FERRARI WORLD '19
I managed to get a little trip sorted across to Dubai in February to get away from the british winter for a few days and decided to cram in some credits hunting. One of the parks I was dying to see was Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, as I remember seeing it get built and being so impressed with the scale of the thing. Like most things in the UAE a lot of things are labeled as the biggest in the world or hold a million world records. So many things claimed this that I kind of lost track of it all, but I’m sure the building itself has some kind of record somewhere. One record I am certain the park holds is having the fastest coaster in the world, Formula Rossa, reaching a speed of 149mph in 4 seconds. Watching documentaries on this coaster 10 years ago made me marvel at the amount of engineering involved in creating such a beast, so seeing it finally in person was quite the moment for me.
The park, along with most the parks around the UAE is mostly indoors. The buildings design has 3 prongs that stick out from the central hub, with each prong spewing out a coaster, two of which are custom Intamin coasters (yum) and the third is a Maurer duelling family coaster. Their latest coaster Turbo Track, another one-of-a-kind Intamin pokes through the belly button of the building towards the sky.
I was actually super nervous to ride Formula Rossa, despite it being my main reason for visiting. It’s such a big deal on the world stage and I’m not the best with launches, dunno what it is about them, I tend to prefer big drops. But as a warm up we decided to do Flying Aces and Turbo Track.
So what can I say about this coaster, it’s a shuttle coaster that consists of a launch that also doubles up as a shallow hill. You go up a twisted spike and then… that’s it. It’s definitely one of those filler coasters that’s there to provide an extra thrill alongside the signature rides. But it just doesn’t do much. There’s a lot of theatre leading up to the launch, and huge LED screens that move alongside the track with the car. Also the 3 across trains are interesting allowing you to ride either forward or backwards.
My main issue is with these short rides, you rely on them being punchy. But the launch is fairly weak and the light cars mean nothing drags you back to earth from the top of the free fall spike so you don’t really get much air. All in all, I wasn’t really impressed.
VERDICT: I’m not sure why I expected more to this ride. It has some theatre to it as it blasts through the building and up to the roof, but it’s pretty obvious that it’s a bit of a waste of space and energy. It is.. fun and comfortable though I guess!
At least we got warmed up, time to head over to what everyone was saying is the best coaster in the UAE. Their winged coaster, Flying Aces.
Before joining the queue for flying aces, you must put all belongings in a locker, they’re pretty strict with this, which I didn’t mind. As a ride op in the past, collecting smashed loose articles and station bag faff are something we can all do without in my opinion. HOWEVER it means I was unable to take many pictures.
Take my word for it though, what a queue line! It’s stunningly atmospheric, there’s a huge amount of detail in there, as it transports you back to a time of early flight, you go through sleeping quarters littered with details and out into an open room that projects fighter planes in the distance. I was gobsmacked by how different in felt in there and just how immersive it was, it’s on a Disney level! Even once you reach the air-gates, they’re these big wooden doors preventing you from seeing the station. But you can hear all the movement and noise, it’s very similar to Baron 1898 in that sense. I just wish people were actually in the queue to add bit of buzz…
The station is similarly impressive with small planes over your head and all the detail and wood, it’s also closed off from the outside as the lift hill is blocked off by a shutter. And the trains are cute little yellow aeroplane!. To be honest at this point if you hadn’t seen the ride from the observation platform you would probably assume this is quite a nice family ride. Little did my friends know, a massive 200ft lift was just outside (in fact, the fastest lift hill in the world).
So the doors open and you head off into the lift, and they’re not joking when they say it’s fast. This thing is basically a launch, you really don’t have time to appreciate the height of the thing before your flung down the drop. And it’s a great powerful drop especially in the open trains, intact, this ride really pushes you into the elements with a lot of force. The non-inverting loop is next, it’s a great introduction element as it combines power, air-time and rotation in a short amount of time and on the outer seats you really get thrown about (in the good way). Following that a turn around and a small speed hump, neither of these are particularly forceful, but they allow a breather before my personal highlight of the ride, two big air-time hills both of which give air that borders on the ejector in the right seat, a proper air-punch moment.
Following that the track seems to be bit more drawn out with more of sensation of flying low to the ground with some corners and small breaths of floater air. Each ride I tended to think this section could do with bit of tightening as you are still carrying a decent amount of speed. Just as you think the train is about to loose all momentum it whips up into the final inversion and s-hill. I’m not sure how how Intamin did it as POVs make it look kinda sluggish, but on-ride your flung over both elements, to a point where I was grasping for the hold bars as I thought I would hit the person next to me in my flailing. Then a quick jump and you’ve hit the breaks.
VERDICT: Each ride I had on this I hit the brakes breathless, and I would consider this a definite top 10 coasters with it’s highlights, but I think it’s bit of a shame that the great parts are kind of condensed. For example, the queue/station is so immersive but then the coaster experience itself is on flat plain concrete with almost no reference to what you witnessed inside. And it terms of the track, the powerful breath taking elements are paired with some really drawn out slow parts. If it just managed to improve and tighten up it’s weak spots it would definitely reach the god-tier of coasters.
So it was time to head over the crowning jewel of the park, we grabbed some italian food with the boys and got ready to go almost 150mph into the desert.
Weirdly, considering how strict Flying Aces was with loose articles, with this one you just head into a concourse and then down into a cattlepen overlooking the launch, so I had my camera, but there wasn’t really anything else to look at! It really is an iconic ride that’s held it’s record for a long long time, so I guess that’s the main focus of the whole area. Before boarding you have a baggage hold and are instructed to collect goggles for the ride. I did get bit frustrated with the loading and unloading as it was incredibly slow when running with one train, but I was also crapping myself a little by this point.
The trains are great, you can tell a lot of care went into their design. And the seats seemed comfier than most Intamin rides were at the time this was built, no complaints here. Once loaded you head onto the launch track and are greeted with the usual ritual of any hydraulic launch (PSHHHHH CLUNK, fins lower, slowly move back, then GO). The launch was actually fab, and less powerful than I anticipated, done in two sections of an initial push, then a gradual pull to the top speed, still takes your breath away though.
You immediately get thrust into a huge air-time hill covered in magnetic brakes (lol). The loss of speed is quite welcome though, as you can really feel the dusty desert air smacking your face and body and giving you a temporary facelift and the rest of the ride keeps you travelling as this speed.
The layout is essentially an souped up Rita, with a simple figure 8 shape. It does make sense with it’s F1 theme, but I wasn’t overly impressed with it once the corners had soaked up the speed a bit. Apart from the mad wind, the hills didn’t really give much sensation apart from the final 3 bunny hops which were fun. And thats the best way to describe this ride, it’s fun! It’s iconic with ground breaking technology, but as an experience, I think I prefer Red Force at Barcelona’s Ferrari Land as it had more punch to it.
VERDICT: This ride is worth the trip to experience that record breaking launch. It’s a shame that that is the only outstanding part of the experience along with the first hill.
REST OF THE PARK
We did the other cred at the park, a dueling non-banking weird Maruer coaster. It was bit bizarre and threw you about but I’ll probably forget about in a few months. Overall the atmosphere in Ferrari World was an odd one, like most the parks out there. It has a lot of space but the lack of guests or the seeming lack of guests made the atmosphere a bit thin. They’ve clearly tried to immerse you in an Italian theme, but after visiting Barcelona, this version is a lot more sterile. It’s great that they’ve got 3 one-of-a-kind Intamin coasters crammed in there, all of which are fun and one is outstanding (not many parks can boast this), maybe it needs bit more time, maybe more investment, maybe some music. I can’t quite put my finger on what this place needs, but I’d definitely say it’s the park you have to visit in the UAE.