It’s still a little bit hot outside for some of us – so if you’ve already exhausted your Netflix watch list and are looking for ways to stave of the cabin fever, this is our guide to outstanding inside activities.
By Miles Buckeridge
The fact that Dubai’s packing an indoor ski resort is hardly a secret. The engineering marvel is one of the more flamboyant feathers in our emirate’s cap. The venue has a black run, a rookery of penguins, an adrenalin-fuelled toboggan ride, zorbing slope, ice cafe, ski lift and it’s kept at a constant -4 degrees centigrade, even if it’s 44 outside.
Packages from AED 190. 10am-midnight. Mall of the Emirates. 04 800 386.
The Trip at GFX
Cycle through Greece, San Fran or verdant jungles, without leaving an air-conditioned spinning studio. Les Mill’s The Trip blends virtual reality with static bikes to amp up your workout. Follow tracks and loops on the cinema-scale screen while a well-curated soundtrack pushes you on. The 40-minute sessions are immersive and just the right side of exhaustive, for those determined to get in shape this summer.
Single class passes or packages are available. GFX studio at Bay Avenue, Business Bay. Classes daily. Call to check timings: 04 425 5940
Located on the JBR (above Chili’s), TEPfactor is a cave-set adventure-tainment complex offering a series of challenge-based rooms that test your physical and mental abilities (as well as inter-team friendships) to the limit. Teams of two-six players take on a total of 21 fiendish puzzles that often require lateral thinking, a delicate level of balance, stamina, strength and pattern spotting skills.
AED 99 per person per hour. TEPfactor, JBR. 056 404 0802
Dubai Butterfly Garden
Butterflies are the peacocks of the insect world – vibrant colours, ocular patterns – and just mesmerising to look at. There’s a fantastic indoor habitat where you can come and join them in whimsical fluttering, right next door to Dubai Miracle Garden. The climate-controlled park contains around 15,000 butterflies, from 50 different varieties, and a museum featuring creative, endearingly kitsch, butterfly artwork.
AED 55. 9am-6pm. Al Barsha South 3, Dubailand Area, beside Dubai Miracle Garden. 04 422 8902.
IMG Worlds of Adventure
IMG is the world’s largest indoor theme park, because – of course, it is. Within the 1.5 million square foot mega structure there are four zones. Families can find tons of wholesome fun in the Cartoon Network, Marvel, IMG Boulevard and Lost Valley – Dinosaur Adventure areas. They can also discover a truly terrifying collection of rollercoasters, rides and intense cinematic experiences. We reckon the Velociraptor is one of the top rides in the country. We love it 3,000 *cries*.
AED 299 for day passes, AED 383 for annual passes. Currently, there’s a fly for free offer, where anybody purchasing IMG day tickets can obtain FREE return tickets to a range of destinations on select dates. 11am-10pm. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road. 600 500 962.
Within the multi-theme park wonderland that is Dubai Parks and Resorts, Motiongate features an expanse of outdoor fun rides and attractions. It also has the self-contained fully AC-protected Dreamworks building, where you’ll find hubs devoted to the Shrek movies, Madagascar franchise, How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda. It’s all brilliantly executed and there are several thrill rides that are essential ticks for roller coaster coveters. Madagascar Mad Pursuit! is perfect if, like King Julian, you subscribe to the philosophy of ‘move it, move it.’
AED 245 for day access. AED 345 for an annual ticket. 2pm-10pm. Dubai Parks and Resorts, Jebel Ali. 800 262 9464.
OliOli has eight galleries featuring more than 40 ingeniously interactive exhibits. The galleries each have their own experiential themes, from the pneumatically-propelled rockets of the Air Gallery to the giant vortexes and plastic ball-firing cannons of The Water Gallery. It is a museum of awesome that is so attractive it’s difficult for adults not get involved. The good news is, parents, you absolutely can. Just remember the first rule of soft play club – bring socks.
9am to 9pm Tuesday to Saturday; 9am to 7pm Sunday to Monday. OliOli Building, Al Quoz 1. 04 702 7300. Standard prices: AED 126 per child (ages two-18), AED 63 children under two, and AED 42 per adult. Special family passes available during Eid week – check www.olioli.ae.
Green Planet, the immersive indoor tropical rainforest in City Walk, has more than 3,000 plants and animals for explorers to observe and interact with. Ever wanted to get cosy with a chameleon? How about snuggling up to a sloth? Is posing for a selfie with a python on your bucket list? The Green Planet offers nature lovers the opportunity to get face-to-face with some of the cutest and most curious creatures on earth. Look out for a pair of super cute loved-up Lorises lurking around the lower canopies and don’t miss the piranha feeding frenzy, daily at 4pm.
One-off visit AED 99 (AED 125 at the gate). 10am-7pm daily. City Walk. www.thegreenplanetdubai.com
Fresh date nights
Reel Cinemas at Jebel Ali Recreation Club
Dubai is always looking for authentic time-efficient experiences and Jebel Ali Recreation Club’s Reel Cinema offers exactly that – dinner and a show, together. The multiscreen cinema is attached to a licensed diner conceived by US celebrity chef Guy Fieri. The menu features unashamedly trendy examples of rustic roadhouse Americana – the Mac ‘n’ Cheese burger is about as theatrical an upgrade to popcorn as you can get. Pro tip: you can order ‘seconds’ throughout the performance.
Movie tickets from AED 50. Meal packages (including tickets from AED 95). Sundays-Wednesdays (excluding public holidays), there’s a 4pm-8pm happy hour with two house drinks for AED 40. Jebel Ali Recreation Club. www.reelcinemas.ae.
Yeah, heading away for the summer is great. But what if we told you that you could take a trip to almost anywhere without having to leave The Dubai Mall. No expensive air fares, no language barriers, no battling with armrest space invaders. Just slip on a headset *does finger guns* and pew pew – play Dubai Drone, Payday: The VR Heist, John Wick Chronicles, Burj Drop and more *holsters finger guns*. Epic VR gaming thrills and not one single incident where you accidentally confuse a five Euro note for a 50.
Packages from AED 100. 10am-10pm Sunday-Wednesday, 10am-1am Thursday-Saturday. VR Park, Level Two, The Dubai Mall. 800 382 246 255
Museum of Illusion
This place feels a little bit like Dr Strange’s holiday home. There are currently more than 80 exhibits in the appropriately Tardis-dimensioned space. Divided into three categories – Master Illusions, Grand Illusions and Optical Illusions – they are all completely interactive, with a playroom for younger visitors. The Vortex Tunnel and Infinity Room are as flagrantly Insta-tastic as they are disturbing.
Tickets from AED 75 online. There’s currently a buy one get one free deal between 10am to 2pm throughout August, excluding weekends and public holidays. 10am-10pm. Al Seef. 04 357 3999.
Quite simply one of the most spectacular aqua-batic extravaganzas ever conceived. 65 talented, daring artists soar through the air, dive from daring heights and defy gravity on motorbikes, to a backdrop of rain, flames and waterfalls cascading down walls. Zero chill at its most theatrical.
Standard pricing from AED 336. Eid deals include up to 60 per cent off. Shows take place twice a night, five days a week at Al Habtoor City, Dubai. Catch them Tuesday to Friday at 7pm and 9.30pm, and Saturday at 4pm and 7pm. Book through www.laperle.com.
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Originally conceived 12 years ago in an agreement between France and Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its doors on 11th November 2017. Adorned with a 180-metre patterned dome designed by architect Jean Nouvel, the museum features 23 galleries, an auditorium, a temporary exhibition space and a children’s museum for younger culture vultures. Constructed around 55 distinct buildings, the self-styled ‘museum city’ show exhibitions featuring art from greats such as Leonardo da Vinci, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and Henri Matisse.
AED 63 for adults, AED 31.50 for 13-22-year-olds and free for those 12 and under. 10am-10pm. Louvre Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat. 600 56 55 66.
One of the city’s most vital hubs of culture and creativity, Alserkal Avenue is a bustling, painfully cool network of international galleries, an art-house cinema, studios, vinyl store, museums, gastro cafes and theatres. There is a constant stream of exhibitions and performances going on all year round – and the vast majority of it is on the inside of lovely AC-cooled buildings. The summer ‘Foretold Now’ programme incorporates interactivity across a range of art forms.
Free entry. 10am-7pm. Parking available on Street 17 and Street 6A.