Dubai is a fantastic holiday destination for the family and if you have young children, you'll never fall short of things to do with them if you're visiting for a week or two. Of course they want to spend time in the hotel pool or beach splashing and running about, but sometimes this may get mundane and if it's really hot, there are a large number of great indoor spaces that put some other great cities to shame! We've short listed our favourites, but in addition to these many more parks, funlands and theme parks exist. Just enquire at your hotel concierge. Happy playing!
Top attractions for kids
Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, Dubai Mall, +971 4 448 5200
Entry Info: Combo ticket (Aquarium Tunnel and Underwater Zoo) 50 AED per person, Ultimate Aquarium Package (Combo plus glass bottomed boat ride, fish feeding and gift voucher) 100 AED person. Enquire for further packages such as snorkelling and diving. Kids under 3 are free.
Opening Hours: Sun - Weds: 10am-10pm, Thurs - Fri: 10am - Midnight
This is one attraction that will be loved by both young kids, teens and adults and probably in our opinion, one of Dubai's top three attractions. The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo resides in the Dubai Mall, so if your with the family, its a great way to let mum shop while dad takes the kids for a couple of hours. The Aquarium Tunnel is a 48 metre walk underwater walk with sharks, rays and an assortment of beautiful sea creatures swimming above and around you. The Underwater Zoo is a display of 36 aquatic creatures in a rain forest and aquarium setting where you'll see penguins, piranhas and lots more. The best view has got to be standing on top and looking down at the main Aquarium Viewing Panel - freaky! You can also experience the combined ticket separately or if you want to do more, how about a ride on the glass bottomed boat or even better, the cage snorkelling experience, will will cost additionally. Check out website for prices and info. The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo is a great attraction and should be on your must do list. If you dont want to pay to go in, enjoy the view for free from the largest viewing panel in the world, attested by the Guinness Book of Records.
Aquaplay, Mirdif City Centre Mall
Entry Info: Rides priced individually from 5-30 AED
Opening Hours: Sat - Sun: 10am - Midnight
An indoor waterpark with fun rides like a log flume and educational water games to keep kids amused for a good couple of hours is right up our street, especially when its scorching outside and you don't fancy another top up tan. Aquaplay is a simple amusement arcade but genius as kids love it. No need to change into swim gear as aprons for kids are provided although we recommend to bring a change of clothes, incase of over excited play! Let the kids loose at Muriel's Aquatraptions where they'll learn about the dynamics of water and enjoy spraying, squirting and messing around with different water guns, tubes and props. After having an educational water experience take them on the numerous exciting water rides like the log flume, canoes and tugboat swinging ship. Rides are priced individually, but very reasonable between AED 5-30 per ride. A great, budget alternative to the over hyped Wild Wadi and Aquaventure waterparks, but obviously not as large! Check out website for prices and info
Little Explorers, Mirdif City Centre Mall,
Entry info: 130 AED for 1 child and 1 adult - an adult must be accompanied with child at all times, 190 AED for 1 adult and 2 children and 245 AED for 1 adult and 3 children. Additional adults are 60 AED each.
Opening Hours: Sat - Weds: 10am-10pm, Thurs - Fri: 10am - Midnight
Formerly known as Cite Des Enfants, this is another Dubai offering to keep young kids amused for hours outside the heat. Its clean and colourful concept is made up of several zones, where kids partake in many interactive games involving scientific experiments, construction, spatial awareness and group fun. The zone have cover several topics such as' I Can Do' and 'I Experiment' with interesting games within each zone, very similar to the famous science museum concepts around the world and the variety of games is generous but a parent must accompany a child at all times in order to explain the games and rules. Please note, you cant bring snacks into this venue, plus there is a no eating policy within the Little Explorers vicinity, however you will be stamped on the hand which allows you to come in and out of the area, so you pop out to the main mall for a snack/lunch and return. Little Explorers may be slightly dearer then most kid attractions in Dubai, but we highly recommend if your children are getting hot and bored with the usual beach and shopping holiday. A fun escape from the sun!
Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha, +971 4 409 4000
Entry Info: Snow Park, Adults: 120 AED, Children under 12: 110 AED. Ski Slope (2 hours), Adult: 180 AED, Children under 12: 150 AED. Refer to website or call for info and pricing for day passes and ski lessons.
Opening Hours: Sun - Weds 10am - 11pm, Thurs 10am- midnight, Fri 9am - midnight, Saturday 9am - 11pm.
A year round indoor ski complex may sound strange, but ofcourse, anything is possible in Dubai and with temperatures climbing to just over 40 degrees in the peak of summer, going in the snow for a couple of hours is a very refreshing thought. Ski Dubai opened in November 2005 and has over 22,000 square meters, equivalent to about 3 football pitches of indoor ski area and ski lifts will take you over several slopes of varying heights and difficulty and a realistic 400 metre run. The experience is surprisingly not bad at all and will put an impressive smile on any snow enthusiasts face! After partaking in skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, snowman building or a bobsled ride, take the family up to the Avalanche Cafe to get a bit warm and enjoy a hot chocolate. Just perfect! Your slope pass will include all the gear you need for a cold winters day including jackets, snow trousers, ski suits for kids and ofcourse skis and ski boots. Hats and gloves are not included so you should bring your own or they can be bought from the ski shop.
Aquaventure, Atlantis, The Palm Dubai, +971 4 426 0000
Entry Info: (Entry gives access to both Aqvaventure and the Atlantis beach). Adults 200 AED, Children under 1.2 M 165 AED, Children under 2 years are Free. Separate charges for locker and towel rental. Guests staying at the Atlantis have free unlimited access.
Opening Hours: Open daily 10am - Sunset, but subject to change depending on time of year - please enquire.
If you love waterparks you will have an awesome time at Aquaventure. Set in the the grounds of the Atlantis Hotel on the Palm, its not as big as its rival Wild Wadi, but still fantastic enough to while away a good half a day or even a day if you want to enjoy it thoroughly. The rides at Aquaventure cater to all ages from babies right to raring adults. If you love thrill, go on the Leap of Faith, closest feeling to free falling through water as you can possibly get - definately not for the faint hearted. Other great rides include the Plunge and Stinger. Kids will love the Rapids and the little ones will be content with the water playground and ofcourse the beach. Foodwise, there is plenty of choice to keep everyone happy, however things that you could bring to save money and undue hassle are your own towels, as the towel rental can be a fortune. Bring flip-flops as the ground can get unbearably hot and dont forget your sunscreen and hats as Aquaventure is a mostly uncovered waterpark so it can get uncomfortable.
Wild Wadi, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, +971 4 348 4444
Entry Info: Adults 205 AED, Children under 1.1 M 165 AED, Special Sundowner package - 2 hrs before the park closes, Adult 170 AED, Children under 1.1m 135 AED.Children under 2 years are free. Guests staying at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel have free unlimited access.
Opening Hours: Nov - Feb 10am - 6pm, March - May 10am - 7pm, June - August 10am - 8pm, Sept - Oct 10am - 7pm.
The biggest waterpark in UAE and the original is Wild Wadi. With over 30 rides and attractions you can easily spend half to a full day here and the rides will keep young children right up to the teens and adults happily amused. Wild Wadi may not have tropical and shark fish tanks that you slide into but thrills they do have and the whole place buzzes a colourful lively atmosphere. Young children and adults will love Juha's jouney, a fun lazy river ride, and the babies and toddlers will love the water play park areas. For the thrill seekers, the most talked about Jumeirah Sceirah just has to be done along with Tantrum Alley and lots more. Makesure you try the simulated wave rides Riptide and Wipeout which are only one of four in the world - surfers will be impressed! For relaxing and snacking, there are ample of loungers and cafes and restaurants dotted round the park. Pick up one of the smart wristbands and top up credit so you dont have to carry your wallet around. Check out their website for promotional offers and to avoid the rush go midweek and during school hours.
Branches: Town Centre, Jumeirah, +971 4 344 7331; Festival Centre, Dubai Festival City, +971 4 232 8616
Opening Hours: Daily from 9am - Midnight.
Spending a couple of hours in a painting cafe may not sound like the ideal holiday activity, but when its hot outside and the kids have had enough of beaches and malls, Cafe Ceramique can be a relaxing pleasure and is a hit with the locals and expats. Based on the whole cafe combined with art concept, kids choose a piece of fresh pottery such as a small plate, mug or ornament and set up painting to their heart's content. Paints and brushes are all provided, the piece then gets glazed and fired and picked up a few days later. Pretty neat experience if you haven't been before - and you dont have to have kids to go! They serve a simple lunch menu like paninis and salads and have several branches dotted round.
Children's City, Gate 1, Creek Park, Bur Dubai, +971 4 334 0808
Entry Info: Adults 15 AED, Children (2-15 yrs) 10 AED, Under 2 yrs are free. Family rates are available too.
Opening Hours: Sat - Thurs 9am-8pm, Fri 3pm-9pm
Very similar concept to Little Explorers, but not as expensive and you get value for money. Children's City is an indoor interactive science museum geared toward 2- 15 yr olds with lots of hands on apparatus so the kids really get stuck in and the best thing is that it doesn't get as busy as some other places. The interior is well organised, brightly lit and very clean and features a play area for under 5 years, cafe, planetarium and a theatre. Various exhibits include looking at the human body, the world we live in, electricity and this cool simulator ride where you can pretend to ride a camel and other fun stuff. This place is pretty big so you can spend anywhere from 2 hours to half a day.
iFly Dubai, Mirdif City Centre Mall, +971 4 231 6292
Entry Info: First time flyers, Adults and Children over 3 years: 195 AED. Subsequent flyers, refer to website for pricing tiers based on minutes desired.
Opening Hours: Sun - Wed: 10am - 11pm, Thur: 10am - midnight, Fri: 9am - midnight, Sat: 9am - 11pm
Again, not an activity you would choose to take your kids to if on holiday, but if its hot, and the kids are driving you crazy , you may like to consider this. iFly Dubai simulates skydiving, its not a simulator as such but a vertical tunnel which blasts extreme volume of air upwards so that the effect of skydiving can be achieved. All of this takes place indoors within the Playnation area of Mirdiff Mall and is suitable for kids as young as 3 years. Ofcourse there are certain groups of people whom this would be unsuitable for such as pregnant women, people suffering from back and shoulder problems. Also those who weigh above 115kg will have to confirm if they are suitable. Please refer to website for clauses. If you book the experience, you will be given a short training session which includes a video and safety positions and be given the right gear to wear such as jumpsuits, goggles, helmets and shoes. The whole flying experience is not very long about 10-15 minutes for first time flyers. If you want to go again, you dont need the training but just book by minutes you want to fly. Not the cheapest of activities!
Jumeirah Beach Park, Jumeirah Road, Jumeirah, +971 4 349 2555
Entry Info: 5 AED per person or 20 AED per car. Sun loungers incur separate charges. Lockers not available.
Opening Hours: Sun - Thurs: 7am - 10.30pm, Fri - Sat: 7am - 11pm, Mondays are Ladies and Children day.
If you are not staying at a hotel with its own beach, we highly recommend you take the kids to Jumeirah Beach Park. For only 5 AED entry per person, you will get access to the entire beach and its facilities such as changing rooms, toilets and showers located on either end of the beach, barbeque area, sun loungers for hire and plenty of kiosks and cafes selling decent junk food. There is also a lovely playground for young kids and huge stretches of beautiful sand. The water is refreshing and clear so makesure you take a dip! Plenty of lifeguards on duty and safety is key here so dont expect to be allowed in if the waves turn excitable. Best time to visit is during the week, avoid weekends and Fridays especially of possible, very crowded. Also take note, Mondays are normally Ladies and children day, so men not allowed. In terms of attire, Dubai is pretty laidback these days and bikinis are fine to wear, just be warned that you may get stares if there are any labourers in close viewing distances so always carry a sarong that you can cover when you want. Other than that, at most times you wouldn't even feel you are on a beach in the Middle East! The sand can get hot in the warmer months so dont forget your flip flops
Mall Play Areas:
KidZania, Level 2, Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, +971 4 448 5222
Entry Info: Children (4 - 16 years) 130 AED, Toddlers (2-3 years) 95 AED, Babies under 2 years are free. Adults (over 17 years) 90 AED and must be accompanied with a child.
Opening Hours: Sun - Weds: 9am - 10pm, Thurs: 9am-midnight, Fri - Sat: 10am - midnight.
Very popular with the local and expat parents, KidZania really is a one of a kind kids play area. The concept is a mini city with the full works such as a school, university, companies, hospital, restaurants etc. Kids will role play their lives by going to school getting a degree or working at one of the many companies familiar in UAE - such as Emirates Airlines! In return for working they'll obtain credits or currency called KidZos which they are free to spend in the McDonalds, Waitrose or the many mini shops in Kidzania. The whole concept may sound overwhelming for a child but it works incredibly well and ideal for 6 years and over, although younger kids are able to join in, they may not get the full concept. Parents are able to stay with the younger kids or there is a supervised play room for little ones. Security is well organised here and done through an electronic bracelet in which parental info is recorded on. If you are going to visit one mall fun land, we recommend visiting KidZania, its huge and the concept is impressive and if your kids are ok being away from you for 2-3 hours, let them explore in secure surroundings while you shop in the one of the world's largest malls.
Encounter Zone, Wafi City Mall, +971 4 324 7747
Entry Info: For arcade games only you can purchase an e-card for 2 AED and top up when necessary. For rides in both Lunarland and Galactica you buy a wristband for 35 AED giving you 2 hours of unlimited ride usage. DN Paintball package prices start at 75 AED.
Opening Hours: Sat - Weds: 10am-10pm, Thurs - Fri: 10am - Midnight.
Another impressive mall play area is Encounter Zone. Where many malls play areas appeal to younger kids, Encounter Zone will keep the pre - teens and teens fairly amused as well as the little ones. Encounter Zone is split into two main areas Lunarland and Galactica. Lunarland is ideal for younger kids with its soft play areas, Crater Challenge; an area with slides, mazes, bridges and tunnels, and a futuristic carousel called Space Station along with the standard park arcade games. Galactica is aimed more for the over 9s and has an interactive horror show with a pg-14 parental guidance - so its scary! UAE's first indoor roller skate park called GXpress and MaxFlight - a rollercoaster simulator ride. A recent addition to Encounter Zone is the UAE's first indoor paintball complex called DN Paintball, it proudly boasts its unique Night Fire game where you can play in the dark under UV lights. An adrenaline rushing experience but unfortunately DN Paintball is only open to boys and men - incredibly unfair!
Magic Planet, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha, +971 4 341 4000
Further branches at: Deira City Centre Mall, +971 4 295 4333 and Mirdif City Centre Mall, +971 4 231 6311
Entry Info: 1 AED for 4 tickets. Rides are priced at individual prices.
Opening Hours: Sat - Weds: 10am-10pm, Thurs - Fri: 10am - Midnight.
This play area in the Mall of the Emirates was probably the front runner till Dubai Mall came along with KidZania, however Magic Planet still pulls in a good crowd, especially the younger kids as many malls now have thrill seeking rides to keep the older children amused. Size wise its pretty generous with about 10 large rides suitable for kids from 2 years right up to about 13 years. There is a huge bowling alley with 12 lanes and 5 pool tables plus a 4D theatre which is actually good fun. All this plus arcade games and Magic Planet's own food court with the usual kid friendly fast food joints, they can easily spend a good couple of hours here. You may like to bring some ear plugs though - it gets really noisy!
Other kids places of interest, you may want to enquire about:
Za'abeel Park, off World Trade Centre Roundabout
A beautiful park which includes a massive adventure playground, a large lake where you can hire boats. an amphitheatre, beautiful gardens and Stargate, an indoor theme park with the usual roller coasters and soft play areas.
Safa Park, Al Wasl Road, Al Safa
A very popular and large green park, beautifully kept with a playground and a Pavilion which has fairground type attractions and a mini train taking you round the park and a gorgeous lake complete with ducks and boats to hire . Highly recommended if you are visiting in the cooler months as its probably Dubai's best traditional park.
Mushrif Park, Airport Road
Dubai's oldest and largest park at 500 hectares. Perfect for bike riding (if you happen to have brought yours!) otherwise plenty to keep kids amused with fairground type attractions like a merry go round, pirate ship, rides with camels and ponies. There is also a mini village area with miniature buildings from around the world that the kids will adore. Plenty of picnic areas.