The prancing horse is everywhere! If you’re going to be bothered by the corporate arrogance or by the cheapening of the brand then you shouldn’t set foot in this place. This entire building is Ferrari patting itself on the back for being badass. Cheapening of the brand? Let’s not forget this company makes more money selling cufflinks, hats, and sunglasses than they do selling cars. At this point you just have to let go of these concerns and get in touch with your inner 10-year old…look there’s a racecar!
Located adjacent to the Yas Marina F1 track, the world’s largest indoor theme park sounds grand, until you remember that everything in the UAE is the “world’s largest”. Everything here must be grand; who comes to the desert to see the fourth largest anything? The developers of this park were well aware of the average outdoor temperature, so everything is inside and a cool 72 degrees. Walking down sidewalks surrounded by trees and buildings you’ll forget you’re inside, until you look up and see the massive structure above. The experience is a glimpse into what it’ll be like living in a moon colony.
The main park attraction is obviously the world’s fastest roller coaster, the Formula Rossa. Modeled after F1 tracks and dynamics, this coaster accelerates from a dead stop to 150mph in 4.9 seconds. Last month I was catapulted off the USS Nimitz, and while that was more violent, the Rossa is more sustained. With the accelerative G’s in play, holding up your arms can’t be an afterthought. Once you get moving in the open air your cheeks will be flapping like Clarkson testing an Ariel Atom. After reaching 150mph the Rossa rockets 171ft skyward and hits zero G over the crest of a hill. Needless to say, any thrill seeker will ride this coaster several times, and trust me, wait for the front car.
The other roller coaster, the Fiorano GT Challenge, is fun as well, but not because of the thrill. Dueling F430 modeled cars leave the station at the same time where you’ll twist and turn “racing” each other to the finish (the right one always wins).
Unfortunately for non-gearheads, (wives?) this is where the journey might end. Many of the other attractions will not garner much enthusiasm for anyone other than car and racing fans. There are several “3D” type rides that take you through Ferrari manufacturing and racing history. There is even a lame “log flume” ride that takes you through a (cardboard?) V-12 engine. One ride that was popular in our group was the Viaggio In Italia, an IMAX helicopter ride over Italy. Several times during the show it swept over classic Ferraris screaming down back roads; the engine notes sounded glorious over the surround speakers. Throughout the park you’ll see great racing artwork and memorabilia. As they should be, Ferrari is very proud of their racing heritage, manufacturing, and their home country of Italy. This viewpoint is reflected in every aspect of the park.
Displays of current production Ferraris, engines, & racing cars are around each corner. F1 technology displays feature the race haulers, car parts, and a wind tunnel simulation. Gamers will enjoy the Scuderia Challenge, which is a full-motion driving simulator of the 599 FXX around the Yas Marina Circuit.
Kids will have a great time on four children’s rides, and the Junior GT and Bell’Italia will actually allow them to drive small cars. Older family members can take in movies in two different theaters, but be sure to check times, as some of them only play twice daily.
Plan to attend the park on a weekday (Sun-Thurs in the UAE) if possible and you’ll have the place to yourself. If you can only get there on a weekend go early as crowds grow as the day progresses.
Given the billions it cost to build this place it seems insurmountable they could recoup the cost $62 at a time. Food costs here are no more than you’d expect of any other vacation spot, about $13 for lunch. Souvenirs are another story however, I spotted a nice Ferrari World T-shirt in the shop window, upon learning it was $55 I settled on a $12 magnet for my fridge.
Yes, this amusement park is in the middle of the desert, so should you pack your bags, purchase some airline tickets, hotel, & rental car just to get to Ferrari World? Absolutely not, but should you find yourself in Abu Dhabi on say, an employer sponsored trip, then give it a shot. I enjoyed Ferrari World, as did everyone in our group. From someone who lives and breathes cars, it was a treat to be in a car themed park where everything is about the passion of driving and going fast. If any car company was going to build an amusement park it had to be Ferrari, who else could get away with it?