Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
“Home to the world’s fastest roller coaster”
The United Arab Emirates are becoming an increasingly popular destination among roller coaster enthusiasts. Dubai and Abu Dhabi offer some stunning amusement parks and despite their relatively low attendance, these parks are expanding at a rapid pace. IMG Worlds of Adventure, Dubai Parks & Resorts and Warner Bros World are doing everything in their power to transform the UAE into the world’s theme park capital. This race to the roller coaster enthusiast’s heart was initiated in 2010, when Ferrari World Abu Dhabi was officially opened.
If you talk about Ferrari World, every theme park fan automatically thinks of 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. I 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 clicks onto the launching mechanism. The four seconds in which Formula Rossa accelerates to its top speed are incredibly intense: I’m pressed into my seat with brutal force. Unfortunately, the fun immediately decreases after the initial launch. The first hill is full of brakes and they slow the train down considerably. I’m sure that the top speed of 240 km/h 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. I’d never thought I’d say this, but Formula Rossa is actually a quite controlled roller coaster.
Ferrari World is The Coaster Capital of the Emirates and they are doing everything to defend that title. The park currently has five roller coasters and two more will be added soon. The least captivating coaster in the current lineup is 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.
Things get a whole lot more interesting at Flying Aces. 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 km/h. 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.
The park’s last two credits can be acquired by riding Fiorano GT Challenge. This is quite a special duelling coaster because it contains no fewer than four launches per track. 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.
The park is especially known because of its solid roller coaster collection, but it also offers three dark rides. This first one is Speed of Magic and it’s 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 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.
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.
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.
The eastern half of the park consists of racing simulators and a go-kart track. These experiences seem popular, 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 a disappointment.
WORTH A VISIT?
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.
Have you had the chance to visit Ferrari World Abu Dhabi yet? Did you prefer Flying Aces over Formula Rossa? And do you share my opinion on Benno’s Great Race? Share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this page.