January 1, 2020 | In:
The UAE is full of family-friendly things to do, and we’ve pulled them all together in this comprehensive month-by-month list (and what mum doesn’t love a list?), so that you can tick them off with your kids throughout the year, and rate them as you go.
Have loads of fun, and let us know when you’ve been there, done that by tagging us in your cool pics on Instagram (@TimeOutUAEKids). Now, go and have some fun with the gang.
A brand-new indoor and outdoor adventure park opened at the end of 2019 bringing with it the city’s second Smash Room and a cool paintballing arena. But there are still plenty more attractions set to open at the massive entertainment destination this month, including the region’s very first upside down house and a go-karting track. A top idea for active families.
From Dhs99 (per 100 paintballs). Sun-Wed, 10am-10pm; Thu-Sat, 11am-11pm. The Last Exit, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, www.actionpark.ae (04 235 8893).
This huge funfair-style theme park where cultures mix together harmoniously, is a must for any family living in the UAE, or for any family visiting the UAE. With themed kiosks offering street food from around the world, fairground rides and attractions, arcade games and shows and concerts it’s a must-visit, especially in January when the weather is cooler.
Dhs15. Sat-Wed 4pm-midnight; Thu & Fri 4pm-1am, until Sat Apr 4. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, www.globalvillage.ae.
We know that this isn’t an activity, but getting membership to Privilee is a great way to kick start your new year. Membership (one adult membership includes access for two children under 12) gives the whole gang access to more than 50 of the most luxurious beach clubs across Dubai and Abu Dhabi, 25 of which have kids’ clubs. And when family or friends come to visit, you can get them their own pass for Dhs289 per week. We are sold.
From Dhs529 per month (adult). www.privilee.ae (04 554 7820).
Arabian Wildlife Centre
Budding conservationists will love learning about the different animals and ecosystems of the Arabian Peninsula here. Housing the world’s largest collection of Arabian animals – such as oryx, antelopes, Arabian leopards, and flamingos – the zoo creates open and convincing examples of the animals’ natural habitats. In the main building, nature lovers can see the animals through large panel windows, and enjoy the indoor exhibits and enclosures. For a particularly memorable sight, head to the snake section – if they dare – the colours and abundance of nature’s most slithery specimens creates quite a spectacle.
Free (under 12), Dhs15 (over 12). Sun-Thu 9am-5.30pm, Fri 2pm-5.30pm, Sat 11am-5.30pm. Al Dhaid Rd, E88, Sharjah. (06 531 1999).
Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
Every year the huge book fair brings incredible literary talent to the UAE. This year the fair is taking place from Tuesday February 4 to Sunday February 9, and is welcoming a number of highly-acclaimed individuals such as Great British Bake Off winner and children’s picture book author Nadiya Hussain, and Oliver Jeffers who has written over 13 kid’s books including Stuck. There are dozens of seminars and workshops aimed at kids too. Little bookworms will love it.
Prices vary. Tue Feb 4-Sun Feb 9. InterContinental, Dubai Festival City, www.emirateslitfest.com (04 355 9844).
This massive Abu Dhabi attraction is a fantastic white-knuckle ride all-round. The theme park boasts more than 20 rides and activities, but the one you will want to strap yourself into is the record-smashing Formula Rossa. It’s not for the fainthearted, however. There are heaps of less terrifying rides suitable for mini thrill-seekers such as the car carousel, driving school and an awesome super car museum – we can but dream as we gaze on the gorgeous motors.
From Dhs230 (kids), Dhs295 (adults). Open daily 11am-8pm. Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.ferrariworldabudhabi.com (02 496 8000).
Desert Safari with Platinum Heritage
Get a true taste of the deserts of Dubai from the air conditioned comfort of a 4×4 as you go up and down (and back up) the spectacular sand dunes. Give kids an education in local wildlife before ending up at a luxurious Bedouin camp where a brilliant falconry show, flame dancer and camel rides are laid on, alongside a six-course meal brimming with authentic Emirati cuisine.
Dhs595 per person (heritage desert safari and camel desert safari), Dhs1,595 per person (platinum safari). Open daily, 6.30am onwards. Office: Control Tower, Motor City, Dubai, www.platinum-heritage.com (04 440 9827).
With two of the fastest rides in Dubai – The Madagascar Mad Pursuit and The Bullet Train – as well as plenty of less scary rides for younger theme park goers and an entire indoor area housing four themed zones – Kung Fu Panda, How to Train your Dragon, Shrek and Madagascar – there is something for everyone year round.
If you don’t have a Dubai Parks & Resorts annual pass – and you live in the UAE – now’s a good time to get one. That way you can use it to go to motiongate and again when you go to LEGOLAND and LEGOLAND waterpark later on in the year. We have no doubt that you will go more times in the year than we suggest.
Dhs275, Dubai Parks and Resorts, www.motiongatedubai.com (800 2629464).
The park, uniquely based on the Emirati “The Legend of the Lost Pearl”, theme is divided into four thrill levels: Adrenaline Rush, Exciting Adventure, Moving and Grooving and, finally, Young Fun. Each zone caters to different age groups and with 40 exhilarating rides and slides there really is something for the whole crew to enjoy. The Tot’s Playground is a popular spot for parents with tiny ones who are just looking to splash about.
Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.yaswaterworld.com (600 511 115).
An amazing 18,000 square feet indoor entertainment park with an unparalleled amount for kids to do across all age groups. State-of-the-art gaming is mixed with retro classics, plus cool racing simulators, an inner-city sports court arena for Pro Evolution Soccer tournaments, a laser maze and a 46-seater 4D cinema. The exhilarating robocoaster is a must-try, as is The Void.
From Dhs165 (day passes). Sat-Wed 2pm-10pm, Thu-Fri 2pm-midnight. City Walk, Al Safa Street, Dubai, www.hubzerodubai.com (800 637227).
IMG Worlds of Adventure
The biggest indoor theme park on the planet features three zones – The Marvel Zone for diddy superhero fans, The Lost Valley where you can spot a dinosaur or two and The Cartoon Network Zone where all your favourite, colourful characters like the Powerpuff Girls and Ben 10 are hanging out. Each zone houses a host of heart-pumping rides from white-knuckle rollercoasters to less scary experiences for little ones.
Dhs257 (general admission), Dhs236 (kids under 1.2m in height), Dhs158 (ages 60 and over), free (kids under 1.05m in height). Open Sun-Wed 11am-11pm, Thu-Sat 11am-11pm. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road, Dubai, www.imgworlds.com (600 500 962).
Mattel Play! Town
A fun and colourful edutainment centre where lovable dinosaur Barney is a permanent fixture. Kids kids can meet Barney, go on an adventure with Thomas & Friends, be a hero with Fireman Sam, build their dream home with Bob the Builder and dance their little hearts out with Angelina Ballerina – and generally just have heaps of fun.
Free (kids under two), from Dhs110 (full-day), from Dhs59 (parents pass). Open Sat-Wed 10am-7pm, Thu & Fri 10am-8pm. City Walk, Al Safa, Dubai, www.playtowndubai.com (04 317 3999).
This huge waterpark is splashing fun for all the family from the tiniest tots up to the biggest kids – we mean you mums and dads! There are so many cool rides offering varying levels of terror – we dare you to slide down the transparent tube surrounded by sharks – and there are shady spots to chill out in.
The younger kids’ area is safe for little ones to roam around, as they make their way up, over and through the giant wet pirate ship and try to avoid the enormous bucket that dumps out water periodically.
From Dhs195 (adults, residents), Dhs170 (kids less than 1.2m tall, UAE residents), free (kids under two). Open daily 10am-sundown. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, www.atlantisthepalm.com (04 426 0000).
A world of colour and fun awaits little explorers at the Cheeky Monkeys soft play centres. Innovative neon-lit slides, mini zip lines, brilliant dressing up area and an enormous ball pit provide endless entertainment that energetic tots love. Plus there’s a café serving hot kid-friendly meals and Starbucks coffee for the mums and dads.
Dhs55 (first hour, Dhs30 (subsequent hours). Times vary. Various locations including J3 Mall, Dubai and Al Ain Mall, Al Ain, www.cheekymonkeys.com (04 276 0011).
Louvre Abu Dhabi
From super cool exhibitions to awesome holiday camps, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is a hot pot of learning and fun for inquisitive little minds. With its own museum dedicated to the youngest members of the family, there is always plenty going on to keep even the smallest of visitors entertained.
The Children’s Museum hosts family-friendly experiences and workshops in both Arabic and English throughout the year, and the latest one to take residency is “A Costume Adventure” that is running until July 2020 – so catch it before it’s gone.
From Dhs30. Open Sat, Sun, Tue, Wed 10am-8pm; Thu-Fri 10am-10pm. Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, www.louvreabudhabi.ae (600 565 566).
There’s heaps of activities on offer in both the Abu Dhabi and Dubai branches, including the capital’s “super tramp”. This beast is four times the size of a standard trampoline and can generate a force of over 14Gs, which is what a fighter pilots feel.
X Park is a brilliant way to find your inner Spider-Man and jump around its many obstacles and pipes to work up a sweat, from its spider wall to its climbing wall. Kids can unleash all their pent up energy in this parkour zone.
Plus, billed as one of the most effective exercises you can do, trampolining is a fun, low-impact workout that tones muscles and improves coordination.
From Dhs75 (per session). Times vary. Al Quoz, Dubai and Marina Mall, Al Marina, Abu Dhabi, www.bounce.ae.
VR Park is home to a host of virtual reality games for kids of all ages, where they can challenge reality and learn at the same time.
Among the 18 separate attractions (within which there can be multiple games) found inside VR Park, you’ll be taken to distant planets, the distant future and the not-so-distant world of a fully virtualized Dubai, in a series of games that have been specially designed with some of the world’s top VR production houses.
VR Park is also designed to slowly and safely introduce kids to virtual reality, with various tame experiences for little ones.
Free entry, from Dhs90 (Super 7 pass). Open Sun-Wed 10am-midnight, Thu-Sat 10am-1am. The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, www.vrparkdubai.com.
We Rock The Spectrum
Providing safe sensory experiences, this kids’ gym is a real favourite for all the tribe.
While it encourages open play, We Rock the Spectrum Kids’ Gym also offers arts and crafts classes for little creative kiddos to enjoy, as well as fitness and lab lessons for high-energy tots and inquisitive little minds.
A fab day out for your active little people.
From Dhs63 (per hour). Jumeirah Beach Road, www.werockthespectrumdubai.com (04 343 2442).
This is a popular soft play hotspot not just with the little ones, who can play safely in the separate toddler area, but with older balls of energy up to ten years old who love the climbing, exploring and sliding. The arts and crafts zone is always a huge hit too, with everyone.
Dhs50 (first hour, kids six months-12 years). Daily 9am-8pm. Various locations including Motor City, Dubai, www.extremefun.ae (04 452 5543).
There’s just something fun about pretending to be a doctor, a fireman, a chef or a builder. KidZania is a magical world of make believe where children can role play more than 40 professions and earn their own KidZania money, which they can then spend on their way out in the on-site shop.
From Dhs94.5 (kids two-three), from Dhs166.5 (kids four-16). Times vary. The Dubai Mall, Dubai and Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi, www.kidzania.ae (800 382246255).
Warner Bros. World
This indoor (which is why the middle of summer is a great time to go) mega-park brings superheroes, villains, cartoons and favourite characters from your childhood to life on Yas Island. Split into six distinct and vibrant zones – Bedrock, Warner Bros. Plaza, Metropolis, Gotham City, Cartoon Junction and Dynamite Gulch – there is plenty to keep even the smallest of adrenalin junkies entertained for hours, while the real thrill seekers risk the faster, white-knuckle rides.
Dhs295 (adults), Dhs230 (kids up to 1.1m), free (kids under three). Open daily 10am-9pm. Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.wbworldabudhabi.com (600 511 115).
This colourful, bouncy hangout is a huge hit with energetic kids. Spread over 23,000 square feet, Air Maniax’s biggest zone is an inflatable arena for kids of all ages – and adults too. Older kids will love the challenging obstacle courses, the zip line and laser tag game, while the littlest bouncers have their own dedicated toddler area to go crazy in. The colour-coded, sensor-activated wristbands are an added bonus that allow competitive children to go up against each other to get the highest scores.
From Dhs80 (general access). Sat-Wed 10am-7pm, Thu 10am-9pm, Fri 9am-9pm. Street 1, Al Quoz 1, www.airmaniax.com (04 348 8981).
A play space that’s based on a real-life construction site, kids can dig, move, tunnel, climb, build and create here. They can also drive a remote controlled truck, pilot a mechanical arm and even try out a full-size digger while building their skills.
Dhs125. Daily 10am-10pm. The Springs Souk, www.digitdubai.com (04 438 4479).
Wavehouse brings together live music, gaming, bowling, dining and a wave machine all in one place, giving you more options for those day-to-night outings with the brood.
Located in The Avenues and overlooking Aquaventure Waterpark, it blends grown-up time with family activities so that you can spend the day with the kiddies without jumping into a ball pit.
For youngsters and adults seeking a good strike, a four-lane, ten-pin bowling alley awaits complete with visual 3D mapping projections (and super plush couches). Lanes can be hired from Dhs60 per person, per game from noon to 1am daily.
Little and not-so-little ones can also head to the LEVELS arcade and soft play zone, where they’ll find five levels of padded mazes, climbing frames and mega slides. Plus, over 50 games including the world’s largest Pac Man.
Prices and timings vary. The Avenues, Atlantis The Palm, atlantisthepalm.com (04 426 2000).
Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards
It’s the biggest, slimiest party in the world and it was held in Abu Dhabi for the first of five yearly ceremonies celebrating kids entertainment in the UAE capital. The inaugural event was hosted by Jason Derulo and Haifa Beseisso with performances by Conor Maynard, Fnaire, Dyler and Nora. A huge celebration of children’s entertainment that was a brilliant day out for the whole family – no doubt 2020 will be just as successful so don’t miss it. The World of Nickelodeon is also worth a visit – a huge exhibition where kids can meet all their favourite characters and enjoy heaps of activities.
Prices, dates and timings to be announced, www.kca.nickelodeonarabia.com.
Passionate about positive play and the power of imagination, there are eight galleries and more than 40 exhibits inspired by the work of leading educators, artists and development psychologists.
It’s an interactive adventure that stimulates a child’s body and mind.
Free (kids under 12 months), Dhs78 (kids 12-23 months), from Dhs156 (kids over 23 months), Dhs21 (adult). 9am-9pm, Sun Oct 18-Thu Oct 22. Al Quoz 1, www.olioli.ae (04 702 7300).
With over 30 rides, a wave simulator and lazy river, Dubai’s original waterpark has a lot going for it.
The Wipeout and Riptide Flowriders offer the ultimate surfing experience.
It is also worth queuing up for the Burj Surj – two super-fast slides that cascade down into a “bowl” – and Tantrum Alley – which contains three hair-raising “tornado” slides. But the park’s main attraction is the Jumeirah Sceirah, which has two 32 metre-high tandem slides and whizzes you downwards a speed of 80kph.
Dhs270 (adults), Dhs220 (kids under 1.1m). Open Sun-Thurs 10am-7pm, Fri 10am-10pm. Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Umm Suqeim, Dubai, www.jumeirah.com (04 348 4444).
With four distinct zones, half a dozen standalone rides, flumes and slides, a lazy river, an infinity pool and the region’s first 180-degree surf park, Laguna has something for the teen adrenalin-seekers to the tiny tots looking to splash around.
And if you have little ones on your hands at the start of the week, take advantage of the Laguna Mamas on Mondays pass, which is valid every Monday between 9am and 1pm for Dhs95 (online price). The pass includes access to all rides and breakfast – winner.
From Dhs145 (day pass for UAE residents booking online). Daily 10am-sunset. La Mer, Jumeirah 1, Dubai, www.lagunawaterpark.com (800 637227).
Enjoy more than 40 rides, shows and attractions on six themed lands crammed with 15,000 LEGO models and more than 60,000 LEGO bricks.
Start off at the factory where you’ll get a guided tour and find out how LEGO bricks are made, before moving onto LEGO City where you can learn to drive an electric car and fly a LEGO plane.
From there it’s onto the various kingdoms and imagination zones, before taking a turn on some rides at the Adventure zone before heading to Miniland, where you’ll be able to marvel at 20 miles of LEGO bricks.
The reason we have suggested you visit in October is because LEGOLAND throws the most spooctacular Halloween parties that little ghouls and monsters will love.
From Dhs275 (adults), free (kids under three). Open Sat-Wed 10am-6pm, Thur-Fri 10am-8pm. Dubai Parks And Resorts, Dubai, www.legoland.com/dubai (04 820 0000).
The Green Planet
Imagine a rain forest right in the heart of Dubai, with colourful flora and exotic birds, animals and insects all existing in an ecosystem expertly put together by botanists, zoologists and scientists – and you’ve got The Green Planet.
The indoor bio-dome houses over 3,000 plants and animals including sloths, bats and snakes.
Dhs99 (adults), Dhs74 (kids aged three-11). Open Sun-Wed 10am-7pm; Thu-Sat 10am-8pm. City Walk, Al Safa Street, Dubai, www.thegreenplanetdubai.com.
Encourage them to reach for the skies as they hit the tree tops for some fun climbing, balancing, tree-surfing and zip lining action in Mushrif Park. Let them get back to nature as they safely explore the tight-ropes and rope bridges suspended high above the ground in the branches of the lofty trees.
Dhs149 (kids under 1.4 metres), Dhs185 (kids and adults over 1.4 metres), Dhs329 (kid season pass), Dhs399 (adult season pass). Mushrif Park, Gate 1, Dubai, www.aventuraparks.com (052 178 7616).
LEGOland Water Park Dubai
Aqua fun for the whole family at this water park where the rides are great, the water is cold and the sun always shines. The Joker Soaker kids’ area has the perfect amount of tumbling buckets of water, water shooters and slides, the lazy river is a great way to chill out and stay cool and with 20 water slides throughout the park to enjoy, there is no excuse not to get wet.
Dhs165 (adults), free (kids under three). Open daily 10am-6pm. Dubai Parks And Resorts, Dubai, www.legoland.com/dubai (04 820 3123).
This family-friendly al fresco market pops up once a year between October and April at the Dubai Police Academy Park. There is loads to do for all the family in addition to local craftmakers selling their wares, with slime-making, arts and crafts, animal care experiences, pony rides and ninja warrior obstacle courses courtesy of Just Play.
Free. Fri 9am-7pm, Sat 1pm-8pm. Academy Park, Umm Suqeim, www.ripeme.com (04 315 7000).
Jingle All the Way at Dubai Opera
Grab the gang, head to Dubai Opera, and work on your vocals for this annual festive family sing-along that never fails to get everyone in a jolly Christmas state of mind. The London Concert Orchestra Show Band, Capital Voices and West End soloists lead the audience in singing all the carolling favourites including Frosty the Snowman, Silent Night, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Let it Snow.
Prices and times vary. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, www.dubaiopera.com.
Ski Dubai is a fun, albeit chilly destination throughout the year, but in our eyes there’s no better time to visit than in December when the indoor snow resort becomes a winter wonderland for Christmas.
Kids will love the snow park where they can pull each other around the slippery snow on toboggans, climb an icy wall, mess around in the snow plough playground and enjoy a whole load of frozen fun.
Afterwards, grab a nice, warm cup of hot chocolate (you’ll need it for those little icy fingers and toes) at the café next door and watch everyone else having fun in the snow through the huge glass windows.
Dhs190 (Snow Park for kids and adults). Mall of the Emirates, Dubai www..skidxb.com.
Sky Zone is an indoor trampoline park where little adrenalin junkies can work their way around the various areas that include a foam zone, dodgeball arena and zip line.
The youngest jumpers have their own toddler area to play in, which is supervised by staff to keep little ones safe.
There is also a great café for parents where healthy snacks are on offer for the mini bouncers in addition to the usual pizza and chicken nuggets. And a bonus for the parents? The coffee isn’t half bad either.
From Dhs60 (60 minutes). Thu-Sat, 10am-midnight, Sun-Wed, 10am-1pm. www.skyzone.ae (800 759 9663).
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