Dubai Bucket List: Go Off-Roading In The Desert

Our Dubai departure lingers somewhere in the horizon, so close yet so far away.

In anticipation of leaving Dubai in ‘X number’ of months, we have started the task of checking items off of our “Dubai Bucket List” – things that we MUST experience before leaving Dubai!img_9968

My personal list includes off-roading in the desert, holding a falcon, and riding a camel. I also have to ride the world’s fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. We have yet to take a frame-worthy family photo in front of the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab, so we have to do that too. And I really want to take Micah to Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi and the Mattel Play Town, so he can fulfill my childhood dream of meeting Barney. πŸ™‚

It goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyway) that we must visit all of the Dubai Parks. They’re the whole reason why we’re out here! We already had a sneak peek of Lego Land and Bollywood Parks, but they weren’t fully finished yet. Now that both parks are open to the public, we need to go back to experience it all. I need to properly cry over everything that Anthony has designed. πŸ™‚ Experiencing the Dubai Parks is by far the most important thing to me, and if that’s all I do the rest of my time here, I’ll be happy.

However, that’s not the case for us!img_9995 Over the weekend, we checked our first item off my list —Β  we went off-roading in the desert!

Anthony’s gone several times, but Micah and I have always stayed home. So when Off-Road Zone, an auto body shop that specializes in Jeeps, announced their first off-road event of the season, we decided that NOW was the time to ‘check’ our desert adventure off our list.

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Part of the 97 car convoy through the desert

This was an ideal time to go because Off-Road Zone hired several Jeeps to lead and trail our group. These professional off-roaders provided assistance and guidance, so I felt safe bringing Micah along knowing that we had 100+ cars around us to help – just in case. After our off-road excursion, we were treated to a BBQ dinner under the stars! It sounded like the perfect adventurous day out.

Our trip took a while to get started because there were sooooo many cars (mostly Jeeps, of course πŸ˜‰ ). I had never experienced it before, but the camaraderie among Jeep drivers is something pretty special. Everyone was very cordial and patient with one another, and they kept giving high-fives to Micah, the “Little Jeeper” as they called him. Micah had many conversations with people that went something like this:

img_0074PersonΒ  -“Do you love Jeeps?”

Micah – “Yes! I love Jeeps!”

Person – “Are you going to get a Jeep when you grow up so you can get all the girls?”

Micah – “….. Yes?!”

Um, EXCUSE me? 😯 In that case, Micah’s only allowed to drive scooters for the rest of his life.Β  But our little guy had a blast, whooping and cheering with happiness whenever we went up and over dunes. I admit that I was a little nervous, because I got REALLY seasick when we went on a yacht a few months ago, so I dreaded this mysterious motion sickness kicking in again. Thankfully, I was fine. Whew!

The most stressful part of the trip occurred when we accidentally mixed in with the intermediate off-road group. We got stuck several times, but then we were rescued and taken back to the beginner’s group and it was all smooth sailing after that. It was way easier to relax, enjoy the bumpy sand dunes, and appreciate the special kind of beauty surrounding us.

Just LOOK how close we got to these camels! One sassy camel even crossed in the middle of our convoy, taking his time cause he knew that accidentally hitting him would cost the driver a hefty fine (thousands of dollars!). Camels own the road / desert / sand / everything.

 

(Random aside: camel milk chocolate has a weird tang to it).

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I thought about jumping on one of these camels to knock out 2 bucket list items in one trip, but then realized that I would probably get arrested or something, so decided not to. ;D

I think that many people come to Dubai with the intention of visiting the desert. If not for the off-roading experience, then for simply taking in the view of the seemingly endless sandy terrain. It was a different kind of beauty, for sure.

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Overall, our off-roading trip was an unforgettable experience. Anthony took fantastic care of us, and I would definitely do it again. You can’t visit Dubai and not visit the desert. It’s like going to California and not going to the beach! πŸ˜›

Before leaving Dubai, I knew that I just had to visit the desert and appreciate its sandy splendor.

So we did it.

Check!

 

 

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A Sneak Peek at Legoland Dubai

Not only is today Halloween, but Legoland Dubai has finally risen brick-by-brick from its desert landscape to open to the public! A couple of weeks ago, we were invited to Legoland’s soft opening just for employees and their families. I’ve never been to any other Legoland, so I can’t compare it to anything, but I can say with confidence that Legoland Dubai is amazing!

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Legoland Dubai is part of the groundbreaking project Dubai Parks & Resorts, which includes a cluster of 3 theme parks (Motion Gate, Bollywood Parks, and Legoland) and 1 water park (Legoland Waterpark), a waterfront shopping area called Riverland, and a Polynesian-style resort called Lapita. Whew! My husband is part of the creative team, designing everything from trash cans to light posts to his new expertise – food and vendor carts! πŸ™‚ We’ve been here over 2 years, and it’s amazing to see how everything is coming together after all this time. img_9727

I loved all of the random Lego sculptures throughout the park, whether they were huge ones like these sports-playing giraffes, or smaller Lego people on the sidewalks.

When we got there, I was so excited to see a costumed Lego guy standing there greeting people. I always wanted to take a photo with one, but Micah was terrified. -_- Guess I’ll have to get my photo with Lego Man next time. The sacrifices that we make for our children. Doesn’t he know that Mama desperately NEEDS a photo with the big, walking Lego person?

Anyway, the crowning jewel of Legoland is definitely the indoor (and beautifully air-conditioned, might I add) domed building called MINILAND. It has Lego sculptures of dozens of buildings in Dubai and other Middle Eastern landmarks. The sculptures were so immaculate and intricately detailed that it was hard to remember that they’re actually Legos! The website points out that it’s the FIRST indoor and air-conditioned MINILAND out of all of their parks, which makes sense since it’s built in the middle of the desert. πŸ˜€

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Sheikh Zayed Mosque made entirely out of Legos!

Legoland Dubai targets kids from ages 2 – 12, so you know that you’re not spending an exorbitant amount of money just for your kid to go on a couple of lame rides. Not at THIS Legoland! When we went, there were only a handful of rides open, but they were the ideal thrill level for my 4-year-old. img_9718We went on this gear-themed ride that was basically like the teacups at Disneyland, and a plane ride that was basically Disneyland’s Dumbo ride.Β  Not complaining! Micah had a blast and that’s all that matters.

Besides these two rides, there were a couple of 4D immersive experiences and several Lego building stations that were open, but we didn’t try them out. We walked around the entire park, checking out everything that was in progress and wishing that it was October 31st already so we could experience it all!
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As for Legoland’s food, we ate at the park’s Fried Chicken Co., and honestly I wouldn’t bother with it again. Maybe they’re still working out the kinks, but they continuously told my husband that his food was coming, only to make him wait 20 minutes before they said they were out of the chicken that he ordered. -_- The food was pretty terrible, typical overpriced amusement park fare. When we go back, I would bring my own snacks or find a place to eat outside the park in Riverland (also open now!) or the Outlet Village down the road.

Even though we were able to only get a taste of Legoland Dubai, we are definitely going to go back to try out everything. You know it’s a good sign when you’re impressed with a park that has only a fraction of the entertainment open at the time. πŸ˜‰

If you live in Dubai or are visiting with your kids, Legoland Dubai at Dubai Parks & Resorts is a definite MUST DO.

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The biggest Lego store in the Middle East (Don’t know how many there are to compare lol)

 

KidZania at the Dubai Mall

Y U NO GUY says it best.

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Kidzania has to be one of the coolest places ever! WHY isn’t it in America? WHY did I have to travel across the world in order to discover such an amazing place for kids? There are Kidzania’s all over the world from London to Cairo to Tokyo. And BONUS: the franchise was founded by a Mexican guy. ^_^

Our Kidzania is located in the Dubai Mall, and it’s basically a huge city that’s run by kids. Children can earn money (called “Kidzos”) for doing various jobs (over 80 to choose from). You can also spend Kidzos to participate in different activities, like performing karaoke in a “club” or painting a mural.

At the Kidzania Beauty Salon, a child could either earn Kidzos money working as a makeup artist, hair stylist, or nail artist, or spend their hard-earned Kidzos as a customer and get their makeup, hair, or nails done.

20160322_130214At the gas station, Kids could choose to be a ‘car mechanic’ or gas station attendant to earn money, or pay to ride their car around a track (because drivers need to pay money for their gas, right?).

Here’s an example of how the activities were described:

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See the wide range of jobs that are available?

There were SO MANY JOBS- UPS delivery person, police officer, firefighter,20160322_133017 radio DJ, dentist, painter, paramedic (the kids got to drive around in an ambulance! so cute), grocery store clerk, journalist (whoop whoop!), museum archivist, model, business entrepreneur, chef, construction worker – just to name a few! I loved that kids could be able to dabble in anything that they wanted and, hopefully, gain an appreciation for how hard everyone works to maintain a city.

The “Kidzos” that kids earned can then be spent to purchase real toys available at Kidzania. And these aren’t cheap Chuck E. Cheese plastic. They’re legit toys courtesy of “The Best Toy Store In The World” – Hamley’s!

Parents can also spend real money for food and drinks for their kids, but with a fun, Kidzania twist. Like at McDonald’s, parents pay real money for a Happy Meal, but then their child can suit up, head behind the counter, and make their own! There’s a little Ski20160322_133031pper with his hat, gloves, and apron putting together his own Happy Meal in the photo on the right.

There’s also a pizza place where parents pay real money to give their child the opportunity to prepare and bake their own pizza. A milkshake factory allows kids to prep their own smoothie or milkshake too! Unfortunately, the Coca Cola Factory was closed when we went, but kids are able to enter the bottling factory to help bottle their own soda.

Play times are separated into two separate 6-hour blocks – the morning session (10 am to 4 pm) and the evening session (5 pm – 11 pm). Families can easily spend the entire 6-hour schedule here, and it’s a definite MUST DO for all Dubai kids, whether visitors or residents.

Hidden in the Kidzania website, it says “Kidzania United States” is a future location, but there’s no info where it is or when it’s opening…

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, I HOPE IT’S IN CALIFORNIA!!!

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