Related: Ferrari World Abu Dhabi to Open October 28, 2010 / Ferrari World Abu Dhabi Honoured at Cityscape Abu Dhabi Awards / Aldar Announces Completion of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi External Structure / Ferrari Theme Park in Pole Position as Construction Starts / Head-Over-Heels Race to the Future Causes Growing Pains / Big DEAL in Dubai
…but the ALDAR Properties development also looms large in the themed entertainment industry as the giant survivor of the economic bust in that region, which left Dubai struggling and Abu Dhabi rising. Jack Rouse Associates (JRA) is attraction designer and executive producer for the attraction and heads a list of providers that includes many of themed entertainment’s best and brightest – too many to list in full here, but they include: Intamin AG, Cruden, Huss, SimEx-Iwerks, Mack, Maurer Soehne and The Nassal Company .
It was with great anticipation that I caught a ride to the site with Nassal partner Matt Brown to see what will soon open as the world’s biggest indoor theme park. I was fortunate enough to have a guided tour of the site led by Lori Caligiuri, Ferrari World’s HR Director and Clinton Kalis, Admissions Manager. Our group included myself, ProSlide’s Jeff Janovich and Allan Grimes and Blooloop’s Tara Pies (looking rather Pippi Longstocking with her skirt and Bovver boots) .
The first thing to note is that Ferrari World is an indoor theme park. This is particularly important as the UAE is not just hot, but, especially in summer, debilitatingly so: a fierce, dry heat over 50° C in the shade and not an environment in which a visitor could comfortably spend a few hours, let alone a day.
On approaching the location, the first thing one sees is the huge roof of the park – a vast structure designed in the style of the classic double-curve body shell of a Ferrari GT and covering in excess of 200, 000 square meters. It is a gorgeous construction. I have seen parks in glorious surroundings, or parks with beautiful rides, but this structure is in itself something to see, a sleek, arresting design – a feast for the eyes. The interior too is a spectacle, the roof’s inner side a gargantuan metal lattice which mirrors the curves of the exterior.
It always amazes me how these mega projects (Dubai’s Atlantis Resort springs to mind) morph from dusty building site to spanking new destination in a matter of months. In fact on a tour of the interior of Ferrari World (which covers over 86, 000 square metres), the major rides and attractions seem to be in place and it is just some final touches to the theming around them that remain to be completed. The shells of the various restaurants, the rides, the simulators are all there. Flat concrete walls will become Ferrari red, grey concrete buildings will morph into rustic pizzerias and tens of thousands of trees now being planted will establish themselves and leaf out. The entire park will become vibrant with the sights and sounds of Italy. Check out the impressive videos on the Ferrari World site for a taste of what the park will be like on completion.
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi will feature more than 20 rides and attractions, highlights being:
Formula Rosso: A themed steel launch coaster, designed to take the rider on a Formula 1 style experience with closeness to the ground and tight turns on F1 themed cars. Though it won’t loop any loops (Ferraris of any formula not being designed to do this) we are told it will officially become the world’s fastest coaster, attaining speeds of over 200kph.
G Force Ride: On entering Ferrari World, the visitor will be confronted by what is in effect, the centre piece of the park. The interior slopes down on all sides to the top of an enormous glass funnel. Inside this is a G Force Ride, which basically goes up and down. Very fast. So fast that the guests, it is said, will experience similar forces to those handled by shuttle astronauts. It will then drop at around 126 mph.
The Fiorano GT Challenge: With each coaster car a replica of a Ferrari F430 Spider, the GT Coaster features two 1050m racing tracks with a slight change in track elevation and increased G-Force in turns, 4 launch sections on each track with multiple overtaking manoeuvres and speed changes between 70km/h to 95km/h. Unlike our local primary school here in North Devon (the races end with each bemused child in any race receiving the same “everyone’s a winner” badge) there will be no ties and a clear and undisputed winner will emerge after each race.
“V12” Dark/Flume ride: A dark ride/flume experience in which the guests follow the journey of a drop of oil through a Ferrari engine.
In addition to the above, there will be a Cinema Maranello film theatre, a “Flight over Italy” experience and a host of smaller and family rides. Add to this a 1, 300 square metre Ferrari shop, the live entertainment and the comprehensive theming, and the completed park should be quite an experience: a touch of Italy in the desert.
Back at the -rather plush – portocabin blocks which serve as base camp for the project, we had a quick word with Andy Keeling , Ferrari World’s dynamic British manager. He was buzzing with enthusiasm and drive, as were all those we met connected with this property. In the project offices there was an almost palpable air of everyone being part of some huge unique development. We also chanced across Intamin’s Gerard Slenders, who like Tara and me had been attending Dubai’s DEAL show for the last 3 days.
We relinquished our hard hats and chunky hiking boots (not the best ensemble in the heat) and sat down for lunch. We were all excited about the park, enamoured with the structure and eagerly looking forward to our next visit. Perhaps, I idly thought, I might trade in my 15-year-old Volvo V70, quite a head turner in itself of course, for a new Ferrari 599 GTB…
Below are a few photos from my trip to the park showing the F1 coaster and giving some idea of the beauty of the building itself…