Family Guide to Abu-Dhabi – PART 2
Definitely set aside a whole day. Minimum. We were there at the opening time of Warner Brothers World and it was the only place we managed to visit. Apart from buying a couple of things, we didn’t do any other shopping there and only ate once. It was just rides all day. OK, we had to take some rides twice, because it was so fun, and the queues were quite long in the middle of the day. We had an hour wait for ZipLine Superhero training attraction.
This place is a must though. Quoting Dr. Who – “It’s bigger on the inside”. Literally. Everything is indoors and there are two parts of the “park”: Superhero part, with Gotham City, Academy, etc.; and the cartoon part. It seems not too big, but almost every door is a ride. All but one rides are hidden and you really don’t know what you are going to get and how long it will be. Nothing too crazy of course, but many do catch you by surprise. Most of Superhero rides are VR experiences, While Cartoon rides are classic roller-coasters and carousels all hidden in cute little houses.
So, I want to stress it, that if you only have time to visit one attraction for kids – choose this one. It’s amazing and will be a talking point for a long time afterwards.
If you have never experienced a desert, safari tour is a must. You get to see a real dune mountains and a desert sunset, followed by stargazing. Food and entertainment would also be provided in a shielded Bedouin camp. You can “surf” the sand dunes, ride a camel, take a photo shoot with a breathtaking scenery in the traditional Arabic dress, get your henna tattoo, get a picture taken with a falcon, watch belly dancing and smoke a pipe if you want. Be a proper tourist – do all of it. No none will judge 🙂 There is usually a grill buffet for all types of diets and free bottled water. The whole package takes a few hours, but time goes fast, even with a child. I was a bit worried if a 6 year old could sit through all of it, but she was so mesmerized by everything, it went really well. She was also the only small kid there during out tour.
We had a private jeep just for us, so we asked the driver to skip the crazy dune bashing because of back problems. Judging by what we’ve seen, even if you don’t have back pain, you’ll get one if you try one of those rides.
Do wear trousers and comfortable shoes. Preferably boots. High canvas shoes would be ideal. Prepare to remove the sand from the shoes multiple times anyway 🙂 Sunglasses are a must, so is a light scarf (cotton or linen). If you don’t have a scarf, you can borrow one of the traditional Bedouin scarfs there. The wind on top of the dunes can be very strong, and in combination with sand, it would be very uncomfortable at best. It will also get colder after the sunset, so wear layers. I didn’t regret that I brought light wind jacket and the long sleeve tee.
Al-Sharif family park.
This is a nice place to go to in the afternoon if you are tired of the beach. There is a big playground there, a petting zoo and plenty of nice places to just sit and eat something. There’s also a nice burger place withing the park. Public family places like this are also great for meeting the locals and seeing the local culture.
A shopping mall. With a Ferris wheel by the marina. Lots of nice eating places for a quick bite there and a huge indoor entertainment center for kids if you are fed up with the pool or if it rains.
Well…mixed feelings here. On one hand, it is big and beautiful and well, grand. On the other hand, there are queues, you have to cover yourself with a very unflattering drab if you fail to dress appropriately (easy to do so – I thought I was prepared), you might get separated from your husband and child in the process – they will flow with the queue while you will change – nobody is allowed to wait. The loud security guard will pester you about every flock of hair peeking out from your hood / scarf. The queue is slow and it is very boring for children. For all of that – there’s very little to actually see. Yes, it’s white. Yes it’s clean. Yes it’s all custom made marble art all over and it’s very impressive. Yes, Svarowski chandeliers are amazing. Is it worth the effort? – Well, I’m glad I’ve “ticked the box”, but this is not something I’d do twice. Also, this is definitely not for small kids.
I’d recommend to go there once, off season and either very late or very early. Don’t come with the tourist bus – better by taxi. Less chance of a tourist buss queues. Even better, ask for attraction buses timetable at your hotel – chances are most tourist buses are coming there at the same times, few times a day – then go at a different time.
Oh, and sunglasses are a must. You’ll be blinded by the white marble in the sunshine.
As for the dress code – jeans and sneakers are OK – even if too casual for the place. A skirt that is so long it brushes the floor, but has a 5 cm see through sheer fabric at the very bottom is not OK.
The Royal Palace.
Total Opposite of the Grand Mosque – still very grand, yet cool place to visit. You still have to cover up your knees and shoulders, but no specific dress codes otherwise. I’ve seen plenty of people in jeans. I would recommend to dress up however. Make and afternoon out of it – be classy. Go on and have that coffee with gold flakes. If you can afford it – splash out on the dinner at one of the restaurants (it’s not THAT expensive). Go out after dark and enjoy that dance of water and light from the surrounding fountains. Take a stroll in the park. I definitely recommend it for both families and couples without kids.
To conclude my two epic posts – Abu Dhabi is amazing and I would definitely come back there again and would highly recommend it to anyone.