Monday 5 February 2018

Ferrari World: Disneyland for car lovers

Ferrari World works well as a fun add-on to a Saturday at the mall, but not quite as a vacation destination, writes Benjamin Zhang in BI. Read on: 

I love Disney World. Since childhood, the park's rides, ambiance, and over presentation really make it the most magical place on earth. But as deep as my love for all things Disney may run, my love for cars run even deeper. And the most revered brand in the automotive universe is Ferrari.

So when the Italian supercar maker opened a theme park of its own in the United Arab Emirates, I had no choice but to make the pilgrimage over to experience Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.

Ferrari World is located on Yas Island, a few minutes drive away from Abu Dhabi International Airport and the Yas Marina Circuit, home of Formula One's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Construction on the park started in 2007 and opened for business in November 2010. Ferrari World is open seven days a week from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm. Tickets start at AED 295 or $80 with discounts up to 15% available for those who purchase more than 15 days in advance.

Here's a closer look at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.

Welcome to Ferrari World!

Ferrari World is an indoor amusement covered by a 2.2 million square foot aluminum roof. From the air, it looks like a weird spaceship.

The theme park is actually located next to the Yas Mall and is connected to the mega shopping center via tunnel.

Underneath the big aluminum roof and skylight is nearly 1 million square feet of space.

Inside, the park is dominated by metal, glass, and palm trees.

At the front gate, park goers are greeted by a mock 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. At $38 million, it's the most expensive Ferrari ever sold at auction.

My first stop is the park's signature ride, Formula Rossa.

The ride is designed to give park goers a taste of the performance capabilities of Ferrari's iconic Formula One race cars.

According to Ferrari World, it is the fastest roller coaster in the world capable of accelerating from 0-150 mph in just 4.9 seconds. It felt even faster!

Next stop is Fiorano GT Challenge.

This is arguably the park's second most famous ride. This roller coaster features Ferrari F430 derived ride cars running on parallel tracks in a simulated sports car race. This is a ride that needs some updating. The F430 is a couple of product cycles old.

The park's third coaster is Turbo Track, which puts the ride goer in the role of a Ferrari test driver. The ride features a vertical climb and a zero-gravity fall.

Ferrari World's final roller coaster is Flying Aces. It reaches speeds up to 75mph.

The ride's WWI fighter plane them is in honor of Count Francesco Baracca whose black prancing horse emblem became the basis for the famous Ferrari logo.

There's a section of the park with a decidedly Italian theme. Here's you'll find a cinema featuring a film on Enzo Ferrari as well as...

... A Disney Epcot-esque educational omni-mover ride about the design, development, and production of Ferrari road cars.

Driving with the Champion gives you a taste of what it's like to ride in a Ferrari driven by F1 champion Sebastian Vettel. Nearby is Viaggio in Italia. It's a multi-sensory simulator ride that puts you in a glider flying over Italy.

In addition to the traditional rides, Ferrari World also features interactive experiences like the pit lane challenge where park goers race one another to see who can change a tire in the shortest amount of time.

There also several driving simulators. This one I tried out gave us the chance to do a few laps around the Yas Marina Circuit. Having driven supercars around racetracks, it was far from realistic.

There's also an advanced simulator. But I didn't get a chance to try it out.

The Karting Academy gives you the chance to get behind the wheel of a go-cart.

Bell'Italia lets you take a leisurely drive through a scaled down model of the Italian landscape.

For young children, there's an obstacle course and...

... The Junior Grand Prix driving school.

Finally, there's the Galleria Ferrari.

Inside is a collection of rare Ferrari's including the multi-million dollar LaFerrari and ...

...FXX K.

The park even has a driving experience available for those who want to get behind the wheel of an actual Ferrari. Although it does cost extra.

My verdict.

I have mixed feelings about Ferrari World. On the plus side, the park's coaster more than delivers on its promises of thrills while its collection of Ferrari road and race cars is rather impressive.

On the other hand, some of the rides looked worn and outdated. And while the coasters deliver, some of the other rides fail to land like Driving with the Champion.

Sadly, Ferrari World doesn't quite have the magic and gravitas of a Disney or Universal Studios. Or even Six Flags. It's simply not enthralling enough to draw you into the belief that you're in a fantasy land populated by supercars and prancing horses.

Instead, it felt like I paid $80 for a couple of roller coasters and a Ferrari corporate sales presentation.  At the end of the day, Ferrari World works well as a fun add-on to a Saturday at the mall, but not quite as a vacation destination. 

1 comment:

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