Saturday was my adjustment day in Abu Dhabi, having travelled eleven time zones from LA, arriving late Friday night. My colleague Tom and I ventured out to visit Ferrari World on the outskirts of town. We looked forward to staking claim to riding the world’s fastest roller coaster – the Formula Rossa, which hits speeds of 240km/h.
Ferrari World is impressive in size and ambition, but the lack of crowds made us wonder how long it would remain open. For starters, three of the most popular attractions were closed for maintenance — including the world’s fastest roller coaster. Bummer.
We ambled over to the one roller coaster that was open, and were the first two in line. In fact, we were the only two in line. We had to ask to double-check that it was even open (it was). We navigated the serpentine (but empty) queue designed to handle mobs of people and made our way to the ride. We were the only ones on the first trip around the track. When we returned, there was still no line, so we went back. From there on, we didn’t even get off, we just asked them to keep sending us around. We rode it four consecutive times before finally a few people started to filter in.
The crowds did grow a bit over the afternoon, but it was never crowded. And we were both a little disappointed that three of the key attractions were closed (not a good sign).
On the bright side, I did learn a lot about Ferrari and saw some beautiful cars – some historic and many new models. But the experience left me scratching my head and wondering about the business viability of the park.
And while I can’t claim to have ridden the world’s fastest roller coaster, I may be able to say… “I visited Ferrari World back when it was still open.”
All this got me thinking; putting aside questions about whether it’s the right thing to do or not, let’s assume that the objective is to make changes that would help Ferrari World thrive. What changes would help them grow?
One obvious omission was the lack of a Ferrari dealership. Let qualified buyers test drive a Ferrari on the adjacent Formula 1 track (the Yaz Marina Circuit). Let people pickup a new car brochure and dream a bit. Even though the car’s price puts it out of range for most people, I was shocked that this wasn’t there. The “world” was a bit incomplete. You couldn’t even find out how much they cost (at least, it wasn’t apparent).
How would you crank up the buzz and stimulate business?