9 of the best experiences for a family friendly layover in Abu Dhabi

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Abu Dhabi's fascinating cultural identity and its treasure trove of family-friendly, fun things to do are proving a powerful lure. More and more Aussie families are turning airport layovers into holiday stopovers in this mesmerising Middle-Eastern hub. After all, how do you tell the kids you'd rather hang in the airport for a few hours than take buggy rides in sand dunes, fly on the world's fastest rollercoaster and visit the thrilling water parks, theme parks and adventure parks?

Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi

Warner Bros World, Abu Dhabi

The latest addition to the Yas Island family of thrills, this brand-new, fully indoor theme park boasts 29 rides and interactive attractions and entertainment. It may be finished with slick, state-of-the-art, 21st Century technology but the nod to the golden age of Warner Bros and Hollywood is unmistakable. You'll meet Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman; Bugs Bunny, the Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote and Marvin the Martian; as well as Scooby-Doo, Tom and Jerry, The Jetsons and The Flintstones. You can waste time explaining these childhood heroes to your kids or just let the nostalgia wash over you while they tackle the rides and watch the shows. Yabba dabba dooo!

Fun Works

fun works, abu dhabi

Also located on Yas Island (in Yas Mall), this is industrial-grade fun for toddlers to pre-teens and features adventure rides, video games, a soft play area, learning workshops, toddler playgrounds and kid-friendly dining. Fun Works is home to Loop Works, where kids pilot their own spinning and rotating planes and Yolo Works, where a mini-rollercoaster throws your cart off the tracks, plus Vroom Works, Wham Works, Woohoo Works, Wizz Works, Mini Works, Art Works, Show Works, Bake Works, Build Works, Car Works and Bouncy Works. It's as fun as it sounds. And it works, so you don't have to.

Louvre Abu Dhabi – Children's Museum

When the world's most famous museum opened its first 'branch office' in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District in 2017, it was very big news. And within this architectural phenomenon are two floors dedicated to developing and nurturing curiosity, creativity and a love of art. Aimed at six to 12 year olds, the Children's Museum hosts numerous interactive learning activities designed to open young eyes to the artistic value of shapes, colours, contours, beauty and technique. This is NOT a museum where you have to say "Don't Touch!" or "Shhhh!"

Ferrari World – Abu Dhabi

Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi
This cavernous indoor theme-park features 37 rides and attractions, including Formula Rossa, the world's fastest roller coaster, which accelerates from zero to 240 km/h in 4.9 seconds! Challenge the kids to a go-kart race, set a lap record on the F1 simulator and pick up your prancing horse merchandise at the uber-cool Ferrari gift shop. And if you don't feel the need for speed, there are plenty of sedate activities for smaller children and scaredy cat parents.

Yas WaterWorld

Yas Waterworld, Abu Dhabi.
Cool off from your flight with more than 40 rides and slides, from low to extreme thrill levels. New in 2018 is the underwater cinema Cinesplash, an immersive (sorry) experience that features special effects such as flooding up to your knees, waterfalls, moving seats and water explosions. Yas Island is close enough to the airport to be reached during an extended stopover, so why not splash out?

Falcon Hospital

Raptor, Falcon Hospital, Desert Falconary.

Frequently awarded for its rehabilitation work and as a tourist attraction, tours take in the falcon museum, examination room and free-flight aviary. Extend the arm of friendship and a raptor will perch on it for a cool selfie. Close enough to the airport for a quick visit.

Wadi Adventure Park

Wadi Adventures

It's as if they designed this park with Aussies in mind. Think white water rafting, kayaking, wake boarding and surfing perfect, consistent left- and right-hand waves; plus an aerial obstacle course with a zip line, a climbing wall and a giant swing. Grommets-in-training will love the shallow pools, splash areas and the low ropes obstacle course. Drop in and shoot the curl, man.

Emirates Palace Children's Club

The region's most fabulous hotel caters for five to 12 year olds with arts and crafts, sports, PlayStation and Nintendo Wii, puzzles and face painting. Stressed out toddler? No worries – book into the Kid's Beauty Salon & Spa for a hair or nail appointment, massage, facial, scrub or foot treatment. Babysitting services are available for parents who want to try Emirates Palace's famous spiced coffee and gold-flecked chocolates.

Arabian Nights Village

Arabian Nights Village.
If you are spending a few days in Abu Dhabi, get the full Emirati cultural experience and book a stay at this unique, luxe village in the sand dunes. In addition to the beautifully-appointed suites and bathrooms, you'll enjoy traditional Bedouin hospitality, spicy aromas at the authentic Al Maqam Restaurant and an oasis swimming pool set against the backdrop of a stark, timeless desert. And you'll take home the get-away-from-it-all story of a lifetime.

To start your own Extraordinary Story in Abu Dhabi, head to visitabudhabi.ae