Ferrari World with a 3-year-old
General admission: AED 225
Children under 140cm: AED 185
Children 3 years and under: Free
We’d wondered ever since it opened if it was worth taking our thrill-seeking DD and car-mad DS to Ferrari World (FW). Obviously they weren’t going to be allowed (or want to go) on the main attractions like the world’s fastest rollercoaster and, to be honest, it’s a long drive and a lot of money if there’s nothing much else for the little ones.
But, armed with an Entertainer Dubai voucher for a buy-one-get-one-free general admission ticket, we decided to give it a go and, with the unexpected free ticket for DS who’s still three, our total cost was only AED 410, which is really not as bad as the AED 920 it could have been.
The main thing to know about FW is that everything is done on height – and the critical height is 1 metre. But all there is for children smaller than that is a small toddler area (“Junior Training Camp”) that’ll keep them occupied for 20 minutes tops. If you’re lucky.
Unfortunately for us, DS was about a hundredth of a hair’s breadth short of 1 metre. I know this because they have a height bar that they measure children with before every single ride. DS, perhaps thinking he had to squeeze under the bar, didn’t really pull himself up to his full height (despite me hissing at him to “stand tall!”) and the guys who work there are absolutely unforgiving. A hundredth of a hair’s breadth too short is simply too short, never mind that the ruler lifted DS’s hair off his scalp. He was not allowed on rides I know he would have loved and been brilliant at, because of this.
But hey, rules is rules and, as DH pointed out, “His job probably depends on it.” Still, I’m pulling a bit of a face like I’ve sucked lemons and wishing I’d put DS in trainers with a thick sole instead of his handmade Italian leather moccasins. So, what did we do?
Bell’ Italia – “Explore a miniature Italy in a small-scale 1958 Ferrari 250 California”. Both kids loved this ride – you literally just sit in a gorgeous mini Ferrari and cruise slowly around a track looking at sights from Italy. Both kids were disinterested in the sights of Italy; both loved pretending to drive. I found it strange that adults – yes, normal adults with no kids – were squeezing themselves onto this ride. Really, why?
Junior GT – “Driving school for aspiring Gran Tourismo Pilotas, who can enjoy their first Ferrari, a scaled-down 430 GT Spider”. Height restriction for these electric cars was 1m to 1.4m – DS, despite being an amazing driver having spent his entire Christmas holidays practising on the track in Kidzania, was too short so he had to watch taller numpties with no road sense crash their cars into the kerbs and each other. DD did it but, really, she was a bit too big (136cm) and it was a bit too slow for her liking.
Speed of Magic – “Follow the adventures of a young boy through 4-D fantasy dreamscapes where no Ferrari has gone before.” The height restriction was 1m for this but, a little wiser and more experienced by now, we got DS to stand up a little on his tiptoes to get onto this one. It’s a simulator – your 8-seat carriage is rocked and spun about as you’re surrounded by 3-D film that literally jumps in your face. DH, DD and I loved it, but, with no understanding of how it worked DS was unsure – he thought he really was falling off a cliff half the time and was consequently petrified. Oops.
Mamma Rosella – “Flagship Italian restaurant serving pasta, pizza, salads and an Italian grill menu in a free-flow environment”. Seriously, don’t expect much. You’re in an indoor entertainment centre, not Milan. AED 55 per plate of pasta. Pizza slices were large, base seemed nice, but somehow lacking any refinement.
Junior Training Camp – “Play in the waterless carwash, become a custom constructor, climb the grandstand, pilot remote-control cars, peddle your own Ferrari and play with an F1 car.” This is the toddler play area. The waterless carwash was a sort of jungle gym job of the sort you would get in a shopping mall, only much smaller and marginally prettier; the peddle cars were absent; the F1 car was a moulded plastic job that kids could climb in (10 seconds of entertainment); no idea what the custom constructor was about; and the remote-control cars were great for adults but way too tricky for the little ones – even for DD.
Red – A Theatrical Spectacular of Speed and Passion – A live theatre show “inspired by the passion of Enzo Ferrari and his love of speed, style and everything Italian.” To be honest, we went for this 30-minute live show for a chance to sit down. It was good, much better than we thought it would be. It reminded DH and I of the entertainment on the cruise ship last summer, only this was more polished. High praise indeed.
Espresso Rosso – “Authentic Italian Café serving coffee, pastries, cakes and gelato”. The children’s ice creams were fabulous, not to mention served by a lady whose name was – I kid you not – Thawthaw. My trio of Italian pastries (AED 25) was divine; coffee strong enough to keep us awake back down to Dubai.
Fed up by then of the constant background music playing, we made a beeline for the exit four and a half hours after we got there. Parents grit your teeth before you leave: They make you exit through the gift shop (cue much wailing).