Ticket to ride

Counting down to the launch of the largest indoor theme park in the world: Ferrari World
Ticket to ride
The Ferrari emblem on the roof of the massive structure is the largest Prancing Horse logo in the world.
By Stuart Matthews
Sat 23 Oct 2010 04:00 AM

For Ferrari fans, the day is nearly here. More than three years after the first work commenced on site, Ferrari World is about to fling its doors open on Yas Island and welcome in its Middle East tifosi [Italy's term for its famed Ferrari supporters].

When it opens at the end of this week, Ferrari World will become the largest indoor theme park on the planet – and it will also post a few more world records to boot. It will house the world’s fastest roller coaster, the 210km/h-plus Formula Rossa F1-inspired ride, with another 19 rides and additional attractions themed around the Italian race team and sportscar maker.

Work began on the project around five years ago when Aldar began exploring its options in developing a 25km2 island, but the first official announcements relating to the Ferrari World theme park weren’t made until the end of 2006.

Aldar worked closely with Ferrari and American-based attraction designer Jack Rouse Associates, known for its work with Universal, Six Flags, Busch, and Warner Brothers, to come up with a plan for the park that best reflected Ferrari’s heritage, racing pedigree and latest technology.

“We came in at a later date once these decisions had been made,” said park manager Andy Keeling, of Farah Leisure Park Management, “but the idea was to represent the not only the best that Ferrari’s stands for, but to also showcase Italy because you cannot separate the two.”

The building itself is a marvel of modern engineering. Designed by Benoy to reflect the profile of Ferrari’s modern GT cars, the sprawling building with its triform legs and massive central funnel dominates the Yas Island development.

The 205,000m2 roof is so vast that its size disguises the building’s height of 50m from ceiling to floor, which in turn, creates a massive volume of internal space for the 20 rides and attractions.

Construction started with the pouring of the slabs in 2007 by main contractor Six Construct, while work on the superstructure began once final plans were completed. To build the superstructure, Six Construct used 35,000 tonnes of concrete, 12,370 tonnes of steel, 29,000m2 of facade glazing and 165,000m2 of roof cladding, and completed in just 14 months. A total of more than 4500 workers were involved in the construction of the superstructure.

The roof in particular is a work of art. Nine thousand tonnes of steel went into the construction of the roof, while the 180,000 elements and 42,000 nodes which make up the building’s spaceframe help support that bulk along with the huge central cylindrical column, or funnel.

The building was only sealed earlier this year, as interior fitment and rides companies moved in. Several main attractions are built inside large “black boxes” which allow the ride designers to precisely create and control the environments through which they pass.

“We’re able to control light, sound, temperature and even scents to help make the rides more enjoyable,” Keeling said. “One of our rides passes through icy caves and a fiery volcano scene, so we’re able to fine tune the environments to suit; another section contains a pine forest, so there’s a scent we use there too.”

The floor area of the theme park covers 86,000m2 and there’s a massive requirement of around 2.8 million litres of air-conditioning to keep the interior at its target 24-25C, 40% humidity.

“We will only cool the first 14m or so because it doesn’t make much sense to cool the entire volume of the building,” Keeling added.

As the final opening approaches, the last site preparations are being made. TÜV Sud, the German company charged with international certification processes, has been onsite testing the rides while contractors are on schedule to complete by October 27.

Ticket sales are strictly first come, first served, though online sales and advanced bookings available soon. The park will be open six days a week (closed Mondays) from noon-10pm.

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