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Olivia Olarte-Ulherr / 18 January 2013
The UAE’s first mega water park is all set to welcome visitors starting Thursday, January 24.
Spread across 15 hectares in Yas Island, Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi (YWAD) boasts of 43 exciting rides, slides and attractions including five one-of-a-kind rides never seen before in a water park anywhere in the world.
Five years after the first idea for the water park was conceived, the Dh900 million project by Aldar Properties, is finally opening to rival the best water parks in the world.
“There’s no other park anywhere in the world that has this calibre of rides and interactions. The level of theming is unmatched. I’ve never seen another park with this kind of theme other than this park,” declared Mike Oswald, park general manager. Oswald has over 20 years experience in the theme park industry. In October last year, Yas Waterworld received the Leading Edge Award from the World Waterpark Association for its “leadership and innovation through its storyline, park and ride design, theming and attention to every detail.”
Yas Waterworld pays tribute to the UAE’s pearl-diving heritage and was created around the theme ‘The Legend of the Lost Pearl’ — an original story about Dana, a young Emirati girl whose quest for the legendary pearl that had once brought prosperity to her village that led her to the desert pursued by the greedy bandits.
Incorporating the Emirati culture and heritage into a destination experience, visitors to the park can join in Dana’s adventure, which was integrated into the park’s rides, slides, attractions, themed restaurants, shops and activities.
Five one-of-a-kind rides
At a press tour of the water park on Wednesday, media personnel were given a peek of the park’s special features, which include the Dawwama (tornado), the world’s first and largest hydro magnetic-powered six-person tornado waterslide with the world’s longest run-in at 238 metres; the Falcon’s Falaj, a phenomenal high-adrenaline six-person raft ride; Bubbles Barrel, the largest flow barrel in the world with 3m high wave; Bandit Bomber, the longest suspended and only water rollercoaster in the Middle East at 550 metres; and the Slither’s Slides, the world’s first rattler waterslide with five different themes on six slides.
“Each one of those themes tells a different part of the story using sound, light and video effects, so a rider rides 30 times and does not get the same ride experience,” explained Oswald.
Another key feature of the park is its temperature-controlled system.
“We keep the water to between 30 and 32 degrees C. We heat it during the winter and chill it during the summer months,” Oswald said.
In addition, the walkways are designed to have path cooling or shading to ensure that nobody burns their feet.
Prior to opening, thousands of tests were carried out and industry experts came out to inspect the rides.
“We’re very confident that the rides are in great working condition,” said Oswald.
The park has around 130 lifeguards all certified by Ellis and Associates, an international aquatic safety and risk management consultants.
According to Oswald, the lifeguards follow the 10-20 international standard.
“They are all trained to be able to see an incident within 10 seconds and get to the person within 20 seconds. In a wading pool they may have to swim out but in most rides the reaction time is much shorter than that.”
Built for family entertainment, the park is designed for children of all ages from six months and above.
“If you look at the majority of the rides and interactions, they are designed to allow kids even very small kids to ride. For example, (in some rides) if you want to ride alone, you have to be 1.2 metre but if you’re not, you can ride with a life vest as long as you’re with an adult.”
It also has a large children’s area with many rides and interactions to keep the kids occupied: “When you look at the overall mix, it is definitely designed for families but of course you need few rides for a more adrenaline-seeking guest,” Oswald said.
The rides in general are designed for people of different sizes. There is no weight restriction except for the six-person ride which has a maximum boat weight.
With about 6,000 visitors expected per day and between 8,000 to 10,000 on busy days, queuing times could be up to 20-30 minutes for most rides.
However, the park was designed with very high capacity “and we have the ability to change the amount of capacity depending on the people in the park,” Oswald said.
For its sustainability features, the water park uses the most advanced filtration system in the world, using over 90 per cent less water.
With a total water capacity of 9,012 cubit metres (pool, tanks, piping), the park has a water loss of roughly 150,000 gallons per day through evaporation and guest usage.
“Which is about 30 per cent less than what a normal waterpark of this size would use, which is pretty incredible given the fact that we are in the Middle East and temperatures are very extreme so we have a lot of evaporation,” Oswald pointed out.
“We’ve done everything possible to minimise the amount of water that we use is in the park. The majority of the water is recycled and we waste very little water to the sewer,” he added.
Next year, the largest water park in the world will extend its park to include an additional two-hectares.
“We’ve done some preliminary planning on phase 2, which incorporates a few rides. One of the things about this industry is its rapid change, our plan is to start developing that next year. As far as what’s going on in there, we have some ideas but I’m sure it will change based on the latest and greatest in the industry,” Oswald disclosed.
He noted that in just under 15 years, the total investment cost will be fully returned including the multiple expansion plans.
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