One of the things that I didn’t expect about Dubai was just what a great family friendly destination it is. It’s clean, very safe and super easy to get around. If I was traveling with Emma on this trip we probably would have done all the experiences I’ve covered in my past posts quite happily and easily (except maybe hot air ballooning, she is still too little for that). But there are a few places that we visited that are extra super awesome for kids, and pretty fun for grown-ups too. If you take your kids to Dubai, be sure to add at least one of these attractions to your must visit list. They will love them.
Imagine a city shrunk down to two-thirds in height where kids can role-play real life jobs. This is the awesome world of KidZania.
KidZania is a unique, very realistic and fun educational environment that allows kids between the ages of four and sixteen to pretend play in a kid-sized city all of their own.
Kids can choose from over 80 role playing activities or ‘jobs’ in this real mini city complete with a bank, hospital, supermarket and radio station. Jobs include doctor, fire fighter, chemist, photographer, chef, newsreader, car mechanic and pilot to name just a few roles: there really is something for everyone. KidZania even has its own currency, so kids can work to earn kidZos which they can spend on goods and services in the KidZania city.
We were lucky enough to have a mini tour of this mini city (normally adults aren’t allowed in if not accompanying a child), and even as an adult it was super fun. Imagine how much fun the kids were having!
Every half an hour the Flamingo Hotel catches fire, but luckily the well-trained mini fire brigade zooms in on a pint-sized fire engine to put out the flames.
I’ve always secretly wanted to be a flight attendant and demonstrate the safety briefing at the front of the plane, and at KidZania I finally got my chance.
There are exclusive toddler play spaces for smaller children and a parents lounge where grown ups can get a coffee and some quite time.
This place was FUN with a capital F! I can’t wait to take Emma to KidZania.
KidZania is located in The Dubai Mall
Ski Dubai and Snow Penguin Experience
Snow isn’t the first thing that comes to my mind when I think Dubai, but with the largest indoor ski centre in the world here, Dubai has snow a plenty!
Ski Dubai is one of the city’s top attractions and after a couple of hours of skiing and snow play, I can certainly see why. Snow is fun!
It’s been a good ten years since I last strapped on a pair of skis so I thought it would be a good opportunity to give the old rusty knees a workout and hit the slopes. I was really surprised at the excellent quality of the snow, well groomed and nice and dry, a lot better than the slushy stuff that we call snow at home. The runs were an easy to mid-range blue (not quite the black run they boast about) and perfect for advanced beginners and above.
But if you don’t ski there is plenty of fun to be had for both kids and grown-ups too. There are tube rides and toboggan slopes, areas for snow play and even a zip line for the more adventurous. Just riding up and down the ski lifts is tons of fun, especially if it’s your first time.
All clothing and snow proof shoes are included but I’d suggest wearing leggings or thermals as it is minus 4 degrees in there.
If skiing in the desert isn’t exotic enough for you, there are some special little residents you can meet and fall in love with. Ski Dubai has it’s own colony of King and Gentoo Penguins that you can see at no extra cost as they march across the snow park several times a day.
If you want an extra special experience with these cute little guys, there are several Penguin Encounter Packages on offer which allow you to get a little closer to the penguins and learn more about them and the conservation and research work that these penguins are ambassadors for.
I’ve only ever seen fairy penguins, so I was really surprised at how large and varied penguin species can get.
We met two penguins in our encounter, the first little guy was a Gentoo named Lucifer, he is really cheeky and gives his keepers hell – hence the name. He doesn’t like being handled but is happy to pose for photos. Gentoo penguins are the third largest penguin species in the world.
Next we were introduced to Mona Lisa, a beautiful King Penguin who was very comfortable with human contact. We were allowed (one person at a time) to gently stroke her feathers, and give her a careful cuddle. Her feathers are one of the softest things I’ve ever touched. It’s so easy to forget that penguins are birds. I’ve never thought of them as having soft downy feathers. As you can see from the photo, King Penguins are quite large, second only in size to Emperor Penguins.
Diego, the penguins’ keeper was very strict about what we could and couldn’t do around the penguins, and was also very attuned to the how the penguins were feeling. He doesn’t force them to do anything that they are uncomfortable with. His love for these little guys was really evident and you can see that the penguins are really well treated here.
Minimum age for the Snow Penguin Experience is 3 years old.
Every kid loves a waterslide, and at Atlantis Aquaventure there are water slides for every level of thrill you may seek. There are lots of beach and play areas for younger kids including the Splashers Water Playground and lagoon areas.
For older kids and grown ups that are thrill seekers, there is an assortment of water slides that will really get the adrenaline pumping!
I’m a real adrenaline junkie so I couldn’t resist the sheer drop of the Leap of Faith. Not only do you fall 9 stories in one second, you travel through a tube in a tank filled with rays and sharks. It was crazy! I did it 3 times.
You could easily spend a day at Aquaventure, and guests of the Atlantis The Palm Dubai Hotel get free unlimited entry to the water park.
As you can see, there certainly are plenty of great fun and family friendly activities for all ages in Dubai. It’s definitely worth adding to your family travels bucket list. I’ll certainly be back with Emma in tow next time.