General Information Port Aventura Park

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Theme Park:Port Aventura Park (since 2016)
Port Aventura (2004 - 2015)
Universal Port Aventura (2002 - 2003)
Universal Studios Port Aventura
(2000 - 2001)
Universal's Port Aventura (1999)
Port Aventura (1995 - 1998)
Part of the Resort
Port Aventura World
Address:Avinguda de l'Alcalde Pere Molas
43840 Salou
https://www.portaventuraworld.com/de
Operated by:Port Aventura Entertainment SAU

Shambhala • B&M Hyper Coaster • Port AventuraPort Aventura Park in Salou is one of the largest theme parks in the country. It is part of the amusement resort Port Aventura World. Originally planned by a consortium of Spanish investors and Anheuser-Busch, the theme park opened its doors for the first time in 1995. During the construction phase, the English Tussauds Group also joined in, taking over 40% of the shares and the subsequent management. In 1997 Universal Studios took over the shares of the Tussauds Group. This was followed by numerous name changes and the expansion into an amusement resort. In 2004, NBC Universal and Anheuser-Busch sold their shares in the park to the Spanish bank La Caixa, which then held almost 100% of the shares. Since the end of 2009, the investment company Investindustrial has held a major stake in the park.

Stampida • CCI Wooden Coaster • Port AventuraPort Aventura Park is home to some of the best roller coasters in Europe, such as the wooden roller coaster Stampida or the hyper coaster Shambhala. The park also offers a very large number of family-friendly rides, breathtaking water rides and a large number of worth seeing shows.

Fun Fact #1: The site on the outskirts of the city of Salou was one of the possible locations for the European Disneyland Resort, but was rejected due to the weaker infrastructure compared to the city of Paris.

Fun Fact #2: Originally, a roller coaster similar to the Loch Ness Monster from the US amusement park Busch Gardens Europe was to shape the face of the park. John Wardley of the Tussauds Group, however, was able to prevent this from happening, whereupon the Dragon Khan roller coaster was commissioned.

A lot of bling about Shambhala

After the Spanish resort Port Aventura, consisting of four hotels, the water park Port Aventura Caribe Aquatic Park and the theme park Port Aventura Park, was bought by the Italian Investindustrial from the Bank la Caixa, a lot has happened on the outskirts of the tourist city of Salou. Long overdue investments in the area of amusement park maintenance, as well as the expansion of the water park, bear witness to this, as do new investments in the coming years.

Compared to the last visit the amusement park Port Aventura Park was in a much better condition, which was mainly due to the only slightly scribbled trains and queues, as well as a much higher level of cleanliness in the park. But the view of the queue was clouded, after all the express entrance was used most of the time.

Although the purchase of the Express Premium wristbands was not profitable at all on the first day, after all there was a waiting time of 0 minutes at most of the attractions, it proved to be a necessary investment on the second day to avoid waiting for an average of 90 minutes. The advantage, with a few exceptions, to always pass the queue without waiting and to get your turn right away was actually worth the money, even though the 15 minutes waiting time at Dragon Khan seemed like half an eternity.

It would be wrong to say that the system is fair for everyone, but at least it is affordable for everyone. The situation is different for the food, which is simply not affordable. By not selling single tickets, you save yourself too much of a crowd at the express queues, and in addition, as a normal day passenger, if not too many people pay the extra cost of a one-way trip in the first row, you have an increased chance of a seat in that very row.

If you stay at the Hotel Gold River, you can enter the spacious western area through its own entrance and enjoy the slightly different view of the dueling wooden coaster Stampida. Although the two tracks usually run parallel to each other, the middle part, introduced by a tunnel each, is completely different. In this part the two tracks meet each other, which is a great effect, which is sometimes enhanced by the small wooden coaster Tomahawk. The racing effect is quite distinct, which is mainly due to the well calculated track. However, the two trains should have about the same weight.

As the tracks of the ride are almost continuously bent in the wrong direction, the ride is quite special and mostly of the rougher kind, which is what a wooden roller coaster should be. The used trains are not disturbing at all, even if the bar sometimes closes quite tight.

Passing a merry-go-round, a bumper car and a beautifully designed break dance, we immediately arrive at the entrance of the Silver River Flume log flume, one of the best and strangest rides of its kind. Since you can wait here for half an eternity in a full queue, despite the very large capacity, it was always a pleasure for us to take a seat in one of the boats through the Express Pass entrance and without any waiting.

After leaving the station, the first lift hill is reached within a few metres. The following shot brings you up to the plateau on which a large part of the track leads and where the El Diablo mine train shows up from time to time. After the front side of the boat has been well moistened, a short time later a second lift takes you up to the top of the trees. Through the second slope, which now prefers to soak the rear part of the boat, you get back down to the plateau only to cover some more metres. Here you are float around for a longer time and even start to wonder how long the track actually is. Then you climb another lift and after a short turn you can start the impressive, but not wet, final. Back at ground level the track leads to the exit where you get out more or less drenched.

Over a bridge with artificially attached rivet heads and along the Grand Canyon Rapids ride, which is unfortunately hardly worth mentioning although it is rather stylish, the path takes us towards the entrance area of the Port Aventura Park, where, apart from some transport rides, the catapult launch coaster Furios Baco is located. The prototype of the Wing Rider Coaster, which is definitely worth seeing, is a real wonder bag in terms of theming, but also in terms of ride characteristics. Notoriously and quite rightly the ride is considered to be a shaking machine of the more extreme kind, which at the time of our visit also cost Martin his mobile phone.

However, Furios Baco is quite rideable, as long as it is in the first row on the left inner seat, where the vibrations of the train vanish into thin air in an interesting way and the best launched coaster from Intamin shows up. It looks different on almost every other seat, where the pleasure is on a rather medium level or is only felt by people with a sadomasochistic disposition. But what is always in common is that the straight sections of the track are absolutely brilliant and the direct gradient after the launch creates a lot of airtime. No matter how much you are shaken in the curves, the Inlinetwist always provides a short moment of joy, even if another curve is passed immediately afterwards. After all, the train then goes into the final brakes and the rapid ride comes to an end.

Furios Baco is without equal a very brute roller coaster, but a very interesting and fun at the same time. The launch and inversion are rarely found in this form and should be tested during one or more rides. The storyline at the attraction is original and just as bizarre as the range of the too experienced ride characteristics. The rear part of the train on the right hand side is indeed the worst possible seat, which makes the ride oscillate strangely between “absolutely brilliant” and “absolute nuts”.

The Sea Odyssea simulator shows similar behaviour, whereby a strong distinction must be made between the theme and the film currently running. The hardware in Port Aventura Park, as well as the general design of the ride, is on the highest possible level, but the software, i.e. the film, is no good here. Why of all places in an amusement park with a multitude of roller coasters a 4D film with a roller coaster is shown, although a water roller coaster is still missing, remains a big mystery, just as why the film, whose preshow is still shown before loading, was stopped a few years ago.

In addition to the Kon-Tiki Wave ship’s swing, as can be found in Flamingoland, and a small children’s train, the Spillwater Tutuki Splash also shares the area known as Polynesia.

If this ride is not running at its best capacity, there is a real chance of getting wet, and this in a rather nasty way. If, however, the best possible capacity should be run, due to the high rush, then on the one hand you get a cold while waiting for the return to the station and, apart from a few drops, you hardly get wet due to the two slopes, but with a little luck the water cannons are occupied in this case.

After you have been assigned to a row in the double loading station and have boarded your boat, your journey starts quickly. After a few meters of distance you find yourself inside a volcano, whose ceiling is covered with chewing gum. After passing a second, interestingly less glued tunnel, the first shot follows. Unfortunately you hardly get wet, but this can change very quickly when you climb the first lift hill. If at the same moment, when the boat reached the beginning of the lift, a boat shows up on the slope of the second descent, you can assume that you will be showered properly from the side in the next moment. But the level of wetness is less than when the same thing happens at the spillwater La furia de Triton in Terra Mitica, Spain, where you actually get soaked down to your pants. Either you continue to climb the lift hill dry or now refreshed and moistened. Afterwards you will race towards the double drop in a turn. The double drop, however, is not quite as smooth and basically only ensures that no big waves are formed during the subsequent splashdown which could cool down the spectators on the bridge from the exit of the ride. During this drop you get at least a little wet, so that the trip can be worthwhile even without the wave from the falling boat. The subsequent shower from the cannons will then make for smiling faces on both sides.

Since last year, you can reach the two big coasters of the Port Aventura Park much faster than before through the children’s area Sesamo Aventura. At the same time the way allows completely new perspectives on the roller coaster Dragon Khan, which is now incredibly photogenic and brings movement into the picture due to the short handling time.

Although Dragon Khan was long considered to be the worst steel roller coaster for me, a lot has happened to the ride since my visit. Not only does it shine in a beautiful new colour scheme, but the ride has also not been affected by the neighbouring construction site. Without sand on the tracks, the ride still runs very brute, but this is due to the continuously high forces, which are generated by the clearly too high speed. Dragon Khan just races down the track and is not really regulated, which doesn’t really help when the block brake is released, but makes for an interesting driving experience.

After the train has climbed up the lift, after a short bend, the way goes downhill. Meanwhile the train experiences positive forces for the first time, which it doesn’t really want to give up until the block brake. Shortly before the valley you get a little bit wiped from the right and left side, which affects the ride a little bit, but supports the overall picture of the ride. Full speed ahead you go up the loop, the top of which is not at all reminiscent of a hangtime. Shortly afterwards you pass a diveloop, whereupon the hardest element of the ride awaits you with the Zero-G Roll, whose name should have a much higher number. It is easy to get in contact with the restraint during this inversion. By means of a Cobra Roll you make a turn above the final brake only to take the drive up into the block brake with full speed, which of course does not brake you, but releases you rapidly into the next curve. The following loop is much more powerful than its big counterpart within the track. Through a turn you screw yourself to a higher level and then you are turned upside down by two interlocking corkscrews. Shortly afterwards you reach the final brake and can finally take a deep breath.

Dragon Khan is one of the few rides that really demands a lot from its passengers without harming them, as long as you’re not that crazy and try to ride it permanently. Although the inversions elsewhere are even more powerful, it is the length of the track that makes the ride very stressful. The fun of driving is only slightly affected and therefore a ride is similar to a ride on a HUSS FlicFlac or KMG Tango, which are truly extreme rides.

In the background, and unfortunately not so photogenic, the latest roller coaster Shambhala towers up. The Hyper Coaster from Bollinger & Mabillard is only the second ride of its kind in Europe, but it mercilessly lets the first, and previously highest roller coaster in Europe, sink into oblivion. Silver Star had never been a real danger to other comparable roller coasters, but Shambhala is.

The experience does not have to start positively in order to end positively. Therefore, it is advisable not to be served by certain persons when the train is being handled and to close the hanger properly from the beginning. After a short bend, the train climbs up quickly, with a much better view on the right side of the train, unless you want to look down on ugly hotel complexes and a construction site. Shortly afterwards the train descends rapidly down the 78m slope, where you have lost most of your contact with your seat, and then descend into a tunnel underneath a magnificent head chopper. This is followed by a high but hardly eventful hill, on whose descent, however, airtime appears again. The turning point is the highlight of the ride, even if the banking could be more pronounced at the top. The supports offer great head chopper effects, but these are more pronounced in the right part of the train. Back in the valley you pass a much too low speed bump and are lifted out of your seat with unusual force. Another, quite high, hill follows, whereupon you pass the most impressive element for the passers-by, the splashdown. After this, basically unspectacular straight, where you get a few drops of water in the back of the train, another hill follows over the lifthill of the neighbouring roller coaster Dragon Khan to enter a block brake. This block brake is passed again without any braking before you feel negative G-forces for the last time after a downhill turn. During the subsequent braking the rear part of the train gets its money’s worth, on the other hand it takes place quite smoothly.

Shambhala is one of the few roller coasters that actually gets better on every ride, yet Shambhala is not the best roller coaster in Europe, nor the best ride of its kind. I personally like rides like the Big One at Pleasure Beach and the GeForce Expedition at Holiday Parks more, because they not only have an insane first drop in common, but also a fun ride from the beginning. But what is interesting about the big roller coaster from Port Aventura is that it entertains you very well on every seat. Where the forces at the back are a bit rounder, the ride at the front more or less voluntarily takes your shirt off.

Coming from Dragon Khan, you can walk directly into the arms of El Diablo, the mine train of the park. This roller coaster from Arrow Dynamics is the last ride of its kind and one of the strangest. The track basically consists of only three lift hills, where you spend most of the ride time, and a bit of distance between them. However, these parts are quite fast, except for the second major part, which is only used to pass the maintenance buildings of the ride. The resulting views of Port Aventura Park, the two big coasters from the Chinese themed area, and the log flume further enhance the family-friendly roller coaster.

The second supposed highlight in this area is the Giant Drop Huracan Condor, a freefall tower with a sloped roof and several different “fall pleasures”. Whatever could go wrong with such a ride has been realised in perfection, because the tower does not only look wrong from far away, but also from close up when you see how exactly the gondolas fall. It’s strange that such a simple principle is ruined by lateral displacements, these produce a clearly noticeable bump or a little wobble in the lower part of the tower, depending on which track you have caught. Interestingly, the fall experience is accompanied by very long waiting times, which also apply to Express Pass holders, so that it was quite easy to do without several rides. The manufacturer Intamin has proven many times that size is not everything and with Huracan Condor has created its worst tower.

Very close by is the glass labyrinth El Secreto de los Mayas, the novelty of the current season, which, like the Templo del Fuego, was not visited. While the first ride kept us from going on due to long queues, the brilliant fire show was already closed for the season.

Not far from there, the Musik Express Yucatan is making its rounds, which made for a good squeezing session at unfortunately only medium speed, of course to the delight of the other onlookers. The Schwarzkopf Sombrero Serpiente Emplumada, whose ride is not only ideal for a dry spin, is a completely different pleasure. This ride, which can best be described as a mixture of a polyp and take off, is always worth a ride, if you are not unlucky and have queued up at the beginning of the boarding.

However, the loading procedure is still halfway reasonable, a feature that Flipper VolPaiute cannot offer. Although there are two people working here, it is hardly possible to board the gondola on your own, because here the loading of each individual gondola is called to the gondola after some waiting time so that it can be dispatched. The whole spectacle lasts for several minutes, a period of time when one could have ridden at least three times the Flipper of Heide Park. Of course, there might have been a risk in closing the HUSS hangers on their own, but then it could have been solved like the HUSS Magic at Walibi Holland. The ride itself is boring and as soon as you think the ride is going to accelerate, it ends.

Opposite the still best animatronics of all times is the entrance to the wooden roller coaster Tomahawk. This children’s roller coaster is used by the small PTC trains, which unfortunately leads to a low capacity, as only one adult fits in one row of seats. The ride is quite wild and has some daring curves, but it runs on the best level, making the ride an ideal entry-level roller coaster.

Port Aventura Park is, to my own surprise, a much better park than I remember. Although the attractions themselves may not always be 100% convincing, the overall offer is coherent. Totally adapted to the Spanish preferences the park presents a large number of shows that you can watch as you like and without regretting it afterwards. Nevertheless Port Aventura is not the park you should visit every year, because there is still a lot of room for improvement and the offer is not yet mature enough, although this year increased amounts of money were invested in the resort.

 

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The Home of Woody Woodpecker


At the edge of the 4* high-rise Salou, not far from the city of Tarragona and about 100 km from the Catalan capital Barcelona, is the Port Aventura theme park, founded by the English Tussauds Group, which has since been taken over by the parent company Blackstone and therefore operated under the Universal brand. Today the park is 100% owned by the Spanish bank La Caixa.

When you enter Port Aventura through the official park entrance you will find yourself in the Mediterranean themed area, which is beautifully situated by a lake. Over the lake, the newest roller coaster of the park, Furius Baco, makes its last turn and is looking pretty good. Also the winery, which serves as a station, fits very well into this area. But don’t look at the ride from the position of a passenger.

After you have overcome the queue full of litter, you are divided into a row, whereupon you ask yourself the quite justified question of the seating position, because whether right or left, inside or outside, all seats have their own “driving pleasure” to offer. Shortly afterwards the train starts moving and a pre-show is shown. At the right moment the wonderfully intense launch follows, which is all the more beautiful thanks to the slightly different seating position. After the ascending launch track follows a valley and therefore a lot of airtime on the top of the hill over which you are currently riding. What comes now is absolutely brilliant on the left inner seat in the first row, but on all other seats it is an ordeal of varying proportions. The curves up to the roller are e.g. on the right outer seat with enormous blows, which has nothing in common with the word vibration anymore. The roll is great on all seats and the final curve fortunately follows a large radius and is bearable for the outer seats.

After leaving the station, you arrive at a shop where you can buy wines in style. The ride itself is either absolute rubbish or really ingenious, in between there are basically no other possibilities. The inner left seat is highly recommended, preferably in the first row.

Apart from one station of the park railway and the Intamin Guided Boat Tour, there is not much else to find in this area. Similarly equipped is the highly praised Polynesia area, where you can ride the HUSS Kon-Tiki Wave swing boat and the Sea Odyssea simulator and the Intamin Spillwater Tutuki Splash. The area itself is reminiscent of a large part of the Isla Magica theme park in Seville, beautiful to the eye, but nothing more.

Tutuki Splash, a ride that is often described as very wet, unfortunately turned out to be dry and so the only place to get wet was the area where the water guns at the side of the path were located. Particularly worth mentioning in a negative sense is the chewing gum tunnel before the first drop, which not only looks disgusting but also perfectly reflects the visitors’ level, despite an entrance fee of more than 40€. Considering all points one of the weakest spillwater installations in Europe.

Formerly part of Polynesia, the Vekoma roller skater Tami Tami now belongs to the children’s area Sesamo Aventura. This area is basically well done and has a good number of suitable rides, which are accordingly well received. The roller coaster itself only makes one lap, which is due to its capacity.

Since Sesamo Aventura is a dead end, we will go through Polynesia and take the circular route to the most beautiful themed area of Port Aventura. Passing a Zierer mountain and valley railway in the proven dragon look, beautifully designed tea cups from Mack Rides and a, albeit somewhat hidden, Zamperla Baloon Race, the route continues up the slope to visit the dragon enthroned on the mountain. Dragon Khan is a colossus that cannot be overlooked and has a wonderful layout.

Maybe it was because of the high expectations I had since Parque Warner’s Superman, the really well thought out layout or the general opinion of the ride, but I didn’t think that such a roller coaster could be beaten by the Intamin Wing Rider of the same park.

The ride with its eight inversions could be so good, if the ride would not jerk uncomfortably without interruption. Here the ride comfort equals the driving pleasure. Next door, by the way, a Zierer wave swinger is doing his rounds and luckily it offered a good ride.

Walking down the mountain along the circular route, you will run directly towards the El Diablo Arrow Mine Train. The riding characteristics of this hybrid 0surpass those of the two big steel roller coasters by far and especially the first and the last part of the course is a lot of fun. The nickname “Lifthill the ride” is apt but not disturbing at all. Compared to other European mine trains El Diablo is surprisingly different.

The Giant Drop Hurakan Condor is often mentioned as another highlight of Port Aventura. The drop height of nearly 86m is quite impressive and the view from up there is quite nice, but the actual drop is disappointing. Where the smaller Giant Drops are still intense and Gyro Drop Towers automatically fall more intense due to their larger mass, the fall on Hurakan Condor was rather lax. Also at this ride the behaviour of the guests was again very negative, because they simply spat on the floor of the station.

Not far from the Musik Express Yucatan is the entrance to the Templo del Fuego, a special effects show with a clumsy archaeologist who triggers one curse after another, making the show visitors feel warm and comfortable. The effects are all good and some are quite surprising. In the main room the effects follow one after the other, so it is worth to see the show more often.

Shortly before leaving the area, a Schwarzkopf fan should watch out, because otherwise he will miss one of the last built rides of the manufacturer. The ride on a Schwarzkopf sombrero is like a mixture of HUSS Take Off and a polyp, unfortunately the ride is quickly monotonous. Nevertheless, the Serpiente Emplumada is the best ride in Port Aventura and should definitely be honoured with a ride.

In the western area opposite the HUSS Flipper VolPaiute, which obviously had an absolutely lame ride programme, is the wooden coaster Tomahawk. Unfortunately, the queue moves very slowly on this ride, which is partly due to the fact that only one adult per row fits into the PTC cars. So while you can listen to the wonderful sounds of Vultrix, the coolest animatronic figure ever built, you are defencelessly exposed to the sun. The ride itself is quite funny, offers enough speed and power. It is very well suited for the intended target group and a wonderful entry roller coaster for the amusement park fan of tomorrow.

Around Tomahawk, in places also above and below the ride, both tracks of the roller coaster Stampida are running. To get to the station you have to walk through a few metres of queueline, which luckily is very shady here before choosing a side. The waiting area of the blue side is better visible, so that the red side is emptier in the morning. After you have been directed to your seat you can start your journey in the quite comfortable KumbaK trains.

What follows is a wooden roller coaster as it should be and that twice next to each other. The track is long, the speed is high and the racing aspect is very successful. The red side is crawling around a bit before the helix with the encounter of the other train, which happens on the blue side only afterwards, but there with a much higher speed. The numerous gradients are a dream made of wood and the Out of Contol feeling is high. The one or other curve might be a little less brute, but this aspect doesn’t make the track worse than it is. Despite the often and completely trivial criticism of the KumbaK trains, it is damn good.

In addition to a carousel, a bumper car and a Break Dance, there are two water attractions in this area. The first ride you will come across is the Silver River Flume log flume offering a very strange course whose highlight is the last drop. The level of wetness is not more than mediocre and the handling is a bit slow, even though there were quite a lot of boats on the way and they tried to fill all the boats properly. Unfortunately also here some things are glued with chewing gum…

The second water attraction in this area is the Grand Canyon Rapids, an Intamin rapids ride with an artificial rock look. Unfortunately, the degree of wetness is only the European standard, i.e. it simply does not exist, which is why the ride was simply not convincing despite all the optics.

Port Aventura unfortunately only leaves a picture that can neither make the park look bad nor outstandingly good. The rides themselves are not bad. The biggest point of criticism is that the park was the only dirty one in Spain. Nearly everything is scribbled here, something that shouldn’t be on roller coasters trains. Everything is covered with chewing gum in the most inappropriate places and the litter on the paths and in the queues just shouldn’t be there. Port Aventura also has a big problem with its visitors who often don’t know how to behave or couldn’t follow even the simplest instructions of the staff. Furthermore, Port Aventura is the only park that does not pay attention to the fact that the upper part of the body is covered at all rides and in the park itself, which leads to very unpleasant insights.

 

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