10-18-19 | Feature

Motiongate Dubai

Inspired by Hollywood
by Vinita V. Pugal, PLA, ASLA

In an effort to double its tourism numbers, Dubai Parks and Resorts set out to build a theme park inspired by the magic of motion pictures. Architectural firm, IMA Design of Newport Beach, Calif. was hired as the lead landscape architect. The 93.5-acre Motiongate Dubai attraction opened on December 16, 2016.
Part of Dubai Parks and Resorts, the iconic movie reel main entrance to Motiongate Dubai is the signature element of the Middle East's largest Hollywood-inspired theme park.
Guests enter the park to a working movie set of Studio Central and Studio Backlot that is themed like a New York City street. The paved street is edged with a curb on either side, carefully chosen site furniture and light poles to mimic a real-life public space. Forced perspectives and faux painting of the buildings showcase the illusion of filmmaking on the street.
A fountain at the Movie Plaza welcomes park guests and serves as a great photo opportunity. A monolith bench clad with mosaic tile circles the sculptural fountain.
The Gerradii and grey-leaved cordia trees, kangaroo paw, magenta rockrose, and African Boxwood in the rustic planting palette at the front of Hotel Transylvania are among 322 plant species at the park. The entrance of the attraction has sculpted rockwork. Cracked and stamped concrete is treated to look aged.
The entrance to the Hotel Transylvania attraction is a bridge across a moat that takes the guests through the dark and aged landscape. The hardscape is rough and patchy and similar to the building facade that is designed to look dilapidated and spooky.
The Smurfs Village is a fascinating land bursting with imaginative fantasy and child-like enchantment.aEUR?

In 2012, Dubai Parks and Resorts, under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, set out to double its annual visitor numbers from 10 million in 2012 to 20 million in 2020 and increase the economic contribution of the tourism sector. Development company, Meraas Holding of Dubai, contemplated a movie-themed park and looked to Los Angeles for direction. The design phase of Motiongate started in LA in early 2013. The 100% schematic package was submitted by entertainment consultants Mycotoo and RIVA Group.

IMA Design of Newport Beach, Calif. was hired as the landscape architect. The firm prepared the area development schematic design lockdown package and submitted it in 2014. The 93.5-acre Hollywood-themed park opened in the winter of 2016.

The Guest Experience
Motiongate Dubai is a cinematic journey of thrills, fantasy, and pure unbridled adventure into the fantastic world of film that invites guests into worlds of fantasy and adventure as told through a series of popular films. The entrance celebrates the Golden Age of Hollywood, as visitors enter underneath an iconic film reel and into a universe of entertainment and cinematic attractions. The iconic child fishing from a crescent moon marks entry into DreamWorks. Indoor adventures are based on animation franchises: Shrek, Madagascar, and How to Train Your Dragon. At Smurf Village, guests step into a "Smurftastic" playground filled with high-climbing rope play, crawl-throughs, mazes, interactive mushroom-shaped playhouses, and several engaging attractions.

Columbia Pictures Studios is an infusion of pulse-pounding thrills. The attraction is based on films including Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Ghostbusters, and Underworld. With thrill attractions and a high-energy live stage show, the Lionsgate Zone brings to life the action-fueled world of The Hunger Games and awe-inspiring dance favorites Step Up: All in and Step Up: Revolution.

The Landscape Design Strategy
To achieve lush, year-round vegetation, 80% or more of the plant material is composed of evergreen trees. Particular care was taken to source mature trees before construction began and have them housed in special nurseries. The main consideration for planting design is guest comfort of shade and shelter from the elements. The plant selection is non-toxic, non-invasive, and pest-resistant with ease in long-term maintenance. Concrete areas include specialty-seeded aggregate, metal strips, stamped or enhanced stain, and hardener finish. Themed curbs are used as planter edges to control the drainage and guide guests. The back-of-house paving is vehicular grade concrete with a natural gray broom finish. Light fixtures with hanging plant baskets and banners are used to recreate an urban environment; modern elegant light fixtures are used to demonstrate futuristic-themed lands. Ambient light is maintained for guest safety and security. The variation in strata, weathering, and geology, is enhanced with character paint over rockwork. Water bodies are used to create a scenic landscape. The fountain at the entrance is a welcome statement and a photo opportunity for arriving guests. Several smaller fountains are placed throughout the theme park.

Motiongate is an odyssey into the wide-reaching and astonishing stories of the silver screen. The experience transcends the possible, and grants audiences a new portal into some of the most beloved motion pictures of all time.

Team List
Landscape Architect - IMA Design, Newport Beach, Calif.
Principal-in-Charge - Robert Moffat
Landscape Designer - Shaun Johnson; Richard Mills; Yumi Sonoda
Landscape Design Team for Mycotoo and RIVA Group, Pasadena, Calif.
Master Planner - Terry Palmer
Area Development Manager - Bradley J. Biben, PLA, ASLA
Landscape Architect - Vinita V. Pugal, PLA, ASLA
Landscape Designer - Teresa Cuba
Design - Brock Larsen
Principal Themed Entertainment Consultant -
Mycotoo, Pasadena, Calif.; RIVA Group
Architect - Gensler, Los Angeles, Calif.
Park Operation Company - Parques Reunidos, Madrid, Spain
Development Company - Meraas Holding, Dubai
Project Management - Samsung C&T Corporation, Seoul, South Korea

As seen in LASN magazine, October 2019.

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