NEDERLANDS // ENGLISH
Everybody loves records. That certainly applies to amusement park enthusiasts. Every coaster fan dreams about riding Kingda Ka, because it’s the tallest roller coaster on the planet. And if you’re at Alton Towers, you definitely want to ride The Smiler, don’t you? No other roller coaster contains as many inversions as this one. The Japanese Nagashima Spa Land is home to the world’s longest coaster: their Steel Dragon has a total length of more than 2,400 metres. But if you ask me, the most appealing record is about speed. We’re all little speed junkies and everybody wants to ride the world’s fastest roller coaster, right? That super-fast coaster can’t be found in New Jersey, England or Japan, though. No, it’s in the United Arab Emirates. In Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, to be precise.
Speaking of speed… I’ve never visited so many amusement parks in such a short time span. Yesterday I discovered both Legoland Dubai and Motiongate and today, two more theme parks are planned. This is kind of necessary, since my trip to the Emirates only lasts for two days. People then ask me: don’t you want to spend more time at these amusement parks? No, actually I don’t. Thanks to the very low crowds, I simply don’t need a full day for these parks. Yesterday I saw a just few hundred people and Warner Bros World also felt like a ghost town this morning. Ferrari World is well-known and it’s therefore a little busier. Yet, queues are once again nonexistent here. I like that.
A combined day ticket for Warner Bros and Ferrari World costs almost 100 euros. That’s quite expensive, so let’s try to do as many attractions as possible. The first one I encounter is called Speed of Magic. The park is especially well-known because of its solid roller coaster collection, but there are also three dark rides. This first one is clearly based on Spider-Man and Transformers at the Universal theme parks. The transportation system is similar, but the theming level is lower and the story line is more childish. In a nutshell: it’s a race between you and a horrible kid, which brings you to the most diverse places. This is, in fact, a great family attraction. Still, I hate the main character so badly that I don’t like the ride that much. This should’ve been an interactive dark ride that allowed me to shoot that child with a laser gun. But hey… happy thoughts.
Legoland, Motiongate and Warner Bros were entirely new to me, but Ferrari World isn’t. In 2015 I already had the privilege to ride some of the park’s roller coasters and I’m grateful for that. Especially Fiorano GT Challenge‘s 2 credit seem to be valuable, because this dueling roller coaster is undergoing annual maintenance today. That’s not a major disaster in my opinion; it would be worse to stand in front of a closed Formula Rossa or Flying Aces. Still curious about the ride experience of Fiorano GT Challenge? Then I’d like to quote my previous trip report: ‘This is quite a special coaster because it contains no fewer than 4 launches. Combined with a series of non-banked curves, these accelerations give a very amusing race track feeling. Please don’t expect a crazy ride (Fiorano GT Challenge is family-oriented) but thanks to its uniqueness I consider this a very entertaining attraction.’
Ferrari World is one of the least beautiful theme parks in the United Arab Emirates. The roof is extremely ugly and many parts of the park lack a good atmosphere. An exception to this rule is the Italian alley in the west wing. They created something you might recognize from The Venetian or Europa-Park. It’s cliché and a little fake, but quite cosy in the end.
The next dark ride can be found behind one of the Italian facades. Made in Maranello is some kind of guided tour behind the scenes of the Ferrari factory. Luckily I don’t have to listen to a boring tour guide, but I may get seated in a comfortable vehicle that drives straight through the simulated factory. Although it feels like one big commercial full of self-glorification, it’s a pretty fun attraction. It’s also the ideal ride for an average Ferrari World guest. Indian tour groups are clearly in the majority and such guests may prefer Made in Maranello to a spectacular roller coaster.
I’m not a part of The New Delhi Travel Company, so uhm… I’m actually interested in roller coasters. In 2015, the line-up was still limited to Fiorano GT Challenge and Formula Rossa. Nowadays, however, there’s more to experience. The largest addition was Flying Aces, a Wing Coaster manufactured by Intamin. The ride opened in 2016 and has received rave reviews ever since. It’s not difficult to understand why: Flying Aces has a total track length of 1.5 kilometres, it’s over 60 metres tall and it reaches speeds of up to 120 kilometres per hour. The ride itself doesn’t disappoint at all. After an extremely fast lift hill (at what speed do they start calling it a launch?) I plunge down and then I experience an impressive combination of powerful curves and hills. The first curve and the non-inverting loop are actually so intense that I experience a greyout for a few seconds. That may also be due to the heat, because it’s very bizarre to ride a roller coaster with these temperatures. It literally feels like a giant hairdryer is blowing in my face at full power. Crazy experience.
At the time I reach the air-conditioned station again, I may conclude that Flying Aces is a brilliant roller coaster. It’s intense, smooth, very long and it doesn’t have that terrible restraint issue that its Hersheypark counterpart has. In short, Ferrari World can be extremely proud of Flying Aces. However, two particular things could’ve been better. Firstly, the airtime was less intense than I’d hoped. Especially if you compare it with Skyrush, the weightlessness is pretty poor here at Ferrari World. Secondly, I found the heartline roll rather out of place. Flying Aces feels like a Mega Coaster and it plays that role very well. But as far as I’m concerned, that forced inversion doesn’t fit in the layout. I had the same problem with Hansa Park‘s Kärnan, which also ends with such a meaningless inversion. Still, one thing that absolutely blew my mind, is Flying Aces’ stunningly beautiful queue. No really… I’ve seen many extraordinary queues in my life, but the one at Flying Aces is easily the nicest one ever. It’s almost a shame that there’s no line today…
Flying Aces was fan-tas-tic. The expectations for my second new coaster credit are therefore high. And when the expectations are high, the disappointment is near. This certainly applies to Turbo Track, a launched shuttle coaster built by Intamin. At first sight, it’s a unique attraction: there are both forward and backward facing seats and a part of the track is integrated into the ‘eye’ of Ferrari World’s striking roof. Unfortunately, the acceleration isn’t that intense and I haven’t even mentioned the short ride duration. Turbo Track feels like a six-course dinner that suddenly ends after your first bite. And that one bite wasn’t even that delicious. This is a credit for my counter, but that’s it.
Speaking of roller coaster credits… Ferrari World is The Coaster Capital of the Emirates and they are doing everything to defend that title. The park currently has 5 roller coasters and 2 more will be added soon. A red kiddie roller coaster is nearing completion and the long-awaited Mission Ferrari seems to be getting ready for its opening as well. This SFX Coaster is in the centre of the park and looks very impressive. How the ride experience will feel like? No idea. What I do know, however, is the fact that the visible tracks were already there during my previous visit in 2015. Too bad that I’m still not able to enjoy it 4 years later.
We’re currently in the eastern half of the park and that’s a rather meaningless place. This section consists of racing simulators and a go-kart track, but those things don’t interest me at all. So let’s go somewhere else quickly. To Italy for example? Viaggio in Italia is the right choice then. This Flying Theatre simulates a flight over some stunning sights, just like Soarin’ and Voletarium do. Unfortunately, the overall experience is less impressive than it is at Disney or Europa-Park. That isn’t due to the film, but I’d rather blame the terribly slow ride system. Flying Theatres are usually cool, but Ferrari World’s version turns out to be poor.
One specific thing that isn’t terribly slow is my next stop: Formula Rossa. I was able to experience the world’s fastest roller coaster several times in 2015, but it’s a pleasure to ride it again today. It’s also a pleasure to see the empty queue. There was a short wait four years ago, but today the red train is literally waiting for me. So I quickly put my stuff in a locker (fortunately this is free of charge at Ferrari World), put on some ridiculous safety glasses and not much later, the vehicle leaves the station. The temperature difference is once again immense. The station has air-conditioning, but the rest of this 2-kilometre roller coaster takes place in the scorching hot desert. Still, there isn’t much time to think about that. The train immediately clicks onto the launching mechanism, after which you experience 4 of the world’s most intense coaster seconds.
The 4 seconds in which Formula Rossa accelerates to its top speed are indeed very intense: I’m pressed into my seat with brutal force. Unfortunately, after this fantastic launch, the fun is immediately decreased. The first hill is full of brakes and they slow the train down considerably. I’m sure that the top speed of 240 kilometres per hour is reached, but it’s only maintained for a fraction of a second. That’s a shame and the rest of the layout isn’t that convincing either. Formula Rossa is actually an enlarged version of Rita at Alton Towers. There are some left turns, some right turns and a few modest airtime hills, but it doesn’t feel that intense at all. Formula Rossa is actually a quite controlled roller coaster. So if you ask me, Flying Aces is definitely better than this record-breaking ride.
This may sound strange from someone who calls himself Roller Coaster Traveller, but I prefer the nearby Benno’s Great Race to Formula Rossa. Trackless dark rides are obviously trendy in the Middle East. Warner Bros World has a beautiful Scooby-Doo attraction and Motiongate has no fewer than three trackless dark rides. Ferrari World couldn’t stay behind and opened the brilliant Benno’s Great Race in 2016. The decor is super adorable, the story line is easy to follow and the interactive games are fun. Unlike many other interactive dark rides, you don’t have to shoot aliens or kill zombies here. No, Benno’s Great Race encourages me to cut spider webs, catch bees in a jar or light fireworks in the final scene. It’s refreshing and it’s immensely cute. In terms of total experience, this is even the most solid attraction that Ferrari World has to offer. I didn’t expect this at all, so I’m overwhelmed when exiting this ride. Benno’s Great Race is indeed great.
I had a beautiful afternoon, that much is certain. I was able to make unlimited rides on Formula Rossa (the launch is amazing enough to forget that moderate second part) and the staff of Flying Aces got to know me as the single rider who prefers sitting on the right-hand side of the first row. Yet, I’m not into fast cars, Italy or the color red. You’d therefore suspect that Ferrari World isn’t my place to be, but that’s not entirely true. Although the overall theme of this park doesn’t interest me, Ferrari World simply shouldn’t be missed during a trip to Abu Dhabi. This park offers – by far – the most spectacular roller coasters of the United Arab Emirates. Formula Rossa and Flying Aces are nothing less than legendary. And despite the fact that only Flying Aces confirmed its status one hundred percent, both rides should be on every coaster enthusiast’s bucket list.
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi isn’t the best amusement park in the United Arab Emirates. Not at all. This park lacks Motiongate’s varied range of attractions and Warner Bros World’s amazing theming level. Yet, Ferrari World is the only theme park in the region that has had extensive expansions since the inauguration and that deserves praise. The brand new SFX Coaster looks impressive, so I’m looking forward to the future. Dear Ferrari World… thanks for the world record, thanks for the hairdryer-in-my-face moment and thanks for the trackless brilliance. I’ll be back and that’s a promise. Ciao!