With Furious 7 arriving next week on Blu-ray and DVD (click here to pre-order on Amazon), Universal Pictures Home Entertainment decided to go all out with their promotion by flying a number of reporters from around the world to Abu Dhabi. If you’ve seen the film, you know that the city plays an important role in the second half – specifically a huge action set piece that involves cars crashing out of the Jumeirah Hotel at Etihad Towers. It’s an amazing spectacle that floored audiences around the world.
Since I’ve never been to the Middle East, I wasn’t sure what the country would be like as I walked around Abu Dhabi. What I found was a society that mixes in western culture with their own values. Meaning you can drink Jamba Juice and eat Dunkin Donuts in the mall, but you can only drink alcohol at a hotel or restaurant. There are no local bars on the corner. Also, since the United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country traditional dress for men is a long white cotton shirt and head-dress secured by a leather rope. Some women also cover their face in various ways (sometimes the face is completely covered). And while visitors can wear what they want in most places, if you visit a mosque there are very specific rules to follow.
Although I learned a lot about the culture and their values, the one thing I took away more than anything else was just how friendly everyone was. One day I met some people in the mall and we all went and got coffee and talked. They wanted to get to know me and I was curious about them. They talked about their desires for their country and the future, and I shared what it’s like to cover movies and television for a living. It was a very cool day that I’ll never forget.
During my few days in the United Arab Emirates, Universal and the Abu Dhabi Film Commission took me and the other reporters all around the city and showed us the sights. Besides telling us about their 30% rebate for productions filming in Abu Dhabi, we got to interview Tyrese Gibson, visit the Yas Marina Circuit, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Yas mall and marina, ate at tons of amazing restaurants, drag raced and drifted at a real Formula 1 race track, and got to see the cars of Furious 7 up close. While I’ve gotten to see and do some amazing things while working for Collider, this trip was easily one of the best.
Over the next few days I’m going to post a lot of stuff from the trip, but I decided to start with Ferrari World. If you didn’t know, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is an amusement park located on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. It’s the only Ferrari-branded theme park as well as the largest indoor theme park in the world. It also has the world’s fastest roller coaster. The park was opened in 2010 and it covers an area of 86,000 square meters.
Trust me, while I’ve been to many theme parks, it’s crazy to walk around such a massive place that’s entirely indoors with air-conditioning.
While some amusement parks rest on their laurels, Ferrari World is currently getting ready to build an expansion. They’re aiming to build a new roller coaster that’s once again set to break new world records. Here’s some info from a press release:
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is planning to become home to the world’s steepest steel rollercoaster featuring a starting hill inclined by 51 degrees and the world’s tallest loop of 52m (170ft). Named “Flying Aces”, the new roller coaster experience is inspired by Italy’s ‘ace of aces’ Count Francesco Baracca, a famous Italian aviator of the 1900’s whose legendary Prancing Horse emblem was inherited by Enzo Ferrari. The bi-plane themed coaster is expected to attract thrill seekers from around the world to its gravity-defying loops and swoops.
Jesse Vargas, General Manager of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi said: “There are very few theme parks that have undertaken such a significant expansion as Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. At the Arabian Travel Market, we are giving the world just a glimpse of our continuously evolving, Ferrari-inspired entertainment offering. Flying Aces will be another one-of-a-kind ride that you can only find at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. Its design and storyline are deeply rooted in the rich history of Ferrari.”
While walking around the park I took almost 90 pictures. Check them out below and look for more from my Abu Dhabi trip this week.
Finally, a HUGE thank you to everyone at Universal Pictures Home Entertainment for inviting us on this trip!