On Street Mission at Port Aventura Park

A few years have passed since my last visit to Port Aventura Park. Apart from the two new attractions Angkor and Street Mission, nothing has greatly changed in the park since then, but a lot has changed in the resort. For example, the new Ferrari Land amusement park with Europe’s highest and fastest roller coaster was built right next door.

Anyone planning to travel to Salou by train in the near future should reconsider. Although the Salou – Port Aventura station still exists, it is only very rarely used. It is also the current terminus and is therefore only an alternative to the car for resort guests. I had planned to reach the park around noon, but thanks to numerous train cancellations it turned out to be much later. So I basically only had one evening and one afternoon to experience the park in all its fullness.

As you might expect in peak season, the park was extremely busy. Since I was still without the Express Pass on the first evening, I concentrated on some beloved classics, such as El Diablo – Tren de la Mina, before I headed to the Far West area. This area, like the Mediterrània area, had much longer opening hours, but here too the offer was very limited. Basically, until closure of the park, you could only ride the Stampida wooden roller coaster, the carousel, the break dance Crazy Barrels, the Rapid River Gran Canyon Rapids and the launch coaster Furios Baco.

While the crowds were still okay on the first evening, the second day of the visit took the cake. After my flying visit to the Ferrari Land theme park, I first went to an Express Pass sales point, only to find out that buying the €65 upgrade to Express Premium Gold was not really a good idea. Since the amusement park does not limit the upcharge offer, almost every visitor had the Express Pass, so that even with the pass, you still had to wait at least half an hour everywhere.

Angkor

Interestingly, during my visit, the Splash Battle Angkor had the longest waiting time in the entire park – even with the priority ticket, you easily had to wait 90 minutes here. The water ride is by no means exciting or remarkable in any way. The leisurely river ride is quite nicely presented, but the consistent use of static figures makes it not really interesting. Thanks to the limited number of boats, there were never any of the water battles for which this concept is actually known, which meant that the ride ended on a very dry note.   

Street Mission

The nearby Street Mission dark ride was also new to me. Set in the Sesame Street universe, we go with Detective Grover in search of the world’s biggest cookie, which went missing shortly before the Cookie Day Parade. Now the search for clues takes us through all the well-known Sesame Street locations. In the process, you meet familiar figures, as well as some that might be unfamiliar to me. The successful mix of screen sequences and three-dimensional scenes creates an astonishingly high level of immersion, which I had not expected. Coupled with the long ride time, it’s quite enjoyable and encourages repeat journeys. Well done, Sally!

Pictures Port Aventura Park

Conclusion Port Aventura Park

Port Aventura Park could not really convince during my last visit. Limited opening hours and a greatly reduced capacity in all rides despite the very large crowd in the park do not cast a good light on the park. While elsewhere in the country the parks were back to pre-crisis levels, at Port Aventura the Corona-related cost-cutting measures were particularly noticeable. This in turn meant that even the priority queues reached extreme lengths. This is a pity and therefore I have no other choice but to advise against a visit during the high season in August for the time being.

 

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The charm of the old amusement park

Bakken

The amusement park Bakken or Dyrehavsbakken is located at Jægersborg Dyrehave on the outskirts of the Danish capital Copenhagen. Similar to Vienna’s Wurstelprater, the amusement park, which is divided into plots and fed by various showmen, makes up only a very small area of the actual park grounds, which mainly function as a wildlife park and thus had its origins as a hunting ground. Historically speaking, the amusement park opened in 1583 is relevant as it is the oldest amusement park in the world. The easiest way to reach the amusement park is by taking the suburban train line C from Copenhagen Central Station to the terminal station Klampenborg, followed by a 10 minute walk.

Once arrived at the park, if you visit Bakken not only because of the numerous rustic restaurants and bars, you should buy a wristband. Most of the times, this is read out by a handheld device but also by stationary scanning stations and allows one 10 rides on each of the numerous attractions in Bakken.

Mine Train Ulven

If you have walked from Klampenborg Station the first attraction you will come across is the Intamin Minetrain called Mine Train Ulven. After the train has left the station with a full jolt due to the friction wheels, which are probably controlled by a trapezoidal trajectory of speed, a small drop is made to enter the lift. Once at the top, the track disappears in front of you and an incredibly steep first drop follows. Just as fast as it’s going down here, the steep curve goes up again and a left leading downward helix is attached. A little more leisurely we go through a constantly tapering Bavarian curve until we pass the station. A right turn above the first track meters leads the train into a downward helix below the lift hill. Parallel to the lift you pass two smaller hills before you enter the last downhill helix after a 270° turn. This is followed by the entry into the brake and the return to the station.

Mine Train Ulven surprises with its very strong start, but gets a little lost in the middle part of the layout until it goes into the fast end of the ride. As one of the few layouts of this kind from the manufacturer, the layout convinces above all by the comparatively intensive riding style, only the curves could have been a little more pronounced and less optimized.

Crazy Theatre

Next to a 5D cinema, or rather exactly above it, there is the Crazy Theatre, an interactive theatre of the manufacturer Alterface in which the film Desperados is shown. Here you sit on a mechanical horse, which moves back and forth, and aim a pistol at various targets. At first, smaller practice scenes are shown, followed by a longer film scene. The interaction of the individual components is quite fun and can convince by the good quality of the film.

Spøgelsestoget

A few metres further on is the ghost train Spøgelsestoget. This is a quite old ghost train. As the inside of the ride is pitch dark, the ride is quite tense. The effects are all shown to their best advantage – also the newer ones fit very well into the ambience – and frighten you several times with bravura. So Spøgelsestoget is a real highlight in Bakken and therefore should not be missed by anyone.

Polyppen and Vikingeskibet Dragen

Less cramped than most other rides in Bakken are the Schwarzkopf Monster Polyppen, which offered a good and balanced ride, and the boat swing Vikingeskibet Dragen made by Zierer. Here you sit, as on the Kalbfleisch-Boat Swings, back to back or in opposite rows to each other, but in comparison you have much more play to the bars and therefore a more exciting ride. Interestingly, the ship is not driven from below but at the side of the saber.

Racing

Since the 80’s the roller coaster Racing is located in Bakken, a Zierer Flitzer, which was previously on the road under the Bremen showman Robrahn at the German fairs during the early 70’s. With its age of 44 years it is the second oldest roller coaster in Bakken and is mostly still in its original condition.

After the obligatory lift ride, you make a series of right-hand bends that are continuously rejuvenating and always ascending and descending in the style of Bavarian curves, until shortly afterwards a major fall occurs and you pass the station at ground level. A bigger right turn leads you into the rear part of the layout and after a narrow turn you make the first change of direction. This is immediately repeated after a downward helix and the last right turn follows.

It is very interesting how much the original gondolas influence the ride, as although the installation is identical in construction to High Explosive of the showman Vorlop, the high gondola walls of the mine cars take a big part of the fun. At least, the little speedsters make the ride very funny, which is why I had the most rides here during my visit.

Taarn Gyset

The Taarn Gyset is a Double Shot Tower from S&S located in Bakken, which is characterized by its low height and the nevertheless extraordinarily pronounced airtime, triggered by the second shot down. The ride is quite funny, but sadly also a rather short one.

Vilde Mus

The Vilde Mus roller coaster, which will open in 2012, is, as the name suggests, the newer standard model of the Wild Mouse from Mack Rides. Although there was no actual rush, many children preferred to claim an entire car for themselves, which artificially created the longest queue in the park. Interestingly, the ride itself resembles much older rides like the remaining side of the Speedy Bob from the Belgian Bobbejaanland.

Hurlumhej

With Hurlumhej there is a little treasure in Bakken that is really worth experiencing. In the history of the origin of the complex, obviously, a lot of Hansen Rum was drunk, that is why a giant bottle adorns the front of this amazing walkthrough. In the interior, one then comes across to a perfect symbiosis of the Crooked House and a Fun House, whereby the elements of the Crooked House are more distinctly present. Due to the more than elaborate arrangement in the style of an old ship, one actually gets a little seasick and therefore leaves the amusement complex by staggering a little. If each walkthrough would be like Hurlumhej, then every installation would be worth a visit, as such a perfectly arranged scenerey is something one unfortunately does not find very often. Even bigger installations as the Hotel Tartüff of the theme park Phantasialand do not surprise as much as this one, especially as one really does not oftenly come across to a crooked house nowadays.

Extreme

After I already had the pleasure to do a Speed Flip in the Funland Amusement Park on Hayling Island I was very curious to see how the Moser Rides product would show up here. In contrast to the traveling ride in England, Extreme has a very strange ride program where you basically go full throttle at the beginning of the ride and then slowly reduce the speed until the end. In addition to the modest ride cycle, which does not show the potential of this machine, the ride also offers very minimal restraints onky, which are unfortunately a bit too uncomfortable.

Mariehønen

In a small alley leading to the amusement park’s car park is Mariehønen, a small Tivoli ride from the manufacturer Zierer. The ride on the smallest roller coaster in Bakken is a very solid one, but becomes noteworthy by a break on the lift hill after the second round, as this is where you take a little stop to wave to the outside visitors. After the children have now waved extensively, the friction wheels start to work under full load, which doesn’t sound very nice with regard to the engines, and you now complete the last laps.

Vandrutschebanen

The Vandrutschebanen log flume is an interesting ride with a surprisingly long course with two downhill runs. The entry takes place on a small turntable whereupon the boat is released into the channel. On the way to the lift you spend some time in the current canal before you quickly go up. During the following shot run, which leads to about half of the starting height, one is already well moistened. Now one spends some time bobbing criss-cross through the layout just before it goes down quite fast on a long straight line and after another curve the second lift hill follows. At the top of the hill you will find the narrowest curve ever built into a log flume which could not be ridden without additional equipment. Compared to a Mack Rides installation, where two turntables would be used, the boats of this Reverchon whitewater ride are pushed through the curve by a lateral driver using a turntable. The boat will corner like crazy at the canal before it is pushed into the second shot. When you reach the bottom you will be completely soaked by the spray. If you are not laughed at by a little boy, who is doing a lap on the Svanebanen – a monorail above the water ride – it is a wonderfully refreshing fun in Bakken.

Safari

The Safari interactive dark ride is small, but very attractive. Armed with pistols and in small jeeps, the tour takes you through Bakken’s green hell, past numerous animatronics on two levels. Although you don’t trigger any effects and only try to get the highest possible score, the ride is very nicely arranged.

Rutschebanen

Not quite as old as the roller coaster of the same name from the nearby amusement park Tivoli Gardens, the Rutschebanen presents itself to its passengers at only 83 years of age. The technology and trains, on the other hand, are much younger and were purchased during the modernization, which also made the accompanying brake service personnel redundant. The Dutch company KumbaK did its best to maintain an authentic ride feeling without taking too much care of the wooden structure. They installed brake modules on the track where the brakeman would probably have braked, although I doubt that the train would have sneaked into the station like that. The trains are now similar to the wooden coaster Stampida from the Spanish Port Aventura, but consist of cars for two people each.

After the train has left the station, the route takes a left turn towards the cable lift. Here the train hooks up and is therefore carried up the wonderfully sloping and crooked lift hill very quickly. Once arrived at the top, one can enjoy the view in a small turn until it immediately goes down. Only at a nice speed one drives through the valley and quickly climbs up the other half of the lift. Up here, one passes another turn at a leisurely pace, but then the train rushes over a double shot. With clearly pronounced forces, one completes the following valley. A camelback follows before one makes the next turn at a higher level. Now parallel to the station you repeat the same game again, on the following meters you are not allowed to turn right according to the signs and disappear into the tunnel of a woman. Here you go down once more and over another hill before returning to the station.

Rutschebanen has an absolutely great layout, but unfortunately the wrong trains or better said the wrong restraints for this. Unlike Stampida, where I find the trains quite good, the restraints over here do not sit on the pelvis, but on the stomach. Due to the double shots, the bar is so unpleasantly tightened that one wishes the old trains back. Whereby the ride is actually exactly like Grand National from Pleasure Beach Blackpool, thus quite compatible for a wooden roller coaster of this age.

Tornado

The rotating gondola roller coaster Tornado, however, is not very well tolerated by people with balance problems. For all the others, a ride on the roller coaster  in Bakken might be enough to cause some really serious problems in the first place, because the true madness from the house of Intamin is not infamous for nothing.

It is not for nothing that the ride begins with the advice to press your head against the headrest, because after a curve the car enters the lift slightly turning. Due to the sudden acceleration, the rotation becomes more pronounced before the chain reaches an insane speed on the straight lift top. With full force you are now thrown down the first steep curve, mostly underlaid with a loud crackling of the passengers. Turning wildly, one now completes a harmless turn on the hall floor and leaves the hall in an upward curve. Next, a horseshoe-shaped curve combination and a jagged S-curve combination is completed relatively quickly before the descent gets steep and fast once more. Below the hall ceiling you pass a block brake without a noticeable reduction of speed, after which it goes downhill again in a steep curve. Since there have been enough harmless changes of direction so far, the following one is done much more abruptly, but in return the following curve is not as tight. A last steep turn initiates the return to the station and beats everyone up again with full force. Shortly afterwards the brakes are reached and you can finally take a deep breath.

Tornado is by far the most intense roller coaster in Europe or better said in the whole world, because what you experience here reminds you of bodily harm, it’s even more fun to get your nose broken by a stranger in the Hamburg S-Bahn, because you only notice it afterwards. But Tornado could be a quite good roller coaster, if you had left out the steep turns or if the average speed of the layout hadn’t been set so high from the beginning by the insane lift hill. I spent a total of two rides on this ride and that’s enough for me for the next years, as Tornado is simply the craziest roller coaster I’ve ever ridden so far in my life.

Sky Roller

Also crazy, but in a positive sense, is the Gerstlauer Sky Roller, where you can interactively influence the ride by adjusting the position of the wings on the seats. As often seen on similar machines of the manufacturer, you have to show the audience what you can get out of the machine or in other words how to adjust the wings to create a rollover. In contrast to the Götterflug from the amusement park Belantis you are unfortunately not supported by the wind during the ride and therefore you have a more even ride which does not automatically make the world appear in circles. A positive aspect of the Sky Roller is the much better capacity compared to the supposedly more exciting Sky Fly. Also, the first revision of the ride is now much more sophisticated and technically simpler, but this means that the gondolas no longer run completely over each other.

Pictures Bakken

Conclusion Bakken

The amusement park Bakken is, as also the Prater in Vienna, a great place to have some hours of good fun. Due to the low international share of visitors, the public is much more pleasant than in the Tivoli and generally enjoys themselves away from the rides in the park’s countless restaurants and bars, creating a thoroughly pleasant atmosphere on the grounds.

 

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The Home of Woody Woodpecker

Port Aventura

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.

Furius Baco

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.

Sea Odyssea

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

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.

Tami Tami

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.

Dragon Khan

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.

El Diablo

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.

Hurakan Condor

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.

Templo del Fuego

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.

Serpiente Emplumada

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.

Tomahawk

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.

Stampida

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.

Silver River Flume

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…

Grand Canyon Rapids

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.

Pictures Port Aventura

Conclusion Port Aventura

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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