Tracey Davies and her daughter Nancy follow the Lego brick road to Dubai, for an action-packed theme-park break
The only thing more painful than stepping barefoot on a Lego brick is the ear-piercing scream of a Lego fan when you announce that you’re off to Legoland Dubai at half-term.
It’s nearly 50 years since the first Legoland opened in Billund, Denmark. Legoland Dubai is the seventh park in the group, and the first in the Middle East, proving that the world’s love of these tiny plastic bricks shows no sign of diminishing.
I’ve brought my 11-year old daughter, Nancy, a Lego aficionado, along to roadtest the new park. Legoland Dubai has six lands, themed around different Lego collections, and along with 20 or so rides, you can watch a live Ninjago puppet show, a 4D Lego movie or take part in free Lego-building workshops.
Nancy takes her role as inspector very seriously indeed, you know, by wearing a lanyard and taking notes in her Legoland notebook. The park feels very familiar.
We recognise several rides from Legoland Windsor, including the Atlantis Submarine Voyage, where we spot sharks from our submerged vessel. But for me, the biggest difference is the year-round sunshine which, after many soggy days at Windsor, is a gift. After inspecting the Factory, where you can watch Lego bricks being made (it passed), we head to Lego City, where Nancy perfects her handbrake turns at the Driving School.
A highlight of the park is Miniland, an air-conditioned dome which features Dubai’s skyline and global landmarks, all built from Lego. ‘Did you know, Mum, it took 20 million bricks to build all these things?’ announces Nancy, pointing at exact replicas of the pyramids of Egypt and the Taj Mahal. ‘Did you count them?’ I tease. ‘Nope, I asked that nice man,’ she grins, waving at Siegfried Boerst, general manager of the park, who is quietly inspecting the Burj Khalifa, a 17m- high replica of the world’s tallest building. ‘That one took 5,000 hours to build!’ she explains, scribbling it down in her book.
As a renowned scaredycat, I thought I’d get off lightly here, as most rides are aimed at younger kids. But no. Eyes narrowing at the map, Nancy turns on her heel and drags me off to Kingdoms, to find the park’s fiercest ride, the Dragon rollercoaster. Before I can slink off, my daughter pushes me into the car and cackles as I cling on for dear life, gibbering like a loon as the coaster flicks us around like ragdolls. Nancy racks up an impressive nine rides; I nurse my delicate constitution with a rainbow snowcone.
I prefer Rescue Academy, where together we race pump-powered fire engines against competitive dads to put out fake fires, and Wave Racers, where we jetski around a pool while folk soak us with water cannons.
The next day is spent next door at Legoland Dubai Water Park. Like Legoland, it’s aimed at kids aged two to 12, but there is plenty to keep my fearless thrill-seeker amused for the afternoon. There are over 20 slides, including the dark, speedy Twist ‘N’ Spin, the Twin Chasers and Red Rush, a fast family rafting slide. Nancy spends an inordinate amount of time on the Joker Soaker, a maze of slides, nets and water buckets, while I doggedly roadtest the sunloungers and ice creams.
Legoland is a 45-minute cab ride from the airport and downtown Dubai, so a bit of a trek from big-name hotels like Atlantis, The Palm and the sparkly new Palazzo Versace Dubai. If you want to crack all four parks in a long weekend, we recommend Lapita, a new Polynesian-themed hotel. Aimed at families, it has two pools, a lazy river, and a kids’ club with a teen zone, but best of all it’s only a seven-minute walk from Legoland Dubai.
Once Nancy catches sight of the Hunger Games-themed Capitol Bullet Train coaster, which you can see from the hotel, she insists we try out the other two parks, Motiongate and Bollywood. The Hunger Games rides are due to open next month. However, her need for thrills is sated by Madagascar Mad Pursuit, a super-fast indoor coaster in the DreamWorks zone. She also loves the Krrish: Hero’s Flight ride in Bollywood, a hi-tech motion reality experience themed around handsome Bollywood superhero Krrish.