ABU DHABI’S Yas Island has added yet another world class attraction to its burgeoning portfolio of tourist attractions with the opening of Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi last month. The mega waterpark experience joins the Yas Marina Circuit, Ferrari World, Yas Links Golf Club, two live music venues – the du Arena and the du Forum – and a raft of top quality branded hotels to make a comprehensive family leisure and vacation destination that will appeal to all ages and nationalities.
When Yas Waterworld was first conceived, the developers were directed to build “the best waterpark in the world”, a tall order given that there are close to 2,000 waterparks around the world (over 1,000 in North America alone). But the developer, Aldar Properties and operator, Farah Leisure Parks Management have brought the vision to life. Even before those gates were opened, Yas Waterworld had walked away with the World Waterpark Association’s inaugural Leading Edge Award for “demonstrating [industry] leadership and innovation through its storyline, park and ride design, theming and attention to every detail”.
Yas Waterworld is set on 15 hectares at the centre of Yas Island’s exciting entertainment complex and features 43 rides, slides and attractions set in a legendary world that evokes Abu Dhabi’s history and heritage through an original story-theme – “The Legend of the Lost Pearl”.
Visitors follow the original story of ‘Dana’, a young Emirati girl, on a quest for the legendary pearl that had once brought prosperity to her village. The fun story is brought to life throughout the waterpark in many ways, from the colourful characters that greet visitors on their entry to the rides, slides and attractions themselves that that are all iconic extensions of the story characters and their personalities.
“The visitor is transported to another world the second he enters the waterpark,” said Mike Oswald, general manager of the park. “The panoramic layout of the park that greets you as you pass through the traditional souq, the authentic architectural structures such as the Marah Fortress and Bandit Fortress that bring to life the spirit of exotic Arabia, the diversity of the rides – the entire effect is unlike anything currently available in a waterpark in this part of the world. Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi is a truly world-class entertainment attraction brought to life in a uniquely Emirati way.”
The Park’s two interactive attractions – PearlMasters and Hairat Yas take the guests a step further, making them a part of the action.
The unique PearlMasters adventure is the very first treasure-hunt style interactive adventure game to make an appearance in a waterpark. There are nearly 70 uniquely themed Quest Items dotted around the park that form a part of the PearlMasters route. More than half of these are large-scale sculptures, such as treasure chests, giant oysters, or magical sea creatures that stand alone as works of art and have built-in surprise elements, which are revealed to players who successfully decipher the clues.
“The PearlMasters adventure is a first for a waterpark anywhere in the world and is one of our star attractions. With new clues to decipher, increasingly challenging levels and exciting surprises in store each time the game is played, PearlMasters feeds visitors’ competitive spirit in a really fun way,” said Oswald.
Hairat Yas is where a live interactive pearl diving show allows guests to learn more about an occupation that forms an integral part of the UAE’s history. Divers head underwater for up to 2 minutes at a time with no oxygen tanks to gather a handful of oysters for the guests to choose from. Guests then watch the entire process of having the oyster opened, the pearl revealed and cleaned and finally have it set into a customized piece of jewellery that they can purchase as a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
The Emirati adventure continues with the park’s exciting series of rides and slides – including Falcon’s Falaj which descends from the top of a giant falcon’s nest; Hamlool’s Humps and Jebel Drop – both extreme body slides that plunge through rock crags; and Liwa Loop – the only looping waterslide in the Middle East with a retractable platform that drops out from beneath your feet to unleash high octane thrills. Speeding over all the excitement, guests on the Bandit Bomber – a 550-m interactive suspended coaster – shoot jets of water at targets, drop water bombs and trigger special effects while coasting under waterfalls and through rock crags all around the waterpark.
Those seeking to prolong the adrenaline high can take a spin on Slither’s Slides – a series of six different slides where they encounter Slither and his serpent friends through themed interactive sculptures that spray water, LED light effects and 3D videos displayed on sheets of thin water in a thrilling rattler water-tunnel ride offering 30 distinct experiences.
Young kids also have plenty to keep themselves entertained at the Marah Fortress – a huge interactive children’s play fortress with two large dumping buckets, and Yehal – the infant pool and tot’s playground, in addition to the other family-friendly rides and attractions at the park such as Dawwama – the world’s largest hydromagnetic-powered 6-person tornado waterslide, Sebag – the six-person racer slide, the lazy Al Raha River, adventure river Yadi Yas, Bubble’s Barrel – the largest FlowBarrel sheet wave ride in the world, and the family-friendly wave pool Amwaj.
“When it comes to a fun family entertainment attraction that captures the spirit of the Emirates, it really doesn’t get much better than Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi. From the atmospheric setting, the thrilling rides, authentic souq-style shopping attractions and the live entertainment elements, there’s something to amuse the entire family all in one place,” concluded Oswald.
By Rory Thomson