A back street hidden gem to discover in Dubai for your active and imaginative kids
OliOli – Hawaiian for Joy Joy – certainly lives up to its name, delivering a unique and memorable immersive experience that will capture your child’s imagination and have them begging to come back for more!
Forget your shopping mall soft play centre, this experiential children’s museum is truly a family gem. Perfect for those hot or dusty days in Dubai, the focus here is all on learning through play. It is like no other indoor venue in Dubai, beautifully blending scientific concepts with creativity and imagination.
This post is part of our blog series Discover the UAE and our tried and tested family attraction reviews
What to expect at OliOli Dubai
Divided over two sensational floors of discovery, a visit to OliOli will take you through eight different galleries with over 40 hands-on exhibits in your journey around the museum.
Most exhibits are permanent, though there will be temporary displays and programs throughout the year, such as “Museum of the Moon”, or as they held on the past school holidays Game ON! and a real-life Among Us challenge, a topical hit with the older kids!
(Note that we show here photos and experiences over several visits – hence some pics with and without facemasks!).
Exploration of the museum on a regular visit begins in the light and spacious Air Gallery where you can build rockets and hovercrafts, experience the pressure and force of a hurricane in the Hurrican Booth and watch colourful scarfs work their way around the wind tunnels.
Try as I might to save the best for last, let’s be honest, this is what they’ve come for! Dominating the ground floor, these are giant nylon nets – part playground, part trampoline – designed by Japanese textile and fabric artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam (you can find a few others around the world, including the infamous Castle of Nets installation at Hokane Open-air Museum in Japan).
The nets – or play sculpture as the artist puts it – are designed for not only physical play but to learn through risk-taking and exploration. It’s a truly beautiful children’s playground and certainly one of the Globetrotters most memorable experiences.
It’s a challenge to drag them away but after a good climb and run around, there’s still plenty more to see and do! (NB grippy socks required – if you didn’t bring any they can be purchases at the entry).
It’s time to start flexing their creative muscles. This flexible space is used for different activities and temporary shows throughout the year.
During our last visit, it was the hub of many Game On! Activities including Dance Revolution, Hi-Five and Aerial Skee-ball combining physical movement, hand-eye coordination with many tech tools.
Heading upstairs now and through the curtains to a darkened room, you’ll experience the creative environment of Future Park. There’s something beautiful and mesmerising about Future Park, from the tiniest tots to adults who will love the sensory experience in this room.
Giant Neon balls are the highlight for your little ones, whilst older kids will enjoy getting creative with colourful sea creatures or busy street scenes which can then be projected onto giant interactive screens.
Forts & Dens
Now tell me a child that doesn’t enjoy building forts and dens! A flexible and airy play space, the basics are provided for you with some wooden structures and blankets, but then it’s up to their imagination what your kids can create.
The little ones are well catered for in this gallery with smaller sized play equipment, climbing and slides.
Cars and Ramps
It’s time to get creative (and I’m not just talking about the kids I’ve seen plenty of mums and dads with attentive faces rolling up their sleeves here!)
Construct your own cars and test the laws of physics in this fun hands-on gallery. It’s all trial and error as you build your own racing car and test it on the tracks.
Your journey around the museum will return you to the ground floor – get set to get wet! Even with the provided raincoats, it can be a soggy experience in the water gallery, but they certainly save the best for last!
From engineering to physics, kids will be so absorbed exploring here I guarantee they won’t know they’re learning! 10 exhibits in one room, your kids can experience everything from water cannons to a car wash with fabulous finishing touches!
(NB remove their socks in the water gallery if they want to return back to Toshi’s Net before you go!!)
Looking for more Dubai family-friendly ideas? Pop over here to find 80+ indoor & outdoor Dubai kids activities
Health and Safety at OliOli in 2021
Even before additional COVID safety measures, there’s always been a high degree of attention given to cleanliness and sanitizing at OliOli.
Social distancing by way of reduced capacity has been introduced so only a maximum of 12 kids are permitted in per 30 minutes, well below Dubai statutory guidelines.
Face mask-wearing is expected for all children over 2 year’s old in line with current UAE Government recommendations.
Small bites and sit back at Le Petite Treehouse Cafe
There’s a beautiful on-site cafe where parents of older kids can sit back and relax while their kids are exploring or for a welcome treat at the end of your experience. Plenty of healthy options along with some naughty but nice little treats to finish your OliOli experience!
Globetrotters recommend OliOli Dubai
This is undoubtedly one of our favourite indoor places to explore in Dubai. Each time we have visited OliOli the old classics are there, but new and innovative activities and special events have been added to bringing hours of new fun.
I was worried on our last visit that Miss Z at 11 years old may have outgrown it, but far from it. With many exciting new challenges during the Game On! Spring break program she was just as excited, if not more than the boys to be involved.
Far more than an ordinary soft play, it has a welcoming environment that even as a parent I am happy to return to time and time again. It definitely gets one of our top billings for kids indoor entertainment in Dubai.
Learn more – planning your visit to OliOli
Slightly off the beaten path, for tourists at least, you’ll want Google Maps for locating OliOli in an otherwise quite industrial area of the city.
Location: 62 4 A St, Al Quoz 1, Dubai (next to Oasis Centre)
Small car park on site or paid street parking
Opening Times: 9am to 7pm Saturday to Thursday, open until 8pm Fridays.
Ramadan opening hours at OliOli may differ
The standard entry ticket to OliOl in 2021 is 126 AED for one child (2 to 16 years old, includes one adult).
Also look out for membership deals, especially over Ramadan you can pick up some great value passes ready for the summer. 3 month packages come in weekday only and any day packages.
Yes, toddlers don’t miss out on any of the action at OliOli. Although there are some activities they will be too small for, there are dedicated areas for smaller kids. Toddler tickets to OliOli are sold at 63 AED which includes one adult
OliOli can be very busy, especially on weekends. With COVID safety measures limiting numbers too, it is highly recommended that you book your OliOli tickets in advance.
Your standard entry to OliOli gives you 2 hours to explore. This is pretty spot on for the amount of time you need to give each exhibit justice.
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More Fun UAE Activities for Kids
The Globetrotters have been putting the UAE’s best indoor and outdoor activities to the test for the best part of a decade now! You may also want to check out:
- 100+ Fun Family Things to do in the UAE
- What to expect at Kidzania Dubai
- Warner Bros World opens in Abu Dhabi
- Ferrari World’s New Family Zone
- The World’s largest indoor skydiving chamber CLYMB Abu Dhabi
- Ultimate checklist of family winter activities in the UAE
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