Taking on 2 new Dubai attractions in one: Dubai Garden Glow and Dinosaur Park
Note this post was written during the 2016-17 season of Dubai Garden Glow. The 2019-2020 season commenced in October 2019 and will run through until early May 2020. Some features have slightly changed and there are now 4 themed “parks” on the site, we have updated timing and pricing to the best of our ability.
Now in its second season, Dubai Garden Glow has returned bigger and better than ever in Winter 2016-17 to thrill adults and kids alike. Set in Zabeel Park, Dubai (that’s the one near the World Trade Centre roundabout) it appears to have earned its stripes as a must-see family attraction in the seasonal calendar with the added feature of a Dinosaur Park.
The Globetrotters took some friends along in December to see what all the fuss was about. Did it live up to sparkling expectations of our little crowd of 5 under 7?
What to expect at the Dinosaur Park
Real-sized and real-sounding dinosaurs that actually move! From our little group of explorers, this collection of 30 or so dinosaurs hit exactly the right tone. Real enough to be a little ferocious, but behind a fence, so there’s no way they could get to them, right? A lot of Jurassic Park-style touches gave it a really fun undertone.
The park is not huge, nor does it need to be. Only opening at 4pm, its the perfect way to get little legs running around and the build up to the light show starting. The Dinosaur Park is included within the Dubai Garden Glow ticket, you can’t just visit one of the other. Perhaps after dark the dinosaurs might be a little more terrifying, so this one may be better for daytime visitors with young kids!
The opportunity to pet the dinosaurs and have them bite your hand was a real hit. There were enough interesting little facts along the way (not that our young crowd wanted to sit still and listen), and of course plenty of perfect Kodak moments!! There is also a small children’s play area in here with mechanical fairground style rides and activities at (extra charge). I felt they were a little tacky and not needed but no doubt some families love them, they seem to be everywhere out in the UAE!
There is a small children’s playground in the centre of the dinosaur park – though very busy. As you head towards the Glow Garden there’s another play area with mechanical fairground style rides and activities (at extra charge). I felt they were a little tacky and not needed, but no doubt some families love them, they seem to be everywhere out in the UAE! (These have disappeared in 2018-19, replaced by some sort of driving game).
What to expect at Dubai Garden Glow
From about 5pm the sun begins to set over the towering skyscrapers of Dubai and the park slowly starts to light up. Darkness in December descends by 6pm so it doesn’t take long for the main attractions of garden glow to come alive. I don’t think any of our littles were expecting it to be so bright and colourful so there was a lot of marvelling in awe at the displays.
There’s quite the variety between garden scenes, lots of flowers, butterflies, tulips and windmills; obligatory love-heart lit tunnels and busy bugs at work. And what’s a Dubai display of course without a scale model of the Burj Khalifa and some other world landmarks?
The beautiful Cinderella’s carriage was an absolute show-stopper for our little ladies but it was probably the underwater setting and jellyfish display all set to music that demonstrated what a truly magical place it was to spend a mild winter’s evening.
Ok, some critics might say its just a bunch of neon lights. Well yeah, it is. But with some artistry and creativity, it was a truly magical experience for small children.
Admission & Opening times for Dubai Garden Glow
The entry price is 65dhs (2019-20) for adults and kids above 3 years old (about $17USD). You pay an extra 45AED to add the new Ice Park to your ticket. Below 3 years is free (if you are exactly 3 years old it seems you make your own interpretation of this!)
Tickets can be purchased in advance, though at the time we entered (on a Wednesday afternoon) the queues were fairly short. If possible, visit on a weekday as weekends are reported to be very busy.
Dubai Garden Glow is located at Zabeel Park Gate 6 and opens at 4pm daily, November through April. The nearest car parks start filling well before this time and after about 6pm you’ll be lucky to get a spot without waiting for early comers to leave. I recommend you’ll want about 3 hours in total to cover both parks with little legs.
The 2019-20 season is in full swing, due to finish at the end of May 2020. If you are visiting in the later months, it will be quite warm still even in the evening but visiting December/January time as we did, I recommend taking something warm in case it gets chilly.
I’ll admit, many new things that open in the UAE I go in with low expectations! Each new opening promises, a bigger, better, more gargantuan (more expensive) experience. But I was really pleasantly surprised by Dubai Garden Glow and the Dinosaur Park.
The children were most definitely that perfect age to be utterly enchanted by the lights and let their imaginations run wild. The time we visited was not overcrowded and I felt we could move about at an enjoyable pace. There were enough displays to feel we got value for money. The ability to take in your own picnic dinner means you can save on all the little extras that kids ask for the second they leave the house.
We would definitely come again next season to see what enchanting displays await, and definitely doing this around Christmas time gives an extra special something to the experience.
Would I come just with adult friends or visitors though? Maybe not. Seeing it through the children’s eyes is what made it truly special.
Top Tips for visiting Dubai Garden Glow & Dinosaur Park
- Take a fully charged camera!
- If you really want the best from your night shots, take a proper tripod or use a gimbal.
- Food is available on site but bringing a picnic will cut down requests for extras once you’re in the gate! (Don’t worry you’ll still get requests for buying toys, miniature train rides and dozens of others of little extras; it is after all set up as a tourist attraction)
- Expect a long walk back to the car, little legs may well want the stroller for this one. We had no problems manoeuvring the stroller everywhere around the park.
- Toilets are available (though it seems never when you need them!) We weren’t readily able to locate a change table but maybe they were hidden in ones we didn’t visit.
- Pack a cardigan ‘just in case’, winter evenings in Dubai can be nippy and mosquitoes can be about too.
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Disclosures: This is not a sponsored review, we paid for entry ourselves and all views are our own.
© Our Globetrotters