Dubai Garden Glow is the latest eye catching attraction to captivate the city, a family focused destination and the first of its kind in the Middle East. Situated in Zabeel Park the concept is a novel one, in which huge sculptures are illuminated each evening as guests take a leisurely stroll through a landscape of colored tunnels, animals and fantasy sequences. On paper it sounds like a fantastic idea but in the reality of the situation is unfortunately something altogether different…
Firstly, parking is an absolute nightmare! Arriving by car we found there to be numerous parking areas scattered around the perimeter of the park but trying to find a vacant space in one of them is a challenge. Perhaps we should’ve taken a cab or even researched a little better as we were astounded once again to find that the entrance fee is a staggering AED 60 per person (with children under three entering free of charge). Though the price may be comparable to attractions such as The Green Planet, it’s difficult to justify the spend considering the fact that you’re literally just walking around a park.
Arriving just as the sun was setting, our initial impressions were that the gardens were a little on the tacky side, with palm trees made to resemble pineapples and a garish Cinderella carriage. However, once darkness descends the experience becomes more appealing as the vibrancy of the various structures come into play, with bursts of colours, sound effects and even movement. We do believe that your initial impression will all depend on where you enter the park from. The undersea display located by the main entrance is the most impressive part of the park, while we entered through one of the smaller entrances and greeted by nothing more than a few dimly lit flowers. Things steadily decline the further in we go
The idea is to take visitors on a journey around the world (we think) as you pass various scenes from the African savanna complete with giraffes and monkeys, to the windmills and tulips that make for a vague representation of the Netherlands. Closer to home there’s a replication of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Mosque and a tumbling basket of pearls, though their placement directly in front of the busy highway detracts from the experience somewhat.
As if a mere afterthought, the journey around the world theme is soon abandoned and we pass through tunnels made of hearts, a river or rainbows, a gigantic tiger and a bizarre talking tree! It’s a somewhat psychedelic experience and one that many of our fellow visitors seem to relish, in part due to the abundance of strategically placed photo points for capturing that perfect selfie. Maybe we’re in the minority here (or we’re getting too cynical) but we found the experience to be altogether underwhelming. Don’t get us wrong, there are some great pieces – the jellyfish pond, pearl tower and the replica Burj Khalifa – but on the whole it’s not something that we would necessarily recommend.
High prices appear to be a theme that runs rampant throughout Dubai Garden Glow. The reasoning behind our visit was for a fun excursion for the kids, an opportunity to embrace the cooler weather and to let them run around. Our two children (aged five and two) enjoyed the illuminations but grew tired of them after around thirty minutes, with the older one asking “what is there to actually do?” Groups of fairground rides are located throughout the enclosed areas of the park but when you’re charging an already captive audience AED25 – AED35 for something that lasts a minute to two (thats half the entrance fee again), you begin feel you’re being taken advantage of.
The ticket price for Dubai Garden Glow also includes entry into ‘The Dinosaur Park.’ A place rife with animatronic dinosaurs like a scene straight out of the movie Jurassic Park. Expect to find torn fences, cars being destroyed by a ferocious Tyrannosaurus Rex and an opportunity to interact with some of these prehistoric creatures. Again it’s something new to Dubai but a concept that has been done much better elsewhere in the world.
If you’re really inclined to visit, we suggest you get there for opening and explore the dinosaur park while there’s still daylight, before moving onto the illuminations. In our opinion, Dubai Garden Glow needs to become a whole lot more interactive or a whole lot cheaper to continue to draw in the crowds. In a touristic city like Dubai there’s plenty to keep visitors and residents entertained and for us, this isn’t up to the mark.
With the arrival of The Dubai Frame scheduled to open in a separate area of the park very soon, it’s likely that the novelty of this attraction may soon wear off. If this is the type of attractions you’re looking for, we would say your better off heading to Dubai Miracle Garden (AED 40), The Green Planet (AED 75) or dare we say it… Global Village.
Location: Zabeel Park (Gates 6 & 7), Al Majalis Street, Dubai
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Hours: 4m – midnight (1am on weekends)
Phone: 056 446 7842
All views within this blog are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE.