x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Abu Dhabi's Yas Waterworld scheduled to open by December

Construction on Yas Waterworld is 90 per cent complete, and the 43-ride theme park is on schedule to open by the first week of December.

The park will be open daily and will feature women-only nights and other special events.
The park will be open daily and will feature women-only nights and other special events.

ABU DHABI // The Yas Island 43-ride water park is more than 90 per cent finished, and is expected to be open to the public by the first week of December.

An official opening date for Yas Waterworld will be announced within the next few weeks. Most of the main features of the large rides have been installed, and the bulk of the remaining work is details.

"It's really coming along nicely," said Mike Oswald, the park's manager. "All the rides are installed, and the majority of the pools are now filled. We want this to be an experience like nothing else anywhere."

The park's theme, called "The Legend of the Lost Pearl" and based on the story of Dana, a young Emirati girl looking to bring prosperity to her village, will be integrated into every element of the park. The story follows Dana as she ventures into the desert, followed by greedy bandits in search of the elusive lost pearl.

"Everything in the park relates back to the theme; every single thing," said Ryan Watkins, the marketing manager for Yas Waterworld.

Building on the 15-hectare park began in February 2011 and the expected launch date was pushed back by about three months.

As work moves into its final phases, about 3,000 labourers are painting, putting up facades and installing doors. The scaffolding around the larger rides should come down in the next few weeks, and the park's iconic giant pearl feature was installed last week.

Mr Oswald revealed extra details about some of the park's more thrilling rides this week, highlighting what will make the theme park a destination.

The 550-metre Bandit Bomber roller coaster will allow riders to release 10 litres of water on park visitors below at certain points along the ride. An on-board special effects laser system will put passengers in control of geysers and jets from their seats.

The Liwa Loop is the Middle East's first looping water slide. Similar to attractions at Wild Wadi, this thrill ride begins by dropping the visitor through a trapdoor and into a tunnel.

"Wild Wadi just did it, but they don't have a loop," Mr Oswald said.

On the Slither's Slides, riders can select six different themes on five slides for 30 distinct experiences. Each ends in a splash pool, where the park visitor will shoot out of a slide capped with a giant fanged snake head.

The park will also feature three main restaurants, a souq and merchandising and retail outlets.

The main attraction will be the Dawwama ride, a 20-metre high funnel that uses hydromagnetic power to propel six riders at a time uphill.

Stefan Zwanzger, a UAE-based theme park enthusiast who runs The Theme Park Guy website and has visited the Yas Waterworld site several times, said he is most looking forward to the funnel ride, which is called a Tornado.

"They've got one of the first Tornado slides in the Middle East, and these funnel-shaped slides are probably the best in the world," Mr Zwanzger said.

"There is nothing better than yelling at your family members or friends, or even strangers, from inside a Tornado. What the initial acceleration of a Formula Rossa coaster is for a theme park, the drop into a Tornado is for a water park – it is the peak of friendly terror."

Though the park will offer play areas for children and leisure areas for the thrill-adverse, the high-octane rides are part of what will make Yas Waterworld unique.

"This is going to change the way people think about water parks, and not just in this region," Mr Watkins said. "We did not want it to just be a regular water park. We wanted it to be an adventure."

The park will be able to accommodate 7,000 visitors and will be open daily. Tentative opening hours are 10am to 7pm, and premium tickets will be available.

Yas Waterworld will also feature women-only nights and other special events.

jthomas@thenational.ae