Time for another update in my occasional "perks of my job" series, once again from a part of the world I'd be unlikely to visit otherwise. I'm currently in the UAE and, as I always try to do when sent to new places with work, aiming to get to a couple of parks whilst out here. Though we're based in Abu Dhabi, the first such excursion was to a park in Dubai - Motiongate, chosen primarily on account of it being the nearest of Dubia's more substantial parks to our base. Motiongate is a relatively new park - it opened at the end of 2016 as part of the "Dubai parks and resorts" complex which is also home to Legoland Dubai and Bollywood Park. Motiongate, like most of the other parks in the UAE is entirely based around IPs, in this case various film studios. Most of the areas of the park take their names directly from these studios - Columbia Pictures, Dreamworks and Lionsgate housing the majority of the rides. The exceptions are the generic entrance street/hub ("Studio Central") and "Smurf's Village". To the left of the entrance, Lionsgate is probably the smallest area of the park, home to only two rides, both based on the Hunger Games franchise. "Panem Aerial Tour" was closed, so I'm not entirely sure what it is. The other ride in the area is "Capitol Bullet Train", a Mack launch coaster, similar to Operation Enterprise at Movie Park Germany (but a fair bit smaller). I've still not done the MPG ride, but this one is excellent - upon exiting the station the ride moves onto a transfer track which leads into a forwards/backwards/forwards launch (featuring a vertical spike of track) to move into the layout proper, which is everything you'd expect from a Mack launch. What's there is great however the coaster is very short and could have done with a few hundred extra feet of track. There are some excellent touches though - on the break run there are adverts for various products available in Panem's capital, the billboards are complete with slightly horrifying disclaimers about the dangers of these products and include the companys' web addresses which end with the country code ".pn" The right-hand side of the park is home to both the Smurfs and Columbia areas. The former houses the park's junior coaster, a gerst family coaster similar in scale to a Vekoma Jr but generally much better - Gerst really do excel at this sort of thing. I think there were a couple of other kids rides in this area along with play areas etc. but we didn't spend much time there. It's fine for what it is. Columbia Pictures is a fairly large area, home to about half a dozen major attractions. Green Hornet is a Gerst bob. Whilst the entrance, queue and station are moderately well themed, the same cannot unfortunately be said for the ride area itself which is a Six Flags-esque flat plot of concrete. The ride itself is decent as Gerst bob's always are, a step up from a standard wild mouse but not a big step. Moving round anticlockwise comes a pair of ETF trackless dark rides themed to Ghostbusters and Hotel Transylvania respectively. The former is a fairly standard screen based shooter, sadly the interactive element isn't the best, the targetting dot seemed to bear little relation to where my blaster was pointing. Once on the ride the fact that it's an IP is almost forgotten. Hotel Transylvania is another miss, the ride mainly consists of a series of rooms off a long hallway that the cars nip in and out of. Not much of note really happens in any of these rooms, with one character in each who says a line, then we leave. There's very little in the way of moving effects or even screens for most of the ride, with just a lot of static sets to look at (there were a few clearly broken effects though). Next up is the S&S combo tower, which sits towards the middle of my rankings for such rides. Not a complete dud, but not one of the best ones either. The ride uses the Zombieland IP for the queue and pre-show though this basically ends at the ride. The pre show features supposedly live footage from the queue interspersed with actually live footage from the pre-show room itself. This live footage gave the biggest scare when I discovered that two extra people had snuck in behind us without me realising. The best views of the park would be on the two sides nearest the entrance, we moved round to the shaded side and got a view of mostly desert. From the top it became immediately apparent that the rapids would not be operating (and clearly haven't run for some time) - the water level in the main lake was very low and an unpleasant shade of green. The final area of the park is the most impressive - the DreamWorks land occupies the back of the park and is entirely indoors. It's subdivided into 4 smaller lands each based on a different film/series, each one containing a couple of rides. The Kung Fu Panda area contained a tea cups and the 3rd major ride which spited us (some form of 3D simulator ride). We fared better in the other areas - Shrek contains a rocking tug and the parks 3rd ETF trackless dark ride. Thankfully this one is far better than the other two. It's basically a retelling of the first film, Shrek and Fiona are giving a puppet show telling how they met. The puppet idea gives the park a bit of a free-hit in terms of being able to use much more basic animatronics (all characters in the ride are on "strings"). That's not to say it's not a big-budget ride though, and the ride does a far better job of cramming an entire film into a short ride than most of Disney's fantasyland dark rides manage. There's a Madagascar area which features a very colourful carousel (rcdb has some good pics) and a Gerst Infinity Coaster. The coaster is probably best described as family-thrill, it's got a fairly strong launch and very snappy opening section, though it does rather run out steam towards the end. The action mostly takes place in the dark with some light-up set pieces to add interest. It probably needed either a boost part way round or a bit more height to keep the pace up, it's a solid ride though, like most of Gerst's mid thrill coasters it feels perfectly engineered and the trains never feel like they're being asked to do more than they're suited to. The final sub-area within DreamWorks is dedicated to the "How to Train Your Dragon" films. This area is home to a pirate ship and to Dragon Gliders - the first and (to date) only Mack suspended powered coaster built since Arthur. The ride experience is fairly similar to the EP version, with a similar balance between coaster and dark ride, though this one is far more screen based with relatively few physical effects and doesn't include any outdoor sections (though given the climate that's probably a good thing). It's an IP I have a lot more knowledge of than Arthur, so in that sense it's an easier sell for me and on balance I'd say I prefer it to Arthur. There are a couple of things I feel Arthur does better - the section over the main Arthur hall in particular, but on the whole it's a great family ride/coaster. The park was extremely quiet the whole time we were there, though it did seem to be gradually picking up throughout the day. They're embracing halloween with a "fright nights" event, though we had to leave before that got underway due to our work rota. None of the rides had more than a 5 minute wait, apart from Kung Fu Panda which we'd waited about 15min for at the point it broke down. I'm not sure how busy it gets in peak season, all the rides have been provided with huge queue lines, all thankfully indoors and fully air conditioned. It would probably be possible to fill a day there if you actually had to queue and everything was open, but as it was we were basically done within a few hours (which was good, as we had to return to base for our evening shift). From what I've seen so far I'm yet to be convinced that running parks in the UAE is really a viable business, however it seems that Motiongate could be expanding soon - I spotted two different types of coaster support from Capitol Bullet Train, though from the distance I couldn't clearly identify what they were. Would I recommend the park? Only if you're in the area and have some free time, it's not yet a destination park by any means, especially if the downtime we experienced is typical. It's possible to get 1-day park hopper tickets for the various parks in the complex, so if Bollywood Park or (another) Legoland interest you then that could be a good way of making a full day of it when quiet. I've still got a few more days out here so might have time for some more parks/rides. Maybe more updates to come..?