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Hot Hot Heat - UAE Fall 2022

CedarPoint6

Hyper Poster
Was nice looking back at Rocket Cycles. What a stupidly weird ride. But so much fun.

I should've exited the shop before you took that photo in the IMG gift shop....
 

Indy

Hyper Poster
Day 7 - FECs... All over the country

Let me start by saying I'm not that big of a goon. I'm a full-fledged nerd, but not so much a goon. Apart from when I'm close to a major milestone, I've been known to pass by many a kiddie coasters with not a care in the world. In fact, I've often taken pride in my "quality over quantity" collection of creds.

Well, Day 7 was going to be all about dilution. There's no denying that @CedarPoint6 is a first ballot Hall of Fame goon and he had done his research for this day. We had mostly cleaned up all of the major parks in UAE, so today was going to be about collecting every remaining cred available to us. There was no quality to be had on this day. It was going to be more of a numbers game and a cultural experience. He was armed with Google Maps and I was armed with an international driving permit. Right, let's go.

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Our first stop for the day was Antic's Land, found in the Sharjah Mega Mall; Sharjah being the third largest city in UAE. Once again, the mall was very nice, though it felt smaller than the others if you can believe it. The FEC itself was located on the very top floor, which seemed to be pretty common (much to the chagrin of the structural engineers, I'm sure).

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The +1 to be had here was Thunder Mountain, a very small kiddie coaster of which little is known. There are no known statistics and even the manufacturer is unconfirmed. I discretely snapped this crappy photo of the train in the station as we were walking into the station. I was well outside of my comfort zone as the FEC had a sign out front saying something to the effect of "families only," but they were happy to sell us tickets. A security guard actually came over to chat and was quite enthusiastic about us starting our morning with a coaster.

While I felt a bit uncomfortable, it was impossible not to notice that the theming for the ride was absurd for a small FEC in a mall.

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While definitely a coaster, the coasting was still a bit limited. The ride surprisingly trimmed despite being incredibly short. Here you can see the curved lift hill briefly poking out the wall inside the park.

One down. To the next destination...
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Next, we rolled up to Island of Legends. This was a bit of a shot in the dark... sort of. Island of Legends is the dry rides side of the Al Montazah Amusement Park. On the park's website, the water park side known as Pearls Kingdom was listed as open while IofL was listed as closed. Given the proximity to Antic's Land, we decided to just give it a shot seeing how it was how it was home to one of the more interesting possible creds of the day in the form of a Zamperla Speedy Coaster. While the park was open, the folks at the front gate confirmed that all of the dry rides were indeed closed.

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After getting denied at Island of Legends, we drove through the desert to Ras al-Khaimah (RAK) in the north end of UAE. Our first stop was Dino World located in the Safeer Mall. Walking up, it was hard to believe that there could possibly be an FEC with a coaster inside. It just didn't seem that big.

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Like Antic's Land, it was located at the very top floor of a fairly nice mall. Also like Antic's Land, the theming would prove to be quite extravagant for a small mall FEC.

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The lone cred at Dino World is Roller Coaster, a SBF Mine Coaster figure 8 model. It was my first experience on this model and I found the slightly twisted, slightly uphill station to be a bit odd, but the coaster serves its purpose for such a neat little property.

Two down.

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We drove a little further into town to aptly named RAK Mall, which was located across the street from a large expanse of water and mangroves. You can see some high rise hotels across the way closer to the coast.

While reasonably nice, RAK Mall definitely seemed to be struggling more than the other malls we visited. It felt largely deserted apart from a hypermarket on the first floor.

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Like the other malls thus far in the day, we trekked up to the top floor where the mall has a Sparky's FEC location featuring an L&T mini coaster. Once again, the FEC was on the top floor of the mall. After awkwardly standing around near the entrance waiting for the clock to strike 1pm when the FEC was scheduled to open, we eventually realized that the hours listed on the website were wrong and that the place was actually already open.

We walked up to the ticket booth and requested to buy tickets for the coaster. At this point, a mildly amusing interaction occurred as the employee seemed to look at us, look back at the coaster, and then back at us in an almost "wait, really?" type manner. Whatever. We were the only ones there. After trying to upsell us on some of the other rides, we had our tickets and got on the coaster.

It was fine. It's what you'd expect. The cycle was long though. I feel like it was at least 6 laps.

Three down.

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We actually passed up getting lunch at the Safeer Mall in hopes that the RAK Mall would have more options, but that proved not to be the case. However, we discovered a lot of interesting hot takeaway options in the hypermarket on the first floor and ultimately decided to partake.

I opted for fried rice with some red pepper chicken that I was quite excited about. My excitement quickly evaporated when I popped an entire piece in my mouth and tried to eat it like a chicken nugget only to find that it had bones. I was stunned. The flavor was really nice, but the bones made them really difficult to eat. They weren't like eating chicken wings or something. It was quite the experience.

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Oh, and we had the entire food court dining area completely too ourselves. It was kind of eerie having so few people around.

Having killed some time with lunch (we were running extremely ahead of schedule), we set off on the road on a scenic route along the coast as we made our way back down south towards Dubai. The next stop was the one that I was most looking forward to: Festival Land in Ajman.

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Based on everything we had seen prior to the trip, Festival Land looked like a bizarre place. It's a random outdoor park plopped down in a bit of an industrial area. It's also home to not one, but TWO Top Fun coasters.

As we pulled up, the parking lot was very empty and the park didn't seem to be remotely near operational despite being scheduled to open at 3pm. The large fences at the park's gates were cracked and we could see the occasional person walking in and out. Eventually, we asked somebody near one of the gates and were told that it would open in 30 minutes. No problem. We wasted some time hanging out in the car. At 3:30, virtually nothing had change, but we decided to enter...

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This place was interesting to say the least. We wandered around and nobody said a word to us, but it was clear that the park was very much not open.

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We walked up to Blizzard, the largest of the two coasters at the park, to get a closer look. I had never seen anything like it. I'm sure it's fine.

Eventually, we tracked down a security guard who told us that the park was not going to open for a few hours. This was the first true wrench thrown into our plans for the day. Not wanting to hang about for a few more hours, we decided to keep on going and come back later in the night when we knew that the park would be open. At this point, we had ridden three coasters and been to five parks, two of which had been closed.

We got back in the car and started a two hour trek southeast to Al Ain, a city that is just across the border from Oman.

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The first park on the schedule in Al Ain was Hili Fun City which is home to a Zamperla spinning mouse, easily the largest coaster that we would ride on this day... maybe. Despite being a Friday night, the parking lot was astonishingly barren. Our car was literally the only car in the lot. Things didn't look promising.

We walked up to the front gate to find that the park was indeed open. Unfortunately, they also had a sign showing that roughly half of the rides were closed for maintenance, including Twister Mountain, the spinning coaster. After confirming with an employee that it was indeed closed, we turned around and walked back to the car. Back-to-back strikeouts.

We set off for the opposite side of town in search of the Bawadi Mall, which is home to a large FEC known as Fun City. Driving through the city was a bit nerve-racking as there was a lot of track and tons of strange roundabouts, but the city was extremely beautiful, especially as night fell and some of the buildings and features lit up. It was also interesting to be driving down a street and have the Oman border literally 20-30 meters away.

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Malls seem to be a very popular nighttime destination in UAE. Unlike all of our previous destinations in the day, Bawadi Mall was fairly busy and Fun City had a healthy amount of attendees. Fun City is home to an almost shockingly large SBF custom spinning coaster.

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The coaster features a long lift hill that is so shallow that it has a ramp alongside it instead of stairs. Also take note of the fact that SBF actually beefed up the track in the turnaround closest to the station.

The coaster itself was altogether fine. With some of these funky turns and hills, I had hoped for a fairly interesting ride, but it proved to be relatively tame with minimal spinning. The cycle was quite lengthy as they give you two laps and the lift hill is agonizingly slow. All that said, it was by far the best cred of the day thus far and it was nice to finally have some success again. Four coasters down. Seven parks visited (three effectively closed).

With the creds in Al Ain cleared, it was time to head back to Ajman in hopes that Festival Land would actually be open.

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We arrived back at Festival Land and it was clear that the park was open, and wow, this place looks completely different at night. It actually presented a fairly neat atmosphere to be honest. It was a pretty interesting place. Part of it felt like a permanent carnival, but the eastside of the park featured a really large, long building that was home to a marketplace/souk-type area.

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We went straight to Blizzard, the largest coaster, and were relieved to see it operating. Much like the two ladies (one obviously not visible) riding on this train, the ride op did not allow us to sit together and instead designated seats. As I was climbing into my seat, he changed his mind and tried to tell me to go to a different one, before saying that it was ultimately okay if I wanted to sit there. With the restraint missing a little bit of padding, he wanted to make sure that I was good with it. And then things got weird:

Me: I'm good.
Op: This ride is very dangerous.
Me: Hahaha I should be okay.
Op: It's very rough. The bottom of the first drop... your head beats side to side
Me; [Oh boy, he wasn't making a joke]

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For a 25ft tall coaster, the first portion was impressively violent. I bear hugged the crap out of that restraint in an effort to avoid headbanging and I was successful, but just. After that first upward helix, the coaster meanders over the station and then down a second helix and into the station; all of which was generally fine, just slow. The first drop and first turn though... holy smokes. I could have done without the second lap.

Afterwards, we made our way to Dragon, the smaller of the two coasters. Funny enough, the coaster's layout is the same as Blizzard minus the first drop and first helix. Once you get to the top of the lift, it simply hangs a sweeping right turn and meanders over the station, down a helix, and into the station. Dragon also spares you of the OTSRs, therefore automatically making it a more enjoyable ride.

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After walking through the marketplace, we made our way for the exit where we were passed by a person riding a camel which was honestly the highlight of the visit. I'm not sure if it was a pay-to-ride deal or what, but it was fun to see a camel moseying through an amusement park.

Six coasters down. Seven parks visited (now two effectively).

One more spot to go...

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Last on our list for the day was Al Qasba, a really nice outdoor shopping/entertainment center located along a canal. The complex featured a different ride area on each end of the complex, one of which you had to pass under a motorway to reach, which felt very odd. On the non-motorway side is a figure-8 coaster that is a weird mix between an SBF spinner san spinning cars and a wacky worm.

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Brian purchased some tickets and we made our way to the entrance where we met a ride op who was bored, staring at his phone on the entry steps. When we told he we wanted to ride, he did a double take and asked if we were joking. When we explained that we weren't, he proceeded to look around stunned like he was being punked. He then tried to explain that he can't let us ride because it's a kids ride, despite the fact that nobody was riding it and we had paid the money. After some back and forth discussion, he eventually settled on not letting us ride, so we asked for a refund.

He walked us over to the ticket booth where the booth attendant looked back and forth between us and the ride op in a flabbergasted manner. After some additional discussion between the two in Arabic, the eventually decided to just let us on. We're not sure if they didn't know how to process a refund or if the ticket worker just didn't think it was a big deal, but the ride op walked us back and let us on, seemingly still stunned by what he was witnessing. Needless to say, the situation had become sufficiently embarrassing for all parties.

So, with two grown men loaded into the train, we were dispatched and proceeded to endure what felt like the longest ride cycle on the planet. I lost count of how many times we were sent around, but it had to be close to ten. I wanted to sink as low as possible into my seat, but I was a grown man so I couldn't sink very far.

Upon completion, we thanked the ride op for his trouble and began the drive back to the hotel. Final tally for the day?
  • Seven creds
  • Six parks visited with two others attempted for eight total
  • Over eight hours in a car
  • 340 miles traveled
I had never felt so slutty. I had never felt so alive.

This would be our last night staying in UAE, but with a super late flight, Day 8 would still be a full day. The final installment of the TR will feature the Burj Khalifa and our return trip to Motiongate.
 

Indy

Hyper Poster
Day 8 – Burj Khalifa & Motiongate

Even though Day 8 would be our last day, we still had a completely full day ahead of us as we technically weren’t flying out until the wee hours of the next morning. After the debacle that was our first visit to Motiongate, we were able to receive return tickets for this day. In addition, there was still one major tourist attraction left for us to do in Dubai: the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

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A standard ticket takes you up to the 125 floor, but we opted for one of the premium options that gave us access to the 148th floor (154 is the highest possible). While 23 floors doesn’t seem like a lot with respect to the tallest building in the world, it was well worth the extra money.

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There are plenty of spectacular, enormous buildings in downtown Dubai, but they are all completely overshadowed by the Burj Khalifa. As you can see in the first phot of the Guinness certificate, this view is still only 2/3rds of the way up the tower!

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Before arriving, I joked with Brian that I hoped they would have an anthropomorphic building mascot and holy smokes, I didn’t expect them to deliver! I present you Mr. Burj. Regrettably, I did not bring one home.

With a great experience at the Burj wrapped up, it was time to make our way back down to Motiongate for a redemption visit.

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As you know, we missed a LOT on our first visit due to closures, so we were hoping that all of our missed attractions would be open on the account of it being the weekend and the park having time to fix things since our initial visit. A bonus was that this was the first day that John Wick was supposed to be open after it’s annual maintenance period. Immediately, it was clear that the weather was at least going to be more favorable. While still unbelievably hot, it was marginally hotter and less humid than earlier in the week.

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We made our way straight to Capitol Bullet Train and were more than pleased to see it open. As for my review, I’m simply going to quote what I said in the “Last Cred Review” thread:

“I enjoyed it, but it was generally unremarkable. The switch track does not have any stators on it, so the train gets creeped forward by drive tires until the stators grab, which leads to an incredibly weak launch. The spike is good fun in the back seat, but nothing special in the front seat. The rest of the ride is quite short with the highlight being the twisted airtime hill that provides a pretty strong pop.

The queue theming was quite nice. I just wish they would have carried some of it over to the ride itself. It's not a bad coaster by any means, but is entirely too short.”

Regardless, I was thrilled to actually get on it after being spurned earlier in the week. Unfortunately, John Wick was still closed for annual maintenance, so it would join the list of missed creds for the trip.

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While over in that side of the park, we naturally took another spin on Now You See Me and I noticed something that I had missed earlier in the week. This is a bit nerdy, but the helix after the first mid-course has this incredible Christmas tree style center structural piece. It is super efficient, but this type of design presents a lot of opportunities for a mistake to be made during fabrication. It’s a rather impressive piece.

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After Now You See Me, we made our way to the indoor Dreamworks section of the park where we were saddened to confirm that Madagascar Mad Pursuit was closed for the day. We were both really looking forward to some rerides as this is easily a top five coaster in the UAE.

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Fortunately, Shrek’s Merry Fairy Tale Journey was open this time. I actually really enjoyed this ride. The entire ride is themed to Shrek performing a marionette show for his kids to essentially tell them the story of the first Shrek film. It was a very unique take and worked quite well.

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Next, we were more than thrilled to see Dragon Gliders operating. I really love Arthur at Europa Park so I was going to be quite disappointed if I didn’t make it on this ride. For a prototype, Arthur set the bar really high, but Dragon Gliders jumped over it. The storyline makes such perfect use of the technology. I won’t lie, at first, I wasn’t so sure that it was better than Arthur because I didn’t love the fact that this ride essentially comes to a stop mid-ride. However, it’s all part of the story and the entire attraction is just so cohesive. I loved it. Absolutely loved it.

After several rides on Dragon Gliders, we made our way over to the Columbia Pictures section of the park where the only attraction we were able to ride during our first visit was Green Hornet. Fortunately, everything apart from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (which was down for annual maintenance) was now open. I’ll cut to the chase, Ghostbusters and Hotel Transylvania, two of the parks marquee dark rides, were fine. They both feature trackless sytems which was the sole source of entertainment for Hotel Transylvania but was wholly unnecessary on Ghostbusters. Both rides were solid, but could have been outstanding if they had better animatronics or a little bit of projection mapping. Nevertheless, they are far better than your average dark ride.

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Next up was Zombieland Blast Off. I’m a big fan of the original Zombieland film, so I was irrationally looking forward to it. The queue was quite fun and I had never seen a full list of the rules before. Nice touch.

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The ride was what you would expect; a fun S&S combo tower. I loved that the games in this section were all themed/named after different rules from the movie.

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We grabbed a few more rides on Capitol Bullet Train as we closed out the evening. It really is a fun ride, but it could be so much more. It definitely feels like the much smaller sibling of Copperhead Strike.

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After a full day, we decided to call it and make our way back to downtown Dubai. The return trip to Motiongate was a major success. It wasn’t without some disappointment, but we were able to ride everything that had been closed during our first visit apart from the two rides (John Wick, Cloudy) that had been advertised as being closed for maintenance. The park isn’t without its struggles, but it’s a very well done park with some really solid rides, including the world-class Dragon Gliders.

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We had a plane to catch late this night, but not before heading back to the Dubai Mall for one final dinner. We opted for a traditional Arabic restaurant and were not disappointed in the least. This was easily the best meal of the trip for me. I sucked down a few more minted lemonades and we made our way back to DXB to start the long trek home.

UAE was an immense experience. While I was very much ready to get back home, I really enjoyed experiencing the culture of this desert country and thoroughly enjoyed the food. Nevertheless, I was ready to get back to a cooler, less humid climate, which is something I never thought I’d say about my central Florida home.

Thanks for checking out this trip report. That’s all I’ve got.
 

Hyde

Matt SR
Staff member
Moderator
Social Media Team
Alright, two quick trip planning questions for you @Indy!

1. Did you happen to spot any luggage storage in Yas Mall? (I'll most likely be visiting Ferrari World/Warner Bros. World Friday afternoon/evening on my way out of town, and would have a carry-on bag in tow)
2. Did I read correctly the Ferrari World entrance is within Yas Mall? Which in essence would mean the transition between the parks would be in the same building?

Appreciate all the detail in the trip report - I seek out adventure on the backs of you trailblazers!
 

Indy

Hyper Poster
Alright, two quick trip planning questions for you @Indy!

1. Did you happen to spot any luggage storage in Yas Mall? (I'll most likely be visiting Ferrari World/Warner Bros. World Friday afternoon/evening on my way out of town, and would have a carry-on bag in tow)
2. Did I read correctly the Ferrari World entrance is within Yas Mall? Which in essence would mean the transition between the parks would be in the same building?

Appreciate all the detail in the trip report - I seek out adventure on the backs of you trailblazers!
  1. I don't recall seeing any and am not finding any information about them. I'm guessing your hotel isn't on Yas Island? It might not be the most convenient option, but the Abu Dhabi Airport is right across the highway from Ferrari World so you could definitely store your bag there and shuttle/Uber to and from.
  2. Ferrari World's entrance is indeed inside the mall. However, Warner Bros. World is a separate, standalone building that is not connected to the mall. However, it is probably a 5-7 minute walk across the street to the WBW. There is a large store called Tryano which has it's own entrance to the mall. If you go out of that entrance, WBW will be essentially right in front of you. You'll just need to walk across Al Maha St to the park...
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I love that my piggybacking of your advice thread helped me plan my trip which is now becoming helpful for you. 😆 Glad it has become useful! By all means, let me know if you have any other questions. I didn't post about it, but I was actually over there again in November and spent a bit of time in Abu Dhabi proper.
 

Hyde

Matt SR
Staff member
Moderator
Social Media Team
  1. I don't recall seeing any and am not finding any information about them. I'm guessing your hotel isn't on Yas Island? It might not be the most convenient option, but the Abu Dhabi Airport is right across the highway from Ferrari World so you could definitely store your bag there and shuttle/Uber to and from.
  2. Ferrari World's entrance is indeed inside the mall. However, Warner Bros. World is a separate, standalone building that is not connected to the mall. However, it is probably a 5-7 minute walk across the street to the WBW. There is a large store called Tryano which has it's own entrance to the mall. If you go out of that entrance, WBW will be essentially right in front of you. You'll just need to walk across Al Maha St to the park...
View attachment 22528

I love that my piggybacking of your advice thread helped me plan my trip which is now becoming helpful for you. 😆 Glad it has become useful! By all means, let me know if you have any other questions. I didn't post about it, but I was actually over there again in November and spent a bit of time in Abu Dhabi proper.
Super helpful! Just landed in Abu Dhabi. Will keep you guys posted as we get closer to the 12th!
 
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