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
Let’s talk merchandise. Can you buy a Ferrari there?
No, but I can probably hook you up with someone who can sell you one! I’m sure I’ll be asked. Particularly with the classics, we have a museum with classic Ferraris in it. We don’t directly sell cars, but we know all the local suppliers and we can point them in the right direction.
What are you selling?
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi has its own line of souvenirs – it’s a common thing to want to buy a souvenir of a visit to a theme park, a souvenir of a big day out. We cater very well for that, our merchandise team together with Ferrari have developed a set of souvenirs – cups, caps, magnets, key rings. You name it, we’ve got it. It’s nicely priced, aimed at fans, and many things can be bought on a kid’s pocket money budget. We’re not trying to be elitist in any way. We want true souvenirs that anyone can buy. We do also have a Ferrari store, which has a full range of fan merchandise as you can imagine. We also have gold jewellery. We have Vertu phones. If somebody wants to they can buy some very high quality goods at Ferrari world as well. Last but not least we’ve got a beautiful store called Past and Present. Inside Past and Present – it’ll probably be a nightmare for parents but it’s great for kids – there’ll be a candy corner where you can fill up your container from what looks like a petrol pump full of candy. It’s a lot of fun.
Do you have deals in place with any hotels?
Yes we do. We have a business community on Yas. We’re all trying to develop something very special here. We have deals and we’re just putting the finishing touches on those with the hotels. As you can imagine we also have a lot of synergies with the race track, so we’re working with those. We’re trying to make Ferrari World part of a healthy business community.
Does the park make any sustainable or eco-friendly efforts?
We currently practice waste separation to make sure we recycle. We’re doing what we can today with the facilities available to us in our park and in the UAE. We continue to do the best that we can. We do all the typical things. We are an indoor theme park, and we have a constant temperature 12 months of the year, day and night, of 24 or 25 degrees Centigrade and a humidity of around 40 percent. We have building that’s actually up to 50 metres high, but we’re only cooling the bottom 13 metres. Above that is just roof space – we avoid cooling that. So we’re making efforts to be as environmentally friendly as possible. And of course there’s an economic element – what we don’t cool we don’t pay for.
The end of October is a soft opening, is that right?
That’s generally correct. We use the term public opening. We have a public opening with an inaugural celebration with some special entertainment and some special activities that night, and while stocks last a number of giveaways. Then we build up and play our part in the Formula one event in November, and then there is a grand opening in December that is being put together and co-ordinated by the property own Aldar Properties.
Will we be seeing any celebrity drivers making an appearance?
I am sure you will. Yes of course there will. I’ve see the presentation for December and it is fantastic.