Yas Waterworld GM, Mike Oswald, already looking to expand
Time Out staff
How long have you been working on getting the park ready? We started the project in 2008 but the design of the park really kicked off in 2009 and started construction in 2010. It’s been under construction for just over two years.
What was the idea behind opening such a huge project? Well, this park isn’t the biggest in the world but it’s certainly the best. It was designed to be one of the fundamental pieces of the leisure destination that’s being developed on Yas Island. When you look at what’s already here such as Ferrari World, the mall that’s under development, the F1 circuit, the golf course not to mention the awesome hotels then, Yas Waterpark is a great part of that.
Are you hoping it will become a year-round destination for families? For sure. Yas Waterworld is the premier family attraction in Abu Dhabi. If you look at all the different attractions we have there is something for everyone at the park. We spent a long time looking at what different types of customers may want and what would appeal. We really wanted to come up with a park that could cater to everyone’s interests.
How does the process of developing a ride work? It’s a collaborative effort. It starts off with a small number of people working on the project and we sat down to talk about the types of things we wanted. We visited lots of parks in the US and we also went to Asia to see what other people had done. Then we’d all get together in a little room and say, ‘Man, how cool would it be to do this, this or this.’ The Dawwama ride is a great example of that. That’s a culmination of different technologies that had never been put together in the same package. It has the longest ‘in run’ which is basically the longest time that you’ll ride on it but then we incorporated uphill sections, which has never been done before using hydromagnetic power which means when you go down you’re then propelled upwards again. It had been used before on smaller rides but we wanted something bigger.
There’s a story behind the waterpark as well isn’t there, so it’s more of an experience rather than somewhere you just show up and get on the rides? Definitely. When we started the design process one of the things we looked at was, ‘What makes a true theme park?’ And the answer is that it has a story. So we developed the story of Dana an Emirati girl that was living in a village in the Arabian Gulf and the village had fallen on hard times. The story goes that the village had a mother pearl and while it had the pearl the village was prosperous but the pearl got lost and the village fell on hard times. Bandits then showed up and would steal their pearls so Dana decides to help her village by going looking for the mother pearl and goes on a journey where she meets amazing characters. The waterpark is kind of based on what happens after her journey because she finds the pearl and brings it back to the village and the village prospers again. This is another thing that makes the whole experience so different to what you’ll find anywhere else.
What, in your expert opinion, are the real standout rides? There are so many rides in this park that anywhere else you could choose any and they’d be the signature ride of that park! We’ve got probably five or six here that would be the main rides anywhere else. I’ve mentioned Dawwama already but we’ve also got Bubble’s Barrel which is the largest sheet surfing ride in the world – it’s pretty amazing. We have a rollercoaster called Bandit Bomber and I don’t know of any other waterpark that has one much less one that has interactive water and laser effects. It really is a waterpark builder’s dream here!
Did you have a lot of fun designing these rides? Oh yeah! It’s a lot of hard work building a project of this size but the people we worked with were a lot of fun. There were so many different people from various cultures and backgrounds which contributed so much to the project as a whole. If you’re not having fun designing a theme park then you should probably be doing something else.
Could the park get even bigger over time? Definitely. As part of the long term strategy we can see that we’re going to expand the park in the near future. We’ve left three expansion areas although the park itself is actually complete. We’ve left land available. We’re already thinking about what might come next. Once things are up and running we’ll start thinking about adding and growing. We expect this park to be successful so the demand should be there. You have to stay ahead of the game.
Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi is the UAE’s very first mega waterpark and is set across 15 hectares of the Yas Island entertainment complex.
There are 43 rides in total incorporating various slides and attractions including five one-of-a-kind rides that have never been seen before in a waterpark.
There are also 24 rides that incorporate 32 individual slides.
1.2 million kilograms of steel was used to build the pearl crag on top of which sits the Lost Pearl which is 43 metres high and eight metres in diametre.
There’s 50,000m² rock work throughout the park.
It has more rides, slides, etc than any other waterpark in the Middle East.
It’s also the first waterpark in the Middle East to be certified with a ‘green’ sustainability rating (Estidama One Pearl).