Aquaventure at Dubai’s Atlantis resort has beaten rival attraction Wild Wadi to be crowned the most popular waterpark in Dubai and one of the best worldwide, a report found.
Both Dubai attractions ranked among the world’s top 20 waterparks, according to a list compiled by the Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM.
Aquaventure took the No.9 spot in the list, beating more established global rivals. The Palm Jumeirah park attracted 1.04 million visitors in 2010, a rise of 6.1 percent year-on-year, the report said.
Wild Wadi was ranked at No.17, with 690,000 visitors in 2010 and a rise in attendance of 2.2 percent on the year earlier period.
David Camp, vice president for economics at AECOM in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, said waterparks were a natural fit for the Middle East’s climate.
“Theme park development in the Middle East is largely dormant. Waterparks are a different story; they’re a natural leisure solution for a region with baking hot weather,” he said.
“Aquaventure and Wild Wadi… both made the top 20 worldwide waterparks list this year.”
Both Dubai attractions have some way to go to rival the world’s top-ranked waterparks, which are dominated by Disney developments.
Top-ranked park, the Typhoon Lagoon in Disneyland Florida, saw more than two million visitors in 2010. Blizzard Beach in the same development attracted 1.8 million visitors, and was named the second most popular waterpark.
A sister ranking of theme parks was also dominated by Disney, with Disneyland developments around the world commanding the top four rankings.
The UAE plans to attract 15 million tourists by 2020 under efforts to diversify its petrodollar-driven economy. Abu Dhabi is spending billions on visitor attractions such as the Yas Island development, which is scheduled to open a $165m waterpark in early 2013.
Dubai’s planned $91bn Dubailand theme park was put on hold in late 2008 after the onset of the financial crisis, but had boasted tie-ups with Universal Studios, US theme park giant Six Flags and Legoland.
Mohi-Din BinHendi, president of UAE conglomerate BinHendi Enterprises, said in May Dubai needed a Disney-style theme park attraction if it was going to compete with global tourism hubs.
Walt Disney Company said in May it had no immediate plans to set up in Dubai.