Abu Dhabi Thrilling Travel Attractions: Yas Waterworld and Ferrari World

December 4, 2013

Travel, United Arab Emirates

As adults, it’s often easy to forget the remarkable childhood capability we all once had to get excited by the little pleasures in life. Work, everyday responsibilities and our own “to-do” lists often replace some of the carefree-no-worries-in-the-world fun. While vacationing in the United Arab Emirates last week, I found a way to recapture all that childhood excitement…A day out at Yas Waterworld and Ferrari World!

Tanya going down Sebag

I’m in the far left corner & the winner of this slide race!

Yas Waterworld 

A Flawless Arabian Design

Souks were originally open-air marketplaces in the Middle East to sell goods like spices, fruits and vegetables or other goods. Yas Waterworld created its own version of an indoor souk, except instead of goods like spices, fruits and vegetables for sale there’s souvenir shops, lockers and changing room areas.

Yas Waterworld indoor souk area

Outside, you are greeted by an impressive mountain of intertwined water slides and even a roller coaster, where you immediately recognize the sounds of a great amusement park – lots of screams of fear from other customers already going down the slides – as soon as you enter.

Great view of the Yas waterpark_new

Heart-Racing Start

Jim and I entered the first slide entrances we could find, grabbed a tube and ascended the staircase. I noticed that Jim was practically running up the stairs ahead of me and I felt myself experiencing that same urge – get there as fast as possible to experience that first adrenaline rush.

The Crowd

I expected that Jim and I would be the “big kids” in crowds of families and young children. There was a separate (large) section of the park devoted  solely to all the kids’ attractions, but in the remainder of the park there were many other couples and adults riding the water slides who all appeared to be in our age category or older, a welcome surprise.

Not Just Good But Extraordinary

Growing up, I spent many summers looking forward to the water parks we’d visit once a year during our annual family vacation to Ocean City, Maryland. The largest park had about 10 different slides and a wave pool, and I thought that was the most amazing, massive water park ever – until I experienced Yas Waterworld, with four times the amount of attractions and rides that the Ocean City park did – 43 in total.

Looking out onto wave pool

But the size of the park is only one part of the equation. Often what distinguishes a normal place from an extraordinary one is all the little details:

Signs at Yas waterworld_new

Shady staircases – It can get very hot in Abu Dhabi. In the summer months temperatures reach upwards of 40 celsius (104 Fahrenheit).  All of the staircases were completely out of direct sunlight, a design that I have no doubt was pre-planned into the design.

Water gun fun As you wait in line (“queue”) for a few of the slides, there are water guns mounted to the rails. These water guns spray up as high as the roller coaster that speeds by above you, allowing you to spray all the roller coaster riders while you wait in line. Smart design and great way to keep customers from getting impatient during the waits!

The Pearl – At the top of the mountain of water slides is a large 26 foot monument in the shape of a pearl, a symbol of the water park’s theme, “The Lost Pearl”. Reference the article, A New Arabian Adventure, by Louise Rayer, for some more details about the park’s theme and other great park info. As I looked up at the pearl while in line for a slide, a mist of water shot out from all sides of the pearl and cascaded down into the park, cooling off guests in line. Another very creative and functional structure!

The Pearl_new

Thrill Level: Extreme

I anticipated an afternoon of fun, exciting rides (5 of the ride attractions are defined in the Adrenaline Rush category), but I never expected to be as scared or shocked as I was throughout the day! The first jolt came as I unknowingly stepped up to the Liwa Loop, where I climbed in a sort of cylindrical contraption. As soon as the door was shut and I was locked inside the vessel, the ride was off to a shocking start. The floor disappeared beneath me instantly and I sped down a closed tubed slide. Shock factor = high!

A six-person raft ride called the Dawwama was the next ride that I will be including on my list of all-time favorite water rides. In the middle of the ride the raft is shot out from a tubed slide into a 65 foot high funnel made to feel as if you’re stuck in the middle of a tornado.

Dawamma funnel

Finally, I ended my day at Yas Waterworld with the Jebel Drop. I almost wimped out of riding this one. As a child I have a bad memory of getting a few painful bruises on one of these slides by not properly keeping my head up or my legs and arms crossed in the proper method. But I’m glad I finally took the risk. The Yas website defines it as a monstrous drop, and I can confirm that this description is 100% accurate – it was awesome.

Pic2 of park_new

Tough to see from this picture but the Jebel drop slide is the green slide to the left of the blue one.

After finishing all the adrenaline rush rides, Jim and I knew we could only go in one direction next…on to visit the world’s fastest roller coaster in the world at Ferrari World –

Ferrari World

Zero to 149 miles per hour in <5 Seconds…

Formula Rossa was our first must-see destination and we were lucky to be there in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon where we only had a 5-minute wait to board the ride. It’s probably good that I didn’t have longer to think about or see what was ahead of us, because if I did, I’m not sure I would have jumped on the ride as cocky and fearless as I did!

Boarding Formula Rossa_new

As I waited in line, there were two advance warning signs that I was in for something unique:

  • Other riders’ reactions as they exited from their ride experience. I expected laughs, enthusiasm and energy, but what I saw instead was shocked, windburned faces and silence, as if they were trying to absorb what they had just experienced.
  • Safety goggles were handed out and a mandatory requirement for us to put on as we boarded, and there was a safety video to watch.

Formula Rossa_new

Tough to describe this experience in words except to say it took the breath out of me from the very moment it began…

Viaggio in Italia Ride

A memorable attraction, this ride gave us the opportunity to have a virtual ride experience of flying over Italy while you followed a Ferrari car around the dangerous bends on Italian roads. Jim and I have traveled to many of these towns and cities during our recent travels and it was a magical way to recount some of those memories from our trips and see the cities from a spectacular, scenic view on the massive dome projection screen!

Who Doesn’t Want a Ferrari?

Jim next to Ferrari_new

All in all, there were about twenty different attractions ranging from roller coasters to rides where you could get a tour of what the Ferrari factory looks like to experiences that taught you about Ferrari or gave you the experience of the speed behind a Ferrari car.

Overall, an amazing marketing scheme that does a very effective job of making you want to buy a Ferrari.

The Ferrari World Complex…

is fascinating. If you’re into architecture, the design alone is worth making a trip here to check it out. Here’s a few Fun Facts from Ferrari World’s website:

Ferraris on wall_new

  • Ferrari World Abu Dhabi needed 12,370 tons of steel to create its structure; the Eiffel Tower only needed 7,000 tons.
  • The gross footprint area of the plaza level is equivalent to approximately 15 American Football fields.
  • The Empire State Building could be rebuilt in the same time it took to clad the 200,000 m2of roof for Ferrari World Abu Dhabi; approximately 14 months.
  • Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster, has the same G force one would feel driving in an F1 car and braking at maximum speed.

Whirlwind of a Day

The full exhaustion set in later that night when we returned back to Abu Dhabi. When my aching body still wasn’t completely back to normal hours later from the many thrills and shocks of the day’s events, I finally remembered I was actually a 33 year old adult, not a child….But without a doubt, I was able to recapture my childhood excitement during my visit to the Yas parks. Worth the aches for an amazing, event-packed day.


Jim and I spent 3 nights in Abu Dhabi and 3 nights in Dubai in total. Look out for future posts where I describe my overall impression of Abu Dhabi and Dubai!

Courtesy of the Abu Dhabi Tourism department, I was offered discounted adult passes of 50 AED (currently $14 US dollars)  from the current rate of 365AED (currently $99 US dollars) per person in exchange for writing about my experience – all opinions are always my own. Thank you very much to the tourism department for this offer. We visited the parks mid-week ( on a Wednesday) and were fortunate to have very little waits for any of the rides. But based on the structures that were in place, I can imagine the lines do get very long and grueling at peak times, so if you’re visiting, do your research and define your must-see rides/attractions in advance. 



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About Tanya

I’m a freelance travel and beer writer and a passionate and energetic 30 something - determined to enjoy life and see as much as possible along the way. Recently I lived abroad in London and traveled to 20+ countries within two years! As of January 2014, I'm back in the USA, and currently living in Charlotte, NC. But before all of that, my roots were set in small town America, where I spent the first 23 years of my life living, going to school, and working in the state of Pennsylvania.

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