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Photo TR: Dubai Aquaventure and Ski Dubai


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TR: Aquaventure and Ski Dubai

 

Hurray!! Training was completed in one week, so I got the hell out of Saudi early, and didn't have to spend a weekend watching paint dry.

 

So, we take the quick hop back to Dubai, and land in the evening. By the time we get to our hotel, the excellent Towers Rotana, we didn't have time to do anything really. I got this hotel for about $120 total, and the service was impeccable. Really, too good. If you appeared in the lobby, 2 or 3 people would swarm you. My first room smelled of smoke, so I switched to another one that I could see the tip of the Burj Khalifa from.

 

Even though this was Saudi's Friday night, it was Dubai's Thursday night, so everything closed early. My colleagues took a walk around. I ordered room service, prepared for my next day, thinking I had everything I needed, and crashed.

 

I hadn't set an alarm, since I wanted to get plenty of sleep, and I didn't expect very bad crowds. I got up around 9, and struggled to sleep a bit more, but got up at 10. Had I got up a bit earlier, I probably could have hopped in my friends taxi to Atlantis, but taxis were so damn cheap, it didn't really matter. I get packed up, and leave my bags with concierge. We already had our chauffeur set up to pick us up at 10 pm for our 2:45 am flight. And I had chosen the hotel since it was close to a Metro station, even thought I didn't take advantage of that this morning, since there is a gap between the Metro and the Palm Monorail that requires a taxi anyway.

 

I ask where the closest Starbucks is, and am told it's 5 minutes in either direction. Crap, it's already well over 100 degrees outside, and no shade on the sidewalk, so I take off. I quickly realize I had forgotten my sack of stuff for the day, swimsuit, ski gloves, etc. I run back in, and am escorted to the room to get it. Damn, I really need that Starbucks. I get a Venti Frappacino that serves as caffeine and breakfast! I then hail a taxi and say “Atlantis”, and we're off.

 

I recall first learning about the Palm project. Reclaiming a huge area of the ocean with a Palm shaped island. When you drive on it, you don't even realize it's reclaimed. It's massive, and such a total waste, since there is plenty of land to use, but hey, Dubai doesn't have much reason to be green, ya know. The island is full of apartments lining the main road up the trunk. Then, all of the limbs are full of houses and condos. Atlantis is on the tip of the circle around the Palm. The road takes a totally unnecessary tunnel to the hotel. I wonder if the tunnel cost much more than adding more reclaimed land. The monorail goes over a bridge, and drops you off at Aquaventure. My drive dropped me off at the mall entrance. I have Deja Vu, seeing the entrance door, and head in. It's a typical high end mall area, and then you see the Lost Caverns aquarium that my friends are probably in as I walk by. I head outside to a short line to buy a ticket to Aquaventure. Total price was about $60 for entry and a locker. I go to the locker, change, go out barefoot. WOW, would I pay for that. The one thing I did NOT pack was my crocs/watershoes. And I would be painfully reminded of that for about 2 hours.

 

It was “only” about 105 degrees. Hell, my first barefoot trip to Schlitterbahn was about 100. But the pavement here was MUCH hotter, skin scorching hot. And the initial walkway up to the covered walkway was most definitely NOT covered with water sprinklers. SO, by the time I go to the covered section, my feet hurt, pretty badly. Not blistered, but definitely first degree burned. I stand in the shade, thinking what I could do about this, and decide pretty much nothing. I go from shaded spot to shaded spot quickly, and a few short sections of sidewalk are sprinkled. This is a HUGE issue with Aquaventure. With this setup, shoes should be mandatory. Had I known how scorching hot the pavement would be everywhere, I would had bit the bullet and bought some “cheap” sandals. And to make matters worse, the floor of the rivers is not smooth, but very rough, which also hurt. In theory, you never have to leave your tube once you get in the river for the first time, but they move you VERY slowly, and the long wading line to the main belt to the top of the Ziggurat was mostly empty, and had virtually no natural flow to it, another design issue.

 

Once I finally get to the “lift hill”, I ride to the middle of the pyramid, and choose right. The short line leads to another belt that lifts and drops you into the slide. The two lowest level slides started with a pretty crazy couple of Master Blaster hills, and then into a long, totally dark slide, and dumps you out. The splash pools all have a sort of waterslide coming out of them, and these all join together before dumping you into the slow moving lazy river. To get BACK to the Ziggurat, you must go throught a shortcut tunnel, then back into the very long wading line, that everyone pretty much walked through. On a very crowded day, it would be nice to be able to sit in your tube for the wait. Today, there was a ton of walking in a huge circle to get back to the no-wait lift, which was quite a pain in the ass.

 

I took the left slide this time, which was not much different, and then got back to the top, and got out. There were a bunch of mostly shaded stairs, thank God, as my feet hurt for sure. There were two more levels inside the pyramid. The very top had the Leap of Faith speed slide through the fish tank, and another Master Blaster ride that was light on the Blaster, heavy on the pitch dark tunnel slide, which is what I took. I realized there was a back staircase that avoided the lift belt, but it was equally hard to get to from the end of most of the slides.

 

After this slide, I took the lazy river to what was labeled as “Rapids”. Sounds cool. First, was a very long lift belt, thankfully in a tunnel, which dropped you back into the very lazy river. However, around the bend, you saw a drop into a narrower section. And wow, was that section crazy. It was like riding an intertube through a river rapids ride at a theme park. It was VERY fun, but this first section was short. However, around a few more bends you went into another, much longer section, and finally hit a third section, before being back at ground level. This whole river took you all the way over to the main hotel building. Aquaventure covers a HUGE section of land, since it is not only a waterpark, but the main pool area for the hotel guests.

 

At this point, I was trying to get to the back stairs of the pyramid, and finally found how to get there before the river went to another lift and another long rapids section. More parks need these rapids sections. There were by far the most unique thing about Aquaventure, and the most fun. I could float around the main river and through these sections all day, if I had the time. However, I didn't, so I got out, and gingerly got back to the stairs, and up to the middle level, where there were two slides, however one of them was a section that you could get in in the middle of a longer slide, It took me forever to figure out what was going on there. But, essentially, after you went through the long wading line for the main belt, you could get out, and take a long path back to another lift belt that was on a dedicated slide. It started out with a series of straight Blaster sections, and then delivered you to the middle of the pyramid, where you could get out, or continue to the final section that was pretty much all pitch dark slide. Bad thing was, the first section was only for double tubes, and required two riders, and I was solo. The second section could be taken single, and I did return to that after I took the other slide from this level, Shark Attack.

 

This slide began with a belt that dumped you into a pitch dark tunnel under the pyramid, and dropping you into a long glassed in section under the fish tank that the Leap of Faith flew through. Difference was, you actually went through this slow enough to enjoy, even though the walls were hard to see through from all the condensation on them. You could see people flying through the LoF tube, and the people at the observation area. This was a really cool section, and you went through it slowly, only after a new rider's water surge came down into it. I got out, went to the observation area, and back up to the aforementioned slide, which once again dumped you into the lazy river.

 

I also took a lap around the Torrent river. I had a great start as the lifeguard put me right in front of one of the water surges coming into the river. However, like all the other rivers at Aquaventure, this one was sloooow. The waves came through, but it wasn't nearly as fun as Schlitterbahn's original Torrent river.

 

It was damn hot, and I didn't want to get burned, plus I had to do some snow skiing, so enough ultra-hot waterpark. I painfully got back to the lockers. One kind employee told me to “watch your feet” as I ran by him in pain. Thanks for that heads up, chuckles. Upon inspection, my feet still weren't blistered, and once I had socks and shoes on, they were only midly painful to walk on. I looked for a souvenir, but didn't find anything good, so I kept the wristband as one!

 

So, for the inevitable comparison of Aquaventure to Wild Wadi. R&E gave some, but I don't think they went to Wild Wadi. I have now been to both, and give the nod to Wild Wadi! First up, it's slightly cheaper to get to from the Dubai airport. Both parks give great views, WW to the Burj Al Arab, at AV to Atlantis. Both parks are designed for essentially one line feeding all the rides, but there are ways get around it at both parks, although WW did have a second feeder to some of the rides that was also on the ground. One major advantage of WW was that getting BACK to the line was easier there, although you did have to stand in the line. If you went on a VERY crowded day, AV may handle those crowds better, since it is MUCH larger. However, most of it's long lines and rivers are painfully slow. WW now has the new slide complex, that was more like a traditional park, but still it's a lot more slides.

 

AV would be fantastic if you were staying at Atlantis, and spending a big part of your day lounging around, enjoying the park, and having a few high priced alcholic drinks. Although rooms start at around $300. Wild Wadi is a much better stand alone waterpark, as far as thrills and being able to enjoy them a lot during a visit.

 

If Aquaventure would let you take a quick walk from the end of the slides back to the wading line, it would be a huge improvement. However, although AV's slides LOOK great, they are all essentially just a couple of Blaster uphill sections followed by pitch black slides, which are NOT my thing. They got really boring after a while. Another surprising difference that was probably more because of the time of year, but AV had more women in “Muslim” swimsuits, and not as many string bikinis. Perhaps AV enforces their dress code more. I don't know if WW sprays their walkways in the Summer, but that was HUGE negative for AV. Basically, if you are visiting during the Arab Summer, bring water shoes. They are a MUST.

 

AV does have a small mall attached, plus the aforementioned Lost Caverns that my colleagues said was a very good aquarium. I ate at The Burger Joint that was so-so for the price, and hailed a taxi to Ski Dubai. The taxi didn't have a taxi sign on it, and I think was a premium taxi, even though I asked if it was a regular one. The trip to Ski Dubai was a bit more than I expected, but really, cabs are so dirt cheap it doesn't really matter. I was dropped off damn near right at the entrance to Ski Dubai.

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The view from my hotel at night.

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And in the morning.

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The huge Atlantis resort.

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This looks familiar.

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For all your last minute shopping needs... GOLD!

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Nice paintings are on the ceiling.

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Entrance to the scorching heat.

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That's not what I want to see.

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The main river.

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The main line to the Ziggurat belt.

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The short wait for the main belt.

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The top of the belt.

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All of the rides have belts to send you on your way.

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The hotel is quite a ways away, the park is very long, and fairly big, although most of the space is beaches and river.

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View from the top of the Ziggurat

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Lift up to the rapids river.

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The entrance to a rapids section.

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All the waterfalls were cold water.

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The neat tunnel at the end of the Shark Attack slide from the observation area.

Edited by Rastuso
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Yet another great WaterPark Photo TR- I'm seeing a trend here, and the waterparks seem to finally be getting their due here...

 

I have to ask, though: The slides there- esp. the conveyors into the slides themselves- do they have somebody there 'holding' you from heading into the tube? I'd think having six people dropping in at once would be too much for the ride itself!

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I always wear sandals when I go to water parks, even up the slide towers, and I hold onto my sandals while going down water slides. My feet thank me at the end of the day. The Aquaventure pics are nice, their lift system to the slides looks really cool. I actually did go to a water park yesterday. We went to visit my sister who lives near Madera (2.5 hrs away) and afterward when went to The Island Water Park in Fresno. We did the after 3PM admission which was $16 each when bought online ($17 at the park). The park was open until 9PM so it gave us plenty of time to do everything. The Island Water Park has 11 adult water slides (and 2 kiddie ones) and they are all pretty fun and not too rough. I didn't take any pics and it isn't the prettiest park (it is Fresno) but the slides were fun with plenty to do in an afternoon and it was conveniently located off the CA 99 Fwy. I did 22 total slides (I tried all 11 adult ones) and the wave pool (but not the lazy river) and we stayed there until 8:30 PM before driving home to Atascadero (2 hrs away closer to the coast). It was 88F when we arrived (not too hot for Fresno) and about 72F when we left. I hadn't been to a water park in a couple of years and forgot how fun they are! I will be going to Raging Waters San Jose on July 25 (my next water park).

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Love this! Atlantis looks amazing. Sorry if I missed it, but how much did admission cost?

 

I never thought of wearing shoes to a waterpark until we went to Aquapark in Garda, Italy on the TPR Europe tour last year. OMG, we were all comparing foot damage at the end of that day. The biggest slide tower was metal, and it was blazing in the Italian sun all day long, not to mention the paths of the park felt like they were made out of sandpaper...

 

Anyways, back on topic. Looking forward to more pictures!

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Great Trip Report. I remember my visit back from 2009 as well, it's one of the best... corection... the best water park I've ever been to. I really like the creative uses of the rivers and the wave machines in them. Thanks for sharing.

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TR: Ski Dubai 7/14/11

 

With scorched feet, and some exhaustion from being out in 110 degree heat at Aquaventure, I hopped in a cab, and was dropped off at the Mall of the Emirates. I walk in, take a left, and see Ski Dubai. That’ll cool me off!!

 

I look for my colleagues, as I was going to ski with one of them, but could find neither. I walk around, taking pictures, and watching. You can’t see much of the slope from the mall, only the Snow Park. The windows with slope views are all inside restaurants. I call and call, and get nothing. I’m about to just go in, when I see one colleague, to find that the other one already started skiing, since I was late. So, we go in, I get a ticket, and a locker, that was a total of about $60. You can get $5 back if you return the card, but it’s a great souvienir. I haven’t skied in about 8 years, so I’m a bit nervous. I put on the fairly thin ski outfit, put my card in the shoulder pocket, and get my skis. I also put on my ski gloves that I brought. My coworker, who is from Minnesota, said he’d be fine, but after about 30 minutes he did complain of cold hands.

 

The locker area is not any cooler than the rest of the Mall, which stinks, because you work up quite a sweat, getting your gear on. I then go through the gates to the ski slopes, towards the escalator, however I’m told the time doesn’t start until you go through the gates at the lift for the first time. It’s pretty cool, there are sensors at arm height that sense your card, and open the gate for you. It also tells you how much time you have left.

 

Once you hit the escalators, you start feeling the cold. At the top, I get some poles, and head into the Desert Snow. It’s a nice, crisp 30 F during the day. It’s not too bright, which I like. I put on my skis, and wobbly make it to the gates, and get in line. I see my friend coming down the slopes. A six foot tall blond guy is pretty easy to spot, and we head up. He had done a few laps already. The lift is slooooooooooow. Really slow. But, that is in part because many people riding it are simply there to experience the cold, and watch the skiers. It never got old seeing a guy in full desert shiek regalia, and his wife covered in black, shivering, coming down the lift. THe watchers were givin snow boots and pretty big coats to wear.

 

Half way up, there is a small lodge with a restaurant in it that I never checked out, and the lift makes a 60 degree turn, and you continue up to the top. Of course, my first ability check will be if I can ski off the lift safely. I punch my gloves together, scoot up to the front of the chair, and hope for the best. Yay! I make it!

 

When you are at the top, looking down, its hard to believe you are in the desert, and the Heat Index outside is about 125! It’s nothing but a nice wide open ski slope, with a lodge at the bottom, and even a few fake trees. I slowly scoot to the edge, and see the steep slope dropping off, that really isn’t that steep at all. Am I getting too old for this shit? Only one way to find out, so I go over the crest, and start down. I dig my poles in pretty good behind me, to slow me down, and I shakily zig zag across, and make it to the flat area at the lodge. The second section has a bit of a steeper drop off, and is narrower, since there is an expert slope to the right of the lodge that is quite steep. I take this section a bit faster, as my confidence returns somewhat, and I successfully get to the bottom, and stop! Whew, I didn’t fall, and remember how much I LOVE skiing. We get back on the lift.

 

There is a second lift that hugs the left wall all of the way up, which is the shortest route to the top. IT is a T-bar of sorts, where you have a disc to lean on at the end of a bar that goes between your legs. My colleague says it’s a lot faster, but does take some skill, and that we should try it next, as he’s already done it a few times. A lap, using the lift, takes about 11 minutes, less than 1 of that being spent on the snow, if you go fast, which, of course is what I like to do. The second time down I was much more aggressive, and the cold wind in my face brought back some great memories of night skiing at Kissingbridge in Buffalo, and one awesome snowy night at Perfect North near Cincinnati. I’ve never been mountain skiing really, unless you count the fake slope they used to have at Gatlinburg, where I learned to ski.

 

I decided to give the t-bar a shot, quite nervously. Of course, I tried to sit down on it, got way too low, and crashed immediately. I got back up, grabbed another one, stayed standing up, and off I went. Things were fine until the corner, where you go up a pretty steep section. I crashed again, and had to bail to the slopes. Well, it’s slow lift for me.

 

I think I got 10 runs in the two hours. I only crashed twice, once when a kid on a snowboard cut me off, and again when I was cut off at the very bottom, and crashed in front of the line for the ice slide. I got quite a reaction. I’m sure they haven’t seen too many guys in a full beard, with a snow covered face, getting up from the snow. But, I didn’t care, I was having an absolute blast. I just wish I could have had my son there with me, learning to ski. They had a bunny slope with two conveyor lifts near the bottom for learners.

 

One trip up, I saw two Muslim women, totally covered, obviously looking at me and giggling. One even looked back at me after they passed. Sorta weird.

 

I got a little cold on the lift. Had I worn some sweatpants, instead of shorts underneath, I probably would have been OK.

 

All in all, a fantastic way to spend a few hours in the desert. An all day pass is only about $30 more I believe. It would be great if they had some times when the lift was running faster for some more hardcore skiing. Of course, you could learn to do the t-bar, which would give you about 3 runs to 2 on the lift.

 

And of course, this is the United Arab Emirates, so they had another gold dispensing machine. And I noticed, they also have the ultimate in pressed pennies. Not a penny, but instead a $300 gold bar with Ski Dubai stamped on it. Take THAT Disney!!! Collect em all!

 

I got back into my desert outfit, and looked at some clearance items that were still pretty expensive, and went back into the mall. My colleagues were going to an old Souk, and we were to meet at the Burj Khalifa for the fountain show. So, I went around the mall a while. They have a huge toy store, but still not a single Arab toy to be found. There is also a large arcade area called Magic Planet. It had bowling, tons of redemption type games, some pinball and arcade games, and a fair number of carnival rides. They also had a Robo Coaster. And, to my sons delight, they had some Gacha machines with Mario Bros Wii figures. Not exactly Japanese goshapon, but close enough.

 

The arcade was packed, as was the whole mall really. A lot more crowded than I recalled last October. I start looking for the Metro station, which ended up being a pretty long walk in the mall. I stop to get a Pepsi at Cold Stone Creamery, and am asked by the teller if the US is better with Obama in charge. I say I’m not a fan. I finally get to the Metro. It’s not clear if I need a two zone pass or not. I’m traveling in two zones, but only across one. The difference is a whopping quarter or so, so I buy a $1.60 ticket, and get on a packed train. It was a pretty long ride to the Burj Khalifa station. I get out right as my phone rings from my colleagues. We meet up, and start walking. Even though the station is officially for the Burj Khalifa, it is a LONG walk, and there isn’t an easy way to get there. You are essentially led to the parking garage entrance, and must then walk up to the mall, via the roads. You could stay on the sidewalk and walk around, but that would have been MUCH longer. A pretty poor setup. They REALLY need a short foot bridge to take you right to the mall entrance.

 

We got to the viewing area at about 8:07. I thought they did the show every 30 minutes, but perhaps it is on the :30. We wait around until 8:30, when the show promptly starts, and ends about 5 minutes later. I thought they had a long show, but they only do one song each half hour. It’s very impressive, for sure, but very short.

 

We go into the mall for a while, and end up buying a lot of dates in the Bateel store, which is apparently a pretty high end date company. I had a few samples that were quite good. We walked around a bit more, and decided to hail a cab, which meant we had to walk waaaaay back down to the parking garage’s furthest point to get in a cab. I’m sure our driver was not pleased with us, since our hotel was only a mile or so away. We got our bags, repacked some stuff, and our chauffeur arrived quite early. We actually got to the airport before we could even check into the flight.

 

Once through all the checkpoints, we camped out at the enormous Emirates Business Class lounge. This thing has 2 cafeteria areas, with tons of food, another smaller one, and one for kids, where they hide the free Hagen Das. We all fought falling asleep before we boarded our 2:45 am flight. I had to get my bags checked AGAIN at the gate, since I had duty free bags. I bought a lot of Arabic trinkets, and stuffed camels. As soon as the plane was off the ground, I reclined to sleep position and passed out. I actually slept for about 5 hours, missing dinner. I had a snack, and fell back asleep for an hour. Then I woke up, had a cappuccino, and still fell back asleep for an hour. By this time, a good chunk of the flight was thankfully over. By the time I watched Paul, had breakfast, and played a few games, we were on descent into IAH. Best overseas flight ever, thanks to sleeping through most of it.

 

I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to Dubai. I’m going to try and fly through Europe if I have to go back to Saudi.

 

-RO

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Is it a mirage, or is it really a ski slope in the desert?

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Yep, it's snow!

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Really quite a feat of engineering.

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THe lines to get your tickets.

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Lockers

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This way to the slopes.

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Hey it really is cold in here.

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The view from the bottom.

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Starting up the lift.

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The only Black Diamond indoor slope in the world.

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ALmost to the top. C'mon, can't this thing go any faster?

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2 hours ago, I was sweating my ass off on a lazy river.

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Don't forget your souvenir pressed gold ingot!

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Luis Vitton's had a doorman to keep folks like me out.

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Indoor amusement area. They REALLY need a coaster. How cool would it be if it ran out into the snow!

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Harry Potter and the super lame journey.

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Metro station.

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Incredible fountain show!!!!! THis is the best I got, sorry.

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Towers Rotana lobby. The last pic of the trip.

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YEah, it was reasonably steep. The short slop at the curve was very steep, but short.

 

NOt a gimmick, real skiing. If the damn lift was about 3 times the speed, you could really enjoy it. As it is, you spends LOTS of time on the lift.

 

-RO

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Ski Dubai looks fun. That black diamond though looks less steep than some of the blue runs I've done at Kirkwood, Squaw Valley, and Northstar-at-Tahoe.

You are comparing some of the top ski resorts in the USA to indoor skiing IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT!!!

 

I mean, you're right, I went down that slope before ever knowing it was supposed to be a Black Diamond, and it's pretty tame, but again... IT'S IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT!!!

 

--Robb

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Ski Dubai looks fun. That black diamond though looks less steep than some of the blue runs I've done at Kirkwood, Squaw Valley, and Northstar-at-Tahoe.

You are comparing some of the top ski resorts in the USA to indoor skiing IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT!!!

 

I mean, you're right, I went down that slope before ever knowing it was supposed to be a Black Diamond, and it's pretty tame, but again... IT'S IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT!!!

 

--Robb

 

I'm comparing it to the places I've been too this year I guess I could also compare it to China Peak or Dodge Ridge, but most people outside of California have never heard of those places. I still think Ski Dubai is a marvel of engineering and I would definitely go there if I was in Dubai. A place like this would be great in Phoenix or somewhere in Texas.

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  • 3 weeks later...

This is such an interesting thread. From what I've read, it seems like the tourism industry in Dubai is hurting, but yet, in all these pics and videos, everything looks crowded. What's going on?

 

Sorry to hear about your water-cam. To tell you the truth, your first waterslide POV vids inspired me to go out and get my own waterproof cam! I got the GE DV-1 and have been happy with it, but I took it too the indoor waterpark here in Hamburg and the lifeguards wouldn't let me bring it on the slides I did do some cool underwater shots, though. My only complaints would be that it is pretty bad quality in low light, and there is no image stabilizer so it can look REEEEALLY shaky.

 

Also, sorry if this is a stupid question, but the phrase "fluffy fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo" keeps popping up. I don't get it. Is that some kind of automatic filter or something?

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The places were definitely not crowded. There were people at Aquaventure, but way fewer than what it was designed for. I never had to wait much to get on the aquaveyor, but it had a very long line for tubers to wait in. Ski Dubai was fairly full, but the wait for the lift was only 2 or 3 chairs usually.

 

It was the equivalent of a Friday when I visited.

 

Ferrari World, on the other hand, was damn near vacant on their Saturday equivalent.

 

The malls definitely seemed to be busier than when I was there last October.

 

Yeah, I need a new camera. The one I have was only a little over $100, and it's served its purpose.

 

Look at my Galveston Schlitterbahn trip report for a speed slide POV. I don't hide it from ride ops, and I've never been told not to use it. Heck, even the Splashtown manager said it was OK.

 

And yes, just type in l-o-c-k-e-r-s and see what happens.

 

-RO

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ok, here goes:

 

fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo

 

 

 

The lifeguards at the park I was at said that I could drop the camera and it could break, leaving dangerous pieces in the water, (which is technically true, but it IS a rugged camera specifically designed for outdoor and underwater use!)

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