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Car and Driver: Ferrari’s Third Theme Park Is Coming to China

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160019-cor-abu

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Go where the money is. This past week, Ferrari announced it has signed an agreement to build a theme park in China, soon to become its third in the Disneyfication business. Its first theme park in the Middle East opened in 2010; its plan to open one in Spain, complete with both Sebastian Vettel’s blessing and a hotel shaped like an F1 car, is chugging along.

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Portaventura Ferrari Land

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Now, the company has signed a non-binding agreement with China’s Beijing Automotive (BAIC) and its Eternaland Property Co., the latter of which appears to be a holding company just for this development. Further details are scant at the moment, but the concern did say that the park will be built near a “primary city” in China. Do not be surprised if this turns out to be Ferrari’s largest and grandest and most spectacular World. When China wants to build something, it goes big.

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Ferrari opened up its first theme park in Abu Dhabi six years ago, which at the time sounded like a setup for a bad joke: Would the roller coasters all be little F1 cars? (Yes, they are.) How about a spinning teacup ride but with giant tires, like the dearly departed ride at California Adventure’s Cars Land? (Yep: it’s called “Tyre Twist.”) Are they going to serve branded tchotchkes in the gift shop (duh), and grappa in little sippy cups? (Not in the Middle East.)

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Ferrari clearly isn’t afraid to embrace theme-park kitsch. At the current Ferrari World, you can ride around in a little 250 California across a miniaturized Italy, like Disney’s Autopia meets It’s a Small World. And, of course, the roller coaster with the little F1 cars just happens to be the world’s fastest.

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Just last year, Ferrari World was bestowed the title of the Middle East’s Leading Tourist Attraction, by the prestigious World Travel Awards—putting it ahead of the likes of that indoor ski resort in Dubai, and even the Burj Khalifa. Don’t ever doubt the hypnotic power of brands; if you think the mystique of Ferrari is big in a wealth-generating place like the United Arab Emirates, imagine what it’ll do in China, which lags behind only the United States in its population of billionaires.

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This story originally appeared on Road & Track.

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-YTyt_ROEB3o

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