Record-breaking rollercoaster Flying Aces opened in Abu Dhabi recently. Our friends at Time Out Abu Dhabi went along to check it out for the first time. At around an hour's drive from Dubai Marina it is a world class tourist attraction which is certainly worthy of Dubai resident's attention.
Adrenaline – love it. It all started on my first visit to Wear ’M Out, a huge kids’ adventure play centre in my home town Tonbridge, England. I distinctly remember the mad sprint to the huge play frames and inflatable slides would result in a frantic dive into the ball pit. I was hooked.
That’s my earliest memory of adrenaline. Chasing the buzz, I went on to discover the rides of Legoland, the thrills of the rubber dinghy rapids at Chessington World of Adventures, and then as I grew I was taken to Thorpe Park and let loose on its insane rides with loop-the-loops and corkscrews. Growing out of theme parks, standing on the Kop at Anfield watching Liverpool F.C. play was the next best thing. The buzz on match days is electric.
But living in Abu Dhabi, I’ve quickly learnt that it is impossible to “grow out of theme parks”. And it’s the perfect place for adrenaline junkies like myself to run wild and act like a big kid; water sports, land sports, water parks and theme parks – ideal.
And one such theme park has invited me down to the launch of its new ride. I’m at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi (my ten-year-old self would be going nuts, in fact, my 26-year-old self is, too, I’m just trying to be professional) on Yas Island – the world’s largest indoor theme park – for the launch of Flying Aces. For months I’ve seen the white tracks of this scary looking roller coaster under construction next to the famous red Ferrari World roof, and now it’s finally time to give it a go.
Before the ribbon is cut on this monstrous ride, we’re told that Flying Aces is set to break three world records: the world’s tallest non-inverted loop, the world’s steepest and the world’s fastest inclined cable lift for a steel roller coaster. My excitement levels are picking up rapidly. The roller coaster’s loop is 52 metres high and is equal to a 17-storey-tall building. But it gets better: its cable lift climb is inclined at 51 degrees and accelerates to 30kmph, and the coaster reaches 120kmph along a 1.5km track that mimics an actual bi-plane movement.
Enough hype – I’m on my way to start queuing. There’s nothing worse than waiting in line when you’re exhilarated for the ride ahead, but luckily, the queue line is an interesting time-walk and includes a hangar building, barracks, warehouse and radio room where guests can get a full briefing on the ride. Flying Aces is inspired by Italy’s “ace of aces” Count Francesco Baracca, an Italian aviator of the 1900s who painted Ferrari’s Prancing Horse emblem on his bi-plane during World War I.
Having transcended back to the 1900s and come to the end of the time-walk, I’m ready to ride. I’m stood in front of a wooden door at gate three and can hear the coaster cranking away on the other side. Suddenly, the door flings open and my carriage awaits. My inner child sparks to life and I hurriedly drop my bags before climbing into my seat. This is not a ride where you’ll feel comfortable having your iPhone in your pocket.
I pull the harness down and a member of staff fastens me in. But I’m terrified. Why? Because the safety harness doesn’t cover my shoulders. Instead, all that’s stopping me falling out is something pressing down (very firmly) on my legs. I’m not sure if it’s adrenaline I’m experiencing. More the fear of dying.
Editor of Time Out Abu Dhabi Andre Neveling is sat next to me, nervously panting. “Has anyone ever fallen out of one of these seats before? I feel like I could fall out quite easily,” he says. “Not yet. This is one of the first times it’s been used,” I reply, reassuringly.
But there’s no time to think about it and there’s no turning back – we’re off. The screaming starts from all 28 riders as we’re launched up the 51 degree incline and then what can only be described as utter carnage ensues. The terrifying ride consists of two thrilling inversions, ten zero gravity air-time moments and five extreme twists and turns, and I’ve been thrown around like a rag doll. Luckily I had a light lunch. But this ride is sick, twisted and seriously addictive. The buzz after realising I’m still alive at the end forces me to go round again, and one thing’s for sure, it’s the best 135 seconds I’m going to have all week.
Dhs250 for Ferrari World entrance. Open daily 11am-8pm. Yas Island (02 496 8000).
Four to try Attractions at Ferrari World
The world’s fastest roller coaster provides thrill-seekers the ultimate adrenaline rush with a turbo-charged Ferrari experience. Get strapped in to a Ferrari F1 carriage that rockets along the tracks reaching 0-100 kmph in less than two seconds, accelerating to 240kmph. Trust us, we’ve been on this ride and it’s insane!
Fiorano GT Challenge
This exciting ‘dueling’ coaster sends two trains of three Ferrari F430 Spider carriages careering along parallel tracks in a high octane race to the finish line. The first thrill ride of its kind in the region, Fiorano GT Challenge rips around hairpin turns in a high-speed duel between two trains to reach the finish line.
This is the closest you will get to becoming an F1 driver without actually stepping into a car. The Scuderia Challenge is a state-of-the-art simulator, based on the professional training simulators used by the Scuderia Ferrari drivers. This is a level of realism way beyond an arcade game, giving guests a taste of a real-life racing experience.
Launched during the F1 season in November 2014, Karting Academy is a hands-on, adrenaline-fuelled racing experience. Whether a beginner or a serious sprinter, visitors to Ferrari World can test their racing skills aboard advanced electric powered go-karts and challenge family and friends around a 290m track.