“ Theme park, Salou holiday resort, Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain „
Port Aventura is a theme park in the holiday resort of Salou. I have visited Salou four times and every time have gone back to Port Aventura- I love it! It is definitely one of the best theme parks in Europe.
My last visit was in July 2008 and the cost was 42 euro and I then bought a fast pass which allowed me on several of the main rides without having to queue for hours. This was an extra 20 euro but considering the time of year it was well worth the extra cost.
The park is divided into five main areas all based around a different country. They are:
Polynesia, Wild West, China, Mexico and Mediterranea
Each part of the park is decorated to look authentic and they really did go all out in ensuring it was realistic. The shops and buildings are all designed to look like the native country and most of the restaurants serve traditional food from the country as well as the normal burgers, fries, sandwiches and ice cream.
The rides are also based around the theme of the land and I will explain them in more detail now
This is the main entrance of the park and until 2007 had no actual rides in it. That was until they build the Furious Baco. This is by far one of the best rides I have ever been on. It is based around a scientist and a monkey who are working in a wine making factory although the actual story is hard to follow as it is in Spanish. The ride goes from 0-83.9mph in just three seconds. This absolutely takes your breath away and the ride does not let up. Any women going I advise you to wear good support because as I found out the first time I rode it, you can and will "fall out"! Even better, there is a camera in the back of the seat in front of you which films you the whole way round so you can relive any embarrassment for only 15 euro (well worth it to protect my modesty!) The only downside to this ride is that the queues can take over an hour and there is not fast track available
There is also a very large gift shop in Mediterrenea and a walk on boat where kids can look at the water. During the day there will be opportunities to have your picture taken with various character from Universal Studios and they will then give you a card with a number on it. There is a stand in this area where you can view your photo and then decide if you want to buy it which is nice because it means you don't have to carry it with you all day.
This is based heavily on Hawaiian influences and the main focus here is water. The big ride here is Tutuki Splash which is supposed to simulate being shot out of a volcano. A word of warning, you will get wet. Very wet. There is a bridge over part of the ride where people waiting in the queue can use water guns to shoot at you which is great fun
Sea Odyssey is another ride in this area but the build up is in my opinion too long although the ride itself is very good.
In this land the show is absolutely spectacular and the Hula dancers are breath-taking. I would highly recommend the show to anyone.
My favourite ride is in China- the Dragon Khan. I first rode it when I was 10 and have loved it ever since. It is scary and thrilling all at the same time with 8 loops and breath-taking views of the whole resort from the top. Even it's top speed of 65 mph is very good. The queue for this ride is long but moves quickly and there is a fast track available.
The food here is brilliant and very authentic so if you like Chinese food, you will love this part of the park
The Tea-Cups in China are also a great ride. We went on them for a joke but they really do go fast especially as you turn them yourself using the wheel in the middle so the top speed is only determined by your own strength. Beware, you will be very dizzy by the end
There are two main attractions here
The Hurakan Condor is thrilling and you will need to ride it twice to collect your stomach as you will leave it at the top. The ride takes you up a 330 ft pole and then drops you into a free fall. However, there is a twist in the tale as the cars are sometimes tipped forward at a 45 degree angle meaning you are looking down as you fall. The effect of having your legs dangling really intensifies the fear element on this ride and the photographs at the bottom always have some terrified expressions
El Diablo is a relatively tame looking rollercoaster but it is nippy enough and the fact that it is wooden makes it seem much more rickety and scary. The first drop out of the station is enough to get most people screaming. A great ride
The final area is the Wild West and is by far the most authentic looking. Every building and person working looks like they have come straight from a John Wayne spaghetti western movie and even the games stalls are all themed.
The main rides here are: the Grand Canyon rapids which is a laid back, easy going ride that the whole family can enjoy
The Silver River Flume- again you will get drenched as there are some massive drops
Stampida: this is a racing rollercoaster and you have to pick blue or red and the two cars race each other. At times to heighten the fear it seems as though the two are going to collide. Amazing fun and just enough fear to get you going.
The whole park is brilliantly put together and there is talk that it is extending which if true will make it better than ever.
The park offers great value for money and the displays at night are fantastic. I cannot recommend this park highly enough and my only complaint is that it isn't open 24 hours!
~ Theme Park Only ~
~ I did not stay at any of the hotels so cannot comment on them ~
~ About ~
PortAventura is a theme park situated in Salou. The Theme park is separated into five sections, China, Meditterrania, Far West, Mexico, Polynesia. The rides in a certain section are based in the place it has been put in, e.g The Chinese Prince's supposedly furious blood runs through skeleton of Dragon Khan.
The best and most busy rides are;
~ Dragon Khan (China)
~ Furious Baco (Meditterrania)
~ Stampida (Far West)
~ Silver River Flume (Far West)
~ Hurakan Condor (Mexico)
~ Tutuki Splash (Polynesia)
You can expect to queue up for these rides for about half an hour, depending at what time of the day you go at.
~ Rates ~
I went in July with some friends and had an Express card which was bought before going. There are four groups:
Children - 0 to 3 (free)
Junior - 4-10
Adult - 10-59
Senior - 60+
I went with friends the same age as me so I cannot comment on Junior and Senior prices.
For adults I had an entry where you could go to the theme park one day and the Caribe Aquatic Park, which is right next to the theme park, and then you have the second day ( the day we went to the water park) to visit the theme park for the second time (We did this but went at about 7 till 12, the some of the rides are completely different in the dark!)
I paid 38Euro for an adult express card with fast pass which cost 38Euro. However this is only because 27 of us went!! The rates are a lot higher if you are going in a group less than 20 but as I've experienced all the rides, I can say that the Theme Park is worth it!
~ Fast Pass ~
As I have already said I had an express card ,which is also a fast pass. At the back of the card at the bottom, there are 8 small boxes. The idea is that you pick 8 rides to go fast pass, then for some rides there will be a little place with the time that you can go with a fast pass. Then at the time a ride is available for fast pass, you go and line up in a separate line to the long everlasting line of the unfast-passers! When I went, the fast pass line was always empty, and you went through straight away! Out of the eight rides you pick, you can only go on each of them once as there is staff at the fast pass line who sign the little boxes. You can use the fast past eight times on one ride, but that would be a waste! The only problem is, that only some of the rides have fast pass, and for some of the really busy rides you'll still have to line up!
~ Refreshments ~
All around the theme park there are little shops selling food, mainly crisps, candyfloss, burgers and sandwiches! Most of them also sell fizzy drinks and water. As you would expect, the refreshments aren't really cheap in the theme park, so it is best to take your own drinks, as you will almost definitely need a drink if it is hot and your sweating!
~ Bags ~
Your probably wondering what your supposed to do with your bags when you about to go on a ride. Well for some of the main rides (Dragon Khan, Furious Baco, Hurakan Condor etc.) there are shelves where you can put your bags. However if your like me and decide to wear flip flops, you are not allowed to take them off! So I was panicking on all the rides that my flip flops where going to go flying off my feet! Luckily the only ride I lost a flip flop was on the tea cups. Yes the tea cups. How I managed to keep them on when going on the Furious Baco, I don't know. So I would advise not wearing flip flops to PortAventura!
~ Rides ~
Now I've blabbered on about everything else I'll actually tell you about the rides!! I'll review the 6 main attractions plus a random 1 or 2!
~ Dragon Khan ~
Drangon Khan is set in china and is famous for having 8 loops straight after each other. Dragon Khan goes at 110km/h. I went on this in both day time and night time and as you would guess, at daytime you have to wait MUCH longer than in the night. This ride closes at 10.30 as well as Furious Baco so don't leave it to late if you go at night! In day time (about 2.00pm) I waited about 40 minutes compared to 15 minutes at about 9.00pm. I almost chickened out of this when I was about to get on it for the first time, but am so glad that I didn't. The main reason I nearly chickened out was because when you are watching the ride, it makes really loud dragon-like noises. I'm not sure if it's meant to but when your actually on the ride, your actually screaming to much to hear them (well I was anyway!). I don't actually think it is that scary, the only scary bit is the huge drop at the beginning.
~ Furious Baco ~
The Furious Baco was definitely my favourite ride in the Theme Park, despite it being the longest wait. It is fastest ride in the whole theme park at 135km/h. I don't want to give the beginning of the ride away but I will say that you will be shocked when the ride suddenly shoots off! You don't start slowly, you are sitting there and then when you least expect it, you will be shot off! When you see the ride you might think that it won't be very good just because of the fact the ride is so small. When actually on the ride, the ride isn't actually that short but at the same time it finishes really quickly. Okay that sound stupid. But you probably get the idea. When I got off the ride my eyes where actually watering! I waited nearly an hour to get on this but it was definetely worth the wait!
~ Stampida ~
The Stampida is a ride in the Far West. Before you even start to queue up for the ride, you are faced with a decision, blue or red! I at first did not know why you had to pick a colour, and picked red. I went on the Stampida twice but both times picked red, therefore I don't know whether the queue for the blue side is shorter or longer. Anyway, I picked red and after only about 20 minutes of waiting, We where at the top about to get on! This is where the red and blue comes in. There is a red train and on the other side of the room a blue one. Of course I got into the red train. the seat is just like a rollercoaster seat with a bar which you pull down and a bar in front of you. There isn't anywhere to put your bag, so I resolved to sitting on mine!! You don't go upside down or anything but better safe than sorry! I must admit that I didn't feel safe on the ride compared to say, Dragon Khan which felt very safe but I soon forgot when the ride got started. So the red train and blue race each other to the finish but at one point the red train goes a different way so you don't know who will win. The Stampida is made of wood for the rickety effect, and there are some huge drops on it!! The ride is a lot faster than you would expect and in my opinion, the Stampida was the scariest out of all of them!
~ Silver River Flume ~
The Silver River Flume is also in the Far West and we went on this after the Stampida. We didn't expect to get so wet! So as you've probably guessed the Silver River Flume is a log flume. It holds up to four people. The first time I sat at the back, the second at the front. Luckily for me these are the places you get the wettest! The log flume just goes up at the beginning but after that the ride is basically just drops, getting bigger and steeper each time! As I was at the back the first time, I thought I'd be able to avoid getting wet but nope! When you land after the drop, there is such a big splash! This ride also took about an hour waiting.
~ Hurakan Condor ~
The Hurakan Condor. Wow. Based in Mexico, the Hurakan condor goes a whopping 100 metres up and then drops you. You go up very slowly to add tension. I was soo scared when going up, you don't want to drop it's too scary! At the top you can see the whole of Salou, the view is just beautiful. But of course that is all ruined when you get dropped. Just before it drops, the seat is supposed to tilt about 20 degrees forward but I really couldn't feel this. Maybe because I was trying to calm down my friend who was repeatedly saying "Oh My God!"! So your 100 metres high and your wondering when your going to be dropped. Or repeating "Oh My God!".When you get dropped I screamed so loudly!! My friends weren't screaming but when I asked them when we'd got off and calmed down, they said it was so fast they couldn't scream. Well I could. I counted how long it took to get down the second time I went on it and it took 4 seconds!! It's over before you can say "Oh My God!"!
~ Tutuki Splash ~
The last of the 6 main attractions, Tutuki Splash is based in Polynesia. To be quite honest, it wasn't as good as I hoped. It's obviously a water ride and a lot of people can get on at once. That's the difference between Tutki Splash and The Silver River Flume. With the Silver River Flume, there are several flumes and only four people can get on and you sit behind each other. In Tutuki Splash, you can fit 4, maybe 5 small people, across and about 5 people vertically. In Tutuki Splash you go through a tunnel which is absolutely disgusting as hundreds of annoying people have decided to stick their chewys up there. Yuck. After the tunnel there are 2, maybe 3 small drops. Because the drops are so small, you don't expect to get very wet, but you do. This is probably because the flume bit is so heavy. We only waited about 15 minutes for this and although the ride wasn't as good as I hoped, it was still okay.
~ Fumanchú ~
The Fumanchú is basically just the swings. I'd estimate that there about 30 swings, double and single. The Fumanchú is right next to the Dragon Khan so we decided to go on it just to relax. However, it could have been that we'd just been on the Dragon Khan but the swing seemed to go faster and higher each time we went on them! We ended up going on this 5 times. Yes 5. Annoying thing was, the staff made you line up again rather than letting you stay on it for the next ride. I guess we were being very noisy and scaring small kids. The Fumanchú can be found in a lot of fairs but I still loved it!
~ Tea Cups ~
Like I said, the Tea Cups was the ride I lost a flip flop on. I really don't know how but I suppose the Tea Cups were going really fast! The Tea Cups are a classic but they seemed to spin fasterthan any other ones I've been on! Luckily My flip flop was found. I was quite embarrassed as someone I didn't know gave it to me. I said thanks then ran off! I can't say much about the Tea Cups, I'm sure you know that basically your sitting in a cup and you spin around!
~ Photographs ~
On the main attractions plus a few other rides, they take a picture which you can later buy. The pictures are about 7Euro and they can also put your picture in a keyring for about 5Euro. You can normally see a flash when the picture is taken but in case you blink, I managed to see the points pictures where taken and here are some of them!
Silver River Flume - As I've said, The Silver River Flume is just full of drops and on the final drop (which is evidently the largest and steepest) this is where the photograph is taken.
Furious Baco - As I've said, the Furious Baco shoots off when you least expect it. This is the perfect time for a photo! Don't look to shocked and try and smile! As well as photographs, you can also buy a video of yourself. I didn't so I don't the price but if I remember correctly it was about 15Euro. However I might be completely wrong!
Hurakan Condor - The Hurakan Condor is a huge drop so the picture for this will always be hilarious! I look so pathetic on mine so I just had to get it. It was the average price of 7Euro. The picture is taken a little bit after you've just been dropped so you probably won't have time to smile!
~ Height Restrictions~
Sound great but not to sure about height restrictions?
Luckily you don't have to be very tall!
Tutuki Splash - 1.4m
Dragon Khan - 1.4m
Fumanchú - 1.1m
Silver River Flume - 1.4m
Stampida - 1.2m
Furious Baco - 1.4m
Although these are just the main attractions, I don't think you need to be taller than 1.40m. Of course no pregnant women are allowed on rides for safety.
~ Extra ~
There are tens more rides than the ones I've reviewed, but reviewing them all would take to long. This already took me a few hours!! Basically I can't think of any bad rides so just go on as many as you can, you won't be dissapointed!
~ Conclusion ~
Although the prices are high if I haven't convinced you then...
Review is for the Theme park only and does not include any of the hotels that you can stay at.
Whilst revisiting Salou for our summer vacation this year we finally go around to paying a visit to PortAventura which we had not been able to fit in during our previous stay as we ran out of time.
PortAventura is Spain's most prestigious theme park located in Taragona and is extremely easy to get to from the surrounding area of Salou and La Pinada and even only 1 ½ hour by train from Barcelona or about 1 hr by coach. From the surrounding areas in Salou you can use the local bus service -Plana is the name of the company which have frequent busses to here, the local train shuttle which is a train shaped vehicle that actually is driven on the roads or take a taxi which is the option we went for as there would be enough walking during the day we spent there. From our hotel where we stayed in the old town Salou the cost was Eur 6 to get there and Eur 12 to return, though this was late at night. Of course if you are staying in one of PortAventura's resort hotels you can walk there.
Buying your tickets
There are various ways to purchase your tickets for PortAventura, online before you depart for your holiday at www.portaventura.co.uk, from your holiday rep - we opted for this or at the main entrance to the park which I would not advise as the queue's are horribly long even though there are a large number of kiosks. Our tickets cost Eur 38.00 each and included one express ride - more about this later, note that children under the age of 11 get a reduced rate and under 4's are free. Please also note that you can buy a 3 day, 7 day or 14 day pass to PortAventura.
Park opening hours during the summer are 10am to midnight - we arrived at 10.30am.
Arriving at the theme park
The taxi dropped us off at a designated taxi rank purely used for visitors to PortAventura from where we had a nice 10 minute stroll up the main route to the park, the only vehicles allowed near to the entrance as the local buses and the train shuttle as you can imagine there are thousands of visitors each day during peak periods of the year. Having purchased our tickets in advance we where able to walk past the long queues and straight to the main entrance to the park. Note that on the approach to the entrance you can go left or right but left is for access to the Caribe Water Park only. All tickets have a bar code on them and all you need to do is swipe them across the scanner on the turnstile and you are in, this is a very quick process and we did not have to queue.
Are there any maps available?
Yes is a multitude of languages so you if you are multi-lingual you will be spoiled for choice and even though it was the middle of August there where plenty for all and staff around the entrance to offer assistance if required. I would thoroughly recommend that you take a moment to collect your map to the park as it does make finding the rides you wish to go on much easier, particularly if like us you where only there for a day and wanted to do as much as possible.
As you enter you are right next to Hotel PortAventura which is the closest hotel to the theme park, well its practically part of the theme park and there are quite a few shops selling a variety of souvenirs but we did not stop to look as my 2 children consider this beneath them and where more interested in seeking out the rides starting with the nearest to the entrance. Walking through into the main theme park you are greeted by yet more shops, a bar and a huge lake which is where all the action is at the end of the day - will tell you about that later.
How is the Park laid out?
PortAventura is split up into different sections each having their own theme, upon arrival you arrive in the Mediterrania which contains the lake and some beautifully planted areas which during the summer where in full bloom, Following on from the you head into Polynesia, China Mexico and the Far West which brings you back to Mediterrania so effectively you have done a full circle of the lake.
There are a total of 6 black diamond rides - the biggest and the best for you thrill seekers out there, one black diamond ride in each area with the exception of the Far West that has two and yes you've guessed it we tried to do them all so lets have a look at what we did.
Mediterrania - Furios Baco
New for 2007 this ride boasts the thrill of being catapulted from 0 to 135 km per hour in just 3 seconds, sounds fun. This was our first ride of the day and we followed the path that lead off the main route around the park to join the queue which was quite long but you do constantly shuffle along so the time does pass quite quickly - queuing time 1 hour which I didn't think was too bad. The queue snakes around and up towards the start of the ride and is for the majority covered so you are not standing out in the sun and you do feel a lot cooler. The ride itself is based around a mad professor and his monkey and a grape picking machine with a tale to go with it where the professor is tinkering with his machine and oops the monkey interferes, this is told to you just after you join the ride and move off for the whole length of the carriages before the best bit begins. Now my hubby hates rollercoaster's of any sort but not to loose face or be left holding the bags for an hour or so just had to join the rest of us was not happy as being on the outside of the carriage. The carriage is arranged with 2 seats either side of the main rail with the dividing part of the carriage decorated as a barrel cut in half, your legs are left dangling.
What was it like - the best ride I have been on in years even though there are no great twists and loops - you only do one loop of the track and are upside down for a split second but its fast. My daughter and I like to ride with our arms in the air but I challenge anyone to be able to get their arms in the air for the first half of this ride - its impossible given the speed you are travelling at, it's the best face lift I am ever going to get though only lasted a few seconds. Time taken from start to finish - less than 1 minute. Exiting the ride you have to pass through what has become the normal sales kiosk where you can buy a photo, key ring, mouse mat with that wonderful image snapped whilst you where on the ride and something new - there is a video camera in front of you on each cart so you can buy the video of your terrified expression, we didn't as we where to busy laughing at my hubby's picture to make a note of the numbers - he looked like he was going to be sick.
China - Dragon Khan
A rollercoaster and a half with 8 loops and a top speed of 110km per hour which seems fairly tame in comparison to Furios Baco but none the less a fantastic ride. There where 3 carriages running whilst we where there and all have a dragon design and to them which adds to the effect, again the queue is covered over but this time it is like queuing under a giant Chinese pagoda but you are out of the direct sunlight. This is deffinatly one for those of you who love being upside down and not knowing which way is up by the time the ride is over and yes hubby managed this one also. Theres not really a lot more I can say with this one, it's a rollercoaster and used to be the best ride prior to the arrival of Furios Baco. We queued for 45 mins in what was once again a constantly moving line.
Mexico - Hurakan Condor
I have to admit defeat on this one along with my daughter, there was no way she would go on this one. This ride can be described as for those without any fear of heights it is a straight up and down ride that appears out of a base of ancient Aztec ruins - well a re-creation. OK doesn't sound so bad but it's a totem pole type which goes 100m straight up and then lets you go into a freefall drop for 85 meters - the screams where enough to put anyone off. My son feeling fearless at this point in the day - we went on this around 5pm was well up for it and yes poor hubby who is terrible with heights swallowed his fear yet again and did the dutiful parent part and went with him - well escaped Jules.
Now I can only tell you what we saw and what they told us afterwards, whilst waiting you can see through the grills to the point where you get onto the ride, there where 5 separate carts in operation each holding 4 people, in you get and securely strapped in from every angle and up you go at a fairly quick pace just enough to take in the surrounding view. So far so good but once at the top you are held there for a short while, though I can imagine whilst you are up there waiting to drop it must seem like ages, just as they let you go, click goes that camera again as the fear appears on your face as you start to plummet back down to earth.
I can honestly say I have never seen so many hair dos messed up and tears from many a young teenage girl disembarking from the ride, feeling so glad I gave it a miss but the photo was worth it, son looks a bit scared, hubby looks like a chipmunk (he won't thank me for this). Apparently the nearer they got to the front of the queue for this my son was having second thoughts but there was no turning back, hubby did phone his mother later and told her that we where trying to give him a heart attack by forcing him onto to all sorts of ride (not true at all, no forcing was required).
Far West - Stampida
Now this one is for me - old wooden rollercoaster with proper carts where you are strapped in with a lap seat belt and metal bar - classic. Again with most of the themes this boasts to be akin to a heard of buffalo racing along, well its two rollercoasters each racing next to each other on different tracks to see who will finish first. This one is well worth the wait as the track is almost 1km long so you really do have a ride worth waiting for, you are most certainly thrown around so if you have a bad back I would give this one a miss. We actually used our express ride for this one so no queuing involved at all apart from the fact as we where next on the cart on our track broke down halfway up the first part of the track so we had a bit of a wait whilst they got it going again but on 15mins. Now you can imagine hubby is having kittens by this point and waking nightmares about breaking down in the middle of the ride and being stuck somewhere high up for hours - this did not happen and in fact the photographic evidence proves that he really enjoyed it. Had we had the time I would have got back into a queue to ride the other track as this was an excellent ride.
There where two black diamond rides that we did not go on, both where water rides and as we had already got soaked earlier on in the day and taken ages to dry out even in the mid summer Spanish sunshine the majority voted against these, however, these are:-
Far West - Silver River Flume
Its just a log flume - I can go on one of these in Blackpool Pleasure Beach or Alton Towers with a much smaller queue and from what we saw was not really that different from what I have been on elsewhere - I was looking for something new.
Polyensia - Tukuki Splash
Now this one I would have liked to have done, but be warned you will get really soaked on this one, at the exit to the ride whilst you are still in the large river boat there are water guns for evil people to aim at you and make sure that you have no dry bits left. You could of course purchase a rain mac to keep you dry but where's the fun in that. Unfortunately we did not get around to this part of the park until around 9pm and did not fancy sitting around in wet clothes again, its OK early in the day when the sun is shining but not at night when it takes longer to dry out.
There are of course many other rides which we went on and here are some of my favourite
Polyensia - A Sea Odyssey
Underground you go with a simulator waiting at the end for an underground adventure with a friendly dolphin, this was well worth investigating as we really had no idea what to expect as it is not clear on the map, note 10.30pm there is no queue or at least there wasn't when we where there.
Far West - Gran Canyon Rapids
Yes you get wet and if you are very unlucky where you sit then you get very wet, the ride is supposed to give you the impression that you are travelling down the Colorado River white water rafting, be warned water comes at you from all directions and you will usually find the bottom of your raft inches deep in water. My daughter was the unlucky one here and was drenched from head to foot and was not at all impressed as the rest of escaped relatively unscathed in comparison.
There are also some tamer rides around such as Tea Cups, Barrels a Carousel and canoes which are much more suitable for the less brave amongst you.
Throughout the day PortAventura has shows in all areas of the park and this is another good reason to ensure that you pick up your park map as all the times and locations are given here. We had a few tips on what was best from other guests at our hotel who had been to PortAventura quite a few times before so we choose what we wanted to see early on and made sure to keep an eye on the time.
China - China Town Acrobat show
I think words could fail me here I don't think I will be able to convey how good this is; I was expecting a nice acrobatic act and to be over in 10 minutes, how wrong was I. The show itself is held in a theatre in the middle of China and the first shock was how big the place was, it was a full size theatre with tiered seating and ushers to show you where there where seats available is was huge compared to what you see on the outside from the China side or the park - realizing afterwards that the great Aztec wall in Mexico was the back wall of the theatre. The theatre is perfectly air conditioned so no chance of getting overheated at all and it is quite nice to be inside out of the sun.
The show itself is outstanding, with a storyline which is told to you in various languages at the start where China has fallen under the spell of a magician who is tired of seeing the same thing on the streets and turns everyone into acrobats. The stage set is of a street location with lampposts which are used by the acrobats to climb up and perform some gravity defying acts which are amazing to watch, the work and practices that must go into making sure they are at their best must be grueling. The whole show is beautifully choreographed and you are sad when it ends and of course a standing ovation was called for.
The other show we watched was in Polynesia which is called 'Noches de Fuego en Tahiti' don't ask me to translate but Fuego means fire so expect lots of it. This show runs throughout the day in an open air theatre but is at its best at the 10pm showing when it is dark. We just about made it to this one as they do get full particularly if they are popular. This is a show that involved dance and acrobatics with fire and just stunning to watch, the stage area is spilt by a river and at one point you see half of the dancers / acrobats traveling by boat down the river to jump out with their fire sticks onto the stage area and join in the display of a Polynesian tribal ritual. The fact that the stage is lit by torchlight (fire) makes it all the more believable and fabulous to watch late at night.
Eating at PortAventura
You are spoiled for choice with each area having a themed restaurant to go with it, but let me tell you a secret - don't eat in China Town its not that nice so many people have told me and to prove the point this was the only restaurant we saw that was virtually empty everywhere else was busy. The prices are fairly reasonable given that it is a theme park and normally you find prices outrageously inflated this is not the case here.
We didn't opt for a sit down meal as we had taken a packed lunch from our hotel but by 9pm in the evening we where all ready for something to eat and drink and went for one of the snack vending stands that can be found around the park. These snack bars sell a variety from hog dogs or Big Dogs are they are called to pizza, spicy fries and beer. We all opted for the big dog which a giant hot dog is served in a lovely freshly warmed baguette with a coke for the kids and 2 beers for me and hubby. Tip-don't go for the small beer you just get a plastic cup - for a few Euros more you get the yard of ale type holder with PortAventura printed on it so you have use again or take home with you. Prices - well for the 4 hot dogs and 4 drinks for just over 20 Euros this I felt was reasonable value given the size of the drinks and the hot dog and the fact that I could keep my drink holder rather than have the smaller throw away one, seriously these where only 70cents dearer, you got more in it also.
There are ice cold drinks available everywhere from bottled water to coke and beer if you feel the need for something a bit stronger, however, there are water fountains available in each area outside the entrance to the toilets and water bottles you have can be filled up here, not as cold but does help keep your money in your pocket.
Of course there are toilets and plently of them, at no point during the day did we have to queue and they where clean which is always good especially the amount of use they must get. There is a main toilet block in each area and some in the restaurant in the Wild West also.
As I mentioned earlier our ticket included 1 express ride and I think we chose wisely as to what to use it on - Stampida was our choice. Around the park there boards everywhere that give up an idea of the time you have to queue for the most popular rides and we noted that constantly Stampida was 1 ½ hours at least every time we passed a board which was by far the longest of them all. With your Express Ride ticket you take you ticket up to the express kiosk for the ride - this is easy to find as the whole park is clearly signposted - check what time is available, confirm what time you want, have your ticket marked up and return in the 15 minute slot you have just chosen and walk straight to the front of the queue - easy. There are full premium tickets available but we did not bother to look at the extra cost this would be so I have no idea what this is. Also you will notice that PortAventura hotel guests have priority access also to all rides but remember they have paid for this with the price of their holiday.
The end of the day
At the end of each day if you are still in the park after dark and determined to stay until the end everyone starts to gather around the lake near the entrance in Mediterrania for the closing firework display and much much more. Tip - get there early much after 11pm and its standing room only , even though the show does not start until 11.45pm. We where fortunate to find a spec at the edge of the lake. The show itself is one of a kind and takes place through high season only. It's a mixture of fireworks, lights, lazer, fountains, giant figures and floats all again based on each area of the theme park. Just before the show starts all the lights in the park are switched off gradually, the rides close, I was interested to see that Hurakan Condor was still going with the lights off up until 5 minutes before the show. Its quite spooky with the lights off and you can feel the anticipation in the air and excitement building. Breathtaking is an understatement. I should add that there is a parade of Universal Characters around the park lead of course by the Woody Woodpecker who is the main logo for the park which the younger children seemed to really enjoy.
Unfortunately after nearly 14 hours in PortAventura our day came to an end as indeed did everyone elses. Getting back to our hotel was simple, we headed for the taxi rank where you will find a flotilla of taxi's waiting or you may have to wait a couple of minutes depending on how quickly you leave the park, its good business so you can be sure to get back safely and without too much hastle.
Would I go again?
Without question yes and I would more than likely opt for a 3 day pass next time which does include access to the Caribe Water Park for one of the days also or maybe even a 7 days pass. Yes the tickets are a bit pricy but no more so than Alton Towers or Thorpe Park and this is so much better. There is so much more I could have added but why spoil it for you, if you are on holiday in the Costa Dorarda then take a look for yourself though I would not recommend if you had very young children.
We have been to this themepark many times our most recent visit being june 2006.
Admission Price: Because we stayed on site at one of their hotels admission for us was free to this park and the water park which is right next door. At the moment Portaventura has a 14 day ticket prices at £52 adult, £42 child or A 7 day ticket for the price of 3 days £46 adult, £37 child. You can get these tickets from the portaventura website.
PortAventura is a Universal Mediterranea Resort / American style theme park which is very close to the Spanish resort of Salou.
The park is split into 5 areas:
Each area has its own themed rides and shops related to the land your in. This makes the park easy to navigate as you walk round the lands in a circle.
Rides: This is a lovely theme park with plenty of rides to choose from and they cater for all the family. The eight looped roller coaster was just excellent, did come off dizzy but worth it. Take a spare set of clothes you will get wet on all the water rides, be warned, there is also no lockers outside these ride for personal items, these have to go with you:(
Queues: The queues for this park are quite short compared to other parks i have been to, we did not wait more than 15 minutes for a ride. The queues for the big rides like Dragon Khan (8 looped coaster) and Hurakan Condor (Free fall tower) were about an hour to 2 hours long because these are the most popular rides for people who like fast and daring rides. Also don't forget to check out the times boards, these are outside all the main rides and give you the current queue waiting times.
Shows: My children loved the shows the wild west show is not to be missed. Other shows in the park included a bubblebou, Templo del Fuego, china town, can can show,country music, Aloha Tahití, bird show, plus plenty of other samll shows. I have been to other parks and they had headphones for all nationalties to watch the shows but here they did not and several shows are in Spanish.
Food: was very expensive but plenty of choice as you can visit different lands i.e Mexcio, Far West etc. the best place to eat is the Far West as for some reason this was less busy and they had really good quality steak burgers, which went down really well with my family.
Characters: The park has a selection of characters who are around the park throughout the day, some can be harder to find than others. On the way into the park is a board which tells you where characters will be that day but they don't actally name the character so you just have to turn up and see whos there. Characters include Woody Woodpecker,Winnie, Splinter,Knothead,Pink Panther,Inspector Clouseau,Popeye,Olivia,Brutus,Betty Boop,Shrek,Donkey and Chilly Willy (penguin). You can have your picture taken with the characters, the photographer will give you a ticket for your photo and they can be brought on your way out of the park at 6 euros each.
Shops: The park has many different shops where you can buy your character related items. I went a bit crazy on the betty boop items. Compared to other parks the items in the shops were quit cheap.
Other infomration Tips:
Go to the park on an evening they are open late, its a totally different experience.
Sorry but beware of the Spanish teenagers they are very load and boisterous, my daughter was knocked over several times but they were very sorry and helped her. Its just something i have not experienced before at any other themepark before around the world.
The evening water and lights show is worth a visit as its just amazing, the down side it that its on too late for little ones as it starts at 12 midnight approx.
Avoid the stalls that you can win prices on, they are very expensive compared to other parks.
Height measurement problems- we found it very difficult in finding a stick to measure my daughter to see if she could go on the ride. Most rides at other parks have them right outside the rides.
Candy floss maker didn't even know what he was doing, my mother-in.law did this job many years ago and was going crazy at how he was doing it. He ended up with half it up his arm. The good thing was they were bigger than expected but swamped my daughter.
THIS REVIEW IS ALSO ON CIAO
One hour from Barcelona and ten minutes from Reus Airport (Tarragona), with its own train station and direct access from the AP-7 motorway. Attractions: Far West, China, Mediterranean, Polynesia, Mexico, Dragon Khan Roller coaster, Tutuki Splash (Water-based flume ride), Stampida Wooden roller coaster, Hurakan Condor (Tower drop ride), Templo Del Fuego (Indoor special effects show), Sea Odyssey (Simulator), Tomahawk (Small wooden roller coaster, at times runs parallel to Stampida), Furius Baco (An Intamin Accelerator roller coaster, opened in June 2007. It has a top speed of 83.9 mph (135 km/h), meaning it has taken over Stealth at Thorpe Park and become the fastest roller coaster in Europe.)