Grab your swimming costume, buckle up and get ready for the water rides of your life! If you’ve amphibian interests and long to spend more hours in the water than on the surface, then Wild Wadi water park is a must-visit attraction in Dubai.
Wild Wadi is a themed water park with the emphasis on keeping you in the water and having fun for as long as possible. It is one of the largest water parks in the Middle East and offers rides and experiences for a variety of ages, without holding back on the adrenalin-rush for those who crave a rush that gushes over you like the ocean.
Conveniently located next to the Burj Al-Arab, the water park opens at 10am and closes at 6pm, so the earlier you arrive, the more you can explore. We arrived at Wild Wadi at 0930am and spent the entire day there, never getting bored or waiting too long in queues. As we walked up to the entrance, a series of yellow school buses also pulled up, brimming full with excited girls on a mission to have fun. They took selfies outside the entrance, excitedly rushing to queue for rides and it seemed that everyone who comes here knows what to expect and how to make the most of it. Aside from this group, there were families, couples, teenagers and groups of friends all enjoying the variety of water activities on display with one glance allowing some mental planning as to what you wanted to try next depending on how fun it looked.
Entry was very smooth and well organised, which was a nice change compared to the other large water park in the region, Atlantis, which is much busier and requires more time queuing than experiencing the rides. Once in, we swiftly changed into our swimming costumes and stored our belongings in a large locker which cost 45 Dhirams (£11), a reasonable fee given we intended to spend the day here.
The water park is designed around Arabian folklore and you’ll see a friendly caricature on many signs and hoardings. This is Juha or Nasreddin, a legendary philosopher who appeared in thousands of witty and wise folklore stories, where Juha is often the person playing the fool. This playful mascot welcomes you and is peppered throughout the park, highlighting a theme of fun, relaxation and tomfoolery.
With only a handful of queues and plenty of room to move around, we could survey the park first and then dive in. We began with Juha’s Journey, a 360-metre lazy river ride which was a relaxing float in the crystal blue waters as we lounged in one of their inflated yellow dinghies, with our toes dipped in the water as we soaked up the sun. Other inflatables were available including multi-occupant ones for those who want to share the ride with company.
Not every ride is for those who want to lay back and take it easy. The Jumeirah Sceirah, a clever play on words for what is essentially a huge aqua-drop in a capsule after a slow 32-metre climb. The capsule opens unexpectedly and suddenly, invoking the scare as you plunge almost 120 metres in a speed slide Screams are drowned out by splashes and almost everyone who went on this ride wanted to go immediately again.
With over 30 rides to choose from, you can choose to surf on the Wipeout or Riptide slides, play in the pool with a multitude of visitors in the AquaPlay RainFortress, catch some waves and hone your skills in the Flow Rider or take on the Burj Surj, a downhill spinning and spiralling waterslide. The closest experience we can compare this to (from imagination) is going down a plughole and drainpipe. You’re seated on a tube and go downhill to a bowl before being propelled into spiralling spins and dropped into a slide causing a massive splash in the pool. Whether its having fun on master blasters that begin as white-water experiences before hurling you up 15 metres into the air or allowing little ones to play with water guns, paddle, race and slide in Juha’s Dhow and Lagoon, all ages are catered for and anyone can have fun absolutely anywhere in the park.
Two highlights were the Tunnel of Doom and Tantrum Alley. Tunnel of Doom is a slow-starting drift into a darkened tunnel before being dropped down a fast slide in the dark and emerging into a pool of water 20-30 seconds later. It’s fast, fun and you get wet, which should be the staple requirement of most water slides, but the anticipation before going in and the darkness during the slide all add to making it one that’ll have you screaming, at least for 20 seconds.
Tantrum Alley had a small queue and was almost as popular as the Burj Surge (the other attraction with people waiting in line), but understandably so given this group activity provides a shared surge of adrenaline as you cling on for dear life. Tantrum Alley is a four-person tube ride up to the namesake slide that brings together two large sections of downhill waterslides and three tornadoes. Your dinghy will move in and out of the tornadoes at a fast pace so this is not for the faint of heart. With twists, turns, moments you’ll see the blue sky and others where all you’ll see is the inside of the tunnel and screaming friends, Tantrum Alley is a thrill ride that lasts approximately one minute but gets your heart racing to a level that is usually achieved by a short cardio session. The crazy-fast rotations even had one of our party losing a contact lens, but this was a short price to pay for the experience of sharing shouts and bewildered looks of joy with family as the world spins around us. So if of a nervous disposition or uneasy with fast rides, note that Tantrum Alley is a an eye-popping, bone-shaking ride that thrills and spills! Queues were of 15 minutes wait time at most, making them worth standing in and most rides were managed so efficiently that no queueing was necessary.
Fast food was available throughout the park and everything was halal. There were hot dogs, pizza and southern fried chicken as well as drinks and ice cream. We went for hot dogs (£10) and pizza (£15 each) and drinks were 13 Dhirams (£3) for a bottle of water. We cooled off with an £8 scoop of ice cream which was expensive, so plan ahead and perhaps consider eating once and when necessary rather than going for snacks frequently.
The prices indoors were expensive too, but again there were no queues. You essentially order food and it’s delivered to your table with a smile, reinforcing the family-friendly and happy atmosphere throughout. Customer service was fantastic with everyone speaking politely and asking if we had a nice day, how we were enjoying it and where we had travelled from. This enhanced the experience as it showed a park that had trained staff to engage with and keep its visitors happy.
In terms of competition, there are only two main water parks in Dubai: Atlantis and Wild Wadi. While Atlantis is bigger and has more to do, it is much busier and so the majority of your day will be spent queueing rather than in the water with limited time for second runs on your favourite slides. Entry at Atlantis is also not as efficient so it may take longer to get into the park. If you’re after want a smoother and relaxed experience that is still fun and suitable for young children, teenagers and adults, then Wild Wadi is a refreshing change. Atlantis may have some rides that are bigger, yet Wild Wadi has more variety and is a similar waterpark that is smaller in size, but just as fun. Food prices are similar in both parks so if you had to pick one, then Wild Wadi would be our recommendation.
SE travelled in October and the weather was a perfect 27-32 degrees centigrade, making it pleasant to be outside and full of families having fun. Whether it’s a half-term water holiday you’re after or somewhere that helps you escape the concrete jungle and dive into aquatic fun, Wild Wadi waterpark is the big splash you need.
Like this review? Watch our video from Wild Wadi for more tips and to see the water park in action.