Fun in the Sun: A Review of Aqua Park Qatar
My family and I excitedly hit Aqua Park Qatar just days after its official season opening. It was the perfect time as the season had just begun and the park wasn’t crowded.
The park itself is pristine and spotless, and to my relief, there are CPR and first aid-certified lifeguards and security staff everywhere. In fact, the lifeguards are required to be trained in their country of origin as well as pass a European certification upon arrival in Qatar. I found the staff to be very helpful and pleasant, but of course, younger children need to be supervised by an adult at all times. My variously aged children loved all of the attractions—my older children had a rip-roaring time on the big slides; my younger child thoroughly enjoyed the Pirates Kid’s Pool, the Bumper Boats and the Kid’s Driving School (for children up to age six); and everyone had a blast in the wave pool. The slides aren’t just for kids—adults will have plenty of fun too. Some of the slides have options for going down in pairs, which we all found to be very entertaining. My children especially loved the Spaceboat slide, which is a covered, brightly lit slide where you feel like you are almost being flushed down a super fun toilet (in the best of ways!).
For lunch, we opted for fried chicken and french fries from the largest fast food restaurant in the park, Boston Chicken. I’m normally quite strict when it comes to fast food, but I have to admit, it was really yummy and the best fried chicken I have had in a while. A value meal, which comes with fries, bread, main course and small fountain drink, costs on average QR 35. My children each had a soft-serve ice cream cone later for QR 7. In general, most snacks or desserts cost between QR 5-15. Sandwiches at the kiosks average in price around QR 15. The crêpes are very popular, particularly the Nutella crêpe at QR 25 with fresh strawberries on the side—and they are huge!
One of the most common complaints that I had heard about the park before our visit was that food choices were expensive and poor, but according to the general manager, Aqua Park is pursuing other cuisine options after listening to their guests’ feedback. Some people lamented that they weren’t allowed to bring their own food and drinks. However, according to Aqua Park Qatar management, the Ministry of Public Health requires the park to serve food that is prepared and served within the park in order to avoid issues with food contamination, which is why outside food is not allowed. As their guest services put it, most attraction parks globally follow this this rule.
Another common grievance about the park is that the entrance fees are high. And yes, going to the park with a family of five is not cheap. However, I feel that the Aqua Park is a good deal. It is a unique experience for Doha; there’s nothing else like it here, and contrary to online rumours that the prices went up considerably this year, it’s just not true. In fact, the entrance cost per person went down by QR 5 from last year. Compared to a flight to and hotel in Dubai to visit one of its big shiny, water parks, for us, it was worth the price—and we loved every minute of it.
One thing to note, however, the pools are not heated so the water can be quite chilly early or late in the season. Luckily, my children didn’t seem to mind at all because they were so busy running around trying out all of the huge slides and pools. And as the weather gets warmer, so do the pools.
- Arrive early at 10 am. For the first couple hours, the park is relatively quiet and not crowded so you won’t have to wait in long lines for the bigger slides, and you can choose a prime table under the shade near the pools.
- Bring your own water in plastic water bottles. Coffee, tea, sodas, juices or water are available at the food kiosks. No glass bottles allowed.
- Lifeguards and staff are strict about the height limits for children. Know your children’s measurements and make sure that they qualify to go on the slides to take full benefit of the park attractions.
- Fridays and Saturdays are very busy, especially when the weather starts to warm up, so go on an off day if you can.
- Stay hydrated and protected from the sun. There is not a lot of shade at the park unless you are on the slides themselves or sitting under a shaded table. Make sure your children have regular water + sunblock breaks to avoid dangerous dehydration as well as sunburns + heat stroke.
- There is a fully stocked first aid room behind the steps to the big slides. A certified nurse is available during regular park hours. (Children need parental permission to take any medicine.) The room has a state-of- the-art defibrillator as well as an oxygen machine for emergencies. Plus, the room is air conditioned if you just need a quick break from the sun.
- Filtered water (regulated and regularly checked by the Ministry of Public Health) is available in metal filters in and around the park. The pool waters are also regularly checked by the Ministry for cleanliness and safety.
- The Aqua Park tries to be culturally sensitive in terms of swimwear. However, any normal swimsuits are accepted. I read online before going to the park that people are allowed to swim in jeans and t-shirts. According to the management, this is not the case and they would stop anyone trying to swim in non-swimsuit clothing. While I was at the park, I did see a few younger men swimming in what looked a little more like shorts than swim gear, but I did not see anything else.
- Lastly, the newest soon-to- be-opening attraction is the “Stingray Surf Machine”. Additional price yet to be determined, opening in May 2016. This is the reason I gave the facilities a 4.5 out of 5. My kids were sad that the Stingray Surf Machine was not yet open when we went in early April.
- No pool toys allowed, but swim floaties, life vests are allowed for little swimmers
Location: Salwa International Road, exit 29, Abu Nakhla
From Doha, drive 20-25 minutes on Salwa road in the direction of Abu Samra. Pass the Abu Nakhla petrol station and you will see the Aqua Park on your left. Take exit 29 and then at the first roundabout, take the first exit. Cross the bridge and then at the second roundabout, take the exit to the slip road. Follow the slip road (back in the direction of Doha) and you will clearly see the entrance to the park on your right after 2-3 minutes
Plenty of parking is available in front of the park
Exit 29 from Salwa Road in the direction of Saudi Arabia
Fathers allowed: Yes
Opening hours: Sunday, Monday and Wednesday 10:00–19:00, Tuesday is Ladies’ Day (no boys over 120cm) 15:00–23:00, Thursday to Friday 10:00–22:00, Saturday is Family Day (no bachelors) 10:00–20:00
Ramadan hours: Daily 20:00–02:00
Eid hours: Daily 10:00–22:00
Tuesday Ladies’ Days do not apply during Ramadan and Eid. Aqua Park Qatar season runs from early April to mid-November.
Entrance fees: Fees are based on height. QR 130 for children 90–120cm, QR 180 for adults above 120cm, QR 70 for special needs visitors or maids. You can save QR 25 per regular priced adult and child tickets by booking online. Alternatively the Entertainer and mybookqatar.com offer buy one, get one free tickets. Family memberships for five people are QR 4,000 and include unlimited access to all attractions.