Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

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Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby azza29 » Wed Aug 17, 2016 6:52 am

So June rolled around and it was time for another adventure, destination Europe. I was more than a little excited for this trip, as I'd be hitting up quite a few destination parks for the first time - Disneyland Paris, Phantasialand, Efteling, Europa Park, and plenty of others. On top of that the itinerary included some highly anticipated coasters, like Expedition GeForce, Troy, and Wildfire. But it's a long way from Melbourne to Paris, so to break up the journey I stopped in Abu Dhabi to check out some parks.

Ferrari World
If nothing else, Ferrari World is notable for having the world's fastest rollercoaster. And at almost 150 mph, Formula Rossa certainly delivers on that promise. Completely enclosed from the desert heat, the park has been described as a giant Epcot pavilion... frankly, that's very unfair to Epcot. To be honest, for the most part Ferrari World as it stands is a bit boring. The designers have gone for a kind of modern "sophisticated" aesthetic, which in reality makes the place feel sterile and uninviting. The giant grey roof doesn't let much natural light in, giving the whole building a somewhat gloomy atmosphere. The (remaining) opening day attractions are already pretty dated - I'm talking out-of-sync simulators with aging projections. Yuck.

So all that said the good news is that they are taking steps to improve the place, and enhance the theming beyond bland white boxes with ride signs slapped on them. One area of the park has already been re-worked into a relatively convincing Italian village, and the newer rides are of a quality I'd expect from a Universal attraction. There's still a long way to go but at least they're going in the right direction.

Some thoughts on each of the coasters:
- Formula Rossa is very very fast but that's about it. It doesn't really do much with the speed (there's no airtime or fun twisty bits) but the launch is fun. It was much better in the front row, the back jackhammered something awful the whole way around.
- Flying Aces is excellent, I have no strong feelings about whether it's better than Skyrush but they are both great rides. It doesn't lose momentum at any point, and the surprise inversion at the end is a nice touch.
- Fiorano GT Challenge, I don't even know if this counts as a coaster (or two). Launch, brake, corner, launch, brake, corner... yawn. If you've ever been a passenger with a learner driver this is pretty much the same experience.

OK, moving on to the photos. Some notes - I ended up visiting twice, as Formula Rossa was closed the first day I was there. Luckily I had enough time on my return leg to re-visit the park between flights, anyway full disclosure the photos are from two different days about a month apart. During my second visit it was also Ramadan, which is a time of year when Muslims don't eat, drink, or partake in leisure activities during daylight hours. Needless to say, the park was pretty quiet!

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Checking out my plane at Sydney airport. 14 hour flight to Abu Dhabi!

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I generally slum it in the back with the plebs, but was lucky enough to score a business seat on this flight. Hooray!

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There were even "stars" on the roof, which was a bit weird at three in the afternoon. And that is the last airplane photo for at least a few updates. Promise.

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Next morning, woke up in the desert. I stayed on Yas Island, because that's where Ferrari World is. The hotel was right across from the Yas Marina F1 circuit.

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There is a giant mall next to Ferrari World. It houses FunWorks, a little FEC with a ride that kind of looks like it might be a coaster. Anyway because this place opens an hour earlier than the big park, we checked it out.

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Yolo Works. A better name might be "Seasick: The Ride". So this is an oval track and the car spins. Note the OTSRs, obviously necessary for a ride this intense. Unsurprisingly there are only two of these in the world, the other at Sochi Park Adventureland in Russia.

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Entrance to Ferrari World. The opening "crowd" was all of two dozen people. No rope drop here.

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The structure housing the park is huge, and impressive in its own way, but the lack of natural light makes it feel like a airplane hangar. Weather enthusiasts, those are actual clouds forming inside the building!

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So much of this park seems weirdly temporary and unplanned. They have dancing cars on a stick, inside a hedge maze. What's not to love?

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The three coasters aren't actually inside the building, so you have to head through these airlocks into the heat.

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The view on the way to the coaster. At least they aren't using the shipping containers as theming.

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Too short/old/scared to ride? Enjoy this comfy, colourful hose-pipe bench!

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Loading station. Fortunately both sides were running, so I can confirm they are both equally uninteresting. I guess the brief with this coaster was to make something that resembled a car race. Unfortunately that doesn't make for a great ride. The design is a bit weird too, there are a few launches that seem to go straight into brake runs, so you never get that great sensation of speed compared to, say, Test Track or Radiator Springs Racers.

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In 2018, that giant building in the background will be Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi.

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Scuderia Challenge is another good concept, poorly executed. The idea is that eight people get to race each other in real time. The simulators are on a motion base, use a steering wheel and pedals, you even have a harness-style seatbelt to make it feel more authentic.

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Unfortunately it's a little bit too realistic. The simulation is very accurate, which also makes it less accessible for casual theme park guests. Most people (myself included) seemed to end up spinning or crashing out a lot, so basically the challenge was just to stay on the course, never mind winning!

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There were a couple of bigger simulators where you could drive a "real" Ferrari or F1 car, with a 180-degree screen. This looked cool but I skipped it, partly because it was an upcharge, and partly because I was so terrible at the other one.

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Speed of Magic is a Spiderman-style motion simulator dark ride. The main difference between the two being that Spiderman is good.

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The story (spoiler alert) is that a father gives his son a set keys to his new Ferrari (of course) to look after. An irritating cartoon character then steals the keys so we have to help the kid go reclaim them. This adventure goes "where no Ferrari has gone before" - volcanoes, the north pole, underwater etc. I have a pretty low threshold for enjoying dark rides but Speed of Magic managed to slide under anyway. Nope.

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This show was actually decent, two guys trying to beat the record time for changing a tire. Hilarity ensues. The park could definitely use more of this kind of live entertainment to help inject some energy into the open areas.

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Bell'Italia is an Autopia-style driving ride. The idea is that you're driving through little villages throughout Italy, but the themeing is kind of sparse so it's mostly rocks with a few trees on them. If anyone's familiar with Treasure Hunters at Universal Singapore, it's got that kind of "why is there nothing to look at?" vibe.

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The most exciting part of Bell'Italia is the blue light disco tunnel, because it's near the end.

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Coppa Di Sicilia is a short documentary about Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the company. Not bad, a good diversion at least.

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This is essentially Soarin' Over Italy. The test seat is there because this thing has the tightest restraints known to man. What Disney accomplish with a seatbelt, Huss require a big ass lapbar. Anyway this was another one of those "could have been much better" rides. The film wasn't that great to begin with, but more importantly the seat motion didn't really match the screen, which is the whole point of the ride!

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So I've mentioned a few times that the overall theming was pretty nonexistent. The park seem to be addressing this one area at a time, starting with this corner.

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Looks pretty great, now they just need a bit of music or entertainment to add some life into the little town.

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This next ride, Made in Maranello, promises to take us inside a Ferrari factory to see how the cars are made!

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Hmm... those vehicles look familiar...

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I didn't mind this ride. It was kind of half-informative, half-sales pitch.

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They talked a lot about how much care goes into each car. I almost expected to find myself in a Ferrari dealership at the exit.

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This hallway was pretty cool, with projections on each side demonstrating the manufacturing process.

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Of course, the park has a Ferrari museum where you can go and check out some of their cars.

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This one can't be a Ferrari. It's not red!

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Not just the wheel, but even the tire valve cap has a Ferrari logo on it!

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RED is Ferrari World's headline acrobatic/stunt show. It's a fairly big production but was inside a theatre that seemed very temporary (moveable seating, curtains instead of walls, that kind of thing). Perhaps the park has plans for something more permanent in future.

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Acrobatic shows are all much the same to me, but this was entertaining enough.

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Some of the stunts were pretty impressive though.

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The centrepiece of the closing number is an F1 car. Because Ferrari!

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Let's take a look at the World's Fastest Coaster.

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It's pretty big.

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As I said before, apart from the speed there's not much too this ride. Not that it's a bad coaster, but just that it doesn't really have any other notable characteristics.

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The front row is a lot of fun though, you get the full "I'm going so fast my face is stretched back" thing going on.

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Mandatory goggles for every rider.

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If anyone managed a second ride in the space of fifteen minutes I'd be impressed. The park was dead so they were only running one train, and dispatch times weren't great.

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I only tried the front and back rows. Back row was quite bouncy due to the speed, I kind of wonder if that's always been the case.

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Arty shot of viewing area.

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Formula Rossa is definitely adrenaline-inducing, you don't feel it slowing down until the brake run.

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Six and a half thousand feet of speed!

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Random fact: water is sprayed onto the chassis after every ride, to help cool it down.

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Benno's Great Race was a fun surprise. It's a shooting, trackless dark ride where you help a mouse win a race.

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This only opened earlier in the year, and has a noticeably higher budget than other attractions in the park. Each rider gets a wrench to use in the various activity sections.

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There's a good mix of physical sets and screens to bring these characters to life.

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One thing this ride does really well is that it uses the activity sections to move the story along, which isn't something you typically see on a shooting dark ride. For example in this scene, you have to squash tomatoes to clear a path for the cars. The whole thing is very well executed, and definitely makes for a more entertaining experience.

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Flying Aces is the other new hotness at this park. It's clear from the entry that they've put some money into this ride.

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The queue alone is very well detailed.

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If follows a "WW1 flying ace" theme, and is a huge departure from the standard switchbacks found in the rest of the park.

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There's even an Indiana Jones-style safety video before you ride.

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The record-breaking (ahem) lift hill.

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Non-inverting loop!

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Flying through sunset!

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Check out Yas Waterworld in the background (more on that in a bit!)

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I haven't had enough rides on Skyrush to make any kind of reasonable comparison, just that they are both really fun rides.

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Ferrari World is not too far from the airport - I think I saw more planes fly overhead than coaster trains come through while I was out taking pictures!

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Flying Aces does have a couple of decent airtime hills, especially if you're in the back row.

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Hairtime!

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Just in case you didn't notice the giant coaster behind you, I guess...

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Can you spot the second credit in this photo?

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The single inversion is right at the end of the ride. Perhaps it was the jetlag, but this took me by surprise almost every time. It made for a great finish!

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3 seats occupied on the whole train - did I mention it was a quiet day?

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Some bonus theming sitting outside the ride.

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More random bits of scenic. I assume they're planning to use these eventually...

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Fortunately the park will have even more new additions over the next year. This is definitely a good thing, especially with IMG and Motiongate opening down the road in Dubai.

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First up will be an Intamin shuttle.

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The indoor part of the ride looked relatively complete, there was just some painting going on.

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The shuttle "spike" will be outdoors, in a space formerly occupied by the drop tower.

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Ready to be connected to the spike. It'll be interesting to see how they make this work, as you'd think a permanent hole in the wall there might limit their ability to keep the park cool.

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This giant piece of track is the outdoor section of Mission Ferrari, which will be a Gringotts-style SFX coaster.

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One for the footer enthusiasts. This coaster was originally slated to open in 2015, but seems to have been delayed.

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Lots of construction going on behind these doors, supposedly including some tilt and drop track sections.

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Hopefully it won't be too much longer before this ride can be, uh, rode.

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Close up of the Dynamic Attractions track, yes it is a bit dusty.

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So we also decided to check out Yas Waterworld, coincidentally on the first day of Ramadan. Crowds were not an issue.

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No photos because it's a water park, but we had an awesome time. This place is superbly themed with a really good collection of slides. The single-tube constrictor was particularly great. And even better, there were no lines for anything! So I highly recommend visiting this place, especially if you're in Abu Dhabi at that time of year.

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Bonus photo of the Warner Bros park building. This is slated to open in 2018, obviously still a lot to do if they're going to meet that date. That's all from Abu Dhabi, next stop is on a whole different continent, at Disneyland Paris!
Last edited by azza29 on Thu Oct 20, 2016 3:57 am.
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Re: Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby coasterbill » Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:01 am

Awesome update. Thanks for sharing.

Out of curiosity, how are crowd levels in general at this park? I see them expanding rapidly and dumping a ton of money into new attractions but every update I see shows the park on a completely dead day.

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Re: Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby azza29 » Wed Aug 17, 2016 4:55 pm

^It might be busier on weekends and during holiday periods, but there can't have been any more than a couple of hundred guests on the days I was there. They were still staffed up though: Flying Aces had five ride ops, plus a greeter, a grouper, a supervisor, and two people manning the loose item storage booth!
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Re: Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby BDG » Wed Aug 17, 2016 6:06 pm

Superb TR. Looking forward to the next chapters.
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Re: Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby PKI Jizzman » Thu Aug 18, 2016 5:55 am

Fantastic review of a less traveled park. I forgot about all of the new additions they are bringing in to the near future. Can't wait to read more!

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Re: Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby gardyloo! » Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:10 am

Great start of your GET! Trust me you don't want to be there even if it's remotely crowded. A 15 minute line at your average park will take 30 minutes here.
How did Ace's restraints/ airtime compare to skyrush's?

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Re: Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby Hilltopper39 » Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:20 am

coasterbill wrote:Awesome update. Thanks for sharing.

Out of curiosity, how are crowd levels in general at this park? I see them expanding rapidly and dumping a ton of money into new attractions but every update I see shows the park on a completely dead day.


I was just thinking the same thing, I've never seen a picture of the park where it looks remotely busy. Maybe once the enw parks on Yas Island open the place will pick up but I'd be curious what their annual attendance was.

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Re: Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby ElvisLuv » Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:27 am

What was your impression on the vekoma coaster inside Yas?

I'm really intrigued to see the Flying Aces train complete with the wings and tail gunners.

Since it is an Intamin, did the shuttle look like the outside spike could gain back a drop tower style ride using the supports. Intamin, seems to love that idea when they can do it.

Glad to see them shift the theming to more of "Life Inside of Italy" instead of "Life inside a Dealership."

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Re: Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby DirkFunk » Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:32 am

coasterbill wrote:Awesome update. Thanks for sharing.

Out of curiosity, how are crowd levels in general at this park? I see them expanding rapidly and dumping a ton of money into new attractions but every update I see shows the park on a completely dead day.


The park is a ghost town except Fridays.

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Re: Photo TR: Aaron's Grand European Tour

Postby azza29 » Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:37 am

gardyloo! wrote:How did Ace's restraints/ airtime compare to skyrush's?


The handful of rides I've had on Skyrush were a few years ago so it's not all that fresh in my mind, but I would say the restraints are about the same on both (i.e. fine) and Flying Aces has some slightly stronger airtime moments.


ElvisLuv wrote:What was your impression on the vekoma coaster inside Yas?

Since it is an Intamin, did the shuttle look like the outside spike could gain back a drop tower style ride using the supports. Intamin, seems to love that idea when they can do it.


Bandit Bomber is about the same thrill level as the other Vekoma family inverts, but it has some fun interactions with the slide tower structure. The "water bomb" effect was a bit hit and miss, but the place was empty so at that point we were just trying to dump water on the pavement.

Given that they just removed a drop tower to build this new ride I'd be surprised if the park adds another to the impulse coaster. I didn't notice anything to suggest that was the plan either.
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