Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi
Warner Bros. World is the UAE’s best park. I originally budgeted only a half day here and that was a big mistake. There was simply too much to see. The dark rides, theming, and attention to detail are on par with Disney or Universal. I rearranged my entire itinerary to get a second day and it was well worth it.
The park is located on Yas Island across the street from both Yas Waterworld and Ferrari World. The building’s exterior is massive but otherwise unassuming. It looks like your typical big box store with some WB characters slapped on the side.
I believe it’s deliberate, but you cannot see any of the park until you enter. That makes the grand reveal all the more special. It’s like when you pass under the railroad at Disneyland and first gaze your eyes down Main Street. Except instead of a castle, Warner Bros. World has a gorgeous, illuminated theater.
Starting counterclockwise, the first land is Bedrock. The Flintstones-themed land only has one ride, but the Flintstones Bedrock River Adventure is among the park’s best attractions. The ride is about 5 minutes long and there isn’t an inch of wasted space?
You know how a lot of dark rides have scenery on one-side and then dead space on the other? That doesn’t happen on the River Adventure. The ride is 360 degrees of sights. I had to ride multiple times just to catch all the figures and animatronics.
And the ride does have a drop. It’s pretty modest in height and won’t have you screaming Yabba-Dabba-Do or anything, but it does make for a nice finale. The resulting splash is equivalent to a heavy misting, which is perfectly appropriate for a climate-controlled indoor park. 10 out of 10
Growing up, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote was my favorite cartoon. For that reason, I was ecstatic they got their own themed land in Dynamite Gulch. The whole area looks very reminiscent of Disney’s Big Thunder Mountain and that’s hardly a bad thing.
The centerpiece of Dynamite Gulch is Fast and Furry-ous. Let me start by saying that I love how the name pays homage to one of the most famous Road Runner cartoons (and not that unwatchable car franchise). From a ride standpoint, this Intamin inverted coaster gracefully winds over cacti and around stalagmites.
But before that, the coaster actually has a surprisingly good first drop in complete darkness. It’s probably no taller than 30-40 feet, but it had a surprising amount of yank for a family coaster. No we’re not talking Skull Mountain here, but it was notable nonetheless. I had no idea that was coming off-ride.
The ride vehicle is shockingly compact at just 5 rows. This isn’t good for capacity, but it allows the coaster to execute some very tight maneuvers. I strongly recommend waiting for the front so you can appreciate all the near-misses with rockwork. It’s short, but it’s smooth and super reridable. 7 out of 10
Next door is Cartoon Junction. Like Dynamite Gluch, it’s another land with a strong Looney Tunes presence. But instead of towering rockwork, Cartoon Junction feels like a quaint town with shopfronts, town houses, and mansions.
Like a moth to a flame, coaster enthusiasts will undoubtedly be drawn to Tom and Jerry: Swiss Cheese Spin. The entire coaster is completely hidden from view, so off-ride shots simply are not possible for this coaster. In fact, unless you’re familiar with the ride, you’d have no idea it were a coaster from the midway.
Let’s talk about the ride system for a second. As you may have guessed from the name, it’s a spinner. More specifically, it’s a Zamperla spinner. That probably caused a few audible groans, but it’s unlike any of their other spinners. Basically it looks like they chained four of their spinning mice cars together. And the wild mouse layout is replaced by a twisted layout that seems more suitable for a Mack spinner.
That sounds horrifying from a Zamperla, but it’s actually smooth. The entirety of the coaster takes place in a blacklit box reminiscent of LaffTrakk. Except unlike LaffTrakk this one spins a decent amount*. The layout is lacking thrilling drops, but the spinning mixed with the sights yield a frenetically paced ride. 7 out of 10
* If you hate spinning rides, you better pray Tom and Jerry is only running one train. Once the coaster hits the brake run, it spins uncontrollably and doesn’t stop until it returns to the station. With one train, that means there’s maybe 5-10 seconds of spinning. But if the coaster is running two trains and stacks,
you’re in for a world of suffering. On one of my rides, we were spinning for a minute straight.
But if you like spinners like me, you’ll be begging for the ops to stack. I never thought I’d see the day.
In my opinion, the park’s best ride is Scooby Doo: Museum of Mysteries. Going in, I knew it was a dark ride. But I figured it’d be a shooter like the Scooby Doo dark rides in the US. Needless to say I was stunned to find a trackless dark ride in the mold of Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. That’s a comparison I do not make lightly.
As I’d discover, the UAE loves trackless dark rides. Many of these rides are trackless just for the sake of it. But Scooby Doo uses the feature as a story-telling component. Like Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, the vehicles travel in packs of three. At three or so points, the cars split up much like the gang in an episode of Scooby Doo. Each path has some unique sights, so multiple rides are in order to see them all.
And then later in the ride, Scooby Doo brings one of the cartoon’s most iconic scenes to life, the hallway chase scene. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, consult our omniscient friend Google. Now this is why trackless ride systems exist.
Scooby Doo is one of the best dark rides I’ve ever ridden. I’d go as far to say that it’s even better than the ride I compared it to, Pooh’s Hunny Hunt. This ride is flawless if you ask me. 10 out of 10
Cartoon Junction is home to another incredible dark ride in Ani-Mayhem. The ride is a hybrid of your screen-based shooters like Toy Story Mania and your physical shooters like Buzz Lightyear. And it thrives at both. In fact, many screens blend both styles of targets together simultaneously.
I can’t tell you how awesome it is alternating between physical targets (that react I might add) and screen based targets. The ride was quite long too. There were at least 7-8 different showrooms and my trigger finger was exhausted at the end of each ride.
It’s hard for me to decide if I prefer Toy Story Mania or Men in Black. Ani-Mayhem ended that debate. It created a happy marriage of aspects from both rides. 10 out of 10
It’s like night and day going from Cartoon Junction to Gotham City. Warner Bros. World nailed the dark and gritty atmosphere of Gotham City. This looked so much better than the Gotham Cities at Six Flags. The only (unintentional) advantage those ones have are in the graffiti department.
The anchor of the area is Batman Knight Flight, a robot arm dark ride similar to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The ride’s strength is undoubtedly the ride system. It’s an absolute joy getting some legit thrills during such an immersive and highly-themed dark ride.
The first half has riders directly involved in the plot performing reconnaissance for the Caped Crusader. Riders take a backseat role during the second half, but there’s a delightful fight scene between Batman and the Joker. Oh and there’s a really weird drunk driving joke mixed in considering the country.
So is it better than Harry Potter? I think it comes down to which IP you prefer. Harry Potter may have slightly better timing transitioning between scenes (Batman sometimes had 1-2 seconds of a blank screen before the video started), but I still enjoyed Batman more. 9.5 out of 10
The Joker Funhouse is without a doubt the best themed fun house I’ve ever experienced. This fun house had a legit preshow. What other fun house can you say that about? Plus that pre-show had a genuinely terrifying jump scare. By default, I’d almost say that made this fun house the park’s scariest ride.
The ride had a myriad of gags. The evilest of all was the initial mirror maze. One, it was quite long. It was longer than most standalone mirror mazes. Two, the darkened lighting concealed the usual visual tells. Three, the ride had some signs that are intentionally misleading for first-timers.
The rest of the fun house had some of my favorites, most notably a vortex tunnel and a sliding staircase. There was also a big slide at the end, but unfortunately it was pretty slow. Ultimately this is one of the best fun houses out there because of its length and theme. 9 out of 10
Warner Bros. World doesn’t have many flats. Quite simply, it doesn’t need them. But one noteworthy one is the Riddler Revolution. If you’re a total credit whore, it’s noteworthy since it’s a Disk’O coaster. If you’re simply a fan of flat rides, this one has a ton of near-misses and some awesome lighting effects.
Riddler Revolution is inside a warehouse filled with fog and strobe lights. This result is one heck of a disorienting ride teeming with foot-choppers. The show elements elevated an already fun flat to the next level. It’s a similar effect to all the northeast’s enclosed scramblers. 8 out of 10
The lone ride down for rehab during my visit was the Scarecrow Scare Raid. Initially I thought it was just a Zamperla Air Race, so it didn’t appear to be a major loss. However, upon closer inspection it appears to be something else entirely. It looks like an air race was attached to one of those balloon towers.
The final area is Metropolis, which is fittingly anchored by a Justice League dark ride. I thought the Justice Leauge facades at the Six Flags parks looked nice. They still do. But the facade at Warner Bros World said “hold my beer.” This one is much grander in scale and truly the icon of the area.
Justice League rides like Spiderman and takes riders through an epic battle with Warworld. Like Batman Knight Flight, the first half has riders directly involved in the action. However, the second half has riders playing spectator to a big fight. For me, this wasn’t an issue since I’m a big comic book nerd and the animation was crisp, but others may feel differently. 9 out of 10
The park is also home to the most unique flying theater I’ve ever seen in Green Lantern Galactic Odyssey. Every other flying theater has been a plotless showcase of beautiful sights, which isn’t an issue considering how effective the ride system is. Meanwhile Green Lantern tried to tell a story.
This has pros and cons. On the plus side, the plot results in some wilder movements, which is pretty freaky in such an exposed ride vehicle. On the down side, the ride lacked the visual wows typically found on this type of ride. Ultimately it was a cool twist on a ride that’s becoming more common. 8 out of 10
Whereas Batman Knight Flight and Justice League transition to fight scenes for their grand finales, Superman 360 is an epic battle from start to finish. The only other 3D theater I’ve ridden was SeaWorld’s Turtle Trek and I felt like an awful human being after that ride.
The ride starts with a quick pre-show and cleverly transitions to the main show. The 360 degree screen is massive and truly makes you part of the action. But then the ride just ends. The story was captivating and moving towards a logical resolution, but then it just fast-forwarded and ended. 8 out of 10
I just hope others don’t have their ride spoiled by morons trying to film. Despite several warnings not to, some dude whipped out a selfie stick and filmed the thing with his flash active. As a result, the attraction’s audio was interrupted at several points to repeat this warning until he eventually stopped.
Last but not least, I also tried the Teen Titans Training Academy. I figured it’d just be a ropes course. And I was right that it had a ropes course, but it also had one other treat for coaster enthusiasts- a zip coaster.
This is a perfect contender for the infamous “Is it a coaster” debate. Whereas your traditional ziplines travel in a straight path, this one is a complete circuit with drops, turns, and even a lift hill. It rode very much like a suspended coaster if you ask me. I think the only similar one in America is the one at Rowdy Bear Mountain in Gatlinburg.
I was nervous the coaster would be harsh for us guys, but it was perfectly comfortable. The coaster had a modest top speed, but the swinging around the turns was really neat in such a minimalistic harness. But the best part was the final drop where you build up a considerable head of speed. 6 out of 10
I do have one last note on capacity. While the park wasn’t super busy on the days I visited, some of the rides have dreadful throughputs. It seems like the park spared no expense on theming and show scenes, but it came at the cost of ride capacity.
Many dark rides at Warner Bros. World had sizable delays between ride vehicles. They also only ran one train on the coasters despite the queues hovering around a half hour. Fortunately they do offer a reasonably priced Flash Pass at $40, so I cannot recommend it enough.
I’m still in awe just how well-themed Warner Bros. World was. I love all the IPs featured at this park, so it was a dream come true to see them fully-fleshed out in a theme park with this much detail.
If you want thrills, Warner Bros. World is not for you. However, if you’re a fan of immersive theming and world-class dark rides, Warner Bros. World is a must. This is a park where a Spiderman-like dark ride just barely makes its top 5 dark rides. That’s just how deep this park’s dark ride collection is.