The world’s best new tourist attractions, from a Star Wars hotel to a Game of Thrones museum
As Kiwi travelers return to the world stage, Alain Granville takes a look at the new attractions that have opened in the past two years.
Where: Bluewaters Island, Dubai
If there’s one place on Earth that certainly hasn’t stopped since the pandemic began, it’s Dubai. The emirate has been busy opening all sorts of new attractions, including Ain Dubai, the world‘s largest observation wheel.
* Ain Dubai: Twice as big as the London Eye. The new observation wheel breaks records
* Eleven new attractions that opened worldwide in 2021
* 17 things that prove Dubai is the most hyped place in the world
The wheel is a whopping 250 meters, eclipsing the previous record holder, the High Roller in Las Vegas, USA, of 82m. It is almost twice as tall as the London Eye, which measures “only” 135 m.
There are three options – the standard observation cabin, a more VIP social cabin with a bar and premium check-in, or a private cabin that comes with a three-course meal for two spins of the wheel. See aindubai.com.
Deep Diving in Dubai
Where: Nad Al Sheba, Dubai
Staying in the emirate, you can go from the heights of Ain Dubai to the depths of the deepest swimming pool in the world. Deep Dive Dubai’s pool is almost 60m deep and filled with almost 14 million liters of fresh water.
This giant underwater attraction features a “sunken” post-apocalyptic city complete with cars, arcade games and a pool table.
You don’t have to be an expert either, as it’s designed for both professional and beginner divers. See deepdivedubai.com.
Game of Thrones Studio Tour
Where: Banbridge, Northern Ireland
The game of thrones was a cultural juggernaut, so much so that Northern Ireland, a key location for much of the series, opened a multi-million dollar attraction in his honor.
Linen Mill Studios, located 40km south of Belfast, is home to many original sets, as well as props, costumes and interactive exhibits.
Marvel at the featured storyboards, outfits, and weapons. It’s a perfect frenzy before the game of thrones prequel, Dragon Housewhich will be released later this year.
Star Wars: Galactic Star Cruiser
Where: Florida, United States
From movies and TV shows to motion simulators, model sets and everything in between, Disney hasn’t been shy about tapping into everything Skywalker, and this year it’s opened up an immersive hotel experience in a galaxy far, far away. – Florida.
Called Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, the hotel is designed to look like a spaceship and comes with a cast of characters who are improv actors interacting with guests. See disneyworld.disney.go.com.
Underwater Art Museum
Where: Townsville, Australia
A little closer to home is the impressive Underwater Museum of Art off the coast of Queensland.
Australia’s only underwater museum was designed by renowned underwater sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. One of the exhibits, the “Coral Greenhouse” at John Brewer Reef, was recently named one of the best sculpture trails in the country.
City Climb on the edge
Where: New York, United States
Strapped into safety harnesses, visitors first climb 32 steps to The Cliff and look 362m down to the town below, then it’s up to The Stair, a 45 degree inclined climb and 161 steps from the skyscraper exterior. Finally, they reach The Apex at 387m, where climbers can lean over the platform and grab that much-deserved Instagram snap.
In addition to the climb, The Edge has the tallest outdoor observation deck in New York and the Western Hemisphere, as well as a bar, restaurant, and glass floor that overlooks 100 stories below. See edgenyc.com.
Where: Kopavogur, Iceland
Near the capital of Reykjavík is one of Iceland’s newest attractions. The Sky Lagoon opened in 2021, with an impressive geothermal pool set at a constant temperature of 38°C to 40°C and a 70m long infinity edge offering uninterrupted views of the North Atlantic Ocean .
It also houses the largest sauna in the country. Along with the window to the wild Atlantic Ocean, the property also has a lagoon bar, spa treatments, dining options, and an all-important gift shop. See skylagoon.com.
Where: Coas 501 Farm, Namibia
Set in over 50,000 hectares of nature and wildlife, this accommodation and wellness retreat offers breathtaking views of the rugged landscape of this southern African country.
Each of the rooms offers comfortable luxury and they are specially designed to have minimal impact on the surrounding environment. See ourhabitas.com/namibia.