Abu Dhabi's Ferrari World sets standard for theme parks in the Gulf
Published: April 17, 2011 at 10:05 PM
However throughout the near two decades of rapid expansion neither city has managed to develop a fully-fledged, world-class, theme park.
Ferrari World, located on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, was intended to address that issue, combining the strong brand image of the Italian supercar manufacturer with a collection of innovative attractions.
I managed to head to the park on Saturday April 16th using a very attractive buy-one-get one free offer provided by a local online discount site.
The sight of the park from a distance can only be described as simply breath taking. Its huge curved red roof - which covers some 200,000 square meters and is designed to look like the side profile of a Ferrari GT - manages to stand out in an area littered with some of the best modern architecture in the world today.
The interior doesn’t fail to impress, either, with the open plan park being well laid out in a hub and spoke system most commonly associated with Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, the most visited theme park on the planet.
Upon arriving at the park a sign stated that neither Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster, nor G-Force, the parks 200-foot centre piece drop tower, would be operated due to “Scheduled maintenance and upgrades” leaving guests, particularly tourists who wouldn’t be able to make a repeat visit, disappointed.
The fact two of the headliner attractions were closed was even more disappointing given that Ferrari World, unlike most major theme parks around the world, already closes one day a week for maintenance and doesn’t open on normal operating days until midday.
Heading in to the park (with a free ticket in hand as compensation for the closed attractions) the number of varied attractions was very good, with an even spread of thrill, family and kids rides which were well laid out across the park so as to avoid segregating the children’s attractions as many parks do.
Fiorano GT Challenge, a Maurer Sohne dual-launched coaster, was the best of the thrill rides in operation whilst V-12, a log flume ride through the engine it takes its name from, was an fun, and very wet, experience that could be enjoyed by the whole family.
Made in Maranello and Racing Legends, two dark rides using the same system, lacked the quality set by some of the other headline attractions whilst Driving with Champions, a simulator attraction provided some mild thrills but, as with the two dark rides, failed to immerse the guest in the story.
The staff at Ferrari World were friendly and well trained, showcasing some of the standard practices used by staff at some of the best theme park resorts around the world. Attraction loading was a quick and smooth process though there was no real test for those working the rides and shows as the park was far from busy.
Away from the attractions the dining and shopping experience, along with the many galleries and side shows, were exceptional, with dining options to please every taste and an expansive main store with everything from standard theme park fair to expensive unique items such as a Formula 1 steering wheel.
At just over $60 (US) Ferrari World is reasonably priced, though with the park having only 20 attractions guests are certainly paying for quality over quantity, with the park probably falling in the half-day bracket for the standard family.
Overall Ferrari World is a huge step forward for the theme park industry in the United Arab Emirates and is hopefully a sign of things to come in the future, with reports suggesting that some of the projects in the Dubailand area are set to resume after the economic crisis halted the progress of a number of theme parks in the area.
Those who work at Ferrari say there’s no such thing as perfection in racing, only evolution, the same can be said for this theme park. There’s plenty thee to be proud of, but some problems need to be ironed out and investment needs to be continued in the long-term to ensure the park is ranked amongst the best in the world.