Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Best Project  

Owner Miral Asset Management    
Design Firm Thinkwell   
Contractor AECOM

A team made up of 85 different nationalities finished construction in 2018 on Warner Bros.’ first indoor theme park, called World Abu Dhabi. Located on Yas Island in the United Arab Emirates, the air-conditioned park—the size of 15 football fields—brings residents and tourists out of the heat to enjoy 29 rides and attractions based on popular characters such as Superman, Batman and the Flintstones.

The park is divided into six “lands,” each featuring its own specially designed artificial sky, ranging from bright cartoon clouds to sunset to night. Creative development and attraction integration involved more than 2,300 pieces of production-ready art. With workers speaking many different languages, the team found visual ways to communicate and were not above using quick napkin sketches to convey creative intent to vendors.

Craig Hanna, chief creative officer for Thinkwell Group and executive creative director for Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, says, “Working on such a complex project with so many partners, vendors and disciplines required an incredible amount of coordination and patience. Not only were the guest-facing environments other worlds on their own, the automation, life safety and the fact that the entire theme park is indoors created many, many more levels of complexity that had to be met with clear heads and innovative solutions by all involved.”

Paul Largan, AECOM project director, established a no-blame safety culture, encouraging the reporting of near misses and using weekly safety walks and pictorial safety advisory notes. An integrated project delivery approach emphasized collaboration and a spirit of transparency.

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