So there I was at work the other week, reasonably bored as I was not busy -
"I know" thinks me, "I'll nip off on a quick holiday", so promptly book a flight,
a couple of hotels and shortly thereafter I'm off to Barcelona for a few days
followed by Madrid for a few days. I kid myself that I was going for a bit of
culture, but we all know that its really only for the coasters....
After a tour around the Camp Nou (a pretty impressive place) and a day spent
wandering around the streets of Barcelona (very nice) I turn up at the main
railway station for the 08:30 train to Port Aventura (€38 for return train and
park entry), and just over an hour later I'm at Port Aventura for the first park
of the trip;
Port Aventura 31/8
It has to be said, initial impressions are not good. Get off the train at the
rather grotty and graffiti trashed train station, cross the road to the park
entrance and are met by the sight of a vandalized park mascot. Disney would
never let anyone do this to their mouse would they?
Wandering up the hill past the defiled mascot, you wander past a few of the resort
hotels. They didn't look terribly impressive to me either, just your run of the
mill Spanish hotel.
Getting into the park it starts to get a lot better, enter through the "Meditterrania"
area (who'd of thought it, go to a theme park in the Mediterranean only to be met
by a theme Mediterranean zone - just like going to DCA to see what California is like??).
Anyway, wander around the lake and up into the park proper. The place isn't the
easiest to navigate, there are four other themed zones; Mexico, China, Polynesia
and Far West and they are all in a rough circuit - ie you can't get from A to C
without going through B. My plan was to get to the new attraction first (the Intamin
drop ride) to beat the queues so I head in what seems like the quickest route, through
Polynesia and China towards Mexico (my geography being tested somewhat by this).
By the time I find myself in China approaching the rather impressive looking Dragon
Khan, the drop ride still has started testing so I divert from the plan and hope
ride or three on the B&M looper;
Dragon Khan - an excellent looper, 10 years old, nowadays I guess that it'd be a
floorless, but to me its great just as it is. Big hill, drop, loop, dive loop,
zero-g roll, cobra roll, MCBR, second loop, interlocking corkscrew finale.
Interestingly it was sign outside announcing it as the world’s only 8-inversion
coaster, more marketing spin there then. Some excellent views going up the lift
hill, try to look to the right over the resort down to the sea rather than to the
left, over the ugly industrial area that adjoins the park!
After sating myself of the B&M I finally get over to Mexico and the drop ride;
Hurakan Condor - an Intamin giant drop, themed as a Mexican temple and unusually
with a roof bit on it. It has different configurations of seats - tilting floorless
(pretty uncomfortable for the gentleman!), seats, tilting seats. Anyway its a drop
ride, takes you up, hangs around for a few seconds, drops you, job done. Surprised
to see that you do not actually get up into the roof bit, you stop short of it (so
its just themeing after all). has to be said that the on-ride photo is really well
done though, they get it portrait style so you can see all the way down the drop on
it (you'll have to look elsewhere for an example of one of them though as I don't
do on-ride photos - cheapskate!)
I try out the other stuff in Mexico;
Templo del Fuego - pyrotechnic show, lots of fire effects and stuff, a bit "Backdraft"y
a bit "Poseidons Fury"y. Pretty good though.
Yucatan - spin and chuck ride ala a Music Express. Big laterals!
El Diablo Tren de la Mine - The mine train is up next, has to be said that it looks pretty
good as you approach it, lots of themeing and the trains whizzing around you. However
that where it ceases to be impressive, its a really poor ride. Its got three largish
lift hills so you'd expect it to be good, however its not. Apart from the last hill a
nd drop it never really does anything. the second hill just drops you into a tame
turnaround into the third hill...rubbish pacing. Anyway, not a great mine train.
They have a big theatre sitting between the China and Mexico zones. Cleverly you
can enter from the China side where its themed as the "Grand Theatre Imperial" or
from the Mexican side where its just the Mexican "Grand Theatre" - cool. Anyway
I wander in here to see the "El Sol de Oriente" show, just on a whim, BUT it is
by far the best show I have ever seen in a park! Fantastic, full of Chinese
acrobatics, lots of effects, Chinese dragons etc. Absolutely fantastic - and
that’s from an old cynic like me!
Wander into the Far West and you are into woody zone, they have two next to each
other, and the amount of people who were in the queue for the kiddie Tomahawk who
thought that they were in the queue for the big Stampida you would not believe!
Stampida - Racing woody that turns into a duelling woody, cool. Pretty good racing
coaster, well paced and which tricks you when halfway around you enter a tunnel
racing parallel with the other train, only to emerge without the opposing train
- "what the? where have they gone?", only to turn the next bend to find them racing
towards you, now duelling away! An excellent trick, making this a pretty good ride
indeed. Bit hard to photograph though so no great shots of it I'm afraid!
Tomahawk - the aforementioned kiddie woody is intertwined with Stampida at one
end. Its not a very good ride and I wonder why they bothered with it really, buy
2 get 1 free perhaps?
I manage to spend the rest of the day happily doing the other stuff, a Vekoma
junior (a Roller Skater job) "Tami-tami", there’s a pretty good rapids ride (although
they do seem to have overdone the fibre glass rocks somewhat!), a simulator "Sea Odyssey"
(which seemed familiar to me, I swear I'd seen the film before but I can't place it,
anyone???), and all the usual theme park trimmings; a nice train ride, pleasant boat
ride, a shoot-the-chutes ride, wave swinger, kiddie zone, various shows etc....
Overall a pretty good park. Not too busy the day I went, but reasonably popular.
Easy to get to from Barcelona and all the local tourist areas. Cool.
Spanish local trains however seem to be a different thing, obviously the
advertised schedule is more of a suggestion; I turn up for the 19:38 back to Barcelona,
which never turns up, then the 19:47 eventually turns up at about 20:15. Oh well,
the "Waiting at the crap train station for nearly an hour" ride was the day's downside!
The next morning I spend wandering around the hill in Barcelona where they had the
1992 Olympics - Montjuic. Really pleasant place with some rather stunning buildings
However you don't care about that, you are more interested in the afternoon; what you
do is get the metro out of the city, get on a tram ride halfway up the mountain
overlooking Barcelona, get onto a funicular railway that takes to up the rest of the
mountain and bingo, you are at the local "funfair";
The main thing about this place is just where it is. Right on the peak of the
mountain overlooking the city. The views are just stunning. Combine the view
with some decent rides and you have a winner.
For example, there’s a pretty unexciting suspended train ride thing, doesn't do
a lot, but it does do this;
Theres a coaster up here, a wildcat-esque thing called "Montanya Rusa" (that’s
Russian Mountain to me, the Spanish for roller coaster), this isn't very exciting,
but does have a rather spectacular view.
There's a powered coaster too, called Tibidabo Express, actually quite good
- no pictures though, its a bit hidden!
Perhaps the highlight ride is this ancient "flight simulator" from something
like 1927, basically its on a big arm and "flys" you out over the mountain side
for a few circuits.
And its got a bit of a view!
The scariest ride (for me) was this "Giant Lever" thing that dates from the middle-ages
sometime (I exaggerate), you stand in an open basket on the end of this arm and they
rotate you up to the top. No pictures from the top I'm afraid, I'm not ashamed to say
that I had slowly put the camera away and was gripping onto the basket for dear life
- that basket rocks around a bit too much for me!
And as for the drop ride, how cool is that;
Overall a really cool place, they have a top spin, a pirate boat, wave swinger,
Ferris wheel, log flume, fun house, loads of stuff. And all topped off with THAT view!
A few more days in Barcelona, doing the sights. That Gaudi stuff is really good.
And that big cathedral they are building; bonkers! Got a train over to Madrid and after
a day touring the sights there I was off to get the 10:02 train from Atocha (€32 train
fare and park entry combo) to get to;
Warner Bros Movie World 5/9
This place is in the middle of nowhere. Not even a resort hotel. There’s a train
station, a car park and a theme park. Can't complain really.
Waiting for them to open up the gates to the rest of the park, I can't help but
notice the distinct lack of other punters - odd.
They open up proper at 11am and I lead the dribs and drabs around the park and
get on the first train of the day on Superman. Stay on for the second and third
trains of the day, then wander next door to Batman and ride the first and second
trains on that. Bizarrely unbusy! By now its 40 minutes in and I've been on ALL
the cycles of the 2 big coasters!
Superman:Atraccion de Acero - (which would be Spanish for "Ride of Steel") -
this is a nice big B&M floorless. There are literally 3 people on the train on
my first ride, the park is that busy. Anyway, its lift hill, drop, loop,
immelmann, zero-g roll, cobra roll, airtime hill (what no MCBR?), interlocking
corkscrews, mini-helix. And its good, really good. The lack of a MCBR really
makes a difference and its easily the best coaster on this trip.
Batman La Fuga - your standard B&M Batman clone. Themed differently to all the
American ones, instead of the "trashed Gotham city" theme, this is set in an
"Arkham Asylum" building, lots of gothic stuff going on, quite well done actually.
You could also walk right under the first loop, and if you stuck your camera
out of the side of the covered walkway you could shoot things like this;
I wander back down to their GIB and they are holding trains until there’s
enough passengers, somewhat different to my experiences with SFMM and SFGAM's
Deja-Vus where I waiting for > 1 hour for either (or SFoG's one, which wasn't
even running when I was there).
Oddly they aren't opening the front or back rows at all, so I get a couple of
rides in row 2 and the penultimate row. This is a BIG ride, I really like the
"suspended vertically" business on the first spike, something really different
with that. I felt this was rougher than the Deja-Vus I ridden (but I only
managed 1 ride on each of those so maybe the novelty clouded my judgement?).
Also thought that this one went very slow through the cobra-roll on the return trip?
I've not said much about this park generally yet - well I thought that it was great.
In fact the only other park that I feel was better themed is DisneySea, and that’s
high praise indeed I think! Its well layed-out, not too big, not too small,
fantastic attention to the themeing, really clean, really interesting, some really
good rides, lots for the kiddies too. And it was empty. Hardly any punters at all.
The only queue I had ALL DAY, was for the kiddie coaster, and I had to wait 1 train.
The only time I've ever been to a park this quite was Sydney's Wonderland, which
closed down shortly afterwards. I really hope that I'd just come on a quiet day
(that was my plan after all) and that this place does get busy in season because
its really excellent. Someone (Madrid city I believe) has thrown a heck of a lot
of many at this place (and it shows) and it really does deserve to be a massive
park on an international scale!
Anyway I digress, the centrepiece of the park is the big S&S tower "La venganza
del Enigma" (aka Riddler's Revenge), which works in either shot, drop or combo
mode depending on the time of day. Am I missing something here - what’s the point
of that, why isn't it just always combo mode? Anyway, that’s what I rode.
The woody, "Coaster Express" (formally known as "Wild Wild West" - wonder why
they dropped that, I know that the Australian MW park renamed their Wild Wild
West ride too?), was actually a bit dull. The trains were bizarre, not your
usual woody trains but Intamin ones, complete with Intamin's tiered seating
business and individual seats. Didn't really like them on a woody at all,
seemed wrong somehow.
Speaking of the Australian WBMW park - there is a number of rides here in
common with that one - Madrid's Batman:Knight Flight was the same simulator
ride that appears as Batman Adventure:The Ride 2, Madrid's Rio Bravo water
ride is Australia's Wild West Falls, Marvin the Martian 3D appears at both
(although I read the Aus one is being replaced by Shrek), both park's share
a "Police Academy Stunt Show" too - although I have to admit I did follow
what was going on a bit more in the Australian one rather than the Spanish
This place however was miles better than the Australian one (which I thought
was a bit poor when I was there 3 years ago).
Can't recommend it enough - excellent. For a change the train back to the city
was on time too!
So after a day touring a few museums and the Santiago Bernabau (a theme park
AND football stadium holiday!) I get the Madrid Metro out to;
Parque de Atracciones 7/9
Actually a reasonably impressive place. More themeing than I'd expected and
probably more rides.
This park was much more popular with the locals than the WBMW park - guess
because it is right in the city centre and you can pop in for a few hours
or so. Also its cheaper, €22.60 entry.
I start out on Tornado, the Intamin SLC. Pretty good but it doesn't do
too much; lift hill, drop, loop, loop, inline, helix. They seem to have
an odd policy for loading it too, basically if they haven't got a train full,
they'll wait, and wait, and wait. I was waiting for a good 20 minutes at
one point for them to get enough people to be bothered running the thing.
The Schwartzkopf wildcat "7 Picos" was OK but interestingly I see a tv
crew and later it is on local TV. Think that they are closing it soon?
A shame, its old and was pretty busy while I was there.
Tarantula, their new Maurer Sohne spinner, opened late, but was pretty good
- on a par with AT's Spinball Whizzer but perhaps not quite a good a ride,
interesting layout though and you could get it spinning pretty well. Nice
themeing too with plenty of big plastic spider bits lying around!
The rest of the rides that I did; their medium sized Intamin drop tower,
a rotor, a wave swinger, zeppelin (another suspended train thingy), the
Ferris wheel, a bizarre gentle boat ride, a "Small World" type ride, the
worst "4d" film showing I've ever seen (tiny screen, rubbish 3d and their
4d amounted to a few lights and a bit of smoke) but by far the best of all,
was Alton Towers' old Mississippi Steamboat!!!
I remember this being at Alton Towers when i was a lad (going back a bit
now) and I used to really like it there so I was well-chuffed to find it
in this park! It was in a bit of a state though unfortunately, a bit run
down and trashed. No jazz band on the roof either.
The other cool thing about the Parque was that I could see it from the
balcony of my hotel room, so at night you could see the Intamin all lit up, cool;
Thats all folks....!
Dave "No hablo Espanol" M.