Exclusive: Yas Waterworld announces live action roleplay event, opening door for potential LARP theme park

Abu Dhabi’s Yas Waterworld has unveiled plans to host a fully immersive live action roleplay (LARP) experience, with its creators planning to use the event as a pilot for a fully-fledged LARP theme park.

Taking place from 1 December to 30 December, “Legends of Arabia: The Quest of the Pearl Tribes” will allow visitors to don costumes and roleplay characters – becoming part of the show instead of just watching it.

The concept is the creation of Claus Raasted and Paul Bulencea. Raasted is best known for his work blockbuster LARP events in Polish castles, most famously the College of Wizardry, which hit the headlines worldwide in 2014 for its Harry Potter-esque experience. Bulencea is co-author of Gamification in Tourism – a book which explores the combination of gamification and experience design – and also co-creator of the upcoming College of Extraordinary Experiences.

“We are bringing this to the Emirates with the end goal of creating something bigger – a theme park dedicated to live action roleplay,” sad Bulencea speaking exclusively to Attractions Management. “This acts like a pilot, something that tests the concept.”

“A theme park constructed to our tastes means you go over there and you have the airplane LARP and over here is the space moon station or underwater world,” added Raasted. “It’s a field test that shows the basic idea but what that means for the future we don’t know yet.”

The Quest of the Pearl Tribes overhauls Waterworld’s themed environment, reimagining it at night as the setting for the duo’s LARP creation.

“The reason we’re doing it at this waterpark is that not only is it a waterpark but thanks to the theming it looks like something else,” said Raasted. “At night you notice the waterslides less and instead see the oasis and the visuals that make the park more interesting. It gives us the setting of this mythical fairytale.”

The game will accommodate up to 500 people a night, with participants divided up into 20 different clans. Each clan belongs to one of five tribes who through the three hour event will end up at odds against each other before resolving their differences in the grand finale.

As a concept, Bulencea see the LARP model as one which operations such as theme parks could take advantage of, with a relatively cheap output also encouraging return visits.

“What I think is very interesting from a business perspective is you can bring in a team that can build a concept around something you already have,” he said. “From a business sense it will cost money to create the initial concept where we come in and run a month show for them but then we enter a training phase and it becomes something very sustainable for them.

“You can use the story as a base, create a new chapter each month, and then you always have a new angle to bring people back. Engagement through immersion is the key.”

Yas Waterworld  waterpark  live action roleplay  LARP  Claus Raasted  Paul Bulencea 
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Abu Dhabi’s Yas Waterworld has unveiled plans to host a fully immersive live action roleplay (LARP) experience, with its creators planning to use the event as a pilot for a fully-fledged LARP theme park. Taking place from 1 December to 30 December, “Legends of Arabia: The Quest of the Pearl Tribes” will allow visitors to don costumes and roleplay characters – becoming part of the show instead of just watching
The concept is the creation of Claus Raasted (right) and Paul Bulencea (left) / John Paul Bichard
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