A wild ride in Dubai: A visitor's guide to the city's new theme parks

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  • Two brand new theme parks have just opened in Dubai
  • From a Lego Taj Mahal to fast rides, they both promise excitement

(CNN)In Dubai, a city where more is always more and bigger is most certainly better, two brand new theme parks are vying for the hearts of visitors.

Both feature cinematic collaborations.
    Both come with thrilling roller-coasters and kid-friendly rides.
    And both have only just opened their doors.
    So which one is best?

    IMG Worlds of Adventure

    Having only just opened at the end of August, this 1.5 million square feet (think 28 soccer fields) theme park is pretty much paradise for film fans.
    Marvel plays a big collaborating role here, as does Cartoon Network, owned by CNN's parent company.
    The result is that visitors can battle evil with The Avengers, stop Doctor Octopus with Spider-Man, mingle with dinosaurs in The Lost Valley, then dine at Iron Man's swanky 10-story sky deck restaurant.
    Both parks are located within easy reach of Dubai's beaches.
    Smaller ones can enjoy a Powerpuff Girls ride before catching a character-themed live show.
    Marvel and Cartoon Network not your thing?
    There's IMG Boulevard, an avenue filled with shops and restaurants, as well as the ghoulish maze of The Haunted Hotel.
    And when it all gets too tiring, there's a 12-screen cinema with IMAX and VIP offerings to help you kick back.
    In total, the massive venue has 28 places to eat and drink, 25 retail outlets and hundreds of rides.
    As for the number of visitors competing for spots in line?
    If Lennard Otto, CEO of IMG Worlds of Adventure has his way, there will be many.
    "We expect to host over 4.5 million people in our first year of operation," he says.
    The Velociraptor is one of the most popular rides and attractions at IMG Worlds Dubai.
    Given that this new launch is the world's largest indoor theme park, there's sure to be plenty of space.
    Tickets cost $82 for adult and $68 for children. Currently booking online provides a 10% discount.

    Dubai Parks & Resorts

    For some theme park goers, it doesn't get better than spending days bouncing across four different theme parks, all while staying in a themed hotel.
    Dubai Parks & Resorts is for them.
    This expansive space contains four interconnecting theme parks: Legoland Dubai, Legoland Water Park, Bollywood Parks and the Hollywood-themed Motiongate.
    In theory, it's possible to buy a pass to all four and meander between.
    But currently only Legoland Dubai has opened; the other three parks have all been delayed.
    Young Lego enthusiasts can enter the Kingdoms Castle at Legoland Dubai.
    Bollywood Parks and the hotel opened mid-November. Legoland Waterpark and Cinema-friendly Motiongate are to swing open their doors in December.
    When everything's done, there'll be more than 100 roller-coasters and rides, themed restaurants ranging from street food to fine dining, live entertainment, shops and multiple-day razzle-dazzle.
    All the parks are connected by a walkway that's filled with stores and restaurants.
    Super-keen park-goers can stay at Lapita Hotel Dubai, a Polynesian-themed Autograph Collection resort located in the middle of all the action (doubles from $354 per night).
    As for tickets, prices vary by park and type. A four-day pass for all parks will set you back $242 for adults and $215 for children.
    A one-day VIP ticket, which comes with queue-skipping and a personal tour guide, is $408.
    See below for a detailed park and price breakdown.

    Legoland Dubai and Legoland Water Park

    While surrounded by 60 million Lego bricks and 15,000 Lego model structures, visitors can splash, swim, shop and ride at these two Lego-themed parks.
    "With 40 rides, shows, attractions and building experiences, there's so much to choose from," says the park's general manager Siegfried Boerst.
    "Going with my children to Legoland, I almost become a child again myself. It's the only park that focuses on families with children 2 to 12 and all activities are designed with [them] in mind."
    Boerst recommends visiting Miniland.
    "We've just unveiled the world's tallest Lego model of a building, our replica of the Burj Khalifa."
    Legoland Dubai is home to a miniature Taj Mahal.
    There are thrills at the Dragon Coaster, a ride that drops brave visitors from a height of 16 meters and reaches 60 km/h speeds.
    Or there's diving beneath the torrential spill of the Joker Soaker's 300-gallon bucket.
    When the rides are done, you can relax at the 4D cinema -- which shows, of course, "The Lego Movie."
    Tickets to both Legoland Dubai and Legoland Water Park cost $108 for adult and $95 for children (aged 3 to 11). Single-park passes are cheaper.

    Motiongate Dubai

    Through collaborations with DreamWorks, Sony and Lionsgate, this park sends you into the big screen.
    You can join the Ghostbusters to battle evil, wander through the world of the Smurfs or test your skills a la "The Hunger Games."
    Or maybe stop by the "Zombieland" roller coaster to drop 58 meters or visit the "Hotel Transylvania" ride for seven minutes of thrills.
    Tickets to Motiongate Dubai cost $90 for adults and $76 for children.

    Bollywood Parks Dubai

    This movie-focused theme park aims to transport visitors into the action, adventure and romance of India's Bollywood cinema.
    You can wander recreations of the streets of Mumbai or visit rural India, then relax with the region's first Broadway-style Bollywood musical.
    One simulator ride lets you join a game of cricket against the British Raj, while another sends you soaring over India to battle an alien invasion.
    When you're done exploring, there's the opportunity to grab a rustic Punjabi curry or Tamil delicacy at one of many themed restaurants.
    Tickets to Bollywood Parks Dubai cost $78 for adults and $67 for children.

    The home team

    IMG Worlds of Adventure and Dubai Parks & Resorts may be facing off against each other, but they're not the only action-packed, thrill-focused contenders in the ring.
    Dubai's existing parks already pack a hefty punch.

    Wild Wadi Waterpark

    Located right beside the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab Jumeirah and the wave-shaped Jumeirah Beach Hotel, this family-friendly waterpark has an Arabian folklore theme.
    The view of Wild Wadi from Jumeirah Beach Hotel.
    There are over 30 rides. Of these, 13 are interconnected, making it handy for folks who want to float serenely along. You can relax in the palm-fringed wave pool or fire through a tube on a high-powered water ride.
    Tickets cost $80 for adults and $68 for children. In-house guests at Jumeirah Beach Hotel have free access.

    Aquaventure Waterpark

    Located on Dubai's man-made Palm Jumeirah island in The Atlantis hotel, this massive waterpark features 11 waterslides, a 2.3-kilometer river ride and some 18 million liters of water.
    You can barrel down a 27.5-metre near-vertical drop with The Leap of Faith, a terrifying ride that shoots you through a shark-filled lagoon and falls nine stories.
    Those who prefer a more soothing pace can float along Rapids, the longest river ride in the region, before lounging in the sun.
    There is also the opportunity to interact with sharks or feed cownose rays.
    Tickets cost $87 for adults and $75 for children. Book online in advance for up to a 20 percent discount. In-house guests at Atlantis The Palm have free access.

    Ski Dubai

    To jump a 10-foot ramp, play with penguins, zip down a mountain slope or camp on ice, check out this chilly Dubai favorite.
    Ski Dubai, located in Mall of the Emirates, features an impressive 3,000 square meters of real snow perfect for skiing or snowboarding.
    Head to the top for a hot cocoa.
    If adventure isn't really your thing, you can ride the chairlift to the top and grab a hot cocoa in the alpine cafe.
    Ski kit (apart from gloves) is provided. Lessons are available.
    Tickets for a two-hour slope pass cost $57 for adults and $49 for children.