Spain 03/18 – PortAventura
This was at one point going to be my first park trip abroad, but for reasons I no longer remember it never happened (too basic?).
So 5 years later…
Day 1 – Tibidabo?
Landed in Barcelona on a rather damp morning and picked up a car. Got a cheerily sarcastic “nice weather for the weekend” comment from the woman there, we laughed politely and thought nothing of it. This ain’t Nagashima.
Had a fun little drive in our fun little car up to the top of the mountain, not really paying attention to the weather. Got to the car park for the man to tell us: “The park is closed, but you can go up and have a look, there’s restaurants and stuff. Just make sure you pay for this parking ticket up there before you leave.”
Humoured him and went up for a look and perhaps to enquire about later.
Well yes, it was closed, ticket windows included. Don’t know how to do this parking thing. Getting a bit wet. Better move on then.
Came to leave the car park about 10 minutes later, a different man asked to see the parking ticket. He was confused by the fact it hadn’t been paid for, but wasn’t able to communicate as such so we got a shrug and were let out anyway. Can’t go anywhere any more.
Swept down the coast to check in at Hotel Caribe, part of the PortAventura resort. Not usually a fan of on-site hotels as I haven’t come across many that actually offer any worthwhile park incentives (or competitive prices) along with it. Couldn’t really say no to this one, with multiple park entries and fast tracks chucked in for dirt cheap.
Bit of a queue in the lobby to get it all sorted, but I like how easy going the system is:
Key card for the room also gets you into the parks.
If you’re too early for a room, they give you the key anyway and text you the room number when it’s ready.
No pointless faffy checkout. Just walk away.
Straight into this place then, aiming to remove any anxieties by getting everything at least once on the first day.
With many stories of how bad the queues are lingering in the back of our mind, didn’t expect to see this queue board.
With many stories of how bad Baco is lingering in the back of our mind, decided to save it for later.
With many stories of how bad Stampida is lingering in the back of our mind, boarded our first coaster with a little trepidation.
In the first of many ride mishaps on park, the red train was sent off without us, leaving us sitting in the station for their complete lap. Sad to say we lost that one.
I do like a good racing coaster and enjoyed this one a lot. It’s got character. Love the way the red lift hill is faster than the blue, adding an instant “NOOOOOOO!” moment to the race as they accelerate away from you.
It rode with a perfectly acceptable amount of roughness. Haphazardly racing the other train in a huge mess of wooden track for it to disappear halfway and suddenly turn into Tomahawk was a particular highlight, great interaction within the confines of the layout. Won our first actual race.
Went straight round for the other side and won again. Can we keep up the streak?
Left that ride buzzing and walked past a vulture singing Tom Jones. It was at this moment we decided that PortAventura is better than Phantasialand.
On to Tomahawk. Mini GCI trains were good to see, but a little short on leg room. Wasn’t too fussed about this ride. It was alright.
Feels like forever since I’ve done a mine train that isn’t a clone, so this Arrow installation was refreshing. I approve of the Helix style drop out of the station and the hilarity of the remaining layout. Lift 2, drop 2 is a true classic.
What happened to the bit over the log flume? Feels like that should have a mountain over it or something.
Dragon Khan was probably a bit of a standout back in its day, but I wasn’t too fussed about this one either. It was alright.
For a B&M it doesn’t ride fantastically and layouts that are inversions for the sake of inversions don’t tend to impress me. The zero G not being zero G and being rather violent was good and the best part of the ride was the sharp upwards snap into the mid course.
Worryingly I feel like Smiler pulls off this concept better.
Slithered into Sesame land to find #5 Tami-Tami up and running (we had been waved away earlier, rain or something). +1
Which brings us to Shambhala.
Been a long time coming this one, and excitement levels were rather high. Perhaps a little too high.
It was alright.
Maybe it’s just not my thing, but can’t see why this ride is generally held in such high regard.
The lift slows to a crawl at the top making for an underwhelming first drop.
The big hills are all rather underwhelming, providing a feeling of ‘just a little more, just a little more… nope’.
The speed hill was probably the highlight, but it’s contains a jarring trim brake, so that’s also the lowlight. Ugh. Very noticeable towards the back.
It’s good solid fun, that B&M slogan, but I didn’t find it to be anything special at all. Shamebhala.
Only Intamin’s notorious first attempt at a wing coaster was left, which decided to break down on us. Had barely settled in the queue before seeing it reverse itself off of the launch track and back into the station. They then emptied it and tried to reset something by reversing it onto the previous block and bringing it back in again. Tested it empty. Same issue. I’ll take my leave then.
Did another lap of the park for some rerides (including a 3rd straight win on Stampida) and came back to Baco again.
Back seat lads, let’s see what the fuss is about. Bracing through the quaint little preshow about monkeys and wine, preparing for the worst.
It was alright.
Found it quite a hilarious experience actually. As soon as it lands after that 1 hill, I just burst out laughing through a very comedic juddering around some corners, a concrete tunnel and weirdly one of the better inline twists out there – taken at a non-stupid pace.
Daft layout overall though.
So thanks to the pleasant opening hours, got all the important stuff knocked out in the first day. Time to relax.