Aquaventure vs Wild Wadi
Kipp elbowed its way through Dubai’s water parks to judge which of the two is truly the wildest. Ladies and gentlemen, this is investigative journalism at its best.
Opened in September 2008, alongside the grand opening of Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, Aquaventure is every bit as extravagant and over-the-top as the hotel. At 42 acres, it is Dubai's biggest water park, which means the screaming kid Kipp elbowed in the morning went crying to his parents a long, long way from our sun lounger.
More importantly, however, the park's size encourages guests to get lost in its well-maintained grounds, which Kipp was happy to do.
Dubai's first world-class water part opened in October 1999, and has since welcomed over 6 million visitors. At just 12 acres, the park is considerably smaller than Aquaventure, which is likely to bring you and that overweight kid's parents together a lot sooner than you hoped.
Most of the park's rides are located in the Ziggurat, a Mesopotamian-styled structure that towers 30 meters into the sky. It boasts seven slides, including the now renowned Leap of Faith, a 27.5 meter slide (roughly 9 storeys high). According to the park's public relations department, it is the tallest, fastest freefall slide in the Middle East.
The park also boasts a river 2.3 kilometer long called the Rapids. It is the region's longest river. As for guests shorter than 1.1 meters tall, the park offers Splashers, a water playground featuring elaborate water games, slides and structures. If Kipp were young again, we would've lost our minds if we saw Splashers.
The one complaint we heard repeatedly was that no one who braved the Leap of Faith could see anything of the shark tank below. We concur. All we saw was mist.
Interestingly, Wild Wadi also boasts the region's tallest and fastest freefall water slide in the Middle East (their exact claim is "outside North America"). The Jumeirah Sceirah is 33 meters high, which is higher than Aquaventure's 27.5 meter Leap of Faith; so, there's either an engineer with a faulty measuring stick running around Dubai, or someone's in denial.
In any case, the park has 30 attractions, 13 of which are inter-connected. The park's best feature is the Master Blaster, which are described as uphill water roller coasters. They propel you up slides by high-powered water jets. In short, you don't need to walk to enjoy the rides. Nice.
Eating and drinking at the park isn't cheap. Expect to pay between AED50 and AED60 per adult for burgers, fries and drinks, and AED35 for kiddie meals.
The park also organizes weekend BBQs priced at AED140 for adults and AED70 for kids below 12.
It's steep for the food they're offering. But Kipp is willing overlook that because Aquaventure serves alcohol. Yes. They. Do.
Wild Wadi does not serve alcohol. What it does serve, however, is food that is considerably cheaper than Aquaventure's fare. A hamburger meal (burger, fries, a medium soft drink) costs AED 35, while a hotdog meal costs AED28.
There are hundreds of lifeguards at the park, all of whom are certified through Jeff Ellis & Associates Inc), an aquatic safety and risk management consultant company. In short, your kids are safe.
Like Aquaventure Wild Wadi park has hundreds of lifeguards who are trained regularly. Furthermore, this park have spared no expense to ensure that its lifeguards are ready to tackle the challenges of handling rowdy kids.
A full day at the park is AED200 for adults and AED165 for kids shorter than 1.2 meters. An extra AED50 will give access to the Lost Chambers, the hotel's impressive aquarium.
If you're a water park fanatic (and a Dubai resident), you can opt for an annual membership for AED3000 per adult or AED1500 per child.
Tickets to Wild Wadi are marginally cheaper at AED195 for adults and AED165 for children. However, they offer yearly rates to Dubai residents that are considerably lower than Aquaventure's: AED2000 for adults and AED1000 for kids shorter than 1.1 meters.
It isn't cheap to go to Aquaventure, but then again, it is a multi-million dollar park located at the edge of the world famous Palm Jumeirah. In other words, we shouldn't have been surprised when we shelled out almost AED700 for two adults plus food.
In spite of the screaming kids, the noise and crowds, spending a day at Aquaventure is a surprisingly relaxing experience. The rides weren't as extreme as we had hoped, but there's no denying that they're loads of fun.
We'd go again. Definitely.
Like Aquaventure, it isn't cheap to spend a day at Wild Wadi, but the park is so well maintained, and the rides are exceptionally fun. Those uphill roller coasters have stolen our hearts (yes, we're THAT lazy), and we're keen to ride them again.
However, the park's size makes finding a quiet spot to relax impossible.
And yes, we'd go again.
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