Exclusive: Dubai Parks & Resorts to boost region's tourism aspirations ahead of 2020 Expo
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Exclusive: Dubai Parks & Resorts to boost region's tourism aspirations ahead of 2020 Expo

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Matthew Priddy, chief technical officer for the US$2.9bn (€2.6bn, £2bn) Dubai+Parks+{and}+Resorts'>Dubai Parks & Resorts development opening later this year, has said that the mega-resort’s launch will kickstart a tourism influx in the emirate as Dubai gears up for the 2020 Expo.

With hotel occupancy booming and Dubai on target to attract 20 million tourists annually by 2020, the Dubai Tourism Authority sees under-development theme parks including Dubai Parks & Resorts, IMG Worlds of Adventure and Fox World Dubai as crucial in maintaining visitor numbers after the 2020 World Expo.

“This I think is kicking off that whole 2020 frame of mind here in Dubai, said Priddy speaking exclusively to Attractions Management. “For our first year we’re predicting 5.5 million visitors. As Dubai’s place on the map grows, by the time we get to 2020 we think we’ll be exceeding those numbers.”

Priddy – who has worked for more than 35 years in the theme park industry, spending 21 years with Walt Disney Imagineering – will have worked on 10 theme park projects from the ground up when the resort opens, with Legoland+Dubai'>Legoland Dubai, Motiongate and Bollywood Parks being parks 8,9 and 10. The industry veteran is heading up a team of 40 who have more than 500 years of theme park experience between them.

“It’s important that any country in this region diversifies their economy,” said Priddy. “Dubai is more widely known for its real estate, to some extent its oil, and now it's going to be known as a tourist entertainment destination. We think it’s very sustainable.

“There were a couple of factors in selecting Dubai for the resort. The infrastructure was one of them. We have the hotels, we’ve got great airline services and the ability for us to absorb that many guests is essentially already there. In addition there really aren’t any multi-day mega resorts like this in the region. The closest would be EuroDisney but in terms of the Orlando-like effect there’s nothing like it within a 6-10 hour radius by air. That makes the destination.”

In recent weeks, the heads of the UAE’s leading theme park developments have hailed the potential of Dubai emulating Orlando and becoming an international theme park hub.

“There are numerous parks and developments currently in the region and we don’t consider them competition, we consider them complementary” said Priddy.

“Just like Orlando, which is a destination city for theme parks, that’s what is going to end up happening here in Dubai. I can think of half-a-dozen theme park projects under development in the area, not to mention the 2020 Expo. We look at those projects as complementary as they make people looking for that destination stay maybe a week as opposed to a couple of days. When that critical mass is in play then you’re going to have a regionally beneficial development from a both tourist and economical standpoint.”

The resort will be the largest in the Gulf region, using world class ride developers for its parks, including Mack, Gerstlauer, ETF, Zamperla, S&M, Dynamic Attractions, Holovis and Simworx. Harnessing the experience of these industry experts, the three under-development parks will use a tried-and-tested method rather than an experimental approach.

“On the ride side of things, one of the things we did at Disney was invent on the critical path,” continued Priddy. “Here we’ve chosen not to do that. We’ve chosen to go with state-of-the-art systems that we know have been installed elsewhere and have been operated effectively but still bring you that world-class experience.

“We have roughly 85 shows, rides and attractions across the three parks. All the rides are purchased – we have 10 of them being installed as we speak. We are on budget and we are on track with all three parks for our opening date of October 2016.”

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Matthew Priddy, chief technical officer for the US$2.9bn (€2.6bn, £2bn) Dubai Parks & Resorts development opening later this year, has said that the mega-resort’s launch will kickstart a tourism influx in the emirate as Dubai gears up for the 2020 Expo.
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