As the weather in the UAE changes and we brace ourselves for the oppressive heat of another desert summer, we suggest that you take to one of the many waterparks for an opportunity to cool off and attempt to escape the heat.
There are a number of waterpark options throughout the Emirates, so we have visited them to give you the pros and cons of each park. Out & About UAE proudly present ‘The Water Park Rundown!’
Atlantis, situated on the Palm Jumeriah is the crown jewel in terms of its beautiful location and has one of the best waterparks in the form of Aquaventure. Situated out at sea, the waterpark continues the theme of its hotel namesake by portraying the underwater city of Atlantis. The whole park is meticulously planned and really is a stunning place to visit. The rides are contained within ancient temples that incorporate aquatic life, for example ‘shark attack’ and ‘leap of faith’ plunge you deep into the depths of the aquarium and you will see sharks and stingrays as you navigate your way through the chambers – this truly is an amazing experience.
– Pros: Aquaventure is the only UAE water park that has a beach and because it is contained within the palm, there are no waves, so the water is perfectly still and full of marine life. The park has an abundance of sun loungers, so there are enough for everyone and it is easy to find your own secluded spot away from the crowds. Aquaventure also contains some unique rides in the form of Aquaconda that can’t be found in other parks.
– Cons: There is no getting around the fact that it is expensive to visit (UAE residents do get a discount though). The lockers are utterly ridiculous and are very difficult to operate, and there is nobody on hand to help. The car parking is some way from the water park and waiting for the shuttle bus in the heat can be an uncomfortable process. Finally the ground gets very hot and there is no attempt made to cool them down.
Wild Wadi located in the shadow of the Burj Arab is probably the most well-known of the UAE’s waterparks and is an extremely popular destination. Set within the grounds of the Jumeriah Beach Hotel, the park has really maximised the space on offer, with overlapping rides. The park has the usual big attractions in the form of the vertical drop ride ‘Jumeriah Scarer’ and its two great raft rides. These are all for thrill seekers, but the park also contains an interesting transportation method in the form of ‘water coasters’ in which you are launched on a rubber ring around the park, along stretches of conveyor belts and water filled flumes. These are a genius invention which allow you to travel uphill without the need for walking whilst dragging a huge rubber tube behind you.
– Pros: The park is small and compact so there is not much need for walking and carrying inflatables around in the heat. The location is truly stunning and you can get some beautiful photos of the Burj Arab. The water coasters are great and food is reasonably priced.
– Cons: Due to the parks locations (and the fact that Jumeriah hotel guests get free entry) the park gets very busy, very quickly and because it is a small place there is no escaping the crowds or ride queues. Unfortunately there is also not much on offer for younger children other than a small play structure and lazy river.
Abu Dhabi’s premier offering is Yas Waterworld, located on the beautiful Yas Island. This is the latest (and Abu Dhabi’s greatest) addition to the water park scene. Never getting too busy, the park caters to all ages and has a unique advantage as it boasts the only rollercoaster in a waterpark in the region in the form of ‘bandit bomber’. There are also great snake slides for racing, with each of them being unique. The park has a huge wave pool which is perfect for those who want to relax and the children’s play areas are amazing, with a number of attractions for various ages.
– Pros: Water fountains are strategically placed around the park so that you can get a FREE drink whenever you are in need. It’s the only water park in the UAE to contain a rollercoaster and also the only one with family changing rooms and lockers. Overall it is generally a quiet place to visit.
– Cons: We have visited this park on a number of occasions and each time there has always been one or two rides closed for maintenance which is disappointing. The food selection is also pretty limited and quite expensive.
Dreamland Aquapark situated in Umm Al Quwain is the under-dog of the UAE’s waterparks. Deemed by many to be ‘too far’ or ‘too old’ – this park should not be overlooked. Ok, so it doesn’t have all the modern attractions featured in other parks, but it makes up for it in good old fashioned family fun. This park has something for everyone and caters towards younger children too (which some of the bigger parks tend to neglect). It is also far more affordable for a family to visit. Set within a forest hillside, the park overlooks the sea and you are sure to see flamingos and other animals during your visit. Don’t miss the ‘dead sea’ attraction which is unique to the UAE and contains a high salinity pool which allows you to float as you would in the dead sea. You can also opt to stay within the park overnight in one of their chalets, if you are looking to make a weekend of it.
– Pros: Paths are cooled with sprinklers and foam mats meaning no chance of burning your feet! Entry and food are extremely cheap when compared to other UAE water park. Dreamland is also a great place for families with children of all ages, as there are loads of attractions aimed at younger visitors.
– Cons: Unfortunately the park does not the newest rides so theres not much on offer for thrill seekers. The park is also further away from the major cities, making for a longer journey should you wish to visit.
Wadi Adventure located in Al Ain takes a completely different approach to the term ‘water park’ in the fact that there are no slides. Instead thrill seekers can take to a white water rafting run straight through the desert (and the worlds longest man-made white river run) . If that is not your thing, why not participate is some kayaking, wake boarding, or take to the skies on the aerial wire park – all against the spectacular backdrop of Jebel Hafeet. Boasting the only beach in the desert as well as a family splash pool, this is one of the best attractions within the Garden City and should be visited at least once by anyone visiting the UAE.
– Pros: The park is unique and has attractions that are not on offer elsewhere in the UAE. Due to it’s location it is usually quiet and never gets overwhelmed with visitors.
– Cons: The entry free only includes access to the pool so to participate in one of the additional experiences can be very expensive. All activities must also be pre-booked, you can’t necessarily just turn up and expect to be able to raft. Also other than the splash pool, there is little on offer for younger children.
Murjan Splash Park should not be missed if you have young children. Situated in Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa Park, this attraction contains slides, a lazy river, bumper boats and trampolines amongst others. The whole park is shaded and little ones are free to roam around at their leisure, This is a great place to spend a lazy afternoon.
– Pros: It is cheap to visit & tickets are often available at a discounted rate on the daily deal sites such as Groupon or Cobone. This is also an excellent park for small children, toddlers and babies.
– Cons: The park is very small consisting of a main play structure and lazy river. It is also only really for younger children, and older children/teenagers will find little of interest.
We have not yet visited Iceland Water Park in RAK, or the newly opened Splash Pad at JBR – but we will update this post in due course to include these additions.
All views within this blog are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE, unless otherwise stated.