ABU DHABI // Up to 12,000 people are expected to take advantage of the three-day weekend next week by making a splash at the opening of the capital's latest major attraction.
The eagerly anticipated Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi will throw its doors open to the public on January 24 – the Prophet Muhammad's birthday.
The waterpark's general manager, Mike Oswald, today said he expected 12,000 visitors to flood through the gates of the Yas Island park next Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
"I'm very confident that we will have those numbers," he said.
"With the excitement that's generated in the market, I think people are waiting, so they will come," he said, adding that about 700,000 visitors are expected in the park's first year.
There are 43 rides, slides and attractions at the 15-hectare site that Mr Oswald describes as "the most amazing waterpark in the world".
The Dh900 million park draws on the heritage of the UAE and a theme featuring a young Emirati girl searching for a legendary pearl runs throughout.
"When you look at the quality of the rides and attractions we have, no other waterpark in the world has this calibre of rides and attractions in one park. The level of theming is unmatched," Mr Oswald said.
One of the rides that catches the eye upon entry is Bubble's Barrel – said to have the Middle East's largest surfable sheet wave for flowboards and bodyboards.
Today, experts showed off their skills by performing flips and tricks during a media tour and Mr Oswald revealed the world flowboarding championships will be hosted in the park at the end of this year.
Other rides include Bandit Bomber, which at 550?metres is described by the park as the longest suspended roller coaster in the Middle East, and Slither's Slides, which is made up of a maze of slides and tunnels with plenty of twists and turns, as well as special effects, on the way down.
Shrieks of excitement rang out as lifeguards demonstrated some of the rides today and sound effects resonated from Dawwama, which is said to be the world's first and largest hydromagnetic-powered six-person tornado waterslide.
Divers also took to the water, with no breathing apparatus, in a pearl diving show that allows visitors to learn more about this integral part of the UAE's history.
Elsewhere, some of the rides were being given a last-minute clean ahead of a grand opening, with invited-only guests, which is being held on Saturday. VIPs are expected, including a member of the Ruling Family.
A series of preview days have been held at the attraction in recent weeks and Mr Oswald said the feedback had been "amazing".
"I look at our Tripadvisor comments and they are just incredible – our customer service scores are out of sight. I think everyone is so excited about it opening to the public on the 24th," he said.
The park is being operated and managed by Farah Leisure Parks Management, as is Ferrari World. Visitors to both attractions can get deals when it comes to the ticket price. An annual pass to Yas Waterworld costs Dh650 but a pass for both the waterpark and its neighbouring attraction is Dh995.
It was also announced today that Yas Waterworld has already received an industry accolade, after walking away with the World Waterpark Association's Leading Edge Award for "demonstrating [industry] leadership and innovation through its storyline, park and ride design, theming and attention to every detail".
Tickets will cost Dh225 for adults and Dh185 for children below 1.1 metres in height. Children aged three and under go free.
Visit www.yaswaterworld.com for more information.