I’ll be spending the next month in the Middle East for work! SO! Trip report!
I wanted to create a space to share some of my experiences and park reports. I’ll be in Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel, with convenient layovers I managed to finagle in Abu Dhabi on the way in, and Istanbul on the way out. There isn’t that much in the Levant, in terms of big, good rides, but I do plan to hit up a few of the [relatively] larger parks, as well as Nefeskesen at Vialand on the way out. Unfortunately, the spinner at Habtoorland has been SBNO for a while now due to Lebanon’s decreased tourism numbers, which is a shame.
Abu Dhabi -
Abu Dhabi is a wonderful city for those of you who love a little barrenness/rubble/construction/shabbiness mixed in with your landmarks of ungodly affluence. Unfinished sidewalks and barren patches of desert connect one monumental entertainment complex to another, inconveniently spread out just far enough to put a gaudy and unfinished apartment complex in between them.
I was here for a day in 2011, 6 years ago, right when Formula Rossa was new. I was super excited to be able to get back to the park now that they’ve added Flying Aces.
I actually didn’t even make it downtown - the airport is rather close to Yas Island, and as I had less than 24 hours and I’d seen the city before, I opted to just camp out there. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera in my checked bag, so I have just a couple pictures from my phone, and mostly words.
I got in late, after midnight, buzzed from drinks on the plane and chatting it up pleasantly with the swarm of Pakistanis that were clearing immigration at the same time. Really, I was just happy to be back out of the country, especially in a place where they use the butt sprays - God’s gift to man. I stayed at a really nice and surprisingly affordable hotel within walking distance of Ferrari World (although walking is hardly a thing here). Regardless, I got a combo ticket from the hotel at a substantial discount, and made the 40 minute or so trek out to Yas Waterworld in time for a 10 am opening, which is important because you have to beat all the people. And by people, I mean person. Literally, 1 person. As the morning went on, a few others found their way to the park, but for the most part, the place was beyond dead. Like, staff to guest ratio was 4:1.
This was actually convenient though because I was on somewhat of a tight schedule. My flight out was at 5:00 and I needed to get over to Ferrari World too.
The park is just incredible. The theming is impeccable, all Sinbad-y and exotic. And the way the structures weave around and through each other is just remarkable. It’s enough to have no idea what the staircase you start climbing is going to lead to. Which is fun, albeit, horribly exhausting when you choose wrong.
Speaking of stairs, there were a lot of them. I’d already walked quite a bit to get there, and I often found myself out of breath at the top of each slide. Getting old, I suppose. Some of those things were high! I did a full lap of the park in under an hour, probably climbing up some 40,000 flights of steps (just a guess), mounting each oeak progressively more laboriously as the morning went on - and then I cherry picked a few slides for repeats. Despite some areas of construction, the place looked spectacular. The staff was incredibly friendly. In fact, everyone here was incredibly friendly. The UAE is something like 90% immigrant workers, many from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Philippines - and it was a lot of fun talking to everyone, at least so I could delay the descent long enough to catch my breath. I’m fairly well-traveled, and if I haven’t been to a place I probably know someone who was just there - so conversation came very naturally and was quite enjoyable. For most of them, just to know that you've heard of their home country meant a lot.
Some of these slides were aggressive! Man, between all the walking up the mountains of stairs, and tumbling back down in typhoon-ic, waterboarding-levels of pummel-your-body-and-drown-yourself intensity, my body was taking quite the beating. In fact, as I write this, it feels like my calves are about to detach themselves from my legs entirely.
The floor-drop loop slide was new for me, and made me squeal like a little girl. And the 6-person raft coaster-esque slide (master blaster?) was a first as well, perched up high on a giant Rok nest from Sinbad’s voyages. I very much enjoyed it.
Bandit Bomber was actually quite fun. The water cannons don’t work anymore, unfortunately, but it is quite a pleasant little float through and around the slides and stairways. The restraint was very open, which was fun, and it felt very long, despite being not very long at all in actuality.
Around 11:30, an hour and a half after opening, I booked it out of there having completed everything I wanted to and given myself a nice leisurely lap in the lazy river. And by booked it out of there, I mean contorted my face into a grimacy smile when told the easiest way to get to Ferrari World was a short walk across the [barren desert] intervening area as the shuttle could take a while, and slowly made my way towards the giant red building an age away.
At this point, my legs were practically shaking with exhaustion, but I put on my big boy pants and made the 10-15 minute walk to Ferrari World. It is remarkable how standard “luxury vehicle parking garage” is, and yet how foreign of a concept “fully paved roads and intact sidewalks” seemed to be.
Ferrari World is absolutely enormous, and it was cool to see the new coasters adding quite a bit more chaos to the inside of the building. It is enough to get lost in there. The new shuttle was testing. It looks great, rising through the middle of the building. I made a beeline for Flying Aces, all giddy and excited.
The queue is stunning. But it’s very long, and by now my legs felt like logs, my knees incapable of deep bending, and a lovely blister had developed on one of my feet. As I hobbled through, I was blown away by the completely immersive theming. I was blown away, each time I walked through it. Which was four times. Oh boy, legs, you can do it.
Oh man here we are. At long last. The lift hill is laughter-inducing fast. The seats are very comfortable, and the restraints very freeing. The thigh-crushing SkyRush models have been rectified, and the first drop just disappears from under you. The briefest third-world-bus-ride of a rattle awaits you at the bottom of the first drop on the back outside seats, but the rest is pretty smooth. And the giant non-inverting loop tosses you up directly into the blazing sun. Literally, the sun is right there, causing your vision to be a fiery white hole of non-existence right when you’re tossed into the roll. It was totally disorienting every time. Very cool, if you’re into that sort of thing - blindness.
The airtime was ample without being hallmark level, and the layout was quite long and very enjoyable. It does meander a tiny bit (kind of like ispeed does in my opinion - some of the layout just seems very unfocused and all over the place), but the forces are for the most part enough to keep you laughing and happy, with several good ejector pops and twistiness, and the PERFECT rolling inversion at the very end. Just scoops you right into it. Like your whole body just says “take me”. I think though, there were a few spots of 'wasted space', or areas that could be a tad more interesting. Which I don't love.
It’s right around Maverick level for me - not as intense as Sky Rush per se, but definitely a lot more rideable. The length and more relaxed pace makes it very enjoyable without being an effort, with just enough extreme intensity and moments of disorienting uniqueness to stand out. I put it below Goliath (Walabi), Megalite, Skyrush, Millennium Force, Atlantis Adventure, and Storm Runner, on par with Maverick, and better than all of the Superman models, I305, Volcano, Xcelerator, and iSpeed.
I rode it three times in a row all in the back (the front always had a line), and liked it more and more each time. Although at this point, the length of the queue line became quite the obstacle. I was seriously considering detaching my legs at the knees and using them as canes to drag myself forward - ‘must… ride… Flying Aces… again”.
The most interesting thing about having Flying Aces in the park, is that Formula Rossa is somewhat exposed. Back in 2011, Formula Rossa was able to make such an impression on me in its singularity and uniqueness - The launch was just stunning, and the experience of the whole thing was very impressive. Now with Flying Aces, Formula Rossa feels much more like a one trick pony. I didn’t have the best seat - second to last row, so I also didn’t have the advantage of the extra height of the tiered seating, which left the experience to be very underwhelming compared to what I remembered. The launch didn’t feel as out of control, the hill didn’t have as much insane airtime as I remembered, the rest of the layout was very dull - I don’t know. There’s something about having Flying Aces as a reference point that really deflates the Formula Rossa experience. One lap was enough for me as the line was building, and honestly I’d rather spend my limited time over at Flying Aces. Assuming I could make it back there. I rolled myself back across the park one final time, and took one final lap before dragging my exhausted, beaten, broken body out of the park and into a cab for the airport.
Everything was wonderful. Next, Lebanon.
- Walking past Ferrari World on the way to Yas Waterworld. This thing is great. Definitely worth the trek
- The first half is truly great. The second half can meander a tad, but it's all redeemed by that lazy roll at the end.
- Thar she blows. Old faithful
Last edited by coasterer
on Sun Apr 09, 2017 11:17 am.
Favorites: Voyage, T-Express, Goliath (WW), Medusa Steel Coaster, Boulder Dash, Katun, I 305, El Toro, Storm Runner, Mega-lite, Shivering Timbers, Alpengeist, Millennium Force, Thunderhead, Nemesis, Skyrush, Prowler, Atlantis Adventure, Thundercoaster, Maverick, Jungle Storm, Cornball Express, Behemoth,