Immersive rides, fantasy lands and all the cartoon and comic greats. Abra Dunsby has a yabba-dabba-do time at Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi
I’m going to save the world. I won’t be doing it alone – there’s a group of men, women and children sitting alongside me, ready to do what it takes to save our planet.
DC Comics superhero the Green Lantern has enlisted us all after a rousing speech and now we’re off, soaring through space and fighting various bad guys along the way.
The Galactic Odyssey simulator ride at Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi is a 4D extravaganza – the floor falls away, so you really feel as though you’re whizzing through outer space, and as we fly past a waterfall, we feel its spray.
A field of flowers we soar across smells wonderful; an angry dragon who breathes all over us, less so. It’s a full-on sensory experience and it’s one that has us all shrieking and in fits of giggles as we swerve our way past stars, meteors and villains to complete our mission.
Galactic Odyssey is my favourite of 29 rides and interactive, family- friendly attractions at Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi – a billion-dollar, 1.65-million-square-foot indoor theme park that opened on Abu Dhabi’s “entertainment destination”, Yas Island, last July.
The theme park is the third to open on Yas Island in eight years and the island is also home to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld.
Having grown up watching Tom try to outsmart Jerry, Batman zooming about in his Batmobile and The Flintstones having a yabba-dabba-doo time in Bedrock, a trip to Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi fills me with nostalgia, plunging me back into a fun-filled childhood world where my TV and comic book heroes have come to life.
Warner Bros. World is made up of six immersive lands: DC Entertainment’s Metropolis and Gotham City, as well as Warner Bros. Animation’s Cartoon Junction, Bedrock, Dynamite Gulch and Warner Bros. Plaza.
Each is expertly designed to make you feel as though you’ve jumped straight into your favourite cartoon or comic book – with painted ceilings and walls, themed restaurants and shops selling one-off Warner Bros. merchandise and, of course, your favourite characters causing mischief and merriment wherever they go.
I begin the journey back into my childhood at the Art Deco-designed Warner Bros. Plaza, whose streets, shops and bright lights evoke Hollywood’s Golden Age. Here, stepping through shop fronts allows you to access the park’s different lands.
The plaza is also where clients can catch the All-Star Spectacular, a show hosted by Bugs Bunny himself, during which the ceilings and walls turn into giant screens that bring the Warner Bros. stories to life. The show takes place three times a day, including at 10am, one hour before the different lands open to the public. (The park opens from 10am to 8pm every day).
Each of the park's six immersive lands is expertly designed to make you feel as though you’ve jumped straight into your favourite cartoon or comic book
Waving goodbye to Bugs, I wander into boulder-filled Bedrock, home to Fred, Wilma and the rest of The Flintstones gang.
As well as the Bedrock River Adventure ride, there are plenty of clever nods to the classic cartoon here: the staff wear animal-print waistcoats, clients can ride in the famous “footmobile”, and the restaurants are also fittingly themed, with 1950s-style diners serving up Fred’s favourite meals, including giant ribs and a mega burger for eight people to share.
Cartoon Junction is a joy for kids – both big and small – with plenty of family-friendly rides to choose from, plus all the cartoon greats to encounter, from Scooby and co to Tom and Jerry.
From the cheery, lilac-painted skies of Cartoon Junction, I walk the dark and dingy streets of Gotham City, where supervillains the Joker, the Riddler and Scarecrow are keeping Batman busy with their abominable exploits.
This land is home to the park’s most grown-up rides, including the Joker Funhouse, where clients must take on physical and mental challenges to escape; and twisty-turny coaster The Riddler, which has me both whooping with glee and shrieking in terror.
In contrast, neighbouring Metropolis is a shiny urban landscape filled with heroic optimism, kept safe by the likes of Superman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the Justice League. Here, clients can fight to save Metropolis with Superman at their side as part of 3D ride, Superman 360: Battle for Metropolis.
I’m hugely impressed by the park, its immersive experiences and the incredible attention to detail that’s gone into designing each of the lands.
For me, it’s the cartoon-themed lands and characters that really steal the show. Though theoretically for the youngest children, I spot several adults beaming as they meet their cartoon icons – and I’m no exception.
I’m genuinely delighted when Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck beckon me over for a cuddle and a selfie in Warner Bros. Plaza, while in chaotic, colourful Dynamite Gulch, a superbly cast, grumpy Wile E. Coyote makes me chuckle as I queue up for squeal-a-minute rollercoaster Fast and Furry-ous.
While the kids are clearly having fun, arguably today’s little ones are less familiar with the cartoon characters that once graced their parents’ TV screens – so adults will have just as much fun as their brood.
Though adrenaline addicts may be left disappointed by the relatively small selection of scary rides, the park is perfect for families – and diehard Warner Bros. fans will have an absolute blast.
Book it: A one-day ticket to Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi is priced from £64pp. dosomethingdifferent.com
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
High-octane rides at the Ferrari- branded theme park include Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest coaster, propelling riders from 0-149 mph in 4.9 seconds.
Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi
A family friendly, Emirati-themed waterpark made up of 45 rides, slides and attractions.
Yas Marina Circuit
Home of the popular Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which will take place from December 1-2 this year.
Clymb Abu Dhabi
Opening later this year, Clymb will feature the world’s tallest indoor climbing wall, as well as the world’s widest flight chamber, mimicking the experience of sky- diving at a width of 10 metres.