Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi could very well be the world’s most empty theme park. When I visited, there were so few people around I thought it was closed!
Situated on Yas Island, sat conveniently next to the Formula One Yas Marina Circuit, Ferrari World has over 20 Ferrari-inspired rides and attractions. There really is something for everyone here – from the slow car rides like Junior GT Challenge for the kids, to the world’s fastest rollercoaster, Formula Rossa, for those seeking the thrills! Trouble is, few of the main attractions ever seems to be operating, and apart from a few food and beverage outlets, as well as the obligatory souvenir shops, you may be struggling to justify paying the AED225 per head for general admission. I guess, though, that this place comes alive when the F1 fraternity comes here for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix each November.
It is because of the Formula One that I decided to experience Ferrari World. I am otherwise not too keen on cars, and apart from learning to drive and having bought a few cars (not Ferraris, obviously!), I don’t actually understand too much about them. My love of F1 comes from the competition – and to a lesser extent, speed – involved to beat your rivals! As such, the many glittering Ferrari road cars on show here inside Ferrari World were nothing but eye candy to me! However, I was interested to see the many real Ferrari F1 cars on display, and although there were signs saying “no photography”, I still managed to sneak a few!
I had hoped to experience Formula Rossa (pictured above), which is undisputedly the world’s fastest rollercoaster, and it pulls the same amount of G-Force as a Formula One car under braking. I have seen videos of this ride on YouTube, which only heightened my excitement, and it was a disappointment to discover that the ride was closed for maintenance on my visit. The other major attraction that I wanted to ride was The Speed of Magic, a 4D simulator ride, which admittedly gets average reviews from its riders, but nevertheless it was something I was looking forward to. Again, the ride was closed, although this time there was not even a reason behind its closure! I mean, come on, this is ABU DHABI, one of the most developed parts of the Middle-East, and most of what they do here in the emirate is absolutely world class. However, theme parks clearly aren’t the strongpoint of the Emirati People just yet. At times, here at Ferrari World, it felt like a mid-range theme park in Kuwait, or something. Still, not perturbed by these disappointments, I still managed to get on a few other attractions, including the Fiorano GT Challenge, which is a pair of very fast duelling rollercoasters, and G-Force, which launches you straight up into the centre of the Ferrari World building. Before I headed back to the hotel, and after having some salad and pasta at a restaurant here named Mama Rosella (get the Italian theme now?), I checked out a stage show performance called RED, which is Ferrari World’s equivalent of the Cirque de Soleil. I enjoyed this show and it came at no extra cost from the general admission fee. It was one of the highlights of the trip to Ferrari World and gave me a good memory on exit to perhaps soften the blows of earlier.
All in all, I would have to summarise that Ferrari World is not really worth the AED225 price of admission – UNLESS you have a fanatical passion for all things Ferrari, that is. However, as Abu Dhabi is really only beginning its major tourism infrastructure at the moment, Ferrari World remains one of the picks for travellers coming to the emirate, and especially for families I would imagine that you could spend a good half-day here and not get bored. To be fair, there are plenty of attractions for kids, and you don’t really need to know much about cars to enjoy it all, either! Just hope and pray that the main attractions are functioning as they should be when you visit!
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is now open 7 days a week, from 11am to 8pm. Children under 3 years of age enter the park for free. Valet parking is available at Ferrari World for AED35, and there are many ATMs in the vicinity.