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Waterpark Profile Yas Waterworld


Abu Dhabi’s eagerly-awaited waterpark


Image courtesy Atkins


After a short soft opening period, one of the world’s most anticipated new waterparks welcomed its first paying guests on January 24. As well as an up-to-the minute package of waterslides and attraction, Yas


Waterworld Abu Dhabi is also home to an interactive rollercoaster, a high- tech treasure hunt and other varied activities, leading its operator to dub it a ‘water theme park’ rather than simply a waterpark. Owen Ralph reports


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uilt by Aldar Properties at a reported cost of AED900 million ($235m/€180m), Yas Waterworld sits across the road from Ferrari


World Abu Dhabi and is the latest piece of the jigsaw at Yas Island, the fledgling leisure district that is also home to the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the Formula 1 Yas Marina Circuit, a concert arena, golf links and seven hotels.


The 15-hectare park, which like Ferrari World is operated by Farah Leisure Parks Management, is packed with 43 rides, slides and themed experiences. Just as Disney's Magic Kingdom has its Cinderella Castle, Yas Waterworld boasts the Pearl Crag mountain and ‘Mother Pearl’ as its central icon. The ball-topped structure highlights the ‘Lost Pearl’ storyline that underpins the park and its theming, based around the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) rich pearl diving heritage. "Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi is a milestone in the leisure sector in the Middle East, and indeed in the world,” states general manager Mike Oswald. “Visitors are in for a fantastic experience that brings together high-thrill rides, interactive attractions and a number of world-firsts in terms of waterpark entertainment.” The park, which picked up a World Waterpark Association (WWA) Leading Edge Award before it had even opened, represents a showpiece project not just for Aldar and Farah, but also for suppliers such as WhiteWater, which installed 19 attractions including 12 of the 14 slides. The Canadian waterpark specialist also prepared the park’s original masterplan. Design and development was subsequently picked up by Atkins from the UK. “The theme chosen for the park is truly unique,” believes WhiteWater CEO Geoff Chutter. “It really ties


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in with the local area. If you go back 50 or 60 years, pearl diving is how the then small community in and around Abu Dhabi made their money. Things have obviously changed a lot since, but I think bringing that story to life inside a waterpark is a really novel, fun thing to do – in much the same way Disney did with Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.” “We were asked by the client to create the best aqua park in the world, complete with an Arabian fantasy theme,” continues Atkins’ design director Tom Wright. “We drew together a multidisciplinary design team to achieve this and I think the result speaks for itself.”


Heat Retreat


The park has been designed to host up to 7,000 guests at a time, and to ensure they enjoy the experience in comfort amidst the Middle East heat, there are many shaded areas. Chutter adds that the waterslides that spill out of Pearl Crag were fabricated in “desert colours” to avoid fading in the many hours of direct sunlight they will be exposed to. Those brave enough to ride the Jebel Drop freefall slide are rewarded with the best vantage point in the whole park, while Hamlool's Humps are a pair of WhiteWater speed slides. Liwa Loop (AquaLoop) enjoys the bragging rights of being the Middle East's only looping waterslide, complete with a trapdoor feature. Bandit Bomber, the Vekoma suspended coaster that


gives Yas Waterworld its theme park credentials, is certainly a waterpark first. Stationed in Cannon Point and the Jabha Zone, non-riders can shoot water at passengers flying overhead. The 550-metre-long coaster also incorporates on-board water and laser effects using interactive technology by Lagotronics.


FEBRUARY 2013


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