Ideas to keep your cool – and your sanity – in the Abu Dhabi summer months (and stormy days!)
To a certain point in the year, you can still take advantage of outdoor escapes at many of Abu Dhabi’s beautiful beaches like the Corniche, Saadiyat Beach, Yas Beach and Al Bateen Family Beach (we talk about all our favourite Abu Dhabi outdoor spaces here).
And there are many ways to keep your cool by getting wet at the likes of Yas Waterworld, Murjan Splash Park and various little splash park spots around the city.
But then there is the UAE summer….
Those blistering hot days from June to September where the mere idea of setting foot outside your house breaks you into a cold sweat. OK, so summer might not be the best time to live in or visit Abu Dhabi…. BUT….. this doesn’t mean it’s not still an incredibly family-friendly place to visit.
As it’s low season, you can be spoilt for choice at really decent prices on luxury hotels and indoor play spaces. And no, not all boring soft plays!!!!
This post is part of our series Discover the UAE – packed with ideas to explore Abu Dhabi and beyond.
You can also join the conversation over on our group “UAE with the kids” on Facebook
Top 5 active indoor escapes for kids in Abu Dhabi
1. Bounce ME Free-jumping revolution, Marina Mall
This immensely popular indoor attraction allows kids to not only practice their trampolining skills but participate in dodgeball games, throw themselves on the giant pillow, down giant slides and for the brave, test their zip lining skills or the quick drop.
They have recently also added an X-Park obstacle course to their offering to extend this bright and colourful venue to well beyond just a trampoline centre.
You pay by the hour with groups changing over on the hour. Children should ideally be aged 3 and up and must be toilet trained, but by our experience will get more out of it from 5 years+ and when they reach over 110cm.
After all the running around and energy burn, they’re guaranteed a good nights sleep after this one, I promise!
They are also the birthday party hosts extraordinaire! I challenge that there’s hardly a parent in Abu Dhabi who I haven’t bumped into here! Parties provide an hour of play with your party host, followed by snacks and cakes in their dedicated party zone, what more could a kid ask for?
(I’d only suggest avoiding the peak of weekends when parties take over much of the venue and free jumpers are restricted on which areas they can actually use).
Bounce Abu Dhabi Opening Hours, Cost & Location
- Level 1, Marina Mall Abu Dhabi Sat to Wed: 10am to 10pm Thu to Fri: 10am to 12am
- General Access (>110cm) AED85; Mini Bounce and Junior Jumpers (<110cm) AED75 per session (Incl VAT).
- Premium Access including X-Park(>125cm) AED105.
- Multipass tickets available and discounted subsequent hours – or get the 2-hour Superpass AED120.
See full details & terms and conditions on their website
2. Adventure Zone by Adventure HQ, Dalma Mall
This is the spot for your little adrenaline seekers to test themselves and try out new skills in a safe and fully supervised indoor environment. Originally set up as a retail store for all your outdoor needs, they added the Adventure Zone as something to set them apart – that they have and now families flock to their stores for all the extra activities (while you guessed it, the waiting parents browse in the stores!).
In Abu Dhabi, there are two branches in Yas Mall and Dalma Mall (YAS MALL closed in Summer 2020). They each have their own unique setup of adventure activities for kids, so it really is worth checking them both out.
- At Dalma Mall, there are four adventure zones to choose from – skate park, pump track, trampolines and cable climb.
At Yas Mall, there is a high ropes course, low ropes course, climbing pinnacle, boulder wall, caving, and zip line.
Each venue also has “The Lodge” catering for kids parties. After some initial tears, I was so surprised by how well the Globetrotters have taken to the activities on offer. The rock climbing and abseiling have been huge confidence builders for the kids, and they work up a real sweat, even in the indoor air conditioning!
Adventure Zone Abu Dhabi Opening Hours, Costs and Location
- You pay AED70 for 30 minutes, 110AED for a 60-minute session or AED140 for 90 minutes.
- Sibling discounts apply and multi passes are available.
- Dalma Mall location – Level 2 (near to cinema end) Sat to Wed: 10am to 10pm Thu to Fri: 10am to midnight
Yas Mall Location – Level 2 (right in the centre, next to the Apple store) Sat to Wed: 10am to 10pm Thu to Fri: 10am to midnight
3. Little World Fun Discovery Center, Nation Towers
Have you ever heard the term Edutainment? In Abu Dhabi language it’s a new way of saying we offer far more interactive experiences for kids than just dump and run soft play! And Little World, based in the Nation Galleria Mall at Nation Towers on the Corniche is definitely no ordinary soft play.
It really does live up to its name as a discovery centre; there are no boring, same-old concepts here. If your kids want to get physical, creative and mentally challenged (or if you’ve got kids that like a mixture of these things), you’ve found your place.
With more than a dozen zones, it’s easy to move from one activity to the next. The Enchanted Tree House dominates the centre of the room and gives kids a great active start, as does the backyard. It’s brilliant to see what catches their eye next as they jump from one activity station to the next.
The theatre seems very popular, as is the water exploration and creation station. A huge added bonus of Little World is their focus on the slightly older kids.
Much attention we have found in Abu Dhabi play centres seems to go to the younger crowd or to physical activities, but this is truly one where your not-so-littles can engage the brain too. (Our kids have attended several field trip days here and absolutely love it – though pricey).
Little ones under 4 are still welcome but a carer must remain with the child. Children 4 to 10 years old can be left in a safe, supervised environment (This is a great one if you are staying on the Corniche or at the St Regis).
The coffee shop upstairs also gets top billing from parents!
Adventure Zone Abu Dhabi Opening Hours, Costs and Location
Level 1, Nation Galleria, Abu Dhabi Corniche Sun to Wed: 10am to 10pm Thu to Sat: 10am to midnight Membership rates are available as well as day entry.
4. Orange Wheels, Al Wadha Mall
Some might consider Orange Wheels in the soft play category, but we really think it has the edge over many of the others. Bright, colourful and clean come to mind and a real variety of activities so you can please children of multiple age groups.
Your older, more physical kids can enjoy the climbing wall, while there’s plenty of space for the more creative in their art section. There is, of course, a huge soft play area set over multiple levels with spiral slides, an obstacle course, and trampoline.
Smaller bubs will like the dedicated under 5’s play area and O-Town Roleplay, one of the better ones I’ve seen. Ideally, Orange Wheels caters up to 10 years (all children must be supervised, they no longer offer a drop and shop option).
Older kids might like the sister centre Orange Hub (formerly Orange Spin) – with bowling, laser tag and a huge variety of simulators and teen/tween themed games. They are also home to classes for ballet, karate, music and language courses (term time) and another popular spot for birthday parties.
Adventure Zone Abu Dhabi Opening Hours and Location
- Ground Floor Al Wadha Mall extension. (A slightly tricky one to find! You need to first come to level 1 in the extension to get down to level G, or enter from the ground floor car park extension)
- Sun to Wed: 10 am to 9 pm Thu to Sat: 10 am to 10 pm
- New Raha Mall branch also open
Inquire directly with Orange Wheels for further pricing & entry information
5. My Works at Fun Works, Yas Mall
One of the more extensive that I would classify in the “soft play category” as it’s part of Fun City.
What sets this one apart though is the extensive My Works, as well as your normal soft play. My Works consists of 10 hands-on areas including bake works, car works, energy works, build works, art works and recycle works.
I think this one works best when you can get a little group of friends together. Fun Works itself at Yas Mall is a massive complex. There is the giant multi-level Wizz Works soft play section, as well as Mini Works for the under 3’s.
My only criticism of the soft play here (though this can be true of many) is that the Mini Works and Wizz Works are on completely different levels, this makes it hard if you’ve got tots and bigger kids to keep everyone happy and be in two places at once.
It does have the advantage of feeling much more spacious and less claustrophobic than some of the others. Being attached to Yas Mall is also rather handy too. I find it far more light and spacious than many of the other Malls, and there are loads of free activities and giant toy shops in the Mall that can help pass those long summer days.
Fun Works Abu Dhabi Opening Hours, Costs and Location
- Level 1, Yas Mall (Cinema Entrance – next to food court)
- Daily 10 am to midnight Enjoy “Funday Monday” – every Monday all rides and blue swiper games are just AED 1.
**New for 2019 **
A brand newbie to throw into the mix is Xtreme Zone in Abu Dhabi Mall. Part trampoline park, part soft play, part Active Climb and part Phaser Zone (a futuristic laser tag/paintless paintball game!). There’s a lot going on here, keeping all the family moving at its heart.
Xtreme Zone Abu Dhabi Opening Hours, Costs and Location
- Level 3 Abu Dhabi Mall (same end as Fun City & Toy Store – come up central lifts)
Following the same model as it’s overseas counterparts, a mini city built just for kids has sprung up in Yas Mall. Kids take control in the city with the help of Zupervisors (not parents) choosing between learning “jobs” which earn them Kidzoos and spending that hard-earned cash on fun activities. Some activities you can only do once you’ve earned the qualification! Ideal for your primary school-aged children, 4’s and under will struggle a bit unless very independent.
Kidzania Opening Hours, Costs and Location
- We’ll have more to come soon as this one is brand new! Parking Ferrari World side (down the wing where you find the Du & Etisalat stores.)
Best of the Rest, Theme Parks & Kids Summer Camp ideas
Finding just 5 indoor ideas in Abu Dhabi was extremely tough; Gone are the days where a mass summer exodus of families is expected and everything in Abu Dhabi simply shuts down. There are plenty of places still open and fighting for some family attention across the city. Here’s a sample of what else you can expect indoors:
Abu Dhabi Theme Parks
This category of indoor entertainment is about to get a lot more exciting in 2018 with the introduction of the new Warner Bros World on Yas Island. Open since 25 July 2018 this might be just the reprieve from the heat that Abu Dhabi families are looking for and packed full of your favourite characters, rides and experiences.
The other obvious Abu Dhabi indoor choice is Ferrari World. The world’s first entirely indoor theme park attached to Yas Mall, this is the perfect place for your older thrill-seeker kids. Younger ones may still enjoy it but there are height restrictions that might see them missing out on a fair bit of the action.
Do note, the new Family Zone opened in March 2020 greatly increasing the number of rides available for those under 1.3m.
Dubai Parks & Resorts – Although technically over the border in Dubai, the Dubai Parks & Resorts complex is still within an hours drive for most in Abu Dhabi. I’d include Motiongate as a day trip idea. The Dreamworks attractions are entirely inside in the air conditioning including Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and Dragons.
Mid-summer you can expect queue-free non-stop riding as a plus, however, the downside really is getting there. From the car park, it’s quite an epic transfer by transit tram to get to the parks themselves then a walk to the entrances, not shaded
A few of you have asked about our experience at Legoland Dubai in the summer too. In my personal opinion, not enough of Legoland is indoors to make this a comfortable all-round experience. Whilst the individual attractions may be inside, the walk between rides is mostly outdoors. Legoland Dubai Water Park next door can still be bearable out of the peak heat of the day – but as mentioned above its the epic transfer from car to park that would put me off.
Summer Camps in Abu Dhabi
The good news and saviour for many working parents in Abu Dhabi is Summer Camps. You will find almost all nurseries will remain open for at least part of the summer to cater to the 0-4 age audience at least 5-6 hours a day (and these are open to all kids, even if you don’t normally attend term time).
But what about older kids? I have asked some fellow Abu Dhabi mums for guidance on this one and what a great list of suggestions we got back. As well as those venues detailed above in our top 5, there are recommended summer camps at:
- Zayed Sports City– varied sports program – Airport Road
- Mathnasium– Educational Program – Khalifa City
- The Club – (members & friends) – Mina Port
- My First Gym – Fitness focus from babies to 13 years – Delma Street, City
- Hallabolou – Education & STEAM programs varied by week – Marina Village
Please check back in June or join the discussion on our local Facebook group – With the Kids AD.
Soft Plays and Edutainment centres in Abu Dhabi
Whether you love it or loathe it, there comes a point where you will probably need to give in to soft play areas if you’re here all summer. These will usually involve some sort of climbing frame, role play area, baby ball pit and at the larger ones, video games and more extreme fairground type rides.
Some of the ones more aligned to the edutainment category and a bit more bang for your buck with extra activities and a pleasant setting are:
- Happynest at Gardens Plaza
- Cheeky Monkeys at Al Forsan (above Spinneys)
- Kidz Factoryat Dalma Mall
- Pop in and Play World Trade Centre & Yas Mall
And if you’re looking to mix it up and find something -anything new! – you can try one of the larger chain soft plays and indoor entertainment centres;
- Fun City – Dalma Mall, Abu Dhabi Mall and Marina Mall
- Wanasa Land – Al Wadha Mall, Madinat Zayed Mall and Bawabat Al Sharq Mall
- Kiddos – Deerfields Town Square and Dalma Mall
- Funville – Al Seef Village Mall
- Sparkys – Al Raha Mall, Khalidyiah Mall (includes ice rink), Mazyad Mall
- FabyLand – Deerfields Town Square
- Action Zone – Capital Mall MBZ and Boutik Mall Reem Island (1AED Mondays and a new trampoline park Jump Up has now opened, replacing the bowling alley)
- Zeal Entertainment – Dalma Mall, mixed entertainment indoor bowling and focus on VR and gaming for your tweens & teens
Most of these work on either a play by the hour basis, or for rides and other attractions a pre-paid card is needed (which invariable never has enough credit left on it when you need it and is non-transferable to other branches, or you bring the wrong card and have to pay again).
Other ways to beat the heat in the UAE
A couple of years ago I put together this guide for desert dwelling parents to help keep your sanity when it’s scorching outside – including how to structure your day, where to find other parents and activities that are on around town, particularly for younger children.
Drop in playgroups and other kids classes that run over summer
- Volunteer group Abu Dhabi Mums, run for from the first floor of the clubhouse at The Dome, Al Rawdat still have daily morning playgroup “mix & match” on the schedule (20AED drop-in rate).
- Zayed Sports City offers the likes of ten-pin bowling and Ice Skating
- Various swim academies are running summer intensive weeks, and our favourite kids’ music classes Music Monkeys will continue with summer programs targeted at the 0-4 age group.
Have we missed any of your favourites? How do you look to fill your summer days in Abu Dhabi?
First time with your baby in the heat? Read our guide to dealing with summer heat & babies
More UAE ideas?
We’ve got a bunch of them! Check out our dedicated section of the blog Discover the UAE. Here we cover;
- Important Facts to know before visiting the UAE
- Best places to stay in Abu Dhabi
- Guide to best Abu Dhabi brunches for families
- Abu Dhabi’s best parks and outdoor spaces
- 40+ FREE and really cheap things to do in Abu Dhabi
- Best Eid escape destinations
And so much more!
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Disclaimer: We have been provided with complimentary or discounted access to several of the venues mentioned in this article over the course of the past six years, but we are also regular paying customers at all of the top 5 venues mentioned. We have not been paid by any of the places mentioned to provide an opinion. All reviews, as always are our own. Some ticketing recommendations are affiliate links. This post was originally published in June 2017. We have done our best to update as at August 2019 – some venues have since closed due to COVID-19. Please check pricing and opening times with the individual venues before visiting.
If there are any factual inaccuracies email email@example.com
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