I am not usually a big fan of water parks, although in the time I have spent in the United Arab Emirates, I am happy to have experienced both Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi, and Wild Wadi in Dubai. But which is the better one, I hear you asking?
Yas Waterworld has only recently opened and is located on Yas Island, which is an entertainment district in Abu Dhabi that also happens to have its own F1 racetrack and a Ferrari-themed indoor theme park. Yas Waterworld operates an admission policy based on height, and this will determine how much your one-day ticket will cost. If you are over 1.1m, you will pay AED240, and if you are under 1.1m, then it will cost you AED195.
Wild Wadi is one of the founding members of the water park industry here in the Middle-East, and its prime location underneath Dubai’s famous seven-star Burj Al Arab Hotel (free entry fro hotel guests!) makes it a big draw to locals and tourists alike. Much like at Yas Waterworld, all entrance fees to Wild Wadi are based on height, and the prices are as follows: AED275 for people over 1.1m, and AED215 for those under 1.1m.
Both parks have an abundance of slides which act as icons and marketing ploys. Yas Waterworld categorises its attractions into four separate sections: Adrenaline Rush, Exciting Adventure, Moving and Grooving, and Young Fun. Each of these categories has attractions and thrill rides to keep guests entertained, and it lets people plan their visit ahead by allowing them to check out what they may like to ride, and how extreme these slides are. In the Adrenaline Rush category, there is the Middle-East’s first looping water slide, called Liwa Loop, and also the Jebel Drop, which is the highest water slide in the region. However, the main attraction in Yas Waterworld would have to be Dawwama – a 20 metre high funnel where six riders sit on a raft as they swirl down the huge slide. It is called is marketing terms “The most exhilarating tornado ride in the world!”.
As far as Wild Wadi is concerned over in Dubai, there is a categorisation of: Daring Fun, Waves of Fun, Relaxing Fun, and Kid’s Friendly, from highest thrills to lowest. One of the main high-speed attractions here is the Burj Surj, where guests will slide downwards into a huge bowl before spinning round and round on their rafts until a final plunge into the pool below! However, the ultimate thrill at Wild Wadi – and perhaps anywhere in the world – is undoubtedly the Jumeirah Sceirah, which is an almost vertical slide where brave riders will freefall 120 metres at speeds of 80kph!
In Yas Waterworld’s Exciting Adventures and Moving and Grooving categories there are plenty of attractions to keep guests young and old occupied. Many snake-themed slides, such as Sand Viper Strike, and Sidewinder, empty into a central plunge pool, and these slides are all graded differently, so some are suitable for thrill-seekers, and others will be suitable for young children. Lifeguards are on hand in the pool throughout the day.
In Wild Wadi’s Waves of Fun and Kid’s Friendly categories, there is firstly a flowrider, which is an opportunity for you to show off your surfing skills in a highly themed environment. Secondly, there is also a Dhow and Lagoon play area for the small kids, who will have buckets of fun as they splash around in an immersive section of the park.
While both Yas Waterworld and Wild Wadi have huge wave pools, the one at Yas Waterworld, named Amwaj, is much better, and is usually less crowded. According to the marketing, “Amwaj brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘Life’s a beach'”.
Most water parks have a lazy river, but with this being Dubai, you can be sure that Wild Wadi is going to go one better, and the fact is there are TWO lazy rivers here: Flood River and Juha’s Journey. Juha’s Journey is a true lazy river, suitable even for small children, as the tame tide takes people around the circumference of the park and you can enjoy the scenery along the way. Flood River, however, is a little more forceful, as there are artificial waves generated along the course of the river to add a somewhat more adventurous touch to your journey!
Although Wild Wadi is around AED35 more expensive per head than the admission over at Yas Waterworld, I suspect many people will choose to visit Dubai as opposed to Abu Dhabi, and this will mean more guests at Wild Wadi. However, the freshness and cleanliness of Yas Waterworld, coupled with its amazing location at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi, makes it my choice in a battle of the two amazing water parks featured in this article. It’s a close battle, and perhaps Wild Wadi has the ULTIMATE slide in Jumeirah Sceirah, but Yas Waterworld has a better selection of slides, all of which are amazing, and there really is something for everyone there, including some amazing eateries.
Were either of these water parks included in my personal list of the Top 5 Water Parks in Asia? And for more reading on Yas Waterworld, check out the following blog review: Extreme fun at Yas Waterworld by “Lady and her Sweet Escapes”.