DUBAI // A huge extension to the Aquaventure waterpark at Atlantis, The Palm could be open in time for the Eid Al Fitr public holidays.
The new-look tourist attraction will include four themed slides and the longest zipline in the Middle East.
Park management says it should be a success with residents and tourists, despite the summer heat.
"We want to open as soon as we can but on the caveat that everything has to be just right," said Scott Deisley, vice president of Aquaventure.
Mr Deisley said he hoped the park would open early next month but added "we’ll open it as soon as we’re able to do so safely”.
The biggest draw is expected to be the huge "anaconda" waterslide that can be ridden by up to six people at a time in a rubber dinghy.
A second six-person ride features an enormous slide that twists almost 90 degrees.
Other attractions include two near-vertical chutes accessed through a trapdoor, and a zipline that will give visitors an aerial view of the entire resort and the Palm Jumeirah.
Mr Deisley said opening at the hottest time of the year would not be a problem.
“Everyone thinks it’s too hot outside but we’re very busy in the summer,” he said. “It actually outpaces most months of the year.”
He is confident the slides, designed by Canadian company Whitewater Parks International, will be a hit.
“We think this is just going to blow people away, not only in Dubai and the region but also from an industry standpoint, in the world,” Mr Deisley said.
“We’re expecting good results. I’ve got all my fingers crossed. And my toes, too, when I don’t have my shoes on.”
Work on the extension, which is based around the park’s 40-metre tall imitation pyramid, began in February after a nine-month design period.
The slides were made in sections in Bahrain, the Philippines, Canada and the US, then shipped to Dubai for assembly, which is why they have come together so quickly.
“Everything comes and we just piece it together like a jigsaw,” said Richard Shirley, vice president of development at Atlantis.
Statistics from the Global Attractions Attendance Report, produced by the Themed Entertainment Association, show Aquaventure is ranked as the seventh most popular waterpark in the world.
There were 1.3 million visitors last year, a rise from the 1.2 million in 2011.
Wild Wadi was 17th with 860,000 visitors, down from 890,000 the previous year.
Competition for visitors at waterparks has increased in recent years with the opening of Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi in January.
And Aquaventure’s Jumeirah-based competitor, Wild Wadi, completed its own renovations in October last year.
“We didn’t look at what they did and try to do anything in response,” said Mr Deisley.
“We didn’t even build this in response to what’s been going on with other developments.”
He said operators had looked at what the park lacked – rides for more than two people in an inflatable raft – and provided them.
“We’re racing against ourselves, not against anyone else,” Mr Deisley said.
“We built this because we know Dubai is going to continue to grow and the Palm is going to continue to grow.
“There are other hotels opening on the crescent and people are going to be looking for something fun to do.”