Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is a sprawling architectural assertion in an otherwise barren, blazing desert landscape, a touch of automotive Las Vegas amidst a world of sheiks and sand dunes. Come along as we visit this oddly fascinating cross-cultural microcosm.
This air-conditioned, 1.9 million square foot space is the world’s largest indoor theme park, and celebrates that singular Italian exotic carmaker with a curiously counterintuitive Disneyland touch.
Ferrari’s Formula 1 team won’t disclose how fast their F1 cars can hit 150 mph, but Formula Rossa — the world’s fastest rollercoaster — can’t be far behind the multimillion dollar race sleds. Boasting 20,800 brake horsepower, this ride catapults 16 passengers to 240 km/h (149 mph) in 4.9 seconds, decelerating the cars just before the first crest. After that point, the ride works as a true “coaster,” running the rest of its roughly 1.3 mile length on its own momentum.
There’s no shortage of commerce in this massive ode to all things Enzo: gift shops offer everything from Ferrari-branded lollipops to parts from real Formula 1 cars.
While kitsch abounds—plushy race car, anyone?—there are also some sweet finds, like a deliciously detailed scale model of a one-off, V12-powered hydroplane speedboat.
No tribute to the legendary Italian carmaker would be complete without an array of its finest creations. Ferrari World’s collection hall houses a brief but eclectic roundup passenger cars, from an ultra rare 250 GTO to more modern examples ranging from Daytonas and Dinos to 599s and F50s.
Ferrari World has plenty of stuff to distract the kiddies, including the Abu Dhabi Junior GT series which places F430-like electric cars in a pseudo-city environment complete with stop signs, intersections, and roundabouts.
One of numerous rides that involve “driving,” this low-speed attraction features a scale models of vintage Ferraris running along a guided track through Italian landmarks including Florence’s Duomo and Rome’s Coliseum.
There’s plenty of room for distracted driving when your car’s guided by rails; here, dad ogles a scale model of Venice’s famed Piazza San Marco while his daughter “drives.”
In addition to more modest videogame-style racing simulators, two large hydraulically-mounted setups allow guests feel serious G-forces as they pilot an F1 car or F430 (seen here) on a mockup of the nearby Yas Marina Formula 1 circuit. This ride costs an additional $35, but its ultrarealistic sounds and sensations make it well worth the extra bucks.
This carousel at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi features concept car-type models, and oddly enough, a few Piaggio MP3 3-wheelers thrown in for good measure. No wee ones were spotted taking advantage of this ride during our visit.
Tension runs high—okay, it’s actually pretty mellow—at the starting grid as kids prepare to pounce the competition on this Lilliputian race track, complete with chicanes, track workers, and a scaled down medical helicopter—you know, just in case.
Boasting a massive 2.1 million square roof with the world’s largest Ferrari logo ever created, this air-conditioned structure is staggering in scale and engineering prowess.
This “crystal funnel” structure is supported by 12 primary columns which form a 12-pointed Arabic star; that theme extends to the raked façade. This 157 feet tall structure shrinks to 56 feet at its base from its humungous 328-foot diameter peak.
Palm trees and water elements break up the otherwise modern architectural treatment of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. The footprint of the plaza level seen here occupies about a million square feet; the upper plaza level exceeds 32 million cubic feet of volume. Just imagine the air conditioning bill…
These micro-sized pedal cars are either a thoughtful way to keep lil’ tykes entertained, or a brilliant ploy to inspire future Ferrari customers.
- Basem Wasef