Summer is here and the thermometers are already showing over 40 degrees outside. Starting May, we all try to find interesting activities for kids mainly indoor or by the water: beach or swimming pools. I arrived in Dubai eight years ago and gave birth to my first daughter so not really having this problem for the first three or four years. She was happy to go to our local play area that seemed huge for her and for her younger sister that came after two years. Once they hit 3 and 5 years of age, the hassle started to entertain them. The local play area was not enough anymore as they knew every corner of it. So, we started to discover Dubai at a very high price. We had to readjust our budget to fit in trips to water parks and other indoor venues. Of course, we always have the beach and is fun to go there with friends and eat hotdogs or to spend the day at Al Ain Zoo (that’s an annual trip). But waterparks are the main attractions for them, to be honest.
I started to hunt every offer available for kids venues. With two kids, we were easily spending over 500 dirhams for a single day and many times we decided just one adult to go to cut the cost unless it was a “buy one get one free” offer. So, these kind of outings were more like a treat and we tried to be there first thing in the morning, to be able to spend as much time as possible for the fortune we were paying anyway. But also there were not so many options around some years ago. Just a few waterparks and few big indoor areas, not really spoils for choice as we are used here. But the time came and now, there are plenty. All year round and cannot be bored of any. Only to mention some that open in the past three years: Dubai Parks and Resorts with Legoland and Legoland Aquapark, Motiongate and Bollywood; Adventure HQ has multiple branches now, IMG World Of Adventure, Dubai Safari, the recently open Laguna Park in La Mer, Ferrari World park in Abu Dhabi and next month Warners Bros Studios will open also in Abu Dhabi. Plus the existing ones. Take a breath and look again and think. No, not where to go next but how much would be for the whole family to enjoy it.
But also recently, an entrepreneur family with two kids launched The FamilyPass and I can say that is one of the best and innovative family products on the market. FamilyPass is an annual membership that gives you unlimited entries up to ten venues around the emirates. The best part is that there are no restrictions to use the membership, like public holidays. Husband and wife, Stuart and Kim Paterson, who live in Dubai with their two children (aged two and four) felt that a combined annual pass would create some significant savings for families and support local leisure operators at the same time. Stuart told me: “I have worked in the leisure and entertainment industry for many years and there are some incredible world-class attractions here in the UAE. The convenience and value of one annual pass mean you no longer need to choose between them and you can avoid spur of the moment trips, which usually mean paying full price. He continued: “We’ve included a real mix of energetic indoor and outdoor attractions for all ages, so there’s plenty to do all year round. Plus, we provide entry to some exciting places that don’t normally offer an annual deal, such as Quest For Adventure wake park. We hope that FamilyPass encourages people to get out and about more and spend quality time together; it’s a great way to make new friends too.”
Last month, we had a trial for FamilyPass and we visited four venues: Motiongate, WildWadi, Adventure Zone by Adventure HQ and Aquaventure. Deliberately, we went during the week to avoid the crowd but also to see how it is to go in such a place and stay just for two hours, for example. So, let’s take it one at a time.
We arrived at Motiongate at 3.00pm, after school finished. We visited Hotel Transylvania. Me being from Romania, Hotel Transylvania is a very popular movie in our household even if Romania has nothing to do with Dracula but happy to take advantage of the marketing and boost the local economy of Bran village in Brasov county. So, we took a tour of the freaky castle and then we went to shot ghosts with The Ghosts Busters. The most popular ride was the one on the river in the “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”. It’s the first time we are going on this ride but we were soaked in water, good that it was very hot outside and our clothes dried pretty quickly. But this didn’t keep us for going like five times in it. We spent also a great time in the Smurfs Village. By that time, it was more barbell outside so the girls had a great time in the play area. Actually, I can say that this is my favorite, too, will all the small mushroom houses creating the perfect village. And also, the first time for me, I went in the roller coaster. It’s not a big one but enough for me. I was very firm and totally declined the other roller coaster, much bigger and faster. That’s for the Dad. Last, we visited Shrek and Fiona. I’m a big fan of this character and I don’t miss any chance to see them. Have you noticed that how my story flows is not only about kids but also about me, how much I enjoy every visit ;) We were out of there after five hours with no regrets for not experiencing everything because with FamilyPass can come anytime and stay just in the Smurfs Village for example, if we want. One day admission ticket at Motiongate starts from AED 165 for GCC residents and there is a 10% discount for 3 days advance bookings. Our trip would have costs us AED 495.
The following week, we went to Aquaventure. Actually, it’s the first time we go there as we always found the price prohibitive, it has never had a one-plus-one-free offer and all the good deals came after we left for holiday in summer. So I jumped at the opportunity and booked at Aquaventure. We went on a Thursday afternoon, after school, exactly from 4.00 to 6.00pm. We didn’t do all the attractions there as the girls enjoyed very much the splash area for the little ones and the slides. We shared some ice creams and everybody was happy. A very pleasant short afternoon spent in a wonderful water park and we were back home just in time for dinner.
One afternoon we spent it at Adventure Zone by Adventure HQ in Galleria Mall, at The Walk. We were there before with different offers and girls love climbing. Actually, they become better and better at it and every time they take up on new challenges. This time, they managed to reach the tops of most of the climbing walls and even did races. The most challenging one was The Monster Wall as the little monsters keep moving and the most popular one was the Fire Wall, because they had to reach the top and press a red light button signaling the fire is gone. The staff there is amazing and took care of every child, entertaining them and proposing races between the kids.
Our last experience was at WildWadi Waterpark and that was the wildest. We went during the Eid and because FamilyPass membership is always valid, we were granted access. It was not busy at all so we got quick on all the rides. We spent hours on the Fast River now that the youngest one is 110 cm in height. She also was courageous enough to experience surfing for the first time. Even if I was planning to stay just for four hours, we all enjoyed the Fast River and couldn't leave. Every time it was the last time. We couldn't miss the Fish Spa and we all experienced it for the first time but for that one we had to pay separately.
About the FamilyPass
Different options are available, depending on your family or group size, and a group can be any combination of family and friends. FamilyPass has also introduced a new pricing structure so you can pick and choose the most suitable attractions for you. Packages start at AED195 per adult per month and AED157 per child per month.
The membership fee can be paid in monthly installments and members also receive exclusive discounts on food, beverage and retail. FamilyPass has teamed up with seven different banks so you can pay via the PayFort payment gateway and weekly passes are going to be launched soon – perfect for when you have visitors. FamilyPass memberships are available from age three years and above and you can buy your annual membership at www.familypass.ae. Members can receive 365 days unlimited access to all 14 attractions, including public holidays.
Enjoy 10% discount till 31st of July with DubaiMums. Just tape in DUBAIMUMS to avail it.
Aquaventure Water Park, Motiongate, Bollywood Parks, Legoland, Adventure Zone by Adventure HQ (4 locations), and IMG Worlds of Adventure
As above, plus Quest For Adventure and Wild Wadi Water park
All above, plus AdventureLand Sharjah and Al Ain Zoo