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What to expect at Dubai’s ‘Hollywood in the desert’ theme park

The Motiongate Dubai theme park will feature state-of-the-art “Hunger Games” attractions based on the dystopian book and film series.

The Motiongate Dubai theme park will feature state-of-the-art “Hunger Games” attractions based on the dystopian book and film series.

(Lionsgate)

A $2.85-billion project boasting three theme parks in a Middle Eastern desert will include the world’s first “Hunger Games” rides along with attractions based on “Ghostbusters,” “Hotel Transylvania” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”

Set to debut in October 2016, the massive Dubai theme-park complex will include Motiongate Dubai, featuring zones based on a trio of Hollywood movie studios; Bollywood Park, showcasing Mumbai’s major film studios; and Legoland Dubai, catering to the grade-school crowd.

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The improbable notion of a theme park oasis in the desert has been contemplated for more than a decade. The first mega-theme park project — dubbed Dubailand — would have been twice the size of the 40-square-mile Disney World resort. Universal Studios, Six Flags, Dreamworks and Marvel all announced projects that eventually were put on hold following the 2008 global recession.

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The success of Ferrari World in nearby Abu Dhabi proved that the concept of an indoor-outdoor theme park set in an environment of relentless 120-degree heat and sky-darkening sandstorms was indeed possible.

The new project by Dubai Parks & Resorts will open with 73 attractions from a host of international ridemakers, including Dynamic Attractions, Gerstlauer, Mack Rides, S&S-Sansei, Triotech, WhiteWater Attractions, Zamperla and Zierer.

Dubbed “Hollywood in the desert,” the Motiongate Dubai movie theme park will feature 27 attractions, including five roller coasters. Backed by a trio of Hollywood movie studios, the park will be divided into four zones: DreamWorks, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures and Smurfs Village. Visitors will enter through an area known as Studios Central.

Geared toward tweens and teens, the Lionsgate zone will feature state-of-the-art “Hunger Games” attractions along with a retail store focused on the dystopian book and film series. One of the “Hunger Games” rides will be a launched roller coaster, according to Screamscape.

Curiously, the Lionsgate zone also will include a live stage show with singing, dancing and acrobatics based on the trilogy of “Step Up” movies. It will be interesting to see how a themed land focused primarily on a deadly teenage battle royal will mesh with a pump-up-the-party dance show.

The Sony Pictures zone will include a New York City backlot highlighting the movie-making experience along with a working movie studio.

The highlight of the Sony zone will be an ETF Ride Systems trackless dark ride based on the “Hotel Transylvania” animated films. After crossing a moat into a castle, visitors will board a family-friendly ride that travels through a surprise “Bon Voyage” party for Dracula’s teenage daughter.

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The Sony zone will feature a white-water rapids ride, a drop tower and 3-D theater show with themes based on “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” “Ghostbusters,” “The Green Hornet” and “Zombieland.”

The Dreamworks zone will feature attractions based on “Shrek,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “Madagascar,” including roller coasters, a motion simulator and a show in a 1,000-seat theater. The highlight of the themed land will be a “How to Train Your Dragon” interactive multimedia experience.

Motiongate Dubai’s final zone, Smurfs Village, takes kids into the giant toadstool homes of the small blue creatures. The family-friendly land will include play areas, character shows and a kiddie coaster.

The massive desert complex will include two other theme parks and a central shopping district.

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With 16 attractions, Bollywood Park will showcase Indian movies with themed lands dedicated to five of Mumbai’s major film studios. The Bollywood Boulevard entrance will feature dancers and street theater, while the 800-seat Raj Mahal theater will present a Broadway-style Bollywood show.

Legoland Dubai will follow the model of the chain’s other theme parks, with kid-sized rides and a Miniland centerpiece made from millions of Lego bricks. The park will include 40 attractions plus a Legoland water park.

Water taxis will navigate a canal running through the Riverpark shopping district that makes architectural homages to a medieval French village, mid-century Los Angeles and neon Las Vegas. A 500-room Marriott-run hotel will be incorporated into the mall.

Dubai Parks & Resorts is using only about a quarter of its 2,000-acre property for this first phase of development, leaving plenty of room for future projects. The developer recently signed an agreement to build a Six Flags park on the site.

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