Coming up in Jebel Ali, strategically located between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, is the region’s largest multi-themed leisure and entertainment destination, Dubai Parks & Resorts (DPR) – an AED 10.5 billion project spread across 25 million sqft.
The upcoming theme park will comprise three unique concepts Motiongate Dubai, a Hollywood movie inspired theme park concept; Bollywood Parks Dubai, a first-of-its-kind entertainment destination that will showcase the authentic Bollywood movie experience; and Legoland Dubai, the first Legoland theme park in the Middle East, along with Legoland Water Park.
In addition DPR will also boast a 220,000 sqft complementary themed retail, dining and entertainment district Riverland Dubai connecting the three theme parks, water park and Lapita Hotel, a Polynesian-themed family resort to be managed by the Marriott Group.
RetailME speaks to Matthew Priddy, chief technical officer, DPR, to find out more about the project that’s set to revolutionise the regional leisure and amusement scene once operational
Scheduled to open in October 2016, how is work proceeding at DPR?
From the design standpoint, we’re 95% complete. Construction is well underway for our rides. Over 40% of the project’s ride engineering and manufacturing has been completed at the end of the first quarter and ride components are beginning to arrive. We’ve around 9,000 people working on-site currently so one can imagine the speed with which we’re moving ahead.
The leisure and amusement space is already making speculations about how DPR will revolutionise the space. What is so unique about DPR?
Nothing like DPR has been attempted in the region, at least as of now. We’ll revolutionise the space the moment we’re operational. The iconography, branding of the resort, architecture are all very unique. Once you walk into the gates, you’ll get transported to a different land altogether. It will be highly differentiated.
DPR will serve as a great family-friendly destination. While children will immediately migrate to Legoland, which is a great product, all age groups will identify with Motiongate Dubai, a Hollywood-inspired theme park. There’s a lot of nostalgia around DreamWorks animation characters that will resonate with our visitors. Bollywood Parks Dubai will offer another great, first-of-its-kind experience highlighting Indian cinema and culture. I feel it will be a big hit. Our retail and F&B options will also be very unique. In fact, we’ve recently signed up with an American F&B concept that’s not present in the region.
Disneyland is a great example of what a theme park should be. It has amusement, retail and F&B all wrapped up under one umbrella. There’s a big reason why this model is effective. Theme parks, on their own, are unable to clock a great profit margin as capex and operating cost are very high. While theme parks make money, the real opportunity lies in retail, F&B and hospitality within the space. And that’s what we’re also doing at DPR. Our visitors will have everything available within DPR. It’s all about offering complementary services to a theme park.
DPR anticipates attracting around 70% tourists and 30% residents. What new will repeat footfall get to see at DPR?
It is all well-understood that you’ve to get people residing in the region to come back. The question is how? The rule of thumb is to create some newness after every 18 months or so to get people to come back to the amusement park. It could be a new ride or even announcement of a second phase. With that in mind, we’ve also planned for phase two within our project. Further within each park we’ve made provision for built-in expansion capability. For example, within Motiongate Dubai we may add another Hunger Games area. And we’ll continue this process by bringing in as well as creating IPs. Also, bear in mind that the complete build-up of the resort will be spread across almost a decade so there will be constant excitement for visitors.
Currently the average stay per person in the UAE probably hovers somewhere between three-and–five days. Once operational, will DPR help increase average stay and spend per visitor in the UAE?
That’s the goal! Our aim is to increase dwell time between one and half to two and half days at the park, which translates into higher per capita spending. Now add up all other half and full day attractions in the UAE. It automatically increases the average stay and spend.
According to you, what is the recipe to build and successfully sustain a theme park?
You’ve to create a new and fresh experience for people. When your visitors are leaving the park, they must take back with them a wow experience.
You’ve to create an interactive space. Today people like being connected all the time and the theme park must allow them to do so.
You’ve to have a clean and safe environment. That’s really key!
You’ve to continue to refresh the offerings by adding new elements that are complementary in nature.