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TR: Madrid Parks


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Went to Madrid for a couple of days, to see the city and hit the two parks. Both parks are very different, but are both well worth a visit (although neither is up there with Port Aventura). I come from the UK, but I'll do my best not to make a lot of comparisons with UK parks! Here are a few of my thoughts regarding the trip - sorry, no photos except the Abismo one below - most of the photos are just family ones...

 

 

General

 

Both parks were good value for money, with a fair amount to do at each park, and even inside the park, food was reasonably priced.

Lines were non-existent – didn’t wait more than 5mins for anything. This could be because we visited on weekdays, or because Spaniards tend to get up late / go to bed late, and thus tend to visit the parks in the evenings. Either way, it was great for us!

Weather was ridiculously hot (over 40 degrees apparently)!

Parks opened late (11am/midday) and sometimes rides did not open with the park itself, but opened later.

 

 

Parque Warner

 

This park is located on the outskirts of Madrid. It’s not heavily advertised, except at the railway station, where you can get a train to the park. It’s pretty easy to get to (if you know where you’re going – it was a little confusing as you had to change lines once). The train takes about 40mins, including the change, and if you buy your park entry tickets at the railway station, you get a return train journey free. They run every 60-90mins – so if you want to get to the park for opening, get to the railway station early, so as not to miss the train.

 

Parque Warner is basically in the middle of nowhere, a desert-like area on Madrid’s outskirts. It suffers a little because of this – there are no trees at all and there is little shade in the park. Even though (most) rides opened at 11am, they let you into the park beforehand and put on some entertainment which was greatly appreciated. They also seemed to cater well for English-speaking people, with English park maps available.

 

Theming-wise, the park is very good, kind of 8/10 . It’s no Disney or Universal, and there were a few lapses which let it down – for example, Batman’s queue is really well themed, taking you through an asylum, but the stairs up to the station are completely unthemed, thus ruining the atmosphere the rest of the queue set. Another example was the Haunted-House/Mad House style ride, where the pre-show was let down by daylight coming in from an emergency exit door, which ruined the experience. Basically, the theming was excellent and much appreciated, but failed to completely envelope you in the experience/storyline of a ride.

 

All coasters ran one train, but there was no need to run more, the park was so empty. However, a positive was that if there was no one waiting for your row when your coaster train returned to the station, they let you stay on for another lap.

 

Superman was a little disappointing. It’s an excellent looping coaster no doubt, but it just isn’t as smooth as most B&Ms and was quite shaky at high-speed points. Not rough, but a few excess vibrations. It also had a couple of trim brakes which slowed the train – it crawled through the zero-g roll. The ride’s highlight was probably it’s unique ending – an airtime filled bunnyhop instead of a mid-course brake run and a couple of ground-hugging helixes (7.5/10).

 

Batman is good, but perhaps too intense. It’s no Nemesis for sure, and doesn’t utilise the inverted coaster concept as well as others – no ‘ground-scrapes’ unfortunately (7/10). Stuntfall was surprisingly good (8/10). Despite many technical problems, I got a couple of goes on it, and really enjoyed it. Not too rough, and one of the only coasters to get me gripping the restraint the whole ride. Hanging vertically from your restraint 150ft up is pretty scary. I've been on Deja Vu, and though this ride is a clone, it seemed to ride much better.

 

Coaster-Express wasn’t as rough as I’d heard (5/10). The trains are cool, but the ride jolts you around a fair bit. But its real crime is that if it wasn’t rough, it’d be quite boring. The layout is very dull, with lots of turns and no bunnyhops. Tom & Jerry was a standard kiddie coaster (but a coaster credit nonetheless).

 

Rio Bravo, a flume ride looks really spectacular from the outside, and was pretty fun, but there were a few ‘dead spots’ on the ride where nothing happened, so it ended up feeling pretty average. There was a surprise backwards drop and airtime hill though (6.5/10). The Rapids were short but sweet – you get a mild soaking. The boats move very quickly through the circuit and ours spun a lot too (7/10).

 

Riddler’s Revenge (S&S Towers) look a lot better than they are. At 300ft tall, they’re very dominating, but don’t deliver that big a thrill, and aren’t that forceful. A few moments of airtime and the view save it though (6.5/10). The Batman Simulators were a nice surprise – there was a lot of build-up for a simple simulator ride, but (even in Spanish) this was enjoyable, and was one of the few attractions that really immersed the rider. The simulator itself was also pretty fun – an easy attraction to miss, make sure you do it (8/10).

 

Scooby-Doo is also easy to miss – it’s a shoot-em-up trackless ride. Good fun, but pretty short, and the things you shoot at are mostly 2D (6.5/10). Hotel Embrujado (or something like that) was a Haunted House style ride, with a Mad House-style ending (like Hex at Alton Towers). I’m not really a fan of these, as the finale never does it for me. When the storyline’s in Spanish too, it’s harder to enjoy it. Still, the outside of the attraction and queue-line theming looked great (4/10).

 

Shows – unfortunately some of the shows are scheduled later on in the day, so I only saw a couple. The two I saw were terrible. One was a really corny Police Academy Show which lacked any special effects, and the other was a Hollywood Special Effects show which was basically a 2-minute 3D show, with about 20mins of filler. Both were abysmal (1/10). Would have liked to have seen the Batman Show (at 8pm) and left just before the Lethal Weapon Jet Ski show.

 

Anyway, stayed at the park from 10:30 to 4:30, managed to do everything we wanted and got 20+ rides in, before heat/tiredness took over. Trains also only ran back every 2 and a half hours, so we decided to head back at 5 instead of staying on into the evening. Overall, an enjoyable park, perhaps lacking one really amazing attraction. However, it’s easily one of Spain’s best parks, and coasters such as Superman are amazing compared to the majority of the ones Spain has on offer. Probably wouldn’t have been as fun had the park been busy, as the extreme heat coupled with crowds wouldn’t have been pleasant. Incidentally, if you go to the park and it’s busy, you can buy a Fastrack ticket for all of the main rides except Superman, and at only 9 euros, it’d be pretty good value for money.

 

 

Parque de Atracciones (PDA)

 

The originally titled ‘Amusement Park’ was also easy to get to, via Madrid’s Metro. As its name suggests, it’s much more amusement-park-style than the themed Parque Warner. That said, there are a few themed rides, and the park is much more scenic, with more trees, greenery and water. Thankfully, this provided a lot of shade against the intense heat/sun.

 

I read Robb/Elissa's review of the park, and thankfully my visit was not plagued by many ride closures. Some rides opened after the midday opening time, but all of them did open eventually.

 

Most of the park’s good rides are in the ‘Thrill Zone’. New for 2006 is Abismo (the Abyss), a Maurer X-Car, like Drayton Manor’s G-Force. G-Force is quite terrible in my opinion, so I had very low expectations for Abismo. I say Abismo's like G-Force, but that would be doing Abismo a great injustice. Although Abismo shares G-Force’s cars, ‘lift loop’ (although Abismo’s is much higher), short ride duration, and terrible capacity, it has a barrel roll, dive loop, followed by hyper-coaster style overbanks and some great pops of airtime.

 

The lift loop is very intense, particularly after a couple of goes, because you’re suspended upside down for a fairly long time, so the blood rushes to your head. From here, the track swivels, so you’re the right way up before spiralling upside down and plunging towards the ground in a ‘dive loop’. This portion is as much as a release from the intensity/near-black-out of the lift loop as it is thrilling. Reaching ground level, you then speed upwards into an overbanked turn, before flying over a bunnyhop and hitting another extremely overbanked turn. The train then dips, providing a lot of airtime, then flies back through the station and up into the lift loop again. The chain engages with a massive jolt, then you are lowered back into the station. (See the photo below for the layout)

 

Abismo is great – it’s very unique, very fast, very intense and very thrilling. It has high positive Gs, lots of airtime, unique inversions and manages to pack a lot of different types of coaster into its short circuit – it feels like a hypercoaster, looping coaster, shuttle coaster and launched coaster all merged together. It also fits into a small footprint, which is great for a small park like PDA. It does have negatives- the ride’s over quite quickly, the lift-loop is perhaps too intense, the capacity’s poor (this didn’t affect me as the park was empty) and the car's restraints, like G-Force’s, have the habit of tightening during the ride. Nonetheless, all its positives, and the fact that it was so surprisingly good, earns it high marks in my book. Not the best coaster ever, but this could easily fit into a park of Thorpe Park's calibre – 8.5/10.

 

Contrastingly, Tornado sucks. This Intamin inverted coaster is isolated from the rest of the park, and what you find when you get there is the worst coaster station ever – it’s completely dilapidated, grafittied and looks awful. The ride isn’t much better. It’s not too rough, but the layout is really uninspiring – loop, turn, loop, turn, corkscrew followed by the most boring, forceless helix of all time. Yawn. For a small park, I suppose it’s a decentish looping coaster, but otherwise, it has no merits – 5/10.

 

Tarantula, the Maurer Spinner, is a mixture of Dragon’s Fury (Chessington) and Spinball Whizzer (Alton Towers). It’s pretty good, with a couple of really excellent bits, but several dead spots. It lacks an Immelman turn, and a first drop like Dragon’s Fury, but has a very surprising big drop through a cave mid-circuit. However, the ending is pretty dull, with the car apparently just cruising toward the station. A good family coaster, but nothing that special – if you’ve done Spinball and DF, this isn’t really a must-do – 7/10.

 

Underneath Tarantula is a shoot-em-up ride, called Cave of the Tarantulas. This is a converted suspended ride (think Suspended Monorail from RCT) with laser-guns. You shoot at targets, each of which triggers a special effect, whether it’s lights, sounds, water sprays, or animatronic spiders. Much more impressive than Scooby Doo – the guns are a little cumbersome, but the ride was much more fun. It’s easy to miss to – make sure you ride it – 8/10. The log flume has some surprisingly steep drops and was quite wet (7/10) and the drop tower was very average (5/10).

 

Away from ‘Thrill Zone’, there were several attractions which had much more theming in them. The Rapids were mildly wet, varied and good fun- an example of what a rapids ride should be like- 8/10. There were a few transport/observational rides and some Disney-rip-offs, which were based on Jungle Cruise and It’s A Small World.

 

Overall, PDA doesn’t have tons to do, but it’s worth it for the 2 Maurer coasters, and if you like a good (but fairly standard) selection of flat rides and water rides, it’s well worth a visit.

 

 

Just a few other points about Madrid in general -

 

Lots of good shopping in the centre.

The Metro is cheap, quick and is really useful for getting around.

Visit to Bernabeu (Real Madrid’s stadium, for all you lacking football/soccer knowledge!) was awesome, and really cheap. Only 9 euros, you get to go in the stadium, the dug-outs, dressing rooms and museum. Recommended to any football fan.

 

Right, that’s it, that’s all I have to say. Hope my opinions / report’s been bearable (or maybe even interesting) – any questions / comments etc, please reply!

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Abismo!

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Thanx for your memorandum. I'm going to visit Parque Warner and Parque Des Atracciones in Summer 2007 and I'm really looking forward to it. It'll be my first visit and I'm really looking forward to ride Stuntfall alias Spanish-Deja-Vu, Batman and Superman, some B&B goodness and Abismo some kind of a wicked X-Car Coaster. I want to spend one day in each Amusemenpark and a few days for siteseeing. I think one day in each park is enough.

 

So long, Hoshiwan

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