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Cabin Fever: A type of hysteria brought on by spending too much time indoors. (Source: Urban Dictionary.)
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I walked outside my villa yesterday at 6:30am as I do every weekday to walk Wee Scotch to his school bus pickup. Within minutes, I was already dripping with sweat from the mugginess.
From April/May to about October in Dubai, when going to the park or beach becomes too unbearable for us adults (the kids couldn’t care less about the heat and 100% humidity), time to move the physical activities inside. It’s easy to just plop the kids in front of the TV but then cabin fever eventually sets in and the ensuing hysteria is usually not pretty for all involved and usually ends in shouting (me) and crying (kids) then extreme guilt (me).
So each weekend, Scotch and I (mostly Scotch) try to find a different indoor activity to take the kids – somewhere that lets them expend their seemingly unlimited amounts of energy. Somewhere that’s not a softplay area like MiniMonsters or Cheeky Monkeys (which are great but more of a mid-week thing for us) but where they can practice and learn a new skill. At some of these activities, LiL Ginger (not 2 years old yet) only gets to watch but she’s keen to do anything she sees her big brother doing. Including skateboard.
Here are seven indoor activities that are ideal for kids during the hot summer weather:
1) Indoor Rock Climbing
When the kids drive you up the wall…then drive them up a wall – a rock climbing wall. Ha ha. Ha. Okay, I know I’m not funny but I couldn’t resist.
The first time we took Wee Scotch indoor rock climbing at Adventure HQ in Times Square Center, he barely made the minimum weight requirement which is 18 kilos I think. They use an automatic belay system so the child needs to be heavy enough to counter the weight of the pulley on top or whatever the technical terms are. So at 17.5 kgs (38.5 lbs), he couldn’t quite keep his two feet on the ground without being lifted up by the rope system but the staff were great at helping him:
The 9 meter climbing pinnacle is the most realistic surface that resembles real rock faces. The features edges and pockets are molded off limestone cliffs in Bulgaria. There are 10 auto belays suitable from beginner to experience climbers with 30 possible combinations to master.
“Auto belays” – well look at that, my made up technical term was spot on. Yay.
A better place to take young ones for climbing is the Fun Wall and Low-Ropes Course at the Adventure HQ in Galleria Mall which has lots of different climbing stations with kid-oriented backdrops like fire truck, cogs, dinosaur skeleton, a quiz wall, and so on.
If you are in Abu Dhabi, Adventure HQ has even more options like a skate park, pump track (I don’t even know what that is!), and trampoline park. We are looking forward to checking that all out in September when the kids and I are back from the summer holidays.
PRACTICAL INFO: Adventure Zone by Adventure HQ: website and pricing (there are The Entertainer two-for-one vouchers). Time Square location (Telephone: +971 4 346 6824); Galleria Mall location (Telephone: +971 4 343 5110).
Best to call ahead to check if they have party bookings (gets crowded) and as weekends are quite busy there can be a waiting list to get on the wall. Grab a coffee and snack at the nearby cafes while you wait.
Wear sports shoes for better grip. Older kids with bigger feet may be able to use the provided climbing shoes but Wee Scotch’s feet were too small.
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2) Indoor Skate Park
We recently took the kids to The Zoo Skatepark in Al Quoz which is billed as “Dubai’s largest indoor skatepark”. We’re used to large Al Quoz warehouse space like Bounce (see below) so I kind of expected this huge space but upon entering via a giant step to the main door and through a narrow hallway, it’s maybe 1500 square feet. It was my first skate park so I have no idea if that is your average size park or not.
Wee Scotch had a great time! Armed in protective gear (which made him sweat bullets as the AC didn’t seem to be working that day) he skateboarded on the two half-pipes and ramps with great excitement.
There were no other skaters in the park so we let LiL Ginger run around as she pleased (as long as she didn’t get in the way of her brother) and although her Crocs weren’t grippy enough to climb up the ramps (neither were my Havaianas!) but she did enjoy going down the ramps at toddler breakneck speeds displaying that awkward running cuteness that only babies and toddlers can.
PRACTICAL INFO: Located in Al Quoz on Al Manara Rd and 8th Street (if taking Sheikh Zayed Road, take the Al Manara exit towards Al Quoz. At the T-junction traffic lights, you will see the skatepark on your right hand side); Telephone: +971 04 338 6126. Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Opening Hours: Sun – Thu: 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm; Fri – Sat: 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Always check their website or call to verify opening times and if they are closed for private functions.
We paid 35dhs for an hour of boarding. Skateboards can be rented. There are vending machines for cold water, juice and snacks.
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3) Trampoline Parks
The first time someone told me that new trampoline places had opened up in Dubai, I really didn’t care much for the intel. I mean, a trampoline place? What’s so fun about a trampoline place? Trampolines never appealed to me.
But Bounce (Al Quoz) and Jump Boxx (Mirdiff) are more like a Trampoline Park. Each have over 100+ interconnected trampolines and trampoline sports (like basketball, dodge ball) and trampoline activities (fitness workouts, ladies nights, disco nights toddler programs and much more).
To keep participants safe, each trampoline is only allowed one jumper. It may look effortless but it sure gets your heart rate going and massive sweating soon follows. Good indoor sweating! Less than 30 minutes into jumping/bouncing, both Scotch and Wee Scotch were running up to me at the cafe sweating and looking for an ice cold beverage.
Here is a video of Scotch, Wee Scotch, and LiL Ginger on the trampoline:
Included in the admission price (if booked online for Jump Boxx) are jumping socks that have a rubber grip at the bottom to help avoid slippage. Both trampoline parks have cafes for non-jumpers but the one at Bounce is upstairs with no elevators so beware if you have a baby stroller like we did.
Book your jumping sessions online to avoid being turned away onsite as both places are quite popular now.
Prices: 80 dhs/hour and 70 dhs each additional hour; 70 dhs/hour for age 3 to 110cm and 50 dhs each additional hour; rubber grip socks included in admission price.
Jump Boxx is located in Uptown Mirdiff for ages Ages 3+. Click here for map and click here for current operating hours and prices; Telephone: +971 04 288 5744. Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.
Prices: 69 dhs/hour and 59 dhs each additional hour; 39 dhs for age 3-4; 19 dhs for non-jumper (value of which can be redeemed at the cafe); 11 dhs for mandatory rubber grip socks (free if booked online).
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4) Indoor Skiing
Last October Wee Scotch began taking lessons at Ski Dubai in Mall of the Emirates. We enrolled him in two five-week beginner camp sessions held every weekend on Fridays. Now Scotch can take him up on the ski lift for more advanced fun.
Best of all, while the little ones are at ski school, you can hang out at Cheesecake Factory just next door – we always requested one of the tables that overlooked the ski school slope so we could watch Wee Scotch while enjoying super-sized and calorie dense American food.
PRACTICAL INFO: Ski school begins at age 3 and snowboard school begins at age 8. A discovery session is 150dhs. We paid 770dhs for 5 lessons of one hour each held every Friday. Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.
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5) Indoor Ice Skating
When I was 9 or 10 years old, my parents used to take me ice skating nearly every weekend at an indoor rink up high in a New York skyrise. I was no Kristy Yamaguchi but I did have my own pair of ice skates.
I was excited to take Wee Scotch for his first ice skating experience at the Dubai Mall.
For younger kids under 100 cm, they are given a handy penguin pal (additional 30dhs/hour) that they take onto the ring and hold on to for balance. It really helped my son hold his confidence on the ice. After a few rounds with his penguin pal, he tried skating on his own, landing on his bum a few times.
Kids under 12 are also required to wear a helmet. Unfortunately, those rental ice skates are terribly uncomfortably.
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6) Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
There’s more to the Dubai Mall aquarium than just the main tank visible to all mall visitors. Upstairs there is an indoor aquarium with fish, amphibians, reptiles and when we were there, the special exhibit was “King Croc“, a 750kg and 5 meter long crocodile brought over from Queensland, Australia.
There’s lots to do inside depending on how much money you want to spend (there are also vouchers in The Entertainer Family). You can do a scuba dive, shark dive, cage dive, glass-bottom boat ride, back of house tour, fish feeding, and much more.
PRACTICAL INFO: Aquarium and Underwater Zoo are located in the Dubai Mall. Ticket counters are just at the end of the main tank on the ground floor. You can book online to avoid the queue. Click here for operating hours and click here for prices. Website | Facebook | Twitter.
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7) Dubai Butterfly Garden
Do you know the difference between a moth and a butterfly? I think there were more moths than butterflies in the Dubai Butterfly Garden but Dubai Moth Garden doesn’t sound as attractive does it?
We visited the Dubai Miracle Garden over a year ago – I can only describe it as a highly landscaped and sculptured botanical garden with some interesting features. Worth a stroll if you have nothing better to do but closed from June until the cooler months. We brought along Wee Scotch’s scooter, a rugby ball and picnic items but none of these were allowed inside the park except water and baby food for LiL Ginger. So not much to do there except gawk at flowers.
The Dubai Butterfly Garden is open year round and as it is mostly indoors, we purposely saved the visit for the hotter months. After the ticket booth there is an outdoor bit that was off-limits while we were there. Indoors is the ice cream and snack stall and souvenirs. Then a room with lots of framed butterflies including a mosaic of Sheikh Mohammed assembled from butterflies.
There are three large domes where butterflies wander freely. You can even hold some of them. And buy leis to put on your head to attract butterflies.
The children loved it. You do have to be careful not to step on butterflies that like to rest on the main walkways. My main gripe is that there are no signs to help you identify all the different butterfly and moth species. There did not seem to be any signage – nothing – aimed at educating visitors on butterflies and moth. Yet in the the middle dome, there are signs and descriptions of the caged birds.
This website has a nice chart comparing butterflies and moths. Generally, butterflies rest with their wings closed and moths rest with their wings open. Also, a butterfly’s antennae are club-shaped with a long shaft and a bulb at the end. A moth’s antennae are feathery or saw-edged. Moth caterpillars spin a cocoon made of silk before their metamorphosis. Butterfly caterpillars form a chrysalis (an exposed pupa). There are exceptions to these generalizations of course.
Here is a video of Wee Scotch with two butterflies/moths crawling up his arms!
Anyway, Wee Scotch enjoyed using our iPhones to take videos and photos of the different butterflies for identifying at home. These pics were all taken by him:
PRACTICAL INFO: The Dubai Butterfly Garden is located adjacent to the Miracle Garden. It has its own separate car park and ticket booth from the Miracle Garden. Entrance fee 50 dhs per person including children 3+; Operating hours: 9am to 6pm daily. Click here for up-to-date timings and pricing and click here for location map.
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The kids and I have one more week left in hot and humid Dubai and then we are off for our annual summer holidays to the States and Scotland. If you are staying in Dubai over the summer, I hope some of these activities will keep you busy.
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