Viacom International Media Networks has announced a partnership with IMG Worlds to develop its first Nickelodeon park in the Middle East which will be within the new IMG Worlds of Legends theme park in Dubai.
A large area accommodating up to 12 Nickelodeon-branded rides and attractions, inspired by properties including SpongeBob SquarePants and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, is planned to start construction in 2017, and expected to open in 2019.
IMG Worlds operates Dubai’s IMG Worlds of Adventure theme park, which is touted as the world’s largest indoor family entertainment venue. The IMG Worlds of Legends theme park will be adjacent and more than twice the size.
“We are working with IMG to develop a Nickelodeon park within their larger Worlds of Legends theme park which is the phase two of their Worlds of Adventure theme park that opened earlier this year,” Gerald Raines, SVP, Global Recreation Business Development, Nickelodeon, said in an interview.
“The Nickelodeon area will be part of a park with other non-Nick properties, including Cartoon Network and Marvel,” he added. Though details of its size are being kept under wraps, it is expected to be one of the largest Nickelodeon parks in the world.
The new Dubai park is the latest addition to Nickelodeon-branded attractions around the globe, including the recently-opened Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic; Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon in Malaysia; Nickelodeon Land at Parque de Atracciones de Madrid in Spain; and Nickelodeon Land at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the U.K. Nickelodeon theme parks in the U.S. include Nickelodeon Universe in Minneapolis’ Mall of America in the U.S. and Nickelodeon attractions at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla., and Hollywood.
“Our U.S. base is strong but we are seeing the most growth in this sector internationally, where there are emerging markets that are craving Western IPs,” Raines noted.
For Viacom, the Dubai theme park is clearly a significant step in Nickelodeon’s growth strategy in the Middle East, where in 2015 it launched three tailor-made branded channels, two of which, Nickelodeon HD and Nick Jr. in English and Arabic, are on Dubai-based OSN, the region’s leading pay-TV player. Earlier this year Viacom launched Comedy Central with a dedicated Spike block on OSN, and opened a flagship Nickelodeon Store in the Dubai mall.
“Our Arab channels are working very well and our Nickelodeon Play apps are going especially strong in a region where 44% of kids consume their content digitally,” said Raffaele Annecchino, President and MD of Viacom International Media Networks Southern & Western Europe, Middle East and Africa. “We want Nickelodeon to be the top kids’ brand in the Arab world,” he added.
IMG Worlds of Legends in Dubai will have nine “zones” spread over more than eight acres, including dedicated Mattel and Ubisoft areas, besides Nickelodeon. It is planned to open by the end of 2019.
“IMG Worlds continues to attract truly international brands to Dubai,” said Leonardo Otto, CEO of IMG Worlds, in a statement. “We are now one of the principal players in the theme-park industry.”