Monday, April 29, 2013

Things To Do in Dubai With Kids

dubai tower
Burj Khalifah Dubai (Picture taken from Dubai Mall)

We travelled to Dubai with our two young kids (3 years old and 5 years old) in mid February 2013 and our planned itinerary was like this:

Day 1: Dubai Mall - Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, Lunch at Souq Al-Bahar, Watch the afternoon Dubai Fountain and try to go up Burj Khalifah. 

What happened was: 

Arrived at Dubai Mall at 10.00am since hotel concierge says mall opens at 10.00am, had breakfast at the food court but most of the stalls that are open are fast food stalls and an indian stall. In the end, the kids ate Burger King, I had bryani and curry and hubby ordered a humongous burger from Fat Burger. Not really my kind of breakfast but choices were very limited at 10.00am. 

Dubai Mall indoor play inside the Food Court area

After the breakfast, my 5 year old saw a small indoor playground inside the Food Court compound and insisted on going in. (I can't remember its name) It is very small and we do feel like it is a waste of money since my scaredy boy only played with the mini slide and the small ball pit but he was pretty happy.

dubai mall aquarium
Dubai Mall Underwater Zoo

dubai with kids
Fish feeding at Dubai Mall aquarium.

Afterwards, we went to the Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. The Aquarium is about the same as Aquaria at KLCC except that they have penguins and also a dedicated bugs exhibit here. I didn't take much pictures here. We also paid for fish feeding but there's nothing special about it, just us peering into a big tank with the fishes waaaay down there and us tipping the fish feed into the tank. It was a forgettable moment.

After the Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, the kids insisted on donuts and we found it at Horton's very near to the Souk Al-Bahar exit and the water way. I was quite excited since I thought we could also catch the afternoon Dubai Fountain show but turns out we had missed it. 

The Dubai Fountain Schedule if you are interested in going is as per below: 

Afternoon show : 1.00pm & 1.30pm
Evening shows (every 30 mins) : 6.00pm - 11.00pm (Sun - Wed) & 6.00pm  -11.30pm (Thu - Sat)

After the donuts, the kids got cranky and insisted to go back to the hotel.. so we didn't get to see Burj Khalifah. (Actually, in the end we didn't even get to go up Burj Khalifah cos it is so popular, you are advised to book at least 1 week beforehand!) Below is the admission ticket price for Burj Khalifah taken from their website here

dubai tower
Dubai Tower - Burj Khalifah Ticket Prices
We didn't bother going to Kidzania at Dubai Mall cos we already went to KL's Kidzania and SEGA indoor theme park was not suitable for kids under 7 years of age (read that from some reviews on Trip Advisor)

Day 2 Plan : Emirates Mall for Ski Dubai and Penguin Encounter.

What happened was : after the kids were soooo excited (well actually my almost 3 years old was super excited while my 5 year old was not keen on snow) and we arrived at the admission counter, we asked for 2 adults and 1 child ticket since my 2nd son was technically 34 months old (yes.. I was trying to be a cheapskate) BUT to my disappointment.. we were told instead that kids under 3 years old are not allowed in Ski Dubai nor allowed to participate in Penguin Encounter.. oh bummer.. me and my big mouth! I told my husband let's come again tomorrow, I don't think they will remember us but hubby wouldn't hear of it haha.. so basically the day was spent walking around the enormous mall and ended up in the supermarket buying kids diapers and formula the middle of which the kids fell asleep so we headed back to the hotel.

emirates mall attractions
Penguin Encounter Ticket Price @ Ski Dubai

Day 3: Plan: Spend the whole day at Atlantis' Aquaventure Waterpark. 

What happened was: I had an urgent transfer to be made which required a visit to Western Union while hubby couldn't take carrying my 20kg ++ 5 year old anymore and arranged for a twin stroller rental. So, we headed to the nearest mall to Grand Hyatt Dubai which was Festival City. The kids did some painting work at the kids activity area in front of the Western Union (Al-fardan Exchange) while waiting for mummy to finish her transfer and the twin stroller to be delivered. Then it was lunch at Burger King (again) before heading out to Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark.

dubai festival city
The kids at Festival City

dubai atlantis aquarium reviews
Lost Chambers @ Atlantis Dubai

We arrived at Atlantis at about 2.30pm then headed to the aquarium "The Lost Chambers"  it was nothing much, if you had gone to the Dubai Mall Aquarium, you can definitely give this a miss. It's just an aquarium decorated with "Atlantis" theme to me. The kids didn't really like the dark mood and there was no signage of the type of fishes on display so I couldn't answer much when the kids asked questions too.

atlantis water park images
The beautiful beach @ Atlantis Aquaventure Water Park 

Next, we headed for Aquaventure at about 3.30pm and bought the Dolphin Experience 4.30pm slot. It was quite a far walk from the entrance to the Dolphin Bay but we couldn't take the buggy because of the twin stroller. The Dolphin Experience was super expensive but totally worth it. Most of the people in my group were parents of small kids and the kids absolutely loved the experience. I mean where else can you get up close with the dolphin in the water while petting them and playing, dancing and even kissing them? My 5 year old was amazingly brave and really loved touching the dolphin while my 3 year old refused to touch it but was recounting the experience throughout the holiday. By the time we finished the Dolphin Experience it was nearly 6.00pm so the kids just jumped into one of the heated pools at the water park but didn't get to go to the kids splash pool (which was pretty big and fun) as it was nearer to the entrance of the Waterpark.

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The kids at the heated pool @ Atlantis Aquaventure Water Park

We came out of Aquaventure at closing time along with throngs of other people and saw that the queue for the taxi was snaking. So, we went back inside (the shopping and dining option is quite limited here) and had dinner at a chinese restaurant. Food was not bad.

Our verdict for Aquaventure? Definitely worth it but come early in the morning so you can spend the whole day there :) My kids didn't want to go back.

dolphin encounter dubai reviews
Unforgettable experience at Dolphin Bay, Atlantis

My other back up plan for visiting Dubai with the kids were :

1) Children City at Dubai Creek + Dolphin Dolphinarium
2) Aqua Play @ Mirdif City

But these plans were also cut short since my kiddo fell sick during the last 2 days of the holiday and I spent the last two days going to the PD and washing my kids' multiple vomit clothes.. sigh..