Alhasan Kaabous AlZaabi, Vice President of Operations – Farah Experiences, tells Park World what it takes for waterparks to stay on top.
Since opening our doors in 2013, and as we celebrate our ninth anniversary this January with more than 50 industry awards and accolades from leading bodies within the industry, we at Yas Waterworld took a dive into the waterpark’s most memorable milestones throughout the years. We firmly believe that in order stay ahead, we must also be able to look back and learn valuable lessons from our journey thus far.
As we look back at Yas Waterworld throughout the years, and ahead at the emerging trends for 2022 onwards, we see several core ingredients that every attraction must seek for success: A strong foundation, brand story, a human-centric approach, an innovative mindset and a forward-looking vision are some of the factors which have allowed us to continuously reflect our brand and solidify our standing in the market as the World’s Leading Waterpark.
Here, we’ll take you on our journey that led to nine years of success and highlight how a strong foundation is key in keeping up with consumer needs.
A strong foundation and brand story pave the way for highly immersive experiences
Guests today expect full-sensory immersion, personalised experiences and state-of-the-art technology – ideally all at the same time, with a great story to back it all up. Using a strong brand to create a sense of place is indispensable. Designing and creating an environment that transport guests in authentically themed spaces provides them with the unique ability to truly be immersed within every destination.
Since 2013, the Yas Waterworld brand has been drawing inspiration from the UAE’s pearl-diving heritage. All our attractions are derived from an original story developed exclusively for the waterpark: The legend of ‘The Lost Pearl.’ The story follows the adventures of Dana, a young Emirati girl in search of a legendary pearl which had once brought prosperity to her village. With every innovative experience introduced, we make sure it ties to our story and pays tribute to the Emirati culture and heritage of pearl diving. Traditional Emirati architecture is also reflected in the entirety of the waterpark’s design. With a detailed authenticity to historic Emirati heritage, an Arabian castle-like exterior design, and a village-like interior design, you will find yourself immersed into an Arabian town filled with historical Emirati elements such as minarets, souks, dhows, craggy rock outcrops and wind towers.
A human-centric approach makes personalisation easy
When it comes to waterparks, one size does not fit all. Different age groups have different preferences, and different segments have different needs. Responding to each of these preferences offers waterparks opportunities for additional engagement and reach. It can even allow waterparks to attract guests who usually would not even consider visiting a waterpark.
For instance, as a proudly Emirati establishment, we are cognizant of catering to audiences who value their privacy, and launched the Yas Waterworld’s Ladies Season, where female guests can enjoy a fun-filled evening complete with privacy and comfort thanks to our all-female staff and a strict ban on photography. Other out-of-the-box experiences that cater to our wide array of guest segments, uplift our guest experiences, and provide a personalized touch include Cinema Under the Stars, the Kabayan Beach Fiesta, and Yas Waterworld’s Neon Nights to name a few.
We also recently collaborated with GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS to launch Yas Waterworld’s first ever GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ live record-breaking event. Guests had the chance to participate in different challenges and become GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title holders with a total of six new individual GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ titles set by the end of the two-day event.
An innovative mindset is key in adapting and staying competitive
Waterpark guests now also expect to be part of the action and are seeking interactive experiences. Virtual and augmented reality technology will only continue to accelerate, transforming reality into digital spaces and placing virtual objects in the real world.
As the world’s leading waterpark, it is paramount for us to continuously improve and enhance the guest experience by leveraging the latest state-of-the-art technology within the entertainment industry and further create immersive experiences. For example, the water park’s Underwater VR Experience – a first-of-its-kind experience in the UAE, allows guests to dive into the sublime world of virtual reality while submerged underwater for an unprecedented immersive sensory experience. Another ride we’ve introduced is Cinesplash, which delivers an immersive cinematic environment that uses special effects to awaken the senses and takes guests on a simulated journey to the UAE’s pearl-diving past.
A vision towards the future: Contactless technology is still relatively new, but is here to stay
Since the outbreak of pandemic, the demand of touchless technology has been increasing, and we only see it accelerating at all employee and customer experience levels. Yas Theme Parks and attractions, which Yas Waterworld is a part of, quickly implemented a touchless experience by integrating facial recognition technology to create FacePass. Our parks became the first in the region to launch this contactless technology that gives guests the opportunity to enter, shop and dine using facial recognition.
The integration of a brand and story with the continued merging of interactivity, personalisation and technology will remain essential for waterparks to stay ahead; they facilitate the transformation of waterparks into wet, experiential environments that have an unprecedented level of immersion, and we predict that to be a core element that drives both new and repeat guests.
Since opening its doors in 2013, Yas Waterworld took home over 50 accolades from prestigious industry entities. Most recently in 2021, the waterpark was named ‘Middle East’s Leading Waterpark’ at the World Travel Awards and ‘Best Waterpark in the Middle East’ by the International Travel Awards. Yas Waterworld also won a Bronze award at the blooloop Innovation Awards 2021 for its ‘Underwater VR experience’.