards which was cool, maybe it’s better when the park is abit busier.
The queue and station were pretty cool, with details from Panem, although the lack of people meant I never spent an awful lot of time in the building. The ride stats by moving across to a transfer track that moves you to the starting position with a nicely theme launch countdown. The ride starts with a swing launch where you pass the launch track twice after going up the back spike.
This caught me off guard! In terms of force, I’ve ridden rides which go up a track then free fall back, but for some reason (maybe it’s the weight of the trains) this one gave some great stomach stealing air-time. Once you hit full speed you go round the loop for some signature MACK hang-time and then into a series of corners paired with some really intense moments of ejector air-time. Infact most of the ride was surprisingly forceful, it was alot better than it looks on videos.
VERDICT Again, like the other coasters here, although this is a technically unique, it had a feeling that it was a standard design from MACK. It ticks the boxes for a great filler attraction as it’s fun and forceful, but it pales in comparison to MACK’s best.
Motiongate was quite similar to the other Dubai parks I visited, in the sense that it felt like a very paint-by-numbers version of a theme park. Using popular IPs in an attempt to appeal to a mass audience but the rides feel very off-the-shelf with nothing really unique to stand out. Although decent, non of the coasters really left me feeling wowed and immersed in the experience. I think it’s a decent base to build on with some larger investments, but the whole area felt like it had been built and forgotten about and I wouldn’t be surprised if the park closed down in the near future as I noticed alot of areas that were starting to look tired and worn down. Worth a visit, but come on Dubai Parks, show abit of love and care for the future now.