ABU DHABI // Almost a year after its grand opening, Ferrari World has cruised over the worst of its initial speed bumps.
Initially, the world's largest indoor theme park struggled with low attendance and ride closures, but 10 months later, Ferrari World is back on track.
More than 100,000 had visited by the end of April and attendance surged at the end of last month as guests flocked to the park during the Eid holiday. Interactive shows, art workshops and group games attracted thousands from the UAE and GCC, along with tourists from around the world.
"We came three days ago, and now we are here again," said Fatma Al Baghli, who came to the park yesterday with her three children. "You just can't cover all of Ferrari World in one day."
Estimated to be worth Dh4 billion, the theme park has surpassed projections in several key areas, including ticket revenue, merchandise, food and beverage spending and spending per guest.
But the ride has not always been smooth. Since the park opened in November, both the 62-metre G-Force tower ride and the Formula Rossa, the world's fastest roller coaster, have been periodically closed for maintenance. The roller coaster, arguably the park's biggest draw, has been closed for the past week for annual maintenance but is expected to come back online "within days".
"The advanced technology utilised in Formula Rossa means that it is necessary to perform an annual review of the ride to ensure the highest quality of guest experience," said Glenn Davidson, the interim general manager of the theme park.
Visitors to the park received a complimentary ticket for a second visit to the park or food vouchers while the roller coaster was out of service.
For Abdullah Al Muraikhi and his son, Ahmed, 9, the closed coaster was a disappointment but not enough to keep the duo away from the park. "Of course we are upset that we cannot go on the world's fastest roller coaster, but we can go on other rides and still have the day together," said Mr Al Muraikhi, who was visiting from Qatar.
Dennis Speigel, the president of International Theme Park Services Inc, an international theme park consultancy based in the US, said glitches with the Formula Rossa were not unexpected.
"This is the first roller coaster of its kind to go from zero to 150kph in less than a second, making it a prototypical ride," Mr Speigel said earlier this year.
"Because of the level of sophistication involved, the ride requires a lot of adjustment time, typically one whole season of operation, which is about seven months."
As Ferrari World prepares to move into its second year, the priority will be to attract more regional and international visitors to the park.
"The uniqueness of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is that it's a truly family-friendly experience with attractions which appeal to everyone, making it a great option for families looking for a new way to spend some quality time together," said Andy Keeling, the park manager, in an interview earlier this year.
"This is in addition to all the fans who can only get this close to a brand they have strong passion for at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
"We're fast becoming a regular feature on the nation's leisure landscape."
The park plans to add new rides and attractions and Mr Keeling said Ferrari World would take visitor feedback into consideration.
"I strongly believe that what we currently offer stands out as one of the most enjoyable experiences on offer in the region," he said.
* With additional reporting by Manal Ismail