In a city simply brimming with superlatives, it’s hard to find the right way to describe Dubai Mall to tiny children – it is simply an amazing indoor adventure wonderland!
Yes, it is concrete and man-made (more on heading out to the desert and the other side of Dubai here), but for most visitors, they will at some point plan to stop by and spend some time exploring in and around the Dubai Mall and the surrounding Downtown Dubai area.
Far more than just a shopping centre, this mega 5.9 million square foot retail complex has over 1,200 outlets and 200 dining spots, making it the biggest indoor venue in Dubai (excluding Dubai Airport, which is a staggering 18 million sq ft!!).
So how do you keep kids entertained at Dubai Mall? Very easily! We’re sharing here all our favourite family-friendly attractions both in and around the mall + where to dine, and parts not to miss with kids.
We have a complete guide on how to plan your visit to the top attractions in Dubai Mall here.
- Top 10 Children’s Activities in Dubai Mall
- Other Family Entertainment in Dubai Mall
- Family Entertainment Close to Dubai Mall
- Dining Time! Family-Friendly Dining In Dubai Mall
- Special Treats For Kids in Dubai Mall
- Is it worth getting the Dubai Pass visiting Dubai Mall
- Things Families Should Know Before Visiting the Dubai Mall With Kids
Top 10 Children’s Activities in Dubai Mall
Here’s our pick of the top 10 activities families will love to experience in Dubai Mall.
1. Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
The Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo sits bang-smack in the middle of Dubai Mall and is truly unmissable. Whether you plan to actually go inside or not, it will be an utterly mesmerising experience for the kids.
Famous for having the largest acrylic viewing panel on a suspended aquarium in the world, the giant screen measures in at 8.3m high by 32.88m wide and is 75cm thick. From the Ground Floor through to Level 2 it can be easily viewed for free, giving a superb preview of what’s inside.
Inside the aquarium, you can expect to experience hundreds of sharks and stingrays among the 140+ species on display. Within the zoo, there is plenty of add-on experiences to be enjoyed, from the glass-bottomed boat to caged shark walks, King Croc encounters, shark dives, ray encounter experiences, and feeding presentations.
Recommend for all age groups, but some hands-on activities have lower age limits, under 3’s go free.
Cost: Basic entry (3-years-old to adult) starts from 120 AED
In a similar model to KidZania branches that you’ll find all over the world, this is an incredible 7,000 m2 real-to-life city built just for kids! The KidZania Dubai edutainment centre at the Cinema end of the mall, Level 2, incorporates over 60 real-life activities for kids to enjoy, from role-playing to critical thinking, on to crafts and sports. Kids work to earn their own KidZoos (money!) that can then be spent on leisure activities within the city.
(Recommended for children 4 to 12 years old – they need to be independent of a parent/carer to join in).
Cost: Starts from 179 AED for an Economy ticket or Premium 239 AED. Accompanying parents are 69 AED and toddlers (2 to 3-years-old) 89 AED; Under 3 Free.
3. Play DXB (formerly VR Park)
A dedicated virtual reality theme park – the largest of its type in the world – sees players enjoy dozens of virtual reality experiences from motion rides such as the popular Dubai Drone, in which a simulated roller coaster experience flies you past Dubai’s landmarks, through to popular video game classics.
Height restrictions and age recommendations apply per ride, there are some activities for little ones, but we’d recommend at least 8-years-old + to properly enjoy.
(NB this park used to be called SEGA Republic when the Mall first opened, then renamed to VR Park, and most recently to Play DXB; you may still find older Dubai guides referring to SEGA or VR Park – it’s all the same place in the mall!)
Cost: Entry just to walk around the park is free. You can enjoy the Soft Park Soft Play for 120 AED or buy Pay & Play Credits with bonuses from 200 AED.
4. Dubai Ice Skating Ring
Can you believe there is a full-sized Olympic ice skating rink sitting at the very centre of Dubai Mall? A superb way to cool down in the desert, the ice rink is open to all ages and abilities, and you can learn to skate through to advanced skaters showing off their moves to the crowd.
All your ice skating gear is there to rent, and instructors are on hand, so even complete novices can give it a go!
Recommend over age 2 and no pregnant women.
Cost: Children Under 100cm 40 AED or public session 75 AED
5. EKart Zabeel
In a new extension to Dubai Mall – Dubai Mall Zabeel, head to the 9th-floor rooftop for go-karting! There are standard track sessions available through to race events that can be organized in groups up to 8
Drivers must be at least 14 years of age and 140cm).
Cost: Standard tickets start from 95 AED, race events 200 AED
6. Emirates A380 simulator
Fancy yourself piloting an Emirates A380 aircraft? A cutting-edge simulator can be found on the 2nd floor of the Dubai Mall where you can enjoy a 15, 30, or 60-minute instructed lesson on how to land this megalithic aeroplane at 12 of the world’s busiest airports. Recommended from 10 years+ (9 to 12-year-olds must be accompanied)
Cost: Varies by time peak/off-peak and if you have an Emirates Skywards card. Starting from 15 minutes off-peak 160AED. A full hour in peak time 650 AED.
7. Admire the human waterfall
A totally free activity to enjoy with kids is to stand and admire the human waterfall in Dubai Mall. An utterly breathtaking indoor water sculpture, two large cylindrical walls 30 metres in diameter and 24-metres high span three floors of the Dubai Mall. It looks as though men are diving out of the water – utterly instagrammable!
(Also makes a good meeting point if kids get lost, everyone can point you to the giant fountain!)
8. Trampo Extreme
Time for the kids to burn some energy? A new branch of Trampo Extreme indoor trampoline park has opened within the Dubai Mall (2nd-floor Cinema end) with eight different play attractions, from jumping to ball pools and challenging mazes. Bouncers should be 3 years+, three to 6 years old need a guardian with them.
Cost: From 90AED/hour for non-residents or a full day pass 261 AED
9. The Burj Khalifa
The world’s tallest building is conveniently attached to the world’s largest shopping mall. If you want to go all the way to “At The Top” Observation deck on level 124/125, we’d strongly suggest you pre-book your trip to Dubai Mall around this time slot.
Buying on the day costs exceptionally more, and tickets can sell out.
Do be warned, if you’re visiting at peak times such as over winter school holidays, even with a timed slot ticket, you should expect queuing through the Lower Ground Floor level of the Mall before you even get to the lift. (Bring your arsenal of kiddy queuing entertainment and anticipate you could be there for 1 hour+; strollers need to be checked).
Once you get to the top, you are obviously spoiled with spectacular city views as far as the eye can see over the thriving inner city and outward to the Arabian Gulf and the desert. It’s undoubtedly a kiddy winner, but do consider the cost when working out your Dubai budget.
Open to all ages, under 3’s are free.
Cost: Standard adult tickets start from 129 AED, and children (4 to 12 years) from 87 AED. Prices increase at peak times and if you add extra observation decks or experiences.
We have a really detailed guide on how to visit the Burj Khalifa here – as well as other ticketing options and special treats you might want to consider visiting the world’s tallest tower or the benefits of seeing the Burj Khalifa at Night.
** Save with a Dubai Aquarium and Burj Khalifa combined ticket. This is one of the most popular combo tickets in town, and visiting both, plus stopping for a meal in the mall will take up the best part of a day on a Dubai stopover.
10. Dubai Fountain Show & Burj Khalifa Light Show
Watching the Dubai Fountains dancing show and seeing the Burj Khalifa light up at night is one of the best free activities with kids in Dubai. No matter how many times we’ve seen this spectacular light and sound show, our kids are still mesmerised.
A big warning though, if you are visiting with kids, especially on weekends (Thursday to Saturday evenings), it can be exceptionally busy, to the point we wouldn’t recommend trying to get out to see it with small kids in strollers.
If you are smart and plan ahead though, you can beat the crowds. Don’t try and watch the show from the main mall entrance opposite Souk al Bahar (under the Apple store). This is the most congested and scarily crowded area with kids. You should aim to head outside about ten past and twenty to the hour, this gives you a good 20 minutes to find a comfortable position.
Another way to enjoy the fountains is to take an abra (traditional boat) ride on to Burj Lake and experience them up close or take a further walk around the lake to the 272m long Dubai Fountain Boardwalk (a small charge of 20AED) which lets you stand as close as you can among the fountains!
Alternatively – and this is our preferred option with children – time it with your dinner so you have seating and little mouths fed whilst enjoying several rounds of the fountain show. You can see our full guide to the best Dubai Fountain restaurants here.
There are also daytime shows which are much less crowded – though admittedly not AS spectacular as seeing the fountains at night – keep an eye out at 1:00 PM and 1:30 PM Saturday to Thursday and 1:30 PM and 2:00 PM Fridays.
Other Family Entertainment in Dubai Mall
Depending on your child’s age group, you may also want to check out:
- Dubai Dino – OK, it may not be AS impressive if you’ve been to the likes of the London Natural History Museum, but still, this is one heck of a large dino sitting smack in the middle of the world’s largest mall! The 244-metre 155 Million -year-old skeleton is a fun, free attraction kids love.
- Hysteria – definitely only for your teens+; this haunted house experience is seriously scary stuff
- Catch the latest flicks at Reel Cinemas Megaplex – One of the world’s largest cinema complexes (naturally in the world’s largest mall!). There is every type of movie experience you can imagine here, from dine-in cinema to 4D, Screen X and the luxurious Platinum Suites.
Family Entertainment Close to Dubai Mall
The Downtown area of Dubai is all wonderfully pedestrianized, so on a pleasant day (i.e. not at the peak of summer!) you can easily walk to nearby attractions in Downtown Dubai. Some to look out for with kids include:
- Souk Al Bahar – sitting adjacent to Dubai Mall, across a small bridge, is a traditional souk building. Mostly restaurants, but also a few crafty shops (at tourist prices) can be found here. It is fun to experience the traditional architecture and souk feel. If you don’t have time to get to Old Dubai on a city stop, this will give you a brief introduction.
- Burj Park by Emaar – not well advertised but a top spot to seek out in Dubai for a little patch of green amongst the highrises and a great photo spot looking back to Burj Khalifa. There are several bridges to the little island the park sits on. No play equipment but a spot little ones can run about. There are adult-sized bikes for hire but no helmets.
- Downtown Slide – another little-known and not well-advertised hidden gem, found in Zabeel Plaza, head out the back side of Souk Al Bahar and beyond Palace Downtown, you’ll find this 19m long tube slide – busy in the evenings but during the day (if not too hot) you can get it to yourselves!
- Dubai Fountain Water Experiences – brand new in 2020, an extension to Burj Lake, sees several fun boating activities added, including swan boats, water bikes and transparent kayaks. There’s even a section just for tots, Birds Cove, with motorised and pedal-driven duck and swan boats. Learn more about the Dubai Fountain Water Experiences (open 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM)
- Dubai Opera – one of the city’s premier entertainment venues is the stunning new opera house. A huge variety of shows are on throughout the year – from comedy to classics concerts, even ice skating. Many are aimed at kids, particularly around Christmas and school holidays, so see if you can find a show that lines up with your Dubai visit dates.
Dining Time! Family-Friendly Dining In Dubai Mall
One thing Dubai Mall isn’t short on is family dining options. Undoubtedly this is the easiest place to get a feed with fussy kids in the city as there is just so much choice.
Many will understandably head straight to the giant food court on Level 2, which offers a huge range of international cuisines at very reasonable prices. There is a further food court on the lower ground floor to consider, too, which is an excellent option if you are combining your trip to Dubai Mall with visiting the Burj Khalifa.
As well as the restaurant guide above with fountain views, some favourite family sit-down restaurants within Dubai Mall include:
- Tribes found on Level 2 inside the Mall, you not only get a great fountain show but tastes from all over Africa.
- Social House is a great choice if you need to cater to a range of tastes in your group; it’s very centrally placed within the mall, so easy to find.
- The Cheesecake Factory of international fame, you know what you’re getting and great menu choice to suit everyone.
- Black Tap is a burger and shakes favourite located on the Lower Ground Floor.
- Hurricane’s Grill for an Australian-style steakhouse with South African and Portuguese influence, including a separate kids menu – find them in Fashion Avenue with Burj Lake views.
Special Treats For Kids in Dubai Mall
Sweet Treats in Dubai Mall
Oh wow, where do you start?! If you’re not quite ready to fork out the cash on the kids trying Patchi chocolates, our next best recommendation would be to sniff out Candylicious or Candy Hearts. You may also want to time in a special stop at:
Cereal Killer Cafe – Choose from 120 different bowls of cereal plus milk and toppings! Have some fun with breakfast any time of the day; we’ll bet grown-ups have just as much fun here picking out some nostalgic favourites! (Ground Floor, near the waterfall)
Booba – Taiwanese Bubble Teas have hit Dubai! lots of fun. Lots of fun milk teas, shakes, and juices to choose from (second floor)
Ice Cream Lab – as you’d expect, superb ice cream creations are found on the second floor, Cinema end.
Toy shops galore in Dubai Mall!
Of the non-sweet variety, there is an absolute goldmine of kids’ toy shops in Dubai Mall to explore. The largest is the giant Hamleys on level 2 and The Toy Store (now closed – we await to see if it will be replaced) on the Lower Ground Floor – and the ever-favourite Lego Shop (near VR Park & Kidzania)
Others not to miss on your circuit around the mall include Mothercare, Early Learning Centre and Virgin Megastore for your gadget-loving geeks! Those into gaming will want to catch Geekay Games.
And bookworms rejoice! You could seriously get lost for hours in Kinokuniya Bookstore.
Kids’ fashion in Dubai Mall
If your kids are little fashionistas, this is arguably one of the best shopping spots you’ll find in the world, with a huge selection of children-only luxury boutiques from Diesel Kids to Fendi Kids or Gucci.
There are plenty of budget-friendly options, too, though remembering where you are, it will not be the cheapest clothing shop you’ll do in Dubai but certainly amongst the best selection.
Dubai Pass for Families
Let’s be honest; costs in Dubai can seriously add up for a family if you attempt to do everything on offer.
One way to keep costs under control is to look into a Dubai Pass by iVenture. There are several different categories on offer to suit the type of trip you are planning.
Depending on which Dubai Pass you invest in, you can get the following Dubai Mall attractions included:
- Play DXB (Pool 1)
- At The Top Burj Khalifa (Pool 2)
- Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo (Pool 2)
- Reel Dine-in Cinema (Pool 2)
- Dubai Fountain Boardwalk (Pool 3)
- Dubai Fountain Lake Ride (Pool 3)
- Dubai Ice Rink (Pool 3)
- Hysteria Haunted Attraction (Pool 3)
- Kidzania (Pool 3)
A Dubai Select Pass lets you choose one attraction from each “pool”, whilst a Dubai Unlimited allows you to visit them all -amazing value if you want to squeeze a lot into 3 or 5 days!!
Conveniently, one of the pickup points for the Dubai Pass is the City Sightseeing counter within Dubai Mall, so it can be a great starting point for families in your Dubai adventure.
Things Families Should Know Before Visiting the Dubai Mall With Kids
Remember, like all things Dubai, things are much quieter in the mornings than in the evenings. You will find this very true, especially on weekends; it gets much busier after Ṣalāt al-Jumuʿah prayers on a Friday.
The evenings on weekends at Dubai Mall on weekends can be crazy busy. We do not recommend this as the best time to visit with kids. Have a plan of attack of what they should do if you become lost or separated. Dubai is very safe, but those few moments you can become separated from a child are terrifying.
You will definitely want the option of a stroller or pushchair (there are points where these can be hired if you did not bring one with you from Guest Services). We have easily clocked up days of 10,000+ steps in half a day just walking around Dubai Mall.
There are family-friendly facilities on hand throughout Dubai Mall, including feeding rooms for mums and family-sized change rooms if you’re visiting Dubai with a baby or toddler. – though they’re normally attached to the female bathrooms still.
If you are coming from the Metro, yes, it’s connected by a covered, air-conditioned walkway and travellator the whole way, but it still takes a good 15 minutes to get to the mall – Fashion Avenue end. It’s about a further 10-minute walk to get to the Cinema End of the Mall where you’ll find most of the kid-friendly attractions.
Make no mistake, it’s a huge building, and even on a full-day excursion, you will not cover it all. Pick and choose which activities you’d like to do in advance to save queuing and give yourself a bit of leeway for the amount of walking and queuing that may be required.
Post contributed by Keri Hedrick, a long time UAE resident and family travel blogger at Our Globetrotters. With three kids raised in the UAE, she is also Editor at inspirational online magazine Family Travel in the Middle East
Remember, Dubai Mall is spectacular but just one of the many family-friendly attractions of the city. You’ll find our complete guide to the best of Dubai with Kids here.
Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai
- Pop into our essential planning information page, it includes everything you need to know about getting around Dubai, a handy guide on what to pack, and top tips for first-timers on the do’s and don’ts, laws, and customs to be aware of.
- Check out this incredible list of 150+ places you should visit when you’re in Dubai.
- Pick up a Dubai Pass from iVenture or a Go City Dubai Pass to save up to 50% on top Dubai attractions.
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!!!
- Discover the best areas to stay in Dubai, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here:
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