Atlantis Aquaventure
Make your way to the Atlantis Aquaventure... there's a lot more of it from now one as it cements its status as a must-visit destination in Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: The Middle East’s biggest water theme park is adding a lot of water - and thrills – to the visitor experience.

Set to open in phases from March 1, the Atlantis Aquaventure at the Palm in Dubai has gone through the “biggest waterpark expansion in history”. The numbers would suggest so – to an already massive 17 hectare, a further 5.5 hectares has been tagged on.

All of that space has come in handy for a combined 79 rides - including the longest slide in the world at 450 metres plus - and attractions, 26 ‘marine experiences’ water sports activities, and 26 F&B outlets.

And there’s the water too – now at 23.5 million litres compared with the pre-expansion 18 million litres. The expansion extends to the beach too – now double in size to just under 1 kilometre.

Ticket to ride
A resident Day Pass starts at Dh169 for adults and Dh149 for children. Annual passes start from Dh495 and season passes are from Dh299.

Aiming to clear 2m

The short term target? Go past the 2 million a year visitor number by end 2023 as COVID-19 becomes a memory. In the immediate years prior to the pandemic, the Aquaventure destination was pulling between 1.6 million to 1.8 million visitors annually. (After COVID-19, the site is operating at 25 per cent capacity.)

Currently, the biggest water-based theme parks pull in around 2.5 million visitors a year.

“What we have now is more than a waterpark – when we looked at the expansion plans, there were three things on the horizon,” said Tim Kelly, Executive Vice-President and Managing Director, Atlantis Dubai. “First, opening of Atlantis The Royal in the fourth quarter this year, which will add more critical mass at the destination.

“On the Palm itself, there will be more than 10,000 hotel rooms by end of next year, plus the additional residences. And Dubai by end of 2022 will have over 150,000 hotel rooms.

“That’s a lot of inventory and a lot happening continually to raise Dubai’s position as a tourist destination.” (Atlantis The Royal features 795 hotel rooms and 231 residences, which include some of the priciest units in Dubai currently. Starting prices are from Dh6.99 million.)

Atlantis is operated by Kerzner, in which the Investment Corporation of Dubai holds a sizeable stake.

What we have created is very special addition and enhancement to Dubai and adding to the visitor experience

- Tim Kelly, Managing Director, Atlantis Dubai

Instant hit

The Aquaventure along with the Atlantis resort opened in September 2008. It added more experiences earlier in the decade, but the current one is its biggest yet. And make it compelling for any visitor to Dubai.

‘It needs to be part of that Dubai experience, an anchor destination in the same way as visiting Burj Khalifa, Dubai Frame, Dubai Mall or Dubai Fountain,” said Kelly.

The expansion works were completed in a year and 10 days, and includes new technology that will only make it to other “theme parks by the middle of this decade,” the official added. “Our intention is to have the Atlantis The Palm, Atlantis The Royal and Aquaventure all fully operational as we enter 2022. We no longer look at it as the hotel or Aquaventure but as Atlantis Dubai – one large integrated resort complex.”

Atlantis Aquaventure
All the thrills are getting a whole lot bigger, whether at the world's longest slide or on the Double Tornadoes. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

First to open

On March 1, the expansion area as well as the Trident Tower will be open to visitors. At 48-metres high, Trident will feature 12 slides and attractions. Also opening on the same day will be the Splashers Lagoon and Splashers Cove. Some of the existing attractions will be put through maintenance works, including at the Neptune Tower.

“We want to spend the next couple of months refining that particular area to unveil a global complex this year,” said Kelly.