Interview: Mr. Ferrari World
Andy Keeling has the job we all want: managing the world’s first Ferrari theme park. He tells Kipp what’s in store, what goes into it, and why he loves it so much.
October 7, 2010 3:44 by Samuel Potter
This is the calm before the storm. In a matter of weeks, maybe days, all anyone in the region will be talking about is the launch of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, one of the largest indoor theme parks on the planet and the first and only Ferrari theme park. With the world’s fastest rollercoaster headlining the attractions, and a confirmed opening date of October 27, the excitement is building.
But few people will be as excited as Andy Keeling, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi’s Park Manager. He’s worked at some of Europe’s biggest attractions, including the UK’s Alton Towers, Six Flags in Holland and Belgium and Warner Brothers Movie World in Germany. Kipp caught up with him to hear about what’s in store, and about some of the business behind the park.
You’ve been in the industry 24 years. How does Ferrari World compare to other parks you have worked with?
You don’t get many chances in a lifetime to come and do something from the ground up, and when I arrived there was nothing but sand. I remember checking the location in the winter of 2007, and today we’re sat in one of the world’s largest indoor theme parks. It’s incredibly exciting.
Tell us about how the park came about.
Abu Dhabi has a plan called the 2030 plan. It puts together a package of infrastructure. It plans local light rail transport systems, bus systems, housing developments, and for Yas Island its plan is for a leisure destination. Ferrari World is here, with its iconic roof structure, next to the grand prix track, and next to the region’s first Links golf course. And also planned for the future is a significant water park, and there are more projects coming to grow Yas. Abu Dhabi has had the foresight to bundle together a nice package of leisure activities at a location that’s very easy to reach.
What does the park have to offer?
We’ve got 20 rides shows and attractions. We have the world’s fastest rollercoaster (0 to 240 kph in 5 seconds), the region’s first dueling rollercoaster. A 62-metre shot and drop tower. They’re car-type experiences. We’ve got a whole area for families, with junior driving experiences. There’s a beautiful carousel, and a big play area. We’ve more driving experiences, one around a stunning miniature Italian landscape with all the famous landmarks. There’s a flying experience where you follow a Ferrari from the perspective of a helicopter. We have a museum with historic Ferraris. We have dark rides, where we control the environment, and for instance there’s a ride called racing legends, that takes you through different famous scenes in racing history. We have a boat ride that takes you through an engine, all the way through until being shot out of an exhaust pipe into the Tuscan countryside. We also have a paddock area, like a European F1 paddock, with trailers, motor homes and more. There’s a reproduction of a garage with F1 cars, you can explore those, listen to the race teams etcetera. You can even change tyres on a Formula One car. We have incredible simulators, too.