Motti Verses

Yas Island – Theme Parks Bloom In The Desert

Remote deserts are always defined as enormous extremely dry regions of land with scant vegetation. Food and water are scarce and human beings are deterred from living there. My Jewish people wandered for 40 years in the desert on the way to the promised land – a flourishing territory. However, through time and the evolving technology the wilderness is bitten by mankind.

Visiting Yas Island Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates took my mind to an historic, almost similar scenery. Las Vegas, Nevada. An ancient oasis that turned into an iconic blooming desert. Obviously the road was completely different. Vegas thrived due to being adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks 111 years ago, legalizing casino gambling 90 years back and building the nearby Hoover Dam a short period after. The fact of the matter is that man prevailed and nature surrendered.

Yas Island turned into a multi-purpose entertainment center.(photo by Motti Verses)

Yas Island’s miraculous evolution might be even more sensational. The 25 square km barren sandy plateau turned into an island by man made canals. Its development and ownership was founded by Emirati visionaries with funds, persistence and connections. The aim – turning the island into a multi-purpose leisure, shopping and entertainment center. The investment was planned as a multi-staged project to unfold in phases until 2018, with project stakeholders foreseeing the possibility of extending development by constantly adding new venues and upgrading existing facilities.

In the last 12 years the island, located 40 km east of Abu Dhabi city, became a one-of-a-kind destination that is home to many unique immersive attractions and world firsts.

Ferrari World, mostly indoors and the world’s first Ferrari-themed par (photo by Motti Verses)
Great attractions, however one person simulators require additional payment (photo by Motti Verses)

Ferrari World is mostly indoors and the world’s first Ferrari-themed park and features the world’s fastest roller coaster. It took three years to develop the park until it was officially opened a dozen years ago. Once you go in, you don’t want to leave. Some of the attractions, mainly one person simulators, require additional payment and patience for waiting. Smart planning is definitely needed. However for those addicted to the Ferrari brand, this place is paradise. Make sure to allocate additional funds for the merchandising products to take home. They are certainly not cheap.

Yas Waterworld is home to 45 rides, slides and attractions, and a diversity of seasonal events and shows. Endless fun with wave after wave of experiences. Surly another adrenalin-pumping adventure. This outdoor venue is an endless attraction mainly for children that most probably have never witnessed such an enormous collection of rides and slides. How do you even decide how to prioritize what to do first and what to skip? For my money, a dead end menthal maze, to say the least.

Yas Waterworld is home to 45 rides, slides and attractions (photo by Motti Verses)
This park outdoor venue is an endless attraction mainly for children (photo by Motti Verses)

Warner Brothers World is the world’s largest indoor theme park – $1 billion were invested in building this park that features characters from Warner Brothers’ franchises, such as Looney Tunes, DC Comics or Hanna-Barbera. The theme park is indoors and fully air-conditioned and was inaugurated in 2018. It is the world’s first ever Warner Brothers branded amusement park. Visiting it evokes all of your child’s memories. The Flintstones in Bedrock city, that was only an imaginary cartoon, dramatically came alive. So is Yosemite Sam, the legendary adversary of Bugs Bunny – a cowboy with a hair-trigger temper. For my money this park is the most enjoyable of them all. If I had to make a decision to pick the top one, this would definitely be it. Rides with Batman and endless characters, wearing 3 dimensional glasses buckled to a rotating seat is a high octane draining experience, but surely pleasant. The impressive audiovisual show in the park’s main square at closing time, with all Warner Brothers historical movies and characters, brought tears into my eyes.

Saluting Bugs Bunny at the WB theme park entrance – one of the most iconic cartoons in history (photo by Motti Verses)
The Flintstones in Bedrock city come alive (photo by Motti Verses)
Warner Bros World, and opportunity to meet Yosemite Sam, the legendary adversary of Bugs Bunny (photo by Motti Verses)
Wonder Woman in the impressive audiovisual show in the park’s main square (photo by Motti Verses)

A few steps away and the world’s first Warner Brothers themed hotel was our home. This hotel, part of Curio Collection by Hilton, takes guests via a memory lane of unforgettable experiences from Warner Brothers’ most iconic films and TV shows. Stepping in the main lobby and guests feel they are in a fictional cartoon scene. The Teen Titans are hugging guests, mainly enthusiastic children with parents taking endless pictures. This hotel is definitely a dream come true for families. Especially Israelis who flock to the hotel quite frequently. Ever since the The Abraham Accords joint normalization statements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain in Fall 2020, tourism here is blooming. Less than 3 hours flight – with rates similar to a domestic flight to Eilat on the Red Sea – families are feeling comfortable in this friendly hotel on Yas Island. Especially with a perk no one can resist – one theme park entrance for each night stay. A family with children who stay for 3 nights will enjoy a free entrance to all the parks – gratis. This is by all means a major benefit.

A 10 minutes taxi ride from the airport to the hotel and fantasy commence. Who doesn’t want to stay on a Superman floor? To sleep in a guestroom with iconic cartoons as decoration, enjoying Looney Tunes macaroons? We relished Warner Brothers’ rich history and library of timeless productions. An impressive piece of this theme hotel interior design.

With General Manager Feryal Haddon and the the Teen Titans in the hotel lobby where fantasy commence (photo by Motti Verses)
The hotel lobby where fantasy commence (photo by Motti Verses)
The themed splash pad for infants (photo by Motti Verses)
Superman is highlighting in the hotel both as a floor and in the heritage library (photo by Motti Verses)
A guest room with Looney Tunes macaroons gesture (photo by Motti Verses)

The hotel offers 257 Rooms & Junior Suites and a kids Club. A huge pool complex and a splash pad are an integral part of this pampering resort. This hotel also has adults in mind. Designated relaxing corners are available. One of them is definitely the infinity pool on the rooftop floor, rising above Yas Island attractions. The Spa with pampering treatments, or the health club, overlooking the amusement park are also adult heavenly escapes. Food and drinks in the main restaurant are family oriented. The choices are endless.

Together with the involved, respectful, available and attentive hotel team members, guests enjoy an exceptional courteous service they are not used to in Israel. Most of this WB Abu Dhabi Curio Collection by Hilton hotel employees are young, who arrive from endless countries. They are motivated by courteous General Manager Feryal Haddon, who is doing wonders, running this unique property. Her long experience is surely noticed by the content guests. Bob, the helpful receptionist, comes from China. Sori from Indonesia, Diaa from Egypt and Brendon from Zimbabwe are the friendliest waiters I met in the industry. Jogesh is a motivated restaurant supervisor from Mauritius. Alexander is a courteous lifeguard from Malawi. Rosie is an exceptional massage therapist from Rwanda. These promising talents were given a life changing opportunity to a hospitality career in this hotel and within the Hilton portfolio. Their endless smiles and the true will to provide guests with an ultimate vacation experience can not go unnoticed. They all deserve a pat on their shoulder and I will not be surprised that in the future, I will meet some of them in executive positions.

This hotel currently dominates the lodging options in Yas Island. It will definitely not be surprising that in coming years numerous additional hotels and theme parks will be inaugurated. Entrepreneurs are not resting as Sea World, the first Marine Life Theme Park on the island, will be inaugurated this coming May.

A few years back I visited Las Vegas, after not being there almost a decade. The change was dramatic. Yas Island will develop tremendously as well. There is no doubt in my mind that if I visit Yas in three years from now, I will definitely be shocked by a new unrecognizable scenery.

About the Author
The author is a hotel expert, traveler, writer, videographer and the former Head of Public Relations of Hilton Hotels and Resorts in Israel
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