ABU DHABI // Ferrari World, the UAE's newest theme park, opened to the general public yesterday, attracting hundreds of families, thrill-seekers and car enthusiasts alike.
The soft opening, ahead of the park's grand opening on November 30, was the first public look at what its creators have billed the world's largest indoor theme park, with more than 20 rides under a 200,000-sq-metre Ferrari-red roof.
The park features the world's fastest roller coaster and a G-force ride that shoots thrill-seekers to heights of 62 metres.
The coaster, the GT Challenge and the Speed of Magic, a "4-D fantasy" ride, were especially popular with the early visitors yesterday.
Despite a few glitches on some rides, parents and children alike were thrilled.
"My son loves Ferrari," said Amit Goyal, who was in Abu Dhabi for business from Switzerland with his son, Pashin, who was decked out in Ferrari red and white from head to toe. "He came prepared, and his favourite has been the simulators. Everything looks amazing."
The park has been more than three years in the making, built by more than 6,000 workers who poured more than 185,000 cubic metres of concrete and more than 12,370 tonnes of steel to make it happen.
The unveiling had been delayed for one week amid mourning for Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Ras al Khaimah.
"I didn't know what was here, and we couldn't figure out how to get in when we got here, but now that we are here, I'm ready to have a look around," said Warren Bruggy, a marine electrician who was in Abu Dhabi for business from Australia.
Ferrari World is meant to be a destination attraction for families, and Claus Frimand, Ferrari World's general manager, said there is no doubt Abu Dhabi is the right place for it.
"There's a fascination with the brand in general here, and this was just one of those things that came up and made sense," he said. "Between Ferrari and Abu Dhabi, it's been a great cooperation."
The park has several Italian restaurants and the world's largest Ferrari store, where everything from stuffed bears and camels to clothes, hats and model Ferrari cars were on sale.
Dozens of schoolchildren arrived at midday and squealed as they walked under the red Ferrari World overhang.
"Seeing the school kids, that's what makes it real for us," said Mr Frimand. "To actually be open and see kids and families here, that's really fantastic."
Ferrari World has a capacity of 10,000 visitors a day, and thousands were expected to come over the weekend. It will be open starting at noon every day but is closed on Mondays. A general admission ticket costs Dh225 for an adult, and Dh165 for children under 1.5 metres in height.