Yas Waterworld is a relatively new water park that opened last year a few miles away from Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. I'm not going to pretend to be a connoisseur of water parks, as I've only been to a small number of them over the years, but this one was certainly impressive, with a large number of slides ranging from mild through extreme, as well as a roller coaster. For my visit today both of the hydromagnetic slides were partially disassembled, a bit disappointing (and surprising in such a new park), but that just gives me a good reason to return in the future.
The first ride of the day was always going to be Bandit Bomber (#2004), a custom inverted coaster from Vekoma with two special features; the ability to drop water on guests below, and a small light gun that could be used to trigger additional targets located around the ride. The ride is a lot of fun, and a major upgrade over similardesigns.
My next stop was at Liwa Loop, a water slide with an inversion, and a truly terrifying ride. It begins with the passenger climbing into a box and standing on a trap door with their arms and legs crossed, with a large amount of hot water pouring out the top. The sensation at this point is pleasant, rather akin to standing under a warm waterfall. A plexiglass door is closed, and a calm female voice counts down... three... two... one... and then the world ends. The sensation of freefall when the trap door pulls out of the way is far more intense than anything I've ridden before, and that includes a number of different Skycoasters. I barely noticed the sensation of going through the loop, as water splashed in my face, and before I knew it I was slowing down at the end of the course.
Would I ride again? Honestly, I'm not at all sure. I'm glad that I decided to ride, but it would be thoroughly dishonest of me to claim that I enjoyed the experience. Furthermore, the slowing down left me with a friction burn on my back, and while it had faded by the next morning, it wasn't exactly comfortable at the time.
I decided to skip the enormous Jebel Drop free fall slide, though I did ride the Hamlool's Humps bumped version next to it. From there, I went to the Slither Slides, a collection of six parallel tube slides with different elements during their descent. I tried all six; three were fairly standard, but three had unique features; one featured a Toilet Bowl element filled with coloured lights, another had some side to side sections, and yet another built up a lot of speed thanks to a steep drop in pitch darkness.
Fun City Marina
22nd February 2014
There are few things more irritating to the wandering enthusiast than having to make repeated attempts to ride a coaster, especially one in a difficult-to-reach location. I've only previously written about one of my three attempts to visit the Marina Mall branch of Fun City, on the grounds that repeating the ride wasn't operating for my visit bores the average reader while simultaneously providing ammunition for competitive coaster enthusiasses.
Given that, it was a relief to find that Shark Coaster (#2005) was operating today. Though the ride covers a wide area and looks interesting from the ground, it suffers from a relatively limited height differential and can only operate with the assistance of a tire drive on almost every hill which catches the train just as it would otherwise roll back. The end result is a coaster that is, in a word, dull.
Dubai Global Village
22nd February 2014
There was a fatal accident during the Global Village event last year, when a metal bar fell from the ferris wheel and decapitated a victim on the ground. One of the consequences of this accident was the unceremonious removal of local funfair promoter Freij Entertainment in favour of the UK-based Mellors Group. The result is Fantasy Island, a beautifully presented event built on wood decking with roughly twenty rides, all of which have been imported from the UK fair circuit.
We started our visit by riding the somewhat embarrassing powered Go Gator, before heading for the somewhat less embarrassing powered Runaway Train that once operated at American Adventure. I'd not seen this ride in its travelling form before, and it certainly makes a visual impact, taking up an enormous amount of ground space. The ride was quite forceful, especially when the train is at full speed; the violent turn that I wrote about eleven years ago is still present!
The Cyclone Rollercoaster has had (at least) three different identities over the years, starting life as Crazy Mouse before spending some time as Alpine Coaster. The cars still wear the theming they were given for the latter identity, albeit with a new decal on the back of each showing the new name. My car today was perfectly balanced, spinning well enough to leave me more than a little dizzy on disembarkation.
A brightly painted Pinfari Super Dragon named Dragon Challenge turned out to be a retheme of the old the Beastie from Alton Towers, now operating under the ownership of Walt Murphy. That left a Big Apple named Chenille (#2006) as the only new credit for me at the fair.
Sparky's Al Ghurair
22nd February 2014
The second shopping mall park of the day was a relatively new one, having only opened towards the end of last year. Roller Coaster (#2007) is the first installation of a spinning coaster by IE Park. Riders are restrained using a simple but effective lap bar, imprinted with the manufacturer's logo, which is secure without being uncomfortable in any way.
I'd not been expecting a massive amount from the ride, which might be why I enjoyed it so much. The five car train negotiated the wandering layout without a single bump, something that one can rarely say for any coaster, let alone the first version of a brand new product. The cars didn't spin a huge amount, but they did move, and the sensation of speed was maintained all the way from the peak of the lift back to the station. Most of the shopping mall coasters in the UAE are at best mediocre, but this ride was excellent; I'd list it alongside Spin Gear as a credit that is well worth the effort of tracking down.
There was one small oddity with Roller Coaster that I feel compelled to document; the loading station featured air gates, but they were closed off by a permanently installed barrier; instead, guests were ushered through a traditional gate that was presumably intended to be the operator's entrance. The reason for the change was not obvious, but based on the loading procedure, I'm speculating that the train needs to be loaded from back to front in order to prevent a half filled train from valleying.
Dubai Festival City
22nd February 2014
After a dinner of Traditional Emirati Cuisine (in the Hard Rock Café, obviously) I decided to go investigate the site where we'd found a fair four years ago. This proved entirely successful, as Freij Entertainment had a small event set up with two coasters. The back of the site held the wheel involved in the accident at Global Village (see above), but it had been assembled without any gondolas, presumably for investigation purposes; it seems unlikely that it will operate again with paying customers.
Freij owns a lot of coasters, including three spinning mice and two Big Apples. I'd ridden Brucomela before, and as such I was excited to see Crazy Caterpillar (#2008) tonight. I was somewhat less enthusiastic about Freij's Euro Star (#2009), an ageing Pinfari ZL42, but it had to be done. The first section of this model wasn't particularly violent, but the section after the loop made up for that in style.
One whole area of the fairground was devoted to an enormous number of containers containing various disassembled rides. Most of them were sealed, but a few had open doors, including one which appeared to hold the ride cars from Wild Mouse (Bird) that used to tour in Ireland. That ride was always a sentimental favourite of mine, given that it was one of my first coasters, and I hold out the hope that I'll see it operate again somewhere.