Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
“If Tokyo DisneySea were an indoor theme park, it could look like this”
I’m in the United Arab Emirates in September. And although travelling is fun, I must admit that this isn’t the ideal month for a trip to the UAE. It’s just way too hot. Luckily, the tourist paradise of Yas Island offers multiple ways to escape the heat. You could spend an entire day at the air-conditioned Yas Mall, you could have some splashing fun at Yas Waterworld or soak up the Swedish atmosphere at a local Ikea. I really don’t care for shopping, swimming or Scandinavian furniture, but amusement park enthusiasts aren’t forgotten. Yas Island is actually home to two theme parks: Ferrari World and Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi. Both parks are (mostly) indoors and the air-conditioning creates an ideal ambient temperature.
I will be visiting Ferrari World later this afternoon, but my day starts at Warner Bros World. This park opened in the summer of 2018, which means that it’s brand new. The exterior facade is still shiny and the entrance gate looks grand. Thanks to its spacious security check and the many ticket booths, it actually feels like I’m entering an airport. It may be a tad too clean, but it has an undeniable grandeur and the impressive film soundtracks fit perfectly. So yes, my first impressions are good and I suspect that Warner Bros World will blow my mind a couple of times today.
Warner Bros World offers two roller coasters. The first one can be found at Dynamite Gulch, the cartoony version of a classic western village. The ride is called Fast and Furry-ous and it’s themed to Roadrunner & Coyote. There’s no doubt that the decoration is beautiful. This Intamin coaster was integrated into a beautiful mountain landscape, as if it were an inverted version of Big Thunder Mountain. Besides, the park added loads of funny details and the train even features onboard audio. The ride, however, turns out to be rather disappointing. This is mainly due to the roughness. The ride is not overly tall or fast, but Fast and Furry-ous lacks the smoothness that most Vekoma family coasters have. I definitely prefer Kvasten and Orkanen over this shaky experience.
The second coaster performs significantly better. Even the queue for Tom and Jerry – Swiss Cheese Spin is an attraction on its own. It contains a shrinking effect similar to Walt Disney Studios’ Ratatouille ride, but Warner Bros has done a remarkably better job. The ride experience is fantastic as well. Swiss Cheese Spin is a spinning coaster that turns (pun intended) out to be more intense than I expected. The layout is great, the twists and turns are fun and the Tom & Jerry theme provides wonderful nostalgia. This may actually be the coolest family roller coaster I discovered in 2019.
Swiss Cheese Spin was fun, but its neighbour is even more surprising. I’m talking about Scooby Doo – The Museum of Mysteries. This is a trackless dark ride through a museum where lots of things seem to go wrong. But hey, wait a minute… doesn’t that sound like the story line of Mystic Manor? Yes, these rides definitely have their similarities. Of course, there’s the Scooby Doo theme and Warner Bros’ animatronics are a lot simpler. Still, I can sense a certain Mystic Manor vibe in this attraction. Just like Hong Kong Disneyland‘s most legendary dark ride, The Museum of Mysteries has a brilliant atmosphere and the finale is nothing short of fabulous. After reaching the unload station, I can actually only think about one thing: I want to do this again. And again. And again.
Another must visit attraction at Cartoon Junction is Ani-Mayhem. Just like the previous rides, this interactive dark ride is one of the best of its kind. In general, I don’t like laser shooter dark rides that much, but this version provides great fun. This is mainly due to the unique concept. Guests experience Ani-Mayhem as hurried postmen who need to scan as many packages as possible. This is a refreshing and clear story line. Besides, Ani-Mayhem features some unique scenes that even transport you into space. Marvin The Martian’s beloved quote “There is supposed to be a kaboom” is undoubtedly applicable to this attraction, because this ride truly is a blast!
The atmosphere is about to get a whole lot darker at Gotham City, where you’ll find Batman – Knight Flight. This is the main ride in this area and it features a huge queue. Fortunately for me, it’s totally empty today (I can get used to those light crowds) and I’m immediately invited to enter the pre-show. Here, Batman asks me to become his new recruit and oh well… why not. Next, I enter a tiny room where a bizarre vehicle is waiting for me. This attraction uses the same ride system as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, but with an alternative boarding procedure. Unfortunately, Knight Flight isn’t the overwhelming experience that The Forbidden Journey is. Although the movements are just as smooth and intense as they are in the Harry Potter ride, the technology and screens are often too visible here. In addition, I experience the screen-based scenes as a little nauseating. Don’t get me wrong… Knight Flight is a unique and powerful ride, but it’s got its flaws and I’m not a huge fan of those robotic arms.
A ride system that I like considerably better is the Flying Theater, a.k.a. the Soarin’ system. Yet, it’s strange that we automatically associate such rides with a quiet flight above monuments. Because why wouldn’t we create a more intense thrill ride with it? Some engineers apparently thought the same thing while designing Green Lantern – Galactic Odyssey. This Flying Theater simulates a flight to space and that involves some turbulence. And since the bad guys are trying to ruin our flight, this ride features quite a lot of action as well. Fortunately, superheroes are there to save the day, after which we can safely land. This attraction combines a Voletarium kind of ride with a Star Tours-like experience and that works amazingly well. The 3D glasses feel unnecessary to me, but the overall ride is pretty good.
Justice League – Warworld Attacks at the Metropolis area is not based on one, but seven superheroes. The accompanying storyline is predictable: bad guys threaten to destroy the planet, after which the Justice League takes action. I’m witnessing this battle from a motion-base vehicle, quite similar to the ride system of Transformers and Spider-Man at Universal theme parks. The ride feels the same here in Abu Dhabi. Transitions between real scenes and screens are performed smoothly, while loads of light and smoke effects were added. The result is an amazing ride and as if that wasn’t enough, Warner Bros World created a majestic entrance hall for this dark ride. Ladies and gentlemen… this is a world-class attraction.
Some rides blow my mind, other rides are downright disappointing. After the brutal power of Justice League, the next superhero attraction turns out to be tame. Superman 360 – Battle for Metropolis may sound cool, but the actual experience is simple. Consider it as a contemporary version of Disneyland Paris’ Visionarium with yet another superhero-saves-the-day story. The ride features a cool transformation effect that Universal enthusiasts will surely recognise from Poseidon’s Fury and the images are razor-sharp. But still, Superman 360 lacks some suspense. Good to know: during my visit, this cinema-like experience opened once per hour and Green Lantern only flew every 30 minutes. That’s why it may require some planning to visit the attractions at Metropolis.
The contrast between the left and the right half of the park is enormous. I consider that as a positive thing. If you’ve had enough of the dark and aggressive atmosphere on the left side, you can easily cross over to the cartoon world on the other side. And after all those superhero stories, it sure is a relief to enter Bedrock. This mountainous zone was based on The Flintstones. The atmosphere is therefore prehistoric and refreshing. Both of these adjectives also apply to the main ride in this area: Bedrock River Adventure. With this flume ride, Warner Bros World has tried to imitate Splash Mountain and they actually did a great job. I admit that this Flintstones version is much smaller and it could use an extra drop, but the dark ride section looks perfect. Excellent family attraction, if you ask me.
Let’s talk about the Disk’o Coaster. You may know this attraction type from Plopsaland or Movie Park. It’s a nice ride, but nothing too special. The designers of Warner Bros World, however, turned this simple flat ride into a visual masterpiece. I’m serious: I could watch The Riddler Revolution all day long if I had the time. Just add a factory theme, a smoke machine and let a light engineer do his job… That’s literally all you need to transform a simple Disk’o Coaster into a stunning eye-catcher.
There are ways to distinguish the very best theme parks from the mediocre ones. It’s simple: just take a look at the infill attractions. Lots of parks don’t add decoration to these rides, but world-class parks usually try to make them part of the total experience. That Disk’o Coaster is a good example, but the nearby Joker’s Funhouse is actually just as amazing. This is much more than a traditional fun house: there’s a creepy pre-show, they added a mirror maze and staff members do their best to add some scare moments. Of course, this isn’t the attraction which convinces me to travel all the way to Abu Dhabi. But it does make my day more complete, that’s for sure.
WORTH A VISIT?
I have the greatest respect for the geniuses who designed Warner Bros World. They have created a world-class theme park. While talking about indoor theme parks, Toverland and Plopsa Indoor are the first things that come to my mind. These are nice places, but they’re rather small and mostly focused on children. Here in Abu Dhabi, however, it is proven that things can be done in a bigger and better way. The attractions are all grand, unique and elaborately decorated. Besides, these rides are placed in themed areas that match the quality of an average Disney park. Of course, that’s mainly due to the advantage of such a darkened space: thanks to artificial lighting, designers are able to create the perfect atmosphere at any given time of the day. That dangerous suburb of Gotham City would look a lot less convincing under a bright sun. And how would it feel to walk around Metropolis in the middle of an Arabian sandstorm? Not sure about that.
Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi
Photo Gallery 2019
Is this the world’s most beautiful indoor theme park? What kind of ride would you add to Warner Bros World’s current lineup? And do you also experience some kind of jet lag after visiting an indoor theme park? Share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this page.