Having never been on a rollercoaster in my life before (a rarity for someone nearing forty), perhaps Ferrari World’s Formula Rossa wasn’t the best of inaugurations.
From zero to 240km/h in less than five seconds, the obscenities that came screaming from my, normally, squeaky-clean mouth are not fit for print.
It was one minute of sheer hell, shock and utter bewilderment.
Not for my fellow passengers it would seem. Pulling back into the disembarkation platform, while I was a pale shade of green and incapable of uttering a sound (other than “get me off”), my comrades were whooping and cheering and giving themselves a raucous round of applause and high fives. I’m embarrassed to say that this included my eight-year-old nephew, my 12-year-old niece and my 48-year-old adrenaline junky sister.
For this trio of theme park connoisseurs, the Formula Rossa did not disappoint –even the fourth time around.
Indeed, it’s Abu Dhabi’s premier attraction within the world’s largest indoor theme park. Luckily for us the Rossa had reopened the day before our visit having been closed ‘for maintenance’ for a period of several weeks. G-Force, the other heart-pounding ride which launches you 62 metres into the sky apparently giving you ‘the pleasure’ of experiencing the acceleration of a Formula 1 racing car, was closed. Almost two months later it remains closed ‘for maintenance and upgrading’ and V12 – a flume ride through the heart of a 12-cylinder Ferrari 599 engine – has also temporarily ‘shut-up-shop’ since our visit.
In all honesty there are very few real rides to go on, hence such closures have resulted in very scathing online reviews. It’s also been noted how ‘empty’ the building is – albeit a remarkably impressive piece of architecture. We had VIP tickets, which meant we could jump all the queues – but in fairness, there weren’t any at all, accept when one of the two cars on the Fiorano GT Challenge rollercoaster broke down (a much tamer journey in comparison to the Rossa which allowed me to raise my arms in the air and scream in delight like a wannabe rollercoaster pro). It wasn’t until the evening when the locals really started to tip up – as is the normal Arab way – that the place started to feel slightly busy.
Another of the four ‘thrill’ rides was the Scuderia Challenge – a F1 racing simulator. This is when I discovered that I’m no Nigel Mansell. My Hamilton-adoring nephew was devastated that he missed the 1.5 height requirement by just five centimetres, but this had more to do with not reaching the peddles than it did about being clearly capable of annihilating his aunty.
For the smaller tots there’s the driving and racing schools, which would be amazingly exciting for five or six year olds, but Harvey, whose used to bombing around a go-karting track, declared these “too babyish”.
However, the amazing La Gare acrobatic show was a real hit with all ages in our group. In fact, considering we spent nye on seven hours in Ferrari World, it got the thumbs up all round. For Ferrari lovers it’s a dream-come-true and for speed merchants the Formula Rossa is the ultimate. We left with souvenirs, a few nervous twitches, a couple of bruises and – as a warning to everyone to keep your head back on the Rossa – a couple of stiff necks.
Entry cost: general admission is AED 225 (£39) for visitors 1.5 metres tall and above or AED 165 (£29) for those below this height. Premium admission gives ‘fast track’ privileges costing AED 495 (£85) and AED 390 (£67) according to height.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 12 noon to 10pm.
Location: 30-minute drive from Abu Dhabi centre; 50-minute drive from Dubai Marina; 10-minute drive from Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Facilities: six dining options, lockers, two stores selling Ferrari souvenirs.
About this blog...
I set up this blog to reveal what real life is like here in the UAE - the good and the bad. I'll chat about what I've been up to, Dubai news and developments, my thoughts about expat life here (and in general) and reports about my holidays and adventures in the region (travel is my bag after all).