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ParkWord February 2013

There is, how can I put it, a lot of hardware at Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi, Ferrari World’s new next-door neighbour. See for yourself on pages 24 to 26. Part of the theming is supposed to resemble a giant falcon's nest, but in silhouette the entire park looks like a tangled web of sticks, branches, concrete and waterslides. As well as all the usual waterslides and attractions you’d expect, there’s also

Vekoma’s Bandit Bomber rollercoaster – an actual rollercoaster as opposed to the slide-based “water coasters” you find in some waterparks (Yas Waterworld has those too) – plus fun activities such as Water Wars and WhiteWater’s SplashQuest interactive treasure hunt.

“Whether it’s a Splash Battle, an aquatic rollercoaster or something like a Shoot the Chute, we are seeing waterparks looking at other aquatic elements that can be ridden in bating suits,” observes WhiteWater CEO Geoff Chutter. “I mean how many waterslides do you want?”

Chutter will, of course, sell you all the waterslides you want, but after

WhiteWater’s acquisition of Hopkins Rides last autumn he can also sell you a Shoot the Chute, too.

Didn’t it used to be the case that the return on investment on a waterpark was quicker than in a theme park because the equipment was much cheaper to buy, helping to compensate for the shorter operating season? The new generation of waterpark attractions – Superbowls, Tornado slides, waterslide coasters et al – are multi-million dollar/euro pieces of kit, just like a rollercoaster or flume ride. But because they deliver increased capacity over traditional waterslides, year- round operations like Yas Waterworld are able to justify them. The sheer cost of everything (including the extensive theming) means this new park is unlikely to break even as early as some waterparks. However, just like Ferrari World, it’s all about making a statement and putting Abu Dhabi on the map. Nevertheless, so long as there are other developers with nine-figure sums swilling about the wave pool, you can expect to see more ride manufacturers besides Vekoma (hello Mack, Moser and others) targeting the waterpark market. WhiteWater knew what it was doing when it bought Hopkins.

Owen Ralph – Editor

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