PortAventura World is a huge entertainment complex in Salou, not too far from Barcelona. The resort offers Spain’s biggest theme park and a water park, while a European version of Ferrari Land is currently under construction. PortAventura Park is the main draw and it attracts approximately 3.5 million visitors each year. This is definitely the most successful theme park in southern Europe. Especially in July and August, you will face big crowds while heading to the park. That’s why we enhanced our 4-day visit with an Ultimate Express Pass, which allows unlimited riding through the Express entrance. While some big attractions had wait times of up to 3 hours, we never queued longer than 15 minutes to ride Dragon Khan, Shambhala or Furius Baco.
Talking about those rides: I just named PortAventura’s three main rollercoasters. Dragon Khan and Shambhala make up the park’s iconic B&M knot. Believe me: both rides are superb. Dragon Khan was the first rollercoaster on Earth featuring 8 inversions and it’s still one of the most intense coasters in Europe. Some parts are a little rougher than you might expect from a B&M sitdown coaster, but it’s still great fun. Shambhala is even better. This clear white mega coaster soars 76 meters above the ground and the trains reach speeds of up to 134 kilometres per hour. Shambhala offers an amazing first drop, an unusual turnaround element and a few great moments full of airtime. This is definitely one of Europe’s very best rollercoasters and the Himalaya theme looks quite good. Furius Baco, on the other hand, is just awful. This Intamin Accelerator is Europe’s fastest rollercoaster, but that’s the only interesting thing about it. The lay-out is boring and the ride is extremely painful. I’ve never experienced a ride which is so horribly rough as Furius Baco. Please avoid it, unless you really need the credit.
PortAventura lies in Spain, where it can get scorching hot during summer time. That’s why the park offers three great water rides. The most refreshing ride is Tutuki Splash, a spill water at the Polynesian section of the park. The tropical ambience is nice, but the ride isn’t themed that elaborately. The same goes for Silver River Flume: this log flume is fun and surprisingly long, but there’s hardly any theming during the actual ride. Luckily, the third water attraction boasts a quite impressive theme: Grand Canyon Rapids is beautiful to look at and fun to ride as well. This is a fast (but rather short) rapid river, hidden in the red canyons of the park’s Far West section. Great ride.
Overall, PortAventura feels like a very complete theme park. You will find lots of kiddie rides (especially in the Sesame Street themed area), there’s a good variety of shows and thrill seekers will adore PortAventura’s large selection of rollercoasters and flat rides. I do miss a classic dark ride, though. By the way: be sure to visit Templo Del Fuego, my favourite attraction here. This continuously running show is set within an ancient Mexican temple and it features fire. Lots of fire, actually. Templo Del Fuego’s major downside is the fact that it doesn’t open very often. This show is expensive to perform, so PortAventura decided to run it on a very limited basis.
PortAventura World is a famous holiday destination and I can clearly see why. We filled three full days at PortAventura Park and we weren’t bored for a single minute. However, if you’re visiting during the peak of European school holidays, you’d better prepare for long lines. Unfortunately, queue-jumping seems like some kind of national sport here in Spain. So if you don’t like slow-moving lines and if you get easily agitated by these line-cutting people, the purchase of an Express Pass might be your best bet. PortAventura is an awesome place, so don’t let these disturbing theme park habits ruin your stay.