UAE 08/23 – Sea World, Warner Bros. + Ferrari World

Ah, China. The bane of my life, but I can’t get enough. It’s been three-and-a-half long years since I could visit and they’ve built and closed hundred more things I want to try in that time.
Oh wait, what’s this, a layover?

Day 0 – Sea World Abu Dhabi

Yes, fortune favoured the flight schedule and I had financial reason to just ‘pop in’ and bag some newness on Yas Island. Had about 12 hours on the ground, perfectly adjacent to park opening and closing times and just enough to go hard, though with a relative lack of sleep either side.


The taxi dropped us off in 45 degrees of sunburn and flames and we hotfooted it into the beautifully air-conditioned, and presented, entrance building.


The whole place is pretty stunning, they’ve gone overboard with theming compared to your average indoor aquarium, though less so with the route planning as it can be a bit of a maze at times. I’ll leave you with all the wonderful visuals to begin with, before things become a little less than stellar.


In typical Abu Dhabi fashion, no one gets to the park for opening, so we ended up on the Hypersphere 360° first, with it all to ourselves.


I didn’t know much about this, other than it was a cool bit of new tech from Intamin. It certainly is that, a ring shaped flying theatre style attraction set within a ‘360 dome’. It didn’t quite deliver for me though. The pre-show felt overly long in setup, introducing this over-excited robot navigator and more deadpan computer system(?) who were going to be hypersphering us around the worlds oceans to see some animals. With all that build up, then a rather jarringly long loading sequence, all the wind is taken out of the sails as you waft around a mere three locations with only a couple of actual creatures to look at, with quite often the opposing section of the ride vehicle partially obscuring the view.


This narrative all hinges around your very typical ‘we’re here on a sightseeing mission, but things are gonna get a bit adventurous at some point’. The robot keeps hinting at wanting to take the controls, but is reminded that it’s not a good idea ‘because of what happened last time’. I guess we’ll never know what happened last time because he does take control at the end and… nothing happens. There is no adventure to this story. You see some stuff, you go home. I had thought it might even move a bit faster at some point, but oh well. Flashy filler.


Navigated past some real Sea World stuff to eventually find the main cred at the back of the park.


They were running #1 Manta ok, managing to half fill each of the two trains on track with the low crowd levels for now. I knew literally nothing about this ride coming in, except blue and Intamin. Fairly sure I heard the phrase 80Mph while powering through the queue and suddenly internal excitement stepped up a notch. It’s that big of a boy? We’re in Toutatis territory here.


It’s not that big of a boy, I either misheard or that was a lie. Things start off very IMG Blue Fire with a left turn into a tunnel, some projections, doors opening, launch into blinding sun and burning heat.

It’s a winding and varied layout interspersed with a couple of booster sections that don’t quite deliver that ever-satisfying feeling of a multi-launch. These tiny LSM boosts feel frustrating to me. Say what you want about the speed of a Mack launch, but I think there’s something more satisfying about dragging the process about a bit, at the cost of pure acceleration, letting it feel a bit more significant and special rather than just half a second of ‘NNGH’ as an afterthought. Just feels like unnecessary to the design, almost as annoying as trims. Anyway, the short little peps keep things going though mild to decent airtime moments, some semi-interesting inversions and lots of twisted pops in between.


I’m not quite sure what to think though, it all felt a little lackluster in my semi-comatose yet fight or flight ‘get me out of this sunburn’ state. A significant memory of all these outdoor UAE coasters for me on a previous visit was that you don’t feel the heat until the brake run, the wind in your hair takes the edge off of the insta-death. This wasn’t true for Manta, I could feel it the whole way round, and the ride was rattling already too. Was it simply not fast enough? I’m often overly cautious of being jaded these days but the ride did very little for me. A spark was missing. I went through the motions but I didn’t care.

The closest comparison I can think of is Abyssus – this looks like it should kick ass, even while I’m on it, but it doesn’t. It’s just… serviceable.
A worrying start for a trip.


Elsewhere in the building is one more coaster.


This #2 Eel Racer lives in an underwatery themed area with other family rides and was pretty solid for what it was.


Then you hit a wall. That’s it. Attractions over. If you’re here for the visuals, the animals, more power to you.

In terms of staying power as a theme park however, there’s nowhere near enough action to be had yet. They don’t even do the regular Sea World stuff everyone hates, as far as I can tell either. And will they expand? It feels pretty tight-nit. Would need another building.

We were done in an hour and a half, taking it easy, stopping at animal exhibits, getting lost more than once, and with rerides. For £70.

But that suits me, I’ve got places to be.

Warner Bros. Movie World


The taxi dropped us off in 45 degrees of sunburn and flames and we hotfooted it into the beautifully air-conditioned, and less well presented, entrance building.

First impressions here were that I liked the fake sky, a healthy red glow with clouds over the canyon. There’s something about these larger scale indoor parks that do have a bit of a magical quality to them, it’s not something you can get in many places.


First ride we came to was the Flintstones water ride, Bedrock River Adventure. It had a queue? I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that. After 20 minutes or so we were on, and into the land of Bedrock. They’re planning some festival. The festival happens. It’s declared the best (first) version of the festival. Party time (festival).

Not much going on narratively then, but it all looks good. If you’re a fan of the show (do the Flintstones have a cult following?) then you’ll have a good time I guess. I enjoyed it regardless, and not too wet.


Round the corner is the also well presented Intamin suspended coaster #3 Fast and Furry-ous feat. Wile E. and Roadrunner. Again this took around 20 mins to clear the queue, 2 trains, but short ones, not too bad.


It rides rather well, there’s good theming on route. A solid family attraction and worthy rival to the lesser Vekoma/B&M equivalents for sure.

Oh dear, I exclaimed, as we entered Cartoon Land (haven’t we just done cartoons?). The Zamperla spinner was posting a 70 minute queue on the board. That’s unprecedented for me, here, and a hard pass for now.


Scooby Doo and the Museum of Mysteries was next door though, at another 20 or so. Queue had some good moments to keep it interesting, and then it was time to board those trackless mystery machines. Really rated this one, it’s got a lot of clever use of the trackless technology – an absolute must for me if you’re going to have it at all. In a low-key Symbolica kind of way you’re going to get three different rides based on which position you start in the station, as there’s several split off scenes for individual cars.


It uses some simple but clever tricks to deliver its ghost train vibe. Lights out, scene flips, that type of stuff. This all feels like it plays very well into the theme and the show itself. The story contains all the classic beats of an episode, really well stylised and to great effect. Love it.


Next on the circuit was Animayhem. A simple queueline sets the tone, you’re partnering up with the Acme delivery firm, those crates full of cartoon contraptions most commonly used by Wile E. and crew


As an interactive dark ride, you intervene with various shenanigans set through all types of scenes containing characters from the Looney Tunes world. As an enjoyer of many of these growing up, I caught up with a ton of references and little details and thought it was pretty great for that alone. In terms of a shooter, it was varied and interesting enough to keep from getting stale at any point. Love it.


One more clever nod upon departing the cartoon area is a poster on the wall of the coyote in his winged suit complete with Batman reference.


Sure enough the adjacent area to this is Gotham City, which is where we headed into next. There’s a very well presented and ominous looking Disk-o here, which was skipped of course.


Mr. Freeze gets a bit of a raw deal here too.


I only had eyes for the Batman Knight Flight dark ride.


It became clear at this point that the park has a problem with overselling fasttracks, as the priority queue was longer than the main queue. A preshow takes place in one of two elevators and they were getting one entirely to themselves, and then some. Nevertheless the wait wasn’t too bad in this case, we were soon being whisked down to the bat cave, with a quick lowdown on what was happening along the way.

Joker was happening of course, and as brave volunteers we were going to test drive a prototype winged vehicle and assist with some damage control throughout the city. The entrance to the station itself is rather cave-like, which works I suppose, and our vehicles of choice are the rarely found robot arm dark ride of course. These are the type that begin in one of several fixed positions along a corridor, behind closed doors, allowing you to get another quick briefing from Alfred before being strapped in.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this one too. With the word prototype alluded to, there was opportunity for the vehicle to fail at certain moments, adding extra movements and jeopardy into proceedings, along with the technology being hacked and taken control of by the bad guys at some point. This, plus some decent physical sets, screenery and some of the better fight scenes I’ve seen on any ride all added up to a highly varied and exciting experience. Love it.


Also in DC land is a Green Lantern: Galactic Odyssey flying theatre. Wasn’t sure how this one was going to play out and I knew absolutely 0 about the franchise in this case. The green lantern folk are aliens anyway and you get invited to visit their planet. There’s a lot of talk about willpower going on, which is what their powers run on apparently. Turns out there’s other coloured lantern folk too (who knew), some good, which you meet, then some bad, which you end up encountering as well.


Things get a little scary, but most significantly for an attraction of this nature, things get more than a bit violent. I’ve never experienced such a wild flying theatre, it was bucking about and crashing into things hard all over the place, definitely spicing things up a bit. The conclusion was all about willpower too, we defeated the yellow lantern folk with our minds and headed home. S’alright, different at least.


Also also in DC land is a variation on the Justice League: Warworld Attacks! rides found all over Six Flags and beyond. It looked to be a bit of an upgrade of the Australian version, with a remake of the Starro storyline and some shiny new hardware but sadly it all went horribly wrong.


After the most painfully slow queue of the day so far it was finally our turn, but it was clear as soon as our vehicle reached the first scene that something was amiss. The motion base on the car wasn’t functioning at all. We couldn’t rotate, we couldn’t be thrown about, we couldn’t even see 90% of the screens for being pointed in a singular direction the whole time. It was just noises and neck craning. We arrived back in the station where the whole car kicked off about how the ride wasn’t working properly for us and the attendant simply laughed, apologised half-heartedly and said that we were welcome to queue again. Hate it.


One more DC based attraction on the list involved Superman 360° Battle for Metropolis. This was a bit of a dud after the rest of the lineup though, just standing in a big room with screens all around while Superman beats up some villain I’ve already forgotten, while Lois looks the other way. The most striking part of the sequence was the old Poseidon’s Fury disappearing wall trick, but used to far less effect. It was also uninteresting to the point that most of the guests left before it had actually finished, as soon as the opportunity arose. Meh.

With that, all that was left to conquer was the other cred, no matter the cost? Positive signs were that there was a show going on at that very moment, hopefully drawing the crowds away. Sure enough, the queue board was down to a mere(?) 50 minutes at the entrance so decided to suck it up. And then decided not to.


10 mins passed and the only progress we made through the queue, which starts out quite nicely themed to be fair, was through other guests leaving in disgust. I found a vantage point from which I could observe the station batching and from there saw a total of 8 guests from the main queue make it onto the ride in a further 10 mins. Fastrack was absolutely wrecking the joint, along with awful capacity and terrible operations. At 48pph and a good hunge in front of us, there was no way that the projected 50 was accurate and thus it was time to bail. Better things to do.

Mixed bag of a park overall, I really liked a lot of attractions along with the general look and feel of the place. Obviously it needed a bit more time than I had in a single day, but that was only through it operationally being the worst I’d seen for anything in the UAE, including customer service. Whether that was simply due to having more visitors than anything I’d seen in the UAE was yet to be determined.

The taxi dropped us off in 45 degrees of sunburn and flames and we hotfooted it into the beautifully air-conditions Yas mall to grab a quick bite to eat before the third and final park. I had rather hoped to relive my fond memory of downing a footlong Which Wich? and half a litre of Sprite before powering straight to a Flying Aces marathon, the stuff dreams are made of, but things never work out that way.
Said establishment was gone from the mall and there might be a ride or two that need attention first.

Ferrari World


Everyone knows the tale of #4 Mission Ferrari, the slowest coaster project in history. It’s not just a coaster though, being at least 50% dark ride and offering up a few surprises not seen before. Well, it’s open now, let’s take a look.


I couldn’t make much sense of what was going on in the queue. As with most things Ferrari, there’s some both self-centred and convoluted plot for the attraction that appears to involve being like a James Bond character, in a Ferrari. We can fly, we can shoot missiles, we can change our number plate. Some bad organisation (venom?, poison? something icky.) is out to get us or be defeated however and so, conflict.


The queue moved rather slow but wasn’t overly busy in the dying hours of operation thankfully. They offer the same weird oversized goggles here from Formula Rossa, ones that allow you to still wear glasses underneath. While a bit gross, the sentiment is appreciated as you do really need to see what’s going on here.


I’m still reeling a bit now from what was going on. I had managed to suppress any further detail of what went on beyond that one outdoor inversion thing you see, and was sufficiently shocked and surprised with the result. Things begin in nicely decorated scenes, somewhere in Italy, before trouble goes down. A similar setup to many a UAE coaster with a stop on a launch by a screen. The launch packs a good punch given the seemingly bulky and awkward vehicles and hits up said outdoor portion with a distinct lack of finesse. The bulk and awkwardness shines through once any speed is obtained and suffice to say it doesn’t ride well, more in an amusing way than an unpleasant way at the very least.

Turns out we did win somehow, and it trundles back past the usual have a trophy, go buy a million pound car stuff back to the station.

So I can see why this project took forever to complete. It’s ridiculously complicated and I rather respect that really, now that it’s finally up and running. Sure it’s unrefined as hell, but what it does do is impressive and an absolute blast when you aren’t expecting any of it. It’s a bit of a gamechanger in this new era of ‘multi-dimension’ coasters for sure and I hope the stigma now attached to the model, along with it’s dormant cousin, doesn’t set back the development of the technology, I rather hope it drives some competitors to do it better in fact. The possibilities are endless, and incorporating plot and theming into these elements on a high thrill coaster may well steer us away from any of these moments that feel ‘faffy’ or ‘pace-breaking’ these days.


Speaking of faffy, #5 Junior Formula Rossa is a thing now and of course needed to be obtained, at the very least just to offset the failures of the previous park. Worrying looking statements were being made on the signage at the ‘entrance’, to the effect of this is a family rollercoaster, we’re not going to stop adults riding, but you won’t be a priority. Strange, but gets the job done.

It was hideously slow though, everything about the procedure seemed invented to purposefully drag the time out. I’d almost forgotten what this feels like, but I suppose it felt like a warm up of what was to come.


Speaking of warm ups, it was finally time to get reacquainted with a top ten rollercoaster. Giddy excitement began proceedings, heading through the richly detailed queue line and being noticeably less deafened than previously by the planes flying overhead. Things ground to a halt in the final room, with only a train and a halfs worth of guests in front. Despatches were taking up to 15 minutes a time, for no disclosed reason. All the minor efficiencies were adding up, along with just leaving the train sitting in the station empty behind the closed doors for a couple of minutes each lap. Was it running too hot?

Well it certainly seems that way, because God Damn Flying Aces. I already loved this ride to death and then it went and blew my mind once again. It’s not that long ago that I was trying to downplay it in my head, during some discussions in the Toutatis queueline. That’s the trouble with time, you haven’t ridden something for 6 years and you begin to doubt yourself. With all I’ve done since then, was it really that good?

Yes, yes it was. With how much faff was going on, I made 1000% sure they were exclusively giving me back row, winged seats, because obviously that’s the only place to be. The ridiculously fast climb to the top, set against a fading backdrop of desert sun was magical once again. It’s so fast in fact that you get floater over the crest akin to better hypers, before the ridiculously wild and twisted drop. Intense as anything down the bottom and up into the non-inverting loop which I don’t recall being a particular highlight before. This time it did all manner of dangerous things, immediately showing off why these trains and those winged seats are so special, as I almost fell backwards and sideways out of the restraint while half upside down at the top. What?

The rest of the ride is just a glorious sequence of confusing moments like that, points on a ride where you don’t expect to get destroyed and then do, whilst being packed with either awesome airtime or powerful positives in between. The roll at the end puts you out of kilter before one more twisted moment that tries to remove you from restraint once more. I hit the brakes and immediately had one of those top ten moments, again, while everyone else burst into thunderous applause. What just happened? How do I process that?

Things need to be reconsidered. But later.

Straight round again and the queue was somehow even worse, while not being any longer, to the point that I decided to end on a high with the second lap, with both having been utter perfection.

The revelation that came after I had slept (albeit poorly) on it was that I now prefer Aces to Skyrush. Both wings are so much my bag and I love them almost equally for being like nothing else on earth when those lateral based restraint incidents happen. While Skyrush also remains a top ten too, some rerides have felt like they’ve lost the slightest of stings. The first drop isn’t quite kicking how it was before and you can have too much of a good thing over a layout that short and relatively simplistic.

Aces got even better and quite simply does the same stuff and so much more. The variety and the length are all there. The more daring manouevres. The even better lift. Love it.


Choosing to sit out on another bad queue left time for a couple more cheeky attractions. The quirky shooter Benno’s Great Race was completely cooked sadly. The spanner guns just weren’t working and it all falls rather flat without the interactivity.

Surprisingly managed to walk straight onto Formula Rossa, the fastest coaster in the world, for the final ride of the night. As with most record breakers I’m not overly enamoured with it and things like that are why. Like Ka has little to no fanfare, this had no queue while people were all over the way loving everything about a far superior rollercoaster.

Well I like this more than Ka at least, and had rather enjoyed my very first lap before a headache inducing wheel seat lap put me right off. This time I landed mid-train, non-wheel and it was a thing. Hadn’t done it in the dark before at least.


Cheat shot.

The sensation of speed just doesn’t make all that much of a difference once you hit a certain limit of face wobble, especially with the silly hill, trim sequence anyway. It’s acceleration that you really feel, so seems like you’re just chewing up track for the sake of it once things get going. The corners are reasonably intense, with a slow, stewing, slightly grey out feeling that’s nothing when you’ve been murdered by Titan in the last few months. The airtime hills at the end are moderately thrilling, making it all in all a better Rita. Plus I like the water on the brakes.

And with that it was back to the airport after a jam-packed 10 hours of theme parking. Lots to process, but no time.

Day 1

Sweden 08/23 – Furuvik

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