After another refreshing night’s sleep we woke up to our last day at PortAventura.
The previous 2 days had been quite cold with the occasional rain but today was beautiful, which meant it was a lot busier.
We got to the park for opening and were able to watch the park’s opening fountain show.
We powered straight to China to beat the crowds to Shambhala.
After riding Shambhala and Dragon Khan we made our way back to Furius Baco.
Shambhala was still disappointing. Khan was still rough. Baco was still hilarious.
We had a snacky lunch before heading for one more lap of Stampida, which still kicks ass.
Even though today was considerably busier than the previous 2, queues weren’t too bad.
The hosts on all the coasters were filling every seat and dispatching as soon as possible on most occasions.
All coasters except Shambhala (they said capacity was reduced due to the weather?) were running 2 trains and queues were moving nicely. Far from the horror stories I’d read online.
We took our last ride on El Diablo, which was still a really fun time.
Grand Canyon Rapids – Now that the weather had improved we decided to try out the park’s rapids, while not as good as some other Intamin rapids they were still really fun and delivered the expected chaos.
Dino Scape 4D – Simulator attraction that’s a lot better than those in Ferrari Land but still quite weak.
The interior queue is really well done and heavily themed with animatronic dinosaurs but the simulator itself is a little lacklustre.
We waited just over an hour for 1 last lap on Shambhala to end the trip, you can’t say I didn’t give it enough chances, it just failed every time.
As previously mentioned PortAventura seems to get a bad reputation from the enthusiast community, I however found very little to complain about and found my 3 day trip to be very enjoyable and relaxing.
Now while the park is very strong in my eyes, it is a major shame that the park’s star attractions don’t do much for me. While I had a lot of fun with the park’s support coasters I think it’s completely fair to say that at the moment there is nothing at the park that’s going to tempt me to return soon.
I hope in the future they can add that draw because I’d be very excited to return if the opportunity arose.
After saying goodbye to PortAventura we made our way to the airport.
The EasyJet departures area was absolutely disgusting. There was actual piss on the seats and the only food available was a badly made sandwich costing £6! Surprisingly though our flight was on time!
As I woke up today I further praised the option of staying on site at PortAventura. Getting a sensible night’s sleep and waking up at a decent time is something I could get used to on a coaster holiday.
Today began with a trip to Ferrari Land, the newest park at the resort.
Ferrari Land’s entrance is located right next to the entrance of the main park but absolutely counts as a seperate gate. With the shockingly low of amount of things to do in Ferrari Land, which I’ll get into in a minute, I do find it slightly odd that they have separated the 2 parks.
We headed straight to the new park’s headline attraction, which at the time of visiting was it’s only coaster, the 370 foot tall Intamin launch coaster, Red Force.
First things first unlike the disappointing B&Ms next door, Red Force is an ugly looking mess. The supports on the top hat look like scaffolding, the new style Intamin track just looks wrong with this sort of coaster and the 3 massive Ferrari logos make it look like a 370 foot billboard.
The coaster itself rides almost exactly the same as all Intamin launch coasters that are basically Dragster clones.
Intense launch, very strong positive gs as you pull up, weightless feeling over the top hat, very strong positives as you level out again, then you hit the brakes.
Over in a flash and nothing too exciting in my eyes.
Red Force via the brake run being designed strangly does have one up on it’s almost clone brothers though because it has a vicious pop of air between the 2 sections of ending brakes.
After 2 laps of Red Force we’d seen enough and decided to try out the other, very few, Ferrari Land attractions.
Flying Dreams – A flying theatre attraction that was pretty awful.
You watch 3 pretentious Ferrari adverts in preshow form before you board the flying theatre which is pretty much just another Ferrari advert, as you follow various cars from their catalogue around for a while.
The simulator barley moved, the screen was blurry and you could clearly see that you were in a warehouse.
Racing Legends – A simulator attraction where you sit in 8 seater cars and jiggle around a bit infront of a large screen. But not before watching 3 more Ferrari advertisements.
And that’s for the most part the lot, I did say there wasn’t much to do in the park.
I’m sure if you were a big fan of Ferrari and you were able to look past the serious lack of things to do in the park then you’d have a great time in Ferrari Land. For me though, with it’s current line up, I’d probably never choose to return.
We chose to head into the main park to re-ride the coasters before heading off for an evening at Tibidabo. This ended up being a brilliant idea.
Before setting off though we decided to try out the pizza place next to Furius Baco and it was awesome. Really friendly staff, a lovely pizza, an interior I felt too poor to exist in and a very reasonable bill at the end.
It began to rain heavily as we left PortAventura and we were half expecting a repeat of yesterday but thankfully it wasn’t and thank God because Tibidabo is fantastic!
Tibidabo is located on top of the highest mountain in the region and has been around for well over 100 years now. It’s a charming park full of adorable rides, bags of character and stunning views of Barcelona.
Muntanya Russa – The park’s star attraction is their terrain based Vekoma sit down coaster Muntanya Russa and it’s an absolute joy to ride. I fell deeply in love with this coaster and it’s breathtaking first drop.
Tibidabo Express – The park’s Zamperla powered coaster also uses the terrain to it’s advantage which makes for a pretty interesting experience. The highlight for me was when you race along the side of the main road.
After many laps on Muntanya, we needed to get from the lower level of the park to the upper viewing platform level. We failed many times to call the lift so we just decided to take the stairs.
It was well worth the effort though because some of the rides up here are unforgettable.
Avio (AKA Plane On A Stick) – A plane on a stick that’s been operating with the park since 1928, it’s charming, it’s mental, it’s adorable, I loved it.
L’Embruixabruixes – A suspended 8 seater monorail that opened in 1915 and it’s incredible! One second you’re outside hoping it doesn’t collapse and drop you off the mountain and next second you’re travelling through trippy projection mapped dark ride sections. It’s absolutely insane and then something happens just before you go back into the station, something that will scar you for as long as you live!
Talaia (AKA Bucket On A Stick) – So the amazing views of Barcelona from the viewing platform aren’t enough for you? Well then, climb into an almost 100 year old bucket attached to an almost 100 year old stick, with nothing holding you in, I did and I loved it. Easily one of the coolest, yet scariest rides I’ve ridden in years, where else does something like this exist? No where.
We ran from Bucket On A Stick down the many stairs to get one more lap of Muntanya just before close. With the sun going down and the city lighting up the first drop was stunning.
Tibidabo is simply amazing. A beautiful park with an awesome coaster, fascinating history, stunning views and more character than some can handle.
I really hope all those who visit PortAventura every year have visited this place at least once because it’s more than worth your time.
We got back to the hotel at gone 11pm but it didn’t matter because all we had to do was walk to our room and then crash for the night, beautiful.
Thank you for reading, click here for day 3, our final day at the resort, where we spend the day taking it easy at PortAventura park.
In March 2018 me and Heartline made our first ever visit to PortAventura. This is a trip that many UK enthusiasts make very early on in their love of the hobby but we had held off for quite some time, partly due to lack of interest and partly due to reading a lot of negative things online. But while looking for something to do in the early months of 2018, PortAventura was the best option, so here we are.
Today began like most European trips do, with an extremely early EasyJet flight out of Gatwick, this time to Barcelona.
When we arrived we picked up our hire car and set off for Tibidabo, which was meant to be the first park of this trip.
It was pouring it down with rain as we drove up mountain roads to get to the car park at the top.
When we got there however the attendant informed us “park’s closed but I’ll let you into the car park, make sure you pay for parking at the ticket office”. Without really thinking it through we took the parking ticket from him and drove into the deserted multi story car park.
Well this isn’t the start to the trip that we wanted but never mind, let’s go pay for this parking ticket. We stepped out into the heavy rain to discover that both the ticket offices and the park entrance gate were closed and bolted shut.
Thankfully as we attempted to leave the car park the friendly man who didn’t really understand what we were trying to tell him just waved us through and sent us on our way.
We decided to try again tomorrow but for now head to PortAventura.
The hour and a half drive to the park went by without any major incident but the unexpected Spanish tolls were a pain.
We were staying onsite at Hotel Caribe, which despite initial concerns ended up being a really nice hotel. The room was clean, the bed was comfy, the bathroom was great and the noise outside was non-existent.
I really liked how simple everything was in regards to staying onsite.
When checking in you are given your room key, which is also your park entry ticket valid for every day of your stay and at the end you just throw it in a box with no need to check out. This means you only go through the faff of waiting to collect things once.
Another great thing about staying on site is that you are only 5 minutes from the park entrance.
What is immediately obvious is that PortAventura is a beautiful park, heavily themed and wonderfully landscaped.
We were able to form this judgement quickly because we spent the first hour walking around the massive park completely lost in search of various different attractions.
In the end we decided to have a quick snack and then just ride the next coaster we come across.
Stampida – And first blood goes to the park’s racing CCI woodie Stampida.
Despite people saying online that’s it rough or just plain bad, I found this coaster to be fantastic fun with good air time moments, vicious laterals and all the fun that comes with a racing coaster.
Stampida is full of so much character and ended up being one of the most enjoyable coasters at the park.
Tomahawk – Stampida’s baby brother was quite fun too, if only for the interactions between the 2 woodies.
Unlike some European parks, mostly ones located in Brühl, PortAventura isn’t afraid to not take itself seriously here and there. The discovery of a singing vulture next to Tomahawk instantly increased the park’s standing in my eyes.
El Diablo – Another coaster people throw shade at, even John Wardley apparently but I rather enjoyed it.
While certainly not a great roller coaster, this Arrow Mine Train is good fun and quite charming in a way.
Dragon Khan – The first of the 2 major disappointing coasters at the park.
I’d been idolising this old school B&M monster for years and I won’t deny it’s importance. I also won’t not admit that it looks beautiful. As for how it rides though…
I’ll be bold here, the layout in my eyes isn’t very good. The first drop is pretty forceless and then it’s just inversion after inversion. I wish it was broken up by some air time moments or maybe a twisty section.
Then there’s another problem.
I would have quite happily rated this coaster as great, for what it is, if it wasn’t for how badly it rides.
If you sit on the 2 outside seats of any row then Dragon Khan becomes an awful rattly mess that’s guaranteed to give me an awful headache.
Tami-Tami – Dragon Khan gave me such a bad headache that I needed to take ibuprofen, drink some Coke and ride the park’s Vekoma Junior to get rid of it.
Shambhala – The second of the 2 major disappointing coasters at the park.
Having enough experience of B&M Hypers before riding, I knew Shambhala was never going to be as good as the masses make it out to be but even still I walked away very disappointed.
Air time is easily my favourite sensation when riding roller coasters, so a coaster designed to deliver only that should be a dream come true, sadly the air time on Shambhala varies from extremely weak to non-existant.
The first drop is completely void of forces, the air time hills do little to nothing, there’s no real sensation of speed and then even that is ruined further by a trim brake…
We rode Shambhala at least twice a day, every day of this trip, in all seats, in all sorts of weather and it delivered the exact same ride.
Believe me I really wanted to love it but for me there’s nothing to love about Shambhala.
It does look beautiful though.
We went for another lap on Stampida, El Diablo and Shambala, then ended our day with Furius Baco.
Furius Baco – This Intamin winged hydraulic launch coaster is interesting…
It’s not very good but it’s not rough like people online have said. Hilarious is probably how’d I’d describe the coaster if I had to.
The whole ride is best summed up like this…
Something about a monkey and wine, an awesome launch, the wing seats start bouncing in a truly funny manner, everything’s happening too fast and you’re bouncing so much that you can’t understand what’s going on, you roll through an inline twist, you bounce over some water and then it’s over.
One of a kind if nothing else.
After a very pleasant first day in the park I thought to myself while chilling in the hotel, have I just gotten really lucky or are the negative opinions of the park that I’ve seen slightly overblown?
Other than the 2 B&Ms being disappointing I was really enjoying my stay at PortAventura and was excited to experience more tomorrow.
Thanks for reading, click here for day 2 where we visit the resort’s new Ferrari Land park and try again at Tibidabo.
Admittedly it wasn’t the best of planning on our part, but it all went a bit wrong today. The park wasn’t due to open until the afternoon, so we did some general sightseeing in the morning.
Not usually our cup of tea but it was rather nice.
We arrived at the park entrance before opening time and joined a reasonably hefty queue, dodging some unnervingly huge ants while we waited. There’s also a zoo here so we remained hopeful that not everyone was going to be here for the rides. Time wasn’t going to be on our side – we had a plane to catch later.
Day 2 – Parque de Atracciones de Madrid
As well as the very late start in opening hours, we discovered once inside the park that there were also several staggered timings for some of the major attractions, making our life even more difficult. This was our first encounter with the chain owner Parques Reunidos and the operations were, in a word, dire.
This is the only Maurer sky loop in the world that isn’t just a loop. Worryingly for me it has had an incident of becoming stuck upside down on the lift hill – my absolute worst nightmare. It quite easily earns the nickname of Abysmal as it is far from a comfortable experience. The restraints are attempting to be a lap bar design, but they are rather large and generally fold up as far as your chest, at an angle, and continue to tighten against you throughout the ride duration.
The vertical lift and slow upside down crawl are deeply uncomfortable, of course. You then drop into an extended version of what the standard model would consist of, entirely filled with positive forces. As the restraints have already tightened so much from this sequence, the following airtime hill, though very powerful, fails to deliver with any satisfaction because you’re just so pinned down and restricted in your seat. If anything, you’re just going to take it lung first. Not much else happens, a slightly awkward turnaround and then being thrust into the brakes at far too high a speed that can only result in either relief or disappointment.
On paper, Tornado was to be the most significant coaster of the day. A rare Intamin invert of which there are only 3 in the world. As one of the main rivals in terms of manufacturers, we were interested to see how they could compete against B&M who had established themselves as king of the invert. Sadly the result was far more comparable to a Vekoma SLC. The trains have a rigid build, with pairs of rows being joined together in a fixed straight line. This makes the whole thing ride a little awkwardly. Though not rough in any way it lacks the grace and smoothness I usually associate with the ride type. Aside from this, the layout was entirely uninspired. Dissatisfying inversions seemingly for the sake of it, and corners. That’s all I can really describe. Apologies for the lack of pictures, we really were prioritising getting things done.
What turned out to be the best ride of the day was this Gerstlauer mine train. The queue was awful, just awful. We seemed to be waiting around forever with very little movement. By the time we reached the station we could see why – the two ride attendants who were supposed to be checking restraints and loading guests into and out of the train in a timely fashion were animatedly chatting away to each other the whole time, more often than not completely stopping what they were supposed to be doing to continue their conversation. I have rarely seen ride staff quite so distracted. (Future note: so it came to me as no surprise that there was a full on train collision on this very ridelater in the year). It’s a shame, because the ride itself is good. Similar to the Mack on the previous day, it’s a clear cut above your average family ride package with smooth tracking and surprisingly significant forces.
The terrible operations continued onto Vértigo, a standard Mack wild mouse being run in a very non standard fashion. They would load 4 cars at once, all in the station, then send them off in block sequence, waiting for all of them to return again before unloading and starting the procedure again. Usually you can achieve a constant flow of guests on a ride like this, but with the method they chose to enforce it was painfully slow and stop-start.
The custom Maurer spinner was the only other coaster we managed to achieve a single lap on. It wasn’t particularly interesting as a layout and didn’t seemed designed very well in order to initiate any good spinning, which is a shame, as I thought it looked rather fun.
There were 2 very small creds here, one of which was closed all day and the other had a huge rowdy queue of families. We weren’t 100% on the park’s policy for adults riding such child sized rides and didn’t really want to risk putting up with another long wait only to be turned away for silly rules that they would no doubt have, so in that sense we failed to finish the park.
The only other attraction that there was time for was a walk on – a spider shooting dark ride called Cueva de las Tarántulas. It followed a particularly claustrophobic series of tunnels without any more open areas of scenery, which was quite impressive and befitting of the theme.
It was now time to rush back to the airport for our flight, somewhat disappointed that the weekend hadn’t ended as well as it had started. I wasn’t impressed with this park at all, everything about it was just a bit shoddy, seeming to actively work against us having a good time at every turn. The lineup is poor and I can’t foresee coming back for another attempt.
Madrid is home to two sizeable parks that should make for a good weekend away. They both open at a reasonable time in March and as much the rest of the world seems to be getting lazier with operating periods, it seemed like a good trip to kick off the new season.
There wasn’t much distance to cover and the second day is really a city park, so we opted to stick to public transport for the weekend. A straightforward train journey and subsequent bus ride took us to our first destination.
Day 1 – Parque Warner Madrid
We didn’t have the best of luck in terms of attraction availability here. It turned out that two major coasters were closed for the duration and while neither of them were the main draws for the place, it was a bit of a disappointment.
The first spite was the park’s Giant Inverted Boomerang. There aren’t many of these in the world and they have a bit of a reputation for being broken all the time, this one staying true to form. I was lucky to be able to ride my first of these a couple of months ago in China, so wasn’t particularly bothered other than the obvious lack of +1 and making it difficult for me to one day complete the set.
The other unexpected closure was Coaster Express, the only wooden coaster in the park. Generally this ride gets very poor reviews, but I never like to let that put me off. Experiencing something for yourself is the only sensible way to form an opinion and we wanted to see what the fuss was about.
So that’s the negativity safely out of the way, what was actually running today? Leaning heavily on their IPs and the fact that this park is owned by Warner, the two smallest coasters are both situated in a Looney Tunes area.
Roadrunner’s contribution is a Mack youngstar, a model which I find to be rather superior in the world of family coasters. The ride is always butter smooth and elements like the pictured overbank turn have significantly more vigour than the more common hardware for this type of attraction. It just feels well designed.
The larger models of Zierer Tivolis are always amusement for the ridiculous length of their trains.
At the back of the park, the superhero rides sit by side, what would be a very common sight over in the USA.
As would this particular attraction. This B&M invert is known as the Batman layout, named after the first that was built at Six Flags Great America in 1992 and then also the fact that the many, many clones that followed (12 currently operating) more often than not ended up sharing the same name and branding. But this was my first encounter with one, so I wasn’t going to let that bother me and I really, really enjoyed this ride. The theming is very impressive, entering the attractive looking asylum for an indoor portion of queueline. Overall there’s a great aesthetic about it, even from just the foliage.
What matters most is that it’s ridiculously intense. The first loop immediately reminded me of the signature characterisic of these inverts in that they feel like they’re trying to rip your dangling feet off with their strong positive forces. Before you can catch your breath, you hit a snappy zero G, immediately followed by a second loop. This loop is even more intense than the first, but the foot sensation doesn’t go away when it’s over, it stays, entirely sustained throughout the following tightly banked corner. The length and consistency of this force was ridiculous, almost to the point of being unbearable and all I found myself doing was laughing and instinctively punching my legs as if to restore a sense of feeling to them. The remainder of the layout is a densely packed series of turns complete with two more satisfyingly whippy inversions. You can see why it became a popular layout to buy from the way it fits such a high level of thrill into a relatively small area, I just wish more parks had the creativity to try something new each time.
The other big B&M is a floorless – again with more dangling feet, but this time above the track. This one also had a nicely themed queue, entering through the Daily Planet, with plenty of decoration to represent the franchise.
The remainder of the surroundings are a little less attractive as the ride just heads out into open desert beyond this service road, but this doesn’t matter as it was another highly enjoyable ride. The characteristic feature of many B&M first drops is that they don’t enter them directly out of the lift hill, instead having a little stress easing section of track and this particular one provides a satisfying surprise kick of airtime, most prominent in the back row. The layout is a simple sequence of 7 inversions, only really broken up by a single hill after the cobra roll. Though not the most inspiring, every element flows very well together and nothing feels particularly wasted (even the trim brakes were more amusing than jarring – I heard them more than I felt them), resulting in a solid experience from start to finish.
The park’s signature dark ride is Hotel Embrujado, a Vekoma mad house and I am beginning to learn that these were more common than I thought. The preshow and overall presentation was impressive, it just lacked a little of the storytelling spark of British rival Hex, though that can partly just be put down to language barrier.
The water ride lineup here was strong. An Acme themed rapids back in the Looney Tunes area was good fun, with much wacky theming and many moments of water based peril. We also tried Rio Bravo, the log flume out in the Western section of the park. It contained a great surprise moment of an indoor backwards drop complete with airtime hill (log flumes can do that?) which really made it stand out from the crowd.
The final attraction of note was their exceptionally huge S&S shot and drop towers, which we rode just for the sheer size. While height helps the overall spectacle, it doesn’t always result in more significant on-ride sensations – there’s further to travel and less opportunity to catch you off guard with any punchier moments.
Ride closures aside, I was impressed with Parque Warner Madrid. We had a lovely day here with a very relaxed atmosphere, racking up many laps of Batman and (vs?) Superman well into the evening. Operations were decent, the supporting lineup was significant, nothing else to complain about at all really. Save that for tomorrow.
This guy is great. Watches Tomahawk all day and either sings classic hits or shouts at people in angry Spanish.
Day 3 – PortAventura
Thought the final day (a Monday) would be a breeze, but the sun came out and it got busier than the weekend. With many stories of how bad the operations are lingering in the back of our minds, thought that would be game over. It wasn’t.
Must have been some new operators around for the season. Got stuck on Khan for a while until an engineer showed up, laughed and said you’re doing it wrong, pushed one button and off we went.
Similar story with Stampida. One train decided it didn’t want to leave the brakes while the other stopped itself on the lift. Same engineer rocked up, laughed and said you’re doing it wrong, harnessed up, pushed a button up the lift and off it went. Sadly the winning streak ended here. 4 out of 5 ain’t bad.
The rapids ride was decent. Had a continuous fast pace to it, but no deadly wet moments.
Tried 4D Dinosaur Thing: The Ride. Queue was better than the ride. They cheaped out and used that same film I see absolutely everywhere now, just with a preshow added that bigs it up too much.
Some beautiful B&M pics:
Technical question: announcement was playing claiming Shambhala was running at low capacity – they ran 2 trains for a little while, but reverted back to 1 “due to the weather” (a sunny 15°C). Lies? or does it run so slowly that a slight breeze will stall it.
And that was PortAventura. Good little park that, far greater than the sum of its parts. Shame it gets a bad rep.
Kept forgetting this ride has actually been built, even while it was staring us in the face throughout the previous day. Last I remember knowing about it was mocking some wonky track installation and the weirdness of the brake run. That and this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB2YPFOd5pM Amazing.
But here we are, the tallest and fastest coaster in Europe. It was alright.
Launch had a bit more kick than I expected, partly due to the ride not stopping at all before it hits. My 2nd experience with an intense face wobble at high speed, which is getting quite funny now. Ended up in the front row for the first lap and therefore had to wear the pigeon goggles. Eww.
Didn’t get the feel of the height for whatever reason, but I liked the ride a lot more than I expected to with the awfully uninspired layout. They added a train shortly after our first lap, so gave it another crack before the queue got too bad.
Wasn’t that fussed about the other rides here, but figured we may as well try some of it out while we were there.
The flying simulator was first up. Queue building was very flashy. The Mr Ferrari being up his own arse pre-show was not. A second preshow with a fair amount more faff followed with lots of safety instructions and a couple of failed jokes about how rich some people are. Then we got on. Movements were crap, visuals were poor and everyone clapped at the end. Terrible.
Tried the other simulator ride in the same building as it was down to a ‘0 minute’ queue. The park had been open a couple of hours now and it seems like everyone was finished for the day. Says something about the lack of attractions in this second gate of the resort so far.
Entered the same preshow room as the previous ride thinking no… this cant be… Yes. Same preshow. Then there was another one that kept banging on about how good this simulation was and how real racing drivers failed it and we were a cut above the rest. On and on, even into the next room. Sat on some Ferrari thing and jiggled about in front of some racetracks on a screen, overtaking generic unbranded cars. They should have had the balls to slap a Mercedes logo on the side or something. Better than the last ride but far from good.
Walked into the food place opposite. Pizzas for £28. Goodbye.
And that was Ferrari Land. Not impressed with the place. It doesn’t deserve to be a park in it’s own right with so little to do and the star attraction is as lazy as record breakers can be, it all just feels like a cash grab to pay for that big ugly logo.
Slithered through the special entrance between the 2 parks. Walked into the pizza restaurant. Pizzas for £10. Deal. With many stories of how bad the food is lingering in the back of our minds, tucked in with trepidation. It was lovely. Phoned Tibidabo while waiting to be served, just to check they were back in business. They were.
Had a little sit down on the train.
Rerode some stuff. Had a 4th straight win on Stampida.
Then jumped in the car and swept back up to Barcelona. There’s a different road that runs north of the city and takes you to the park from the top end of the mountains. This road has less tolls on it, so that was an added bonus.
Parked up near the top of the hill again, ticket window was actually open now, got some wristbands and headed in.
This thing looks great and it is. Vekoma in their mental years.
Forceful turns and a good deal of twisty, you simply can’t beat a good ride built on the side of a hill. A fantastic view and well worth the trip alone.
The Virtual Reality plague strikes again on their powered mine train, #2 Tibidabo Express. Really can’t understand why you’d want a headset on a ride with this location. The visuals are done by Mack and from the queue video looked to be very similar to the Europa Park version, featuring the same characters and one of those pumpy mine carts.
RCDB says no VR is NOT an option, but it’s amazing how far a simple ‘nope’ can get you.
Did it without and had great fun racing along side some cars down on the road below and twisting round the better Mystery Castle.
Staggered up towards the top of the hill to see what else was on offer. Spent 5 minutes trying and failing to get a lift to work.
Stumbled across L’embruixabruixes (go on, try and say it), which is a little suspended ride with outdoor and indoor sections. Very quirky and enjoyable, with an extra surprise at the end.
Braved the bucket on a stick ride as the sun was beginning to set. Not often I get scared these days, but trying to reposition myself to get some more photos at the very top while desperately trying not making this sway was rather terrifying. Great stuff.
The plane on a stick ride looked interesting, so gave it a spin. The cramped interior is intense and the mini toilet in the back behind a curtain was a nice touch.
Announcements were going off about the park closing at this stage, so rushed back down to the coaster for one final dusky lap.
Glad it worked out this way in the end really. By coming back for an evening visit, we were treated to an enhanced atmosphere and able to take the park at a more relaxed pace. Covered more than we would have planned to do on the first day and had a much better time for it. Lesson (probably not) learnt.
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.