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Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's 2017 Foreign Adventures


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Not based on the fact that Wildwood is just flat out awesome, but based on the fact that I drink the kool aid. Got it.

 

Really though this place looks awesome. I've been interested in the coasters @ BPB for a while now but your report definitely intensified that. I didn't know much about the flats, and had no idea about that dark ride. All sounds awesome.

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South Pier/Blackpool

 

After leaving Blackpool, I was lured into a shop with fish and chips for 3 pounds. The nameless restaurant very well could have sucked, but I couldn't pass up a 3 pound meal. It was too good of a value. I expected an assembly line that would give me my meal in 5 seconds flat, but I was amazed they prepared it fresh for me. The fish arrived and the portion was small, but the quality was great. Greasy and salty just like fish and chips should be.

 

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Got my authentic British fish and chips credit...and it even cost less than the wacky worm I'd ride shortly thereafter.

It was time to see if the Wacky Worm was actually a thing or if my eyes deceived me. I maneuvered my way through the massive arcade to find a little carnival area in the back. And sure enough sitting at the edge of the pier next to the water was the drugged up looking worm that many of us have whored. Sorry I stand corrected, this one is a caterpillar. A happy caterpillar too.

 

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Hidden inside is a kiddie credit.

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The Indian hot dog.

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While the Crazy Mouse is gone, the ride's sign awkwardly remains.

I bought enough tickets for the Happy Caterpillar and the rare Waltzer flat. I started off with the world's best Wacky Worm (excluding the one with VR since that's so crazy that it's awesome). Usually these seaside parks tuck their kiddie coasters away from the edge of the pier. Not South Pier. The park has their 10 foot tall coaster and isn’t afraid to flaunt it.

 

The views of the sea were great. While the Big One provided a better viewpoint being 200+ feet up, the Happy Caterpillar was so slow and tame you could enjoy the view for the entirity of the ride. The operator gave 3 laps. When the train passed through the station, it went faster than on the other wacky worms so the little dip off the platform actually gave a pop of air. The rest of the ride was your standard wacky worm, but getting air on a wacky worm is something I never expected. 3 out of 10

 

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You'd be hard pressed to find a wacky worm with a better view.

The Waltzer was next. It just looked like an enclosed newer generation tilt-a-whirl, but I wanted to try it to see if there was any noticeable difference. There was- the insane operator. I'm pretty sure his goal was to make everyone on the ride sick. The ride started off innocently enough and was exactly like a tilt-a-whirl just with a modified track.

 

Then the operator increased the speed. Holy moly were the spins intense. You know those full spins you get on tilt-a-whirls? Picture that but sustain it for 5-6 rotations in a row. This repeated itself and then the operator asked if we wanted to go faster. I was doubting the ride could go any faster but he delivered on his promise. The result were spins with Gs so intense that I got airtime. Yes the ride spun so fast that it actually lifted me out of my seat.

 

I was impressed how long the cycle was and then ride then slowed down and stopped. I was about to get out, but the op told us to stay. Confused I saw (surprise) someone was stumbling off the ride and immediately puked. The op apologized and then cranked the ride back up to max speed. There was more to this ride? Awesome! When the ride ended, I couldn't walk straight and that never happens to me even after rotors, scramblers, etc. If you are visiting Pleasure Beach and like spinning rides, make sure to check this insane little ride out. Just make sure you have an iron stomach. 10 out of 10

 

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Holy balls. This Waltzer was absolutely nuts. It spun so fast the centripetal force caused airtime.

Since I needed to catch my train I couldn't stick around too much longer, but I grabbed shots of the rest of the pier’s rides. The two largest rides were upcharges (Sky Coaster & Slingshot). They also had a few other spinning rides like a Break Dance and a little flying carpet. They also had a log flume which was closed. I finally found a British water ride that doesn't open in the cooler weather .

 

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These mini flying carpets often give good air.

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Note the lack of gates in front of the ride.

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A rarer Sizzler model.

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A compact little carousel.

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Not sure if this was just closed or recently added. It was in a weird spot compared to everything else.

I decided the reason that Pleasure Beach closes at 5 is to give the 3 piers (South, Central, North) a chance to get some business. I know that's not really why but with how busy South Pier was I still am baffled Pleasure Beach closes that early.

 

I walked down the Promenade to the Blackpool North train station. It was a 1.5-2 mile walk, but quite nice. The weather was perfect and I could see just how many tourist traps Blackpool has. The answer is a lot. They had the 3 piers I mentioned plus an aquarium, wax museum, arcades, mini golf, cheap stores, restaurants, and some of the sketchiest hotels you'll ever see.

 

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Blackpool had a beach, but there weren't many brave souls with the weather.

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Central Pier had a massive Ferris wheel and a naked Matterhorn-style himalaya.

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North Pier was smaller than the other two piers but appeared to have a nice arcade.

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Speaking of arcades, there were many on the Promenade.

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And a million other tourist traps too.

The highlight of the walk was the Blackpool Tower, a one third scale replica of the Eiffel Tower. I would have loved to take a ride to the top, but I didn't have enough time. So shots from the ground will have to do.

 

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Blackpool Tower is a red version, one third scale model of the Eifel Tower.

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I really wanted to ride to the top, but I had a train to Alton to catch.

Eventually I reached the station and amazingly didn't get distracted and miss my train. My train’s final destination was Stoke-on-Trent so I could visit the UK park I was most looking forward to, Alton Towers.

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My train brought me from the bustling town of Blackpool to the quiet town of Stoke-on-Trent. I got off the train praying Uber would actually work in this place since I didn't want to be extorted by a taxi driver and thankfully an Uber driver was there and waiting. The ride to Alton Towers was about a half hour through some of the narrowest and darkest roads I have been down. After only one wrong turn along the way, I made it to the Alton Towers Resort.

 

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Not quite my hotel.

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Not this one either. Though why does the indoor water park close the same time as the park? I would have gone otherwise.

I stayed at the Enchanted Village. The hotel looked like something out of the Shire from the Lord of the Rings. Getting to my cabin was an adventure in the pitch black conditions, but the staff was prepared and went on the journey with me, flashlight in hand. We went up a dirt path and eventually found it. This was the cheapest of the resort’s hotels, but it was really nice! It was quiet (though if it was loud in this town I’d be amazed), had a good breakfast buffet, the nicest staff you're ever going to meet, and a log pillow. The latter was so ridiculous that it was awesome. And for reference you can take it with you for I think 80 pounds if you're so inclined (I didn't).

 

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And there's my hotel. Basically the Shire. But it was nice!

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I mean look at this pillow.

They have a monorail that runs from the resort to the park entrance. I decided to walk. FYI for anyone visiting, the entrance isn't right around the corner. It's a good 1.5 mile walk. I knew the park was massive so I probably should have guessed there would be a Dollywood-sized parking lot but it was a nice shady walk. I was the first to arrive and had a half hour to wait before early entry for hotel guests. I spent the time admiring the remnants of their old Vekoma Corkscrew. It's awesome they were able to incorporate that into the entry plaza.

 

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I feel like this is something I'd make in Roller Coaster Tycoon.

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And there's the castle.

When the gates opened I veered right. Most people seemed to head left towards Nemesis. I would in time. First I wanted to make a sad but quick sidetrip to Cbeebies Land. I read in a recent report that everything at the park was a walk-on except the kiddie coaster, with the latter somehow having a 40 minute wait. Since I had enough dignity to not wait that long, I went there first and had the first train all to myself.

 

The Octonauts coaster was actually a pretty respectable junior coaster. I didn't realize it would be as big as it was and include theming. As you descend down the first drop (which honestly may be the size of that of Nemesis ) you enter into a helix where a whale shoots into the sky like enthusiasts looking at lift hill porn. I got 2 laps and definitely enjoyed the coaster more than I should have. It was smooth and perfectly comfortable for an adult. Pathetic? Still probably yes but I enjoyed it. 4 out of 10

 

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Why would I go to the kids area first?

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It was actually a really respectable kids coaster.

Enough fooling around, it was time to ride what many consider to be the best invert. Well that would have to wait 15 minutes since the walk over to the Forbidden Valley is really long. Early on the walk I passed SW8’s construction site (more on that later) but the remainder of the walk had no attractions. Just some spooky theming and trees, lots and lots of trees. For a while I was wondering if I had taken a wrong turn into the British forest only to be ambushed by a wild pack of corgis, but then I heard the unmistakable roar of a B&M.

 

Pictures don't serve the ride justice. Nemesis looks fantastic! The amount of theming and landscaping if astounding. Unless you had watched a million POVs growing up like me, there's no way you’d have any idea what the layout is. I made my way down the narrow, non-ADA compliant queue that would make Indiana Beach proud and waited one train for the front. Is there any better seat on an invert?

 

The first drop was as tiny as I had heard. It's truly impressive a coaster this highly regarded could have a drop that small. But the hype is real. The first corkscrew absolutely whips you through it and it's followed by the most intense element on the ride, the downwards helix. Holy moly was that thing intense. If it were in America I’m pretty sure people would complain a la that first turn on Intimidator 305. The following zero-G roll combines hang-time and a ferocious whip lacking on the newer B&Ms. Oh and there's also a crazy foot-chopper going on too.

 

The following turn has a minor spot of head-banging but the rest of the ride is glass smooth, a true feat considering this is a 25 year old coaster that pulls the Gs that it does. The coaster then descends into a trench, only now hitting its max speed, and into the vertical loop. I was expecting a little more from the vertical loop as it noticeably slowed a bit over the top, but the Gs picked back up on the way down. The following turn is the only real breather on the ride as the train crawled around it, but the intensity picked right back up as we dove into a trench and through another intense old-school B&M corkscrew. The ride is short but the elements flow so well and there's almost no dead spots.

 

Did Nemesis live up to its lofty reputation? Yes but not quite in the way I expected. I expected one of the most forceful coasters I had ever been on. While it was forceful, the Batmans and Flight Deck are more intense in my opinion. Nemesis however blows those coasters out of the water with its unbelievable theming and just how fun it is to ride. It's still also more intense than 90% of coasters. I’ll still take a top notch hyper or an RMC over Nemesis, but there aren't any other steels I’d take over it. 10 out of 10

 

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Pictures really don't do Nemesis justice.

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The water wasn't blood red, but the ride delivered.

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For everyone who complains B&Ms never have unique layouts, see Nemesis.

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I love how so much of the ride takes place at eye level.

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I don't think Nemesis hits its top speed until halfway through the layout. It's one of those quirky things that makes Nemesis awesome.

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Much of the ride takes place below ground level.

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Pretty much every shot of Nemesis looks amazing.

I got 4 rides on Nemesis before early entry before I made my way over to Galactica. It was 5 minutes before opening and a line was starting to form. VR slows loading down to a glacial pace, so I was horrified how slow dispatch times could be on a flyer, a coaster type notorious for slow loading. Thankfully Alton wasn't as bad as Six Flags (granted that's like saying your pizza isn't as bad as Pizza Hut’s [cough]Chuck E Cheese’s [cough]) and I was on in 5 minutes. Unfortunately there was no choice seating due to the VR, a bummer since the front is by far the best seat on these because of the visuals. And I’m going to take a wild guess the lucky riders who got the front may have been looking at a smartphone screen instead.

 

I decided against VR for my first ride. I wanted to ride Air, yes Air, the way B&M designed it. The straight drop isn't air-time inducing or anything, but it's rare to see on a flyer. Then the fly-to-lie inline twist pulled some pretty strong Gs falling just short of a pretzel loop in that area. After the strong start, the ride tames considerably. There's one more decent inline twist, but other than that the ride slowly meanders over pathways and the terrain. Although the visuals flying over everyone are cool, I just wish the ride did something more exciting like another inversion.

 

Since the ride was a walk-on, I immediately ran around, went against my better judgement, and opted for the VR headset. Since the VR is in a pouch attached to the restraint, the attendant will secure it on you as they check your restraint. You may be wondering how they clean them then? Have no fear, the attendants run around with little Lysol wipes.

 

Unfortunately I wasn't allowed to wear my glasses with the VR like I did on Derren Brown or Superman at SFNE last year. I have vision just a shade above Mr. Magoo so I had some trouble. I know the VR can be tuned to your eyes, but even on the two extremes (and everything in between) it was blurry. The sequence on the lift where we entered into space was really cool and it was nice having the audio to compliment the visuals unlike the ones at Six Flags. However during the intense Gs of the fly-to-lie, the headset started to slip off. Instead of setting it back, I took it as a sign from the coaster gods, took the headset off, and cradled it like a football.

 

Needless to say I wasn't a fan of the VR personally. I can say that it appeared to be better executed than the one at Six Flags (granted that's not hard when you get a frozen screen or message the phone is overheating), but if you're visually impaired you may be out of luck on this one. As a flyer, Galactica was easily the worst of them. It’s still a fun coaster, but I didn't feel compelled to ride it again with how strong the rest of the park’s coaster collection was. 7 out of 10

 

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If you thought Superman's layout was uneventful, have you ridden Galactica?

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It's a decent coaster, but far more relaxing than intense.

I had planned to Sky Ride over to the Dark Forest next, but I decided to make a detour over to the Runaway Mine Train. That ride is located in a random dead end of the park and now was probably the best time to make my way over there. Well I made a detour on the way to the detour when I saw Duel, the park’s shooting dark ride. The well-themed facade and courtyard drew me in like a fly to a flame.

 

The ride had plenty of targets, some were color coded such that they were worth more. I don't think there was a moment on the ride when at least 15-20 targets weren't visible. The triggers on the guns were pretty stiff, but I was able to adjust from years of video gaming. I especially liked the large characters along the way as opposed to the cardboard cutouts on the Sally installations. Even cooler was that some of the targets became revealed only as the character moved. The ride was pretty long too, but there were excessively dark and empty areas. There were plenty of targets, but I felt I was just shooting random lights in the night as opposed to a monster or something. Overall it was an enjoyable ride, one I probably would have ridden again if it were closer to the major coasters. 8 out of 10

 

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Duel's building and queue line looked amazing.

Runaway Mine Train was another powered coaster, but this one had a sprawling layout as opposed to the helix centric versions I’ve previously come across. Like Thorpe's it felt weird accelerating where you shouldn't and vice versa, but I did really enjoy the layout. The ride had some theming, a surprise tunnel, and ran right along the rapids ride (didn't see anyone on it though but I appreciate the park kept it open if anyone wanted to cool off in 50 degree weather). Alton gave 3 laps and I thought it was a nice little coaster. 5 out of 10

 

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This shot would have been better if I waited for a rapids vehicle, but no one was riding the latter.

Since the park was now officially open, I had the opportunity to take the Skyride to the dark forest. I figured it'd give some amazing views and save a little time. I was right on the first bit but way off on the second; it saved a ton of time. To get to the Dark Forest from the Forbidden Valley area, you have to travel through an expansive and hilly garden. No thank you, I’ll just enjoy it from the air and it appeared most people shared my thoughts. Alton's Skyride, like the one at Busch Gardens, is really a necessity in any visit unless you want to lose a few hours to walking. 10 out of 10

 

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With gondolas this big, there was no line. So there's really no reason to skip their Skyride.

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It's faster than walking and gives views like this.

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Welcome to the Dark Forest.

Rita was next and I ran into my longest wait of the day at 15 minutes. The former Queen of Speed (I’m guessing this title was removed during that ridiculous Thirteen marketing campaign?) is a midget compared to the other accelerator coasters. As a trade off, the ride has an extended layout. I figured the best seat was the front like on 90% of the launch coasters out there so I waited patiently to ride Rita. When I told my girlfriend I rode Rita I had to specify it was a coaster and not a hooker or something. Rita is a seriously weird name.

 

The launch may not reach the same kind of speed as Rita's bigger brothers, but it still has more force and kick than a magnetic launch. The two S-hills didn't give the major ejector air I expected from an Intamin; rather they gave quick pops of air. The only spot of really strong air was the hill leading into the brake run. While small in size, Rita does manage to sustain its speed well over the short layout.

 

I gave Rita another go in the back (I swear I am still talking about the coaster) and it was just a notch below the front. I still prefer to feel the full force of the launch in my face but in the back the air was stronger on the S-hills. Rita is definitely the worst of the accelerator coasters, but it's still a very fun coaster that’d hold its own in any park’s lineup. 8 out of 10

 

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Such a bizarre name.

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I think we have Superman in the front row.

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Even though the top speed isn't impressive, the launch still has some serious power.

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I did miss the top hat, but the S-hills did their best to make me forget.

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It's a compact layout, but it does have more elements to it than the standard accelerator coaster.

I had finally worked up the courage to try Thirteen. It was tough but I felt I could handle the world's scariest coaster. I had already ridden the world's most intense coaster according to the park in Nemesis after all. All kidding aside, I personally like the creepy theme, but the ride was completely mismarketed during its debut year. Like most of the other rides, Thirteen was a walk-on and soon enough I was on my way into the Dark Forest.

 

Offride, the only part of the ride you can see is the lift hill and a surprisingly tall drop for a ride meant for families. The drop gave a tiny pop of air in the back, but that quickly ended when the train hit the first trim. I feel like the first half could have had some solid air had that trim been off or not there at all. One of the other hills did still have a weak pop of air, but the best part of the first half was weaving through the forest. Just curious, did Thirteen ever run trimless?

 

The second half was where Thirteen really shined. [spoilerS- DO NOT READ THE NEXT 2 PARAGRAPHS IF YOU WANT THE RIDE TO BE A SURPRISE] The theming on the indoor portion was very well done. I knew the drop track was coming, but the park did a great job on the effects leading up to the climactic plunge such as the shaking platform. The drop track provided a better drop than a S&S tower and then we rolled through a pitch black reverse section that was really unexpected and a nice finale.

 

I can draw many parallels berween Verbolten and Thirteen. Both take place in the Dark Forest, have an excellent drop track segment, and are two of the best family coasters around. I enjoyed Thirteen more than anticipated and snagged two rides before trudging onward. 8 out of 10

 

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Th13teen may be the most psychologically challenging coaster, but even its neighbor is more intense.

I had planned to head over to the X-Sector for Smiler and Oblivion, but I first needed to admire the towers that gave the park its name. The towers are truly a feat of architectural design. I wasn't able to pass through them since the park appeared to have a restoration project underway, but just seeing a castle like that in person made the Disneyland one look even punier

 

I also came across Hex, a madhouse tucked away in the castle. Since it was a walk-on, I decided to give it a whirl. Well before I got on the ride I wws treated to an elaborate pre-show complete with a video and a well-done live action component. The entire queue and ride really captured the feel of a creepy castle. Now the story itself was pretty nutty, but it got us to the ride component which was the important thing.

 

I particularly like the Vekoma models (a phrase rarely uttered here) because of the extra articulation of the benches. There were a few points where I was leaning forwards and my mind told me I was going to fall out, which is a sign of a well-executed ride. The park had 360 degrees of visuals on all portions of the rotating box that ranged from one of the haunted tree branches (you have to ride to understand, it ties into the ridiculous story) to a monster. Sorry Houdini, you’ve been dethroned in this genre. 8 out of 10

 

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The story was wacky, but the ride looked fantastic.

But if you want a theme so ridiculous that it works, look no further than the Smiler. Yes the ride is actually themed to smiling. The massive futuristic claws (affectionately named the Tickler, Giggler, etc) are visually strikintg much like Nemesis. Because of the park’s incredible operations, it’s not hard to get a shot with two trains at the same time making their way though the twisted spaghetti-like track.

 

The half theme song/half laugh they play in the station will get stuck in your head. If I had a full queue, I could easily see that recording driving someone up the wall. The park unfortunately doesn't allow choice seating, so I am thankful to have gotten the front for at least one of my rides since the visuals of all that inverted track are really quite something to see. It looks like one of those designs you’d see a 5 year old make in Roller Coaster Tycoon except this one is real and doesn't have an enjoyment rating below 2.

 

The ride kicks things off with an inline twist below the station with as much hang-time as Hydra’s jojo roll. The next lift was weird as I’m only used to the inclined lifts on these infinity coasters/EuroFighters, but instead it was a plain old Jane traditional lift. Like most coasters at this park, the first drop wasn't memorable but it builds up the speed needed for the circuit. The next inversion is my favorite, the diving cokrscrew. The combination of hang-time and whipping as the ride descends to ground level is fantastic. I think there were 5 more inversions taken in rapid-fire succession and there's no way I could recount them without watching a POV. They were all fun though, hang-time filled but relatively low G. The only time you aren't inverting is when you fly over an ejector bunny hill by the huge smiling device.

 

That alone could have formed a solid ride, but the Smiler goes the Twisted Colossus route and provides a second half with what feels like the same elements. There's the same first drop, same diving corkscrew, same ejector airtime hill, and the same types of inversions. If it's not broke, don't fix it. I was worried the ride would be rough with the OSTRs like on some of the EuroFighters but Smiler was extremely smooth despite all 14 of those inversions.

 

After Nemesis, Smiler was my favorite ride in the park. I do wish the park had been able to squeeze a beyond vertical drop somehow on this one since that's the defining moment on these EuroFighters but other than that the ride is perfect. The zany theme and absurd amount of inversions can't help but leave you returning to the station without a smile (unless you lost your lunch since I can imagine that happens quite a bit on this one). 9 out of 10

 

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The X-Sector is home to two of Alton's better coasters.

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Smiler seems like two coasters glued together, but it's incredibly fun.

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The theme is odd, but you'll be smiling like the logo by the time you come off.

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The center machine/robot thing is particularly weird, but cool to look at.

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Everywhere you look, there's an inversion.

After mediocre drop after mediocre drop, I made my way over to Oblivion for the park to redeem itself and Oblivion delivered the goods (unlike the Tom Cruise movie of the same name). Oblivion has an obnoxiously long queue that wraps around itself. But if you made your way to the end of the labyrinth you were rewarded with a walk-on.

 

Valravn had the newer B&M vest restraints and quite frankly I did not like them on a dive machine. Dive machines are one of B&Ms smoothest rides and the vests hampered the freefall sensation on the drop. No such problem on Oblivion as it still had the old style restraints. The layout is unbelievably basic but it works. The drop is breathtaking. I absolutely love the theming with the mist-filled pitch-black tunnel. It looks like a black hole when you're staring down at it. Then the drop happens. I floated the entire way down and got a fantastic freefall sensation. I'm also impressed the park created a drop that long considering their height restrictions. Yeah the rest of the layout doesn't really do anything (there was a pop of air when you hit the brakes) but the same could be said for a few of the beloved Intamin accelerators.

 

As the prototype, it's often considered the worst of the dive coasters due to its shorter length. Oblivion has the best drop on the dive machines I’ve been on thanks to the old restraints and the presentation. Griffon is still the king of the dive machines, but I actually prefer Oblivion to Valravn. 9 out of 10

 

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Ready to drop in?

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Oblivion is a true one-trick pony, but the one trick is one of the best drops on any coaster.

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Take the tunnel.

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These 4 shots capture the entire layout. Like I said, one-trick pony.

I had planned to eat after leaving the park since they closed extremely early at 4, but my stomach wasn’t on board with that plan. I settled on the fried chicken quick service restaurant adjacent to Oblivion. One really cool thing they do when you place your order is the Red Button Challenge. After ordering, you pick a number from 1-99 and hit that red button. If your number matches the one that pops up, your meal is free! I’ve never seen that before but it was a pretty neat gimmick. I went with good ole 69 but instead Derek Jeter's number popped up. Oh well. The chicken was better than I expected and it was under $10. I figured I’d get chicken fingers a la Six Flags or Cedar Fair, but instead I got big breasts. And who doesn't love big breasts.

 

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If you guessed the number right, your meal was free! Unfortunately for me, 69 was not the number that popped up.

It was now just before 3, so I planned to hit the last remaining coaster (Spinball Whizzer) and then hightail it over to Nemesis for a few last rides. As I approached, I saw several empty trains. Sweet a walk-on! Not so fast. The ride broke down and they weren't sure when it would reopen. What is it with wild mice on this trip?

 

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Oh no, empty cars and an employee out front. I know what that means.

Rather than waste time waiting, I decided to ride Nemesis until 3:30 and then return to get Spinball Whizzer since the latter was close to the entrance by this park’s standards. I used the Skyride to cut down on the transit time and this also had the secondary benefit of letting me see the SW8 construction site. Alton has already built an impressive amount of the presumed GCI wooden coaster. The one part that stuck out to me is that tower like structure on the left in my images that the track is converging towards. I have a feeling there’ll be something noteworthy there from a show standpoint (shed 2.0?) or a supersized central theming element like on Nemesis or Smiler.

 

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What could be behind this wall?

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Could that be the Wicker Man?

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The layout looks typical GCI and that's definitely not a bad thing.

I got 3 final rides on Nemesis, 1 in the front and 2 in the back. I would have loved to get all 3 in the front, but that wasn't happening with the ride now down to 1 train ops. The ride ran as well as it did in the morning and I can safely say it dethroned Banshee for my favorite invert. Before leaving, I grabbed a cool plaque/figure of the ride. Merlin had these for all the major coasters at Thorpe as well as most of the major coasters at Alton. How could I not pick Nemesis?

 

I stuck to the modified plan and by 3:35 I was on the Skyride back to the main entrance area. I made my way over to Spinball Whizzer to see it running (the app said it was but seeing is always believing). The ride actually appeared to have a decent wait, but I was able to skip most of it with the single rider line. I was the only one in that queue but it still took me almost 10 minutes to get on. I guess the British only go to parks in even numbered amounts.

 

Going in, I thought this was the same 2000 model I’ve ridden at Seabreeze, Waldameer, and Hershey. Turns out this was the larger model and it was much improved. The first drop in reverse was shorter than on the 2000 model, but it still had that gut dropping feeling any backwards drop provides. The second drop is actually the largest and the spinning is unlocked on the turn preceding this drop, so that was certainly a cool and different experience. Since Alton is a larger park, there were a lot of block brakes scattered throughout but this one regained its speed much faster than the 2000 model. I really enjoyed Spinball Whizzer and could see this anchoring a smaller park. 8 out of 10

 

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I liked the more expansive layout than the other Maurer spinners.

Of the three parks I went to in England, Alton was easily my favorite. The theming around the main attractions was excellent and all of the adult coasters range from good (Galactica) to excellent (Nemesis). The park is in the middle of nowhere so it was challenging to get to without a car but it was worth all the train transfers, Ubers, and taxi rides to do so.

 

The next park was comparatively a breeze to get to- PortAventura.

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Awesome update!! Alton is one of my big international bucketlist parks, mainly due to Nemesis, but the rest of the park interests me as well. Nice to know that this all can be done sans car.

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Awesome update!! Alton is one of my big international bucketlist parks, mainly due to Nemesis, but the rest of the park interests me as well. Nice to know that this all can be done sans car.

 

As long as you get to London, you can get to Blackpool and Alton without a car. Pleasure Beach is within walking distance from the train station, but Alton is trickier. You need 2-3 trains (depending if you leave from Blackpool or Alton) and then you need to hire a taxi to get from the closest train station to the resort. But it was definitely worth it.

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Thanks! Yeah the combination of rides and theming was fantastic. The park didn't really have much in terms of flat rides, but when I visit a park far away like that and only have one day, I'm likely not going to ride those anyway.

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Glad you enjoyed AT. Unfortunately I'm assuming you timed your visit outside of the ever shrinking window where the Towers are open prior to them being prepared for Terror of the Towers. It is a crime how rundown the Towers were allowed to get for a variety of reasons but there are still one or two restored parts that show off Augustus Pugin's genius.

 

Katanga Canyon is very much a dead end of the park at the moment as the usual pathway between Mutiny Bay and there is currently closed for site access to SW8, hence the attraction free walk.

 

Your views re: Duel are very much shared by those of us lucky enough to have been on it in it's current and previous guise as The Haunted House, the remaining elements of which are still the ride's best features. The park have teased that it's going to be one of the main focal points of this close-season's 'Towers Loving Care' renovation programme, alongside Nemesis' roof completing the station's repaint, so we live in hope!

 

Th13teen definitely divides opinion mostly, as you say, due to the way it was advertised in its first year. Hard to say it wasn't a success mind as it's opening season is still the highest attended in the park's recent history. A pinch of salt combined with its ending and you'll do well to find someone coming off it without a smile on their face.

 

As much as I like when Oblivion is walk-on, for obvious reasons, it does mean you don't have a reason to watch the

which are excellent.

 

Flat rides are definitely lacking, with the park having lost Submission and Ripsaw in recent years. I can't see them adding any until visitor numbers are back up, which hopefully SW8 will help with.

 

You've made me want to go again. Unfortunately I'm going to have to wait until next year!

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^ I was definitely bummed out that all the restoration work was going on during my visit, but it's encouraging to see the park taking the time to take care of them.

 

That makes sense that Duel used to be a Haunted House. As I rode through, the ride was very reminiscent of Kennywood's Ghostwood Estate, which I believe was also converted into a shooter from a standard dark ride.

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I actually began my visit at PortAventura at Ferrari Land. As I approached the park and saw the monstrous Intamin accelerator opened, I decided to head there first since every launch could be its last. After purchasing the upcharge ticket, I entered the resort's second gate (theme park gate that is).

 

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Ferrari Land, the park that really should be a land as opposed to a full park at the moment.

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It doesn't appear lines will be an issue.

Immediately there's a stark contrast. While much of PortAventura was shaded either by trees or buildings, Ferrari Land was much more open. On a hot summer day, I could see it being pretty miserable walking around this park. The entry area looks fantastic but I couldn't help but drift my eye towards Red Force. The coaster absolutely dominates the park’s skyline and it's hard to take any pictures without it.

 

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The park looked great, albeit lacking in the shade department (as well as rides).

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There were cars too.

Naturally I went to Red Force first. I was greeted with a 10 minute wait, but even better was the single rider line that was a complete walk-on. And I must have had a golden horseshoe shoved up my keister when I arrived at the park since I was assigned the front seat. Even in the regular line, the park assigns seats and does not let you wait for a specific seat. A walk-on for the front row of a running accelerator? It seemed too good to be true.

 

After murdering that bird (R.I.P. Pidgey) on opening day, Red Force requires front seat riders to wear goggles. They weren't the clearest goggles out there, but they weren't the least bit uncomfortable. I also noticed a new lap bar design by Intamin on the coaster. I was expecting the OSTRs like Kingda Ka and Maverick, but instead I was greeted with sleek lap bars that actually rest on your lap and don't try and sever your thighs like SkyRush. After a quick check (the ops on this ride had the efficiency of a Formula 1 pit stop), we rolled out of the station.

 

Instead of stopping like on all the other acceletators, Red Force has a slow roll until that launch hits you like a sack of bricks. Yes it lacks the initial yank and ferocity of the hydraulic launches, but it isn't too far behind and by the end of the launch, it feels identical- the pure wind-shearing speed where you question if a roller coaster was meant to go that fast. The launch delivered and while it was a little less powerful than Top Thrill Dragster or Kingda Ka, I didn't see Red Force break down once in my two days. Compare that to the hourly breakdowns I see on those two stratas. I’ll take a slightly weaker launch if it means I don't have to make a deal with the devil and worship Shiva just for one ride.

 

After the amazing launch, the coaster rocketed over the imposing top hat. As the train crested, I was treated to a tandem of spectacular views and some sustained floater airtime. Looking at Spain’s Gold Coast while off your seat 350+ feet in the air certainly is an experience. The subsequent drop was far superior to Dragster or Ka. The laterals on the beginning of the descent are intense and I actually received airtime the whole way down unlike on the two stratas with their 360 degree drops.

 

At this point I thought the ride was over, but it had one more trick up its sleeve. Offride the run to the brakes appeared straight, but there's a subtle little incline that gives a really strong pop of air. I ultimately got 7 rides on Red Force in the span of 2 days. That was made possible by low waits and no breakdowns. The ride is also smooth in every seat, something that Ka cannot say. While the launch is slightly less powerful, I honestly prefer Red Force slightly over the two stratas because of that little return hump and the superior drop. 9 out of 10

 

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Red Force, a ride with force in the name and actually on the ride too.

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The launch doesn't quite have the initial kick of a hydraulic launch, but by the end of the launch you'd be hard pressed to notice a difference.

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Red Force absolutely dominates the park's skyline.

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I loved the long straight drop as opposed to the twisted ones on Ka and Dragster.

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Red Force's station is well-themed.

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I loved the new Intamin restraints. Much better than the OSTRs and Skyrush thigh crush bars.

After having a thrilling ride up and down the tower, I rode a kiddie ride by comparison in the Thrill Towers. A walk-on for both sides, I started with the space shot side. The view was as spectacular as it was on Red Force, but just as short lived. What was missing was the great air and launch of Red Force, as the launch on this tower felt very weak and the air was pretty weak at the top. 5 out of 5

 

I much prefer being shot down than shot up, so as expected I preferred the turbo drop side. The major benefit was being held at the top so I could take in the view. With Red Force next door, you quickly realize just how puny these S&S towers are by comparison since you are eye-level with the pull-out on Red Force. The drop on this one was decent by S&S standards. There was a nice pop of air at the start of the drop, but the rest of the descent just doesn't have the punch of a drop tower from a different manufacturer. Still the combination of that view and the drop make it worth riding...until you learn of Hurakan Condor’s existence later that day. 7 out of 10

 

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Thrill Towers is relative, but the views sure were spectacular.

Usually I skip antique car style attractions but with the low crowds and so few attractions in the park, I felt obligated to ride their version. Antique cars isn’t quite the right term for the Maranello Grand Prix since you ride in some pretty nice Ferrari replicas. Despite there only being 15 people ahead of me, the line moved at a glacial pace and it took almost 15-20 minutes to get on, which is particularly scary since they have two tracks.

 

The course did look great though. While there was a lack of shade, it did look like a race course. Having the second track next to you that you could race was different than a lot of other versions. You may ask how you could possibly race in these things, but I believe some skill was involved as the car would stall for a second if you controlled it like a drunk driver. One other touch I liked was the speedometer. The values would change throughout the ride. Along with the capacity, the only other negative were how loud and squeaky the cars were, but as a whole it's a solid version of this type of ride. 6 out of 10

 

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You can sort of get an idea of the park's gorgeous backdrop here.

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The digital display in the cars was a very nice touch.

The center of Ferrari Land is a massive building housing the two simulator rides. Flying Dreams, the park’s flying theater (aka Soarin’ ripoff), was posted at a 10 minute wait. Yet I didn't step off the ride for almost 45-50 minutes. Was it that long of a ride? No. Did it break down? Nope. Why? The endless amount of staging rooms.

 

That 10 minute wait is how long it takes to get into pre-show room number 1. You get a little biography from a Ferrari hologram and then set foot through a set of doors. While 95% of the time, those doors will lead to the ride, on Flying Dreams, it lead to a staging room. And that staging room led to another staging room. And that staging room led to another staging room. I believe there were 4-5 different staging rooms, each taking about 6-7 minutes. If the park had said I would have a 40 minute wait, I would have been fine with it; that's better than Soarin’ on most days. But deceptively hiding the wait kind of put a sour taste in my mouth.

 

Eventually (and I started to question if I would) I did board the ride. The individual vehicle looked quite similar to those on Soarin’. One major difference during the ride though was that the vehicles on different levels were spaced out far enough such that you couldn't see the feet of other riders. That was the one thing that always hurt the illusion at Disney and Ferrari Land’s system corrects that minor issue.

 

I thought the picture looked fantastic. There were some scenes that were clearly CGI, but as a whole they were a visual feast. I thought the scenes included were perfect and I particularly loved flying over PortAventura at the end (I wonder where they got that idea from ). The movement synched up perfectly and they were accompanied by smell and water effects. The ride length was about 4-5 minutes, so on par with Soarin’.

 

If it weren't for that queue line with the 5 chambers of hell, I would have eagerly ridden again since it’s easily the second best ride there. I personally prefer Soarin’, but this wasn't too far behind and feels pretty similar to the Disney ride just with a Ferrari added on several bits. If more parks start getting these, that is definitely not a bad thing. 9 out of 10

 

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The central building houses the two simulator rides and two of the most evil queues I have ever experienced.

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This looked about right for a 10 minute wait...

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By the third holding room I decided to chronicle my suffering.

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And then there was a fourth holding room. My 10 minute wait was closer to 45 minutes because of this.

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This ripoff of Soarin' was very well done and a fun ride when I finally was able to board.

I wouldn't quite escape that hellish queue. Racing Legends shared the same building so I had a hunch the queue would be set up identically and much to my dismay, I was correct. For that reason, I waited until day 2 to ride it since I refused to do those two attractions back to back. After the exact same pre-show, I was led down a different corridor with the same asinine amount of holding rooms.

 

A simulator much in the mold of what you’d find at Universal, Racing Legends has source material that suits it quite well. The ride consisted entirely of racing in Ferraris from different eras. The movement was well synched and of course they added water effects when you pass over a puddle. It was a solid simulator, but like Flying Dreams, the ridiculous pre-show/holding area combo deterred me from reriding. 7 out of 10

 

I also did grab a bite to eat at the Pit Lane quick service restaurant. Looking at the impressive theming of PortAventura and the resorts, I figured there’d be some amazing food. Most of the food I found was merely just ok with the exception of the canelones I had at Pit Lane. In what I figured would be my worst meal at the resort, I was pleasantly surprised by this gnocchi/lasagna hybrid. It was my first time trying it and it was really good. I later tried the canelones at the hotel thinking they’d be better than a quick service place, but they were put to shame by Pit Lane.

 

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I feel like this shouldn't have been the best place to get food at PortAventura, but it was for me.

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The canelones were amazing. Much better than the hard, crispy ones I had at the hotel later that night.

Overall Ferrari Land is a great “land” but far from a full day park at the moment. Red Force is amazing and the two simulators are nice (when you finally board), but there just aren't enough attractions to justify staying there more than a few hours. What little they do have looks fantastic. I hope they either do one of two things- 1) make it a permanent land in PortAventura or 2) continue to add until it becomes a full day park (I think this is more likely).

 

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The hotel also had this incredible little model of Ferrari Land.

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Not sure if it was just because it was the off-season, but they were selling Ferrari Land as a 15 Euro upgrade to enter. I think that's a very fair price considering what they have, much better than the 30 Euro price I was charged when I bought my ticket in advance online (one of the very rare times buying in advance came back to bite me).

 

Seeing what Dubai's Ferrari World has, the park definitely has opportunities to expand and add more attractions themed to cars. I just hope that comes sooner or later or they continue to mark down the park entrance.

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Port Aventura

 

After whetting my whistle at Ferrari Land, I moved on to the main course, PortAventura. This was one of my most anticipated parks on the trip. While trip reports of the park aren't quite as common as Cedar Point or Universal, every single photo I have seen of the place has looked gorgeous and the ride has a nice ride lineup to boot. After spending two days at the park, I'd say it's Busch Gardens with worse operations and no orgasmic bacon pretzels.

 

Upon setting foot into the park, I was immediately blown away by how nice the park looked. The massive lake combined with the quaint feel of the shops and lush scenery was breathtaking. Ferrari Land was a cool little land and all, but PortAventura looked like a world class park. Having visited in late September, I got an added bonus of seeing the park's Halloween theming. I don't think I could walk anywhere in the park without seeing a pumpkin.

 

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Woody welcomes you.

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I wasn't kidding about all the pumpkins.

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PortAventura is one of the most beautiful parks in the world.

The only thing disrupting the serenity of the main entrance was the ferocious roar of the massive Intamin wing rider trains. My plan was to make it back to Shambhala first, but I figured I'd hit anything without a wait along the way. Furius Baco is the first ride you see entering the park and with a 10 minute wait, I eagerly queued up. The vineyard theming is incredible. Honestly, to me it looks like it could actually be a vineyard.

 

Most of the reviews I've heard about Furius Baco praise the launch but warn the rest of the ride is akin of being shuffled around in a blender. Knowing that, my goal was to get the front row, inside seat. Unfortunately, PortAventura doesn't allow you to wait for a seat on any of their roller coasters. On some of them such as Furius Baco and El Diablo, you're at the mercy of the grouper. On others such as Shambhala and Dragon Khan, it's first come/first serve for each row on the ride. I was incredibly lucky since I was assigned row 1 for my first ride. For a coaster enthusiast, that's like winning a slot machine down in Vegas.

 

The launch sequence was weird, something that describes the entirety of the ride. As you roll into the launch room, there's a professor turning a huge crank and then an evil monkey appears. The professor is then flooded with red wine and you suddenly launch out of the room like a rocket. If you check out the ride's website, the story actually is that a professor develops a new grape harvesting machine but if you pull the wrong lever (which I'm guessing that monkey does), it turns into a catapult. I'd say it was a language barrier, but I don't think there was any speaking during the launch so I'm not sure how someone is supposed to get the story.

 

Back to that launch, with the larger trains, it didn't quite have the power of the other accelerator coasters. However, you'd be hard pressed to find a stronger launch outside of that. The acceleration is intense, particularly in row 1 with the wind against your face. With an 80-something mile per hour launch, you'd expect a massive top hat or colossal inversion. Not here, Furius Baco is a terrain launcher that probably doesn't get more than 20 feet off the ground. Needless to say, the ride maintains its speed from start to finish because of that.

 

The launch is followed by a subtle little hump that provides an incredible 2-3 seconds of airtime. The final inline twist is just as amazing. It’s long and drawn out, so the hang-time is fantastic. However, the ride’s downfall is the middle section between these two elements. There’s a series of high-speed slalom turns. Usually I’m all for a ride maintaining its speed, but in this case the turns were overly aggressive and lead to quite a bit of headbanging. In the inside seat on the front row, the ride was still pretty comfortable, but in later rides further back in the train, this section was more of an endurance test. If I could select my seat this would not have been an issue, but alas PortAventura gave me the hometown feels of 2016 Six Flags New England, where the SLC was the only coaster you could select your own seat .

 

Furius Baco is a love-hate coaster for me. The launch, subsequent hump, and inline twist are absolute perfection, but the middle section is brutal. During that section, I was just praying for it to be over. I would honestly like the coaster far more if it was a straight shot to the inline twist. As is, the inside rows are an absolute must (it’s like riding X2 on the inside versus outside seats). Ultimately, Furius Baco is an 8 out of 10 in the front row, inside seat and probably closer to a 6 out of 10 in any other seat. I’m just thankful I got my one ride in the front row since I wasn’t so lucky the next 2 rides.

 

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Beware the monkey.

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The final turn is very picturesque.

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Unfortunately, it also feels like riding a jackhammer on an outside seat.

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When the coaster is traveling straight, it's fantastic. Like on this inline twist.

Tutuki Splash was having some downtime (they appeared to be working on the top of the lift), so I continued my trek back towards Shambhala. But not before going down Sesame Street and boarding the roller skater. I had flashbacks to my credit whore stop at Sesame Place earlier this summer, but far less out of place this time (though Oscar’s Wacky Taxi is going to get me back there next year since Gravity Group hits a home run with those mini woodies).

 

As far as roller skaters go, Tami-Tami was a Lamborghini. The landscaping around the ride was beautiful much like the rest of PortAventura and the park gave two laps as well. I’ve never seen another roller skater give two laps. I’m not sure if that’s the norm or they did it solely because of there not being a line. I don’t really feel guilty riding roller skaters as their decent little family coasters. 5 out of 10

 

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Sesame Land made me feel more at home than Sesame Place.

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Not sure what Tami-Tami means, but it's a really nice roller skater.

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Just look at that landscaping.

Enough stalling, it was time for Shambhala. The ride had a posted half hour wait, which ultimately didn’t seem too bad (until I found out why). I honestly would have waited in it without second guessing if I was allowed to wait for the seat of my choice. But since seat selection wasn’t guaranteed, I decided to try the single rider line. Without fail, the single rider line usually gets you on faster than the main line. I wasn’t quite so lucky with Shambhala. Due to 1 train operations and the grouper pairing up groups of 3, single seats weren’t as common as you’d think. I probably waited close to a half hour with only 7 or 8 people ahead of me. Luckily I was assigned the very back row so in the end I was satisfied.

 

The ascent up the lift hill gives stunning views of the park and surrounding area. PortAventura really has one of the nicest backdrops for a park. B&M hypers normally have outstanding drops. Yet Shambhala absolutely blew me away. For those of you who have been on Fury or Leviathan, you know those drops feel a little different. Shambhala’s drop was just like that. Butt completely out of the seat combined with a stomach dropping sensation. After those two gigas, I can’t think of a better coaster drop.

 

Even the following camelback hills were better than your average B&M hypers. I’m not sure if they were profiled differently or what, but they definitely felt different. The excellent air was present as usual, but the real shocker was a stomach-dropping sensation on each hill. The only other coaster I have had that happen on recently is Steel Eel, which I figured was because of the oddly shaped Morgan hills. Except Shambhala was perfectly comfortable thanks to those trains and had much stronger air by comparison.

 

Shambhala also has two other unique elements. The first is a tiny speed hill after the turnaround. For those of you who want ejector air on a B&M hyper, come to PortAventura. I personally preferred the glorious floater air on the longer drops, but the curveball intensity of the little hill was certainly welcome. It felt closer to those return hills on Fury 325 than the hills on any of their other coasters. The second unique element (for a hyper at least) is the splashdown. Diamondback has one, but it’s at the conclusion of the ride. Shambhala sticks its splashdown at about the halfway point and creates an amazing photo opportunity. Usually I stick out like a sore thumb on the midway trying to photograph a coaster at an exact point, but for Shambhala you’d see people huddled around the splashdown pool with their phones in hand.

 

Shambhala was simply amazing. I already love B&M hypers (probably more than most people) and this one was a huge step above the others. The air was stronger and the drops had some extra oomph to them. Shambhala snuck itself into my top 5 for this reason. I ultimately got 5 rides in over the course of two days due to the one train operations. With how long the single rider line took, I chose to wait in the regular line so I could have a better chance of riding towards the front or back. They don’t assign seats per say, but its first come/first serve as you cannot wait for a row if it’s already taken. I was extremely fortunate as all 5 of my rides were in one of the back two rows or the very front, with the very back being my favorite seat (as with all B&M hypers). 10 out of 10

 

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Not sure what a Shambhala is either, but it's an amazing hyper coaster.

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The first drop felt like those on B&M's giga coasters. Floater air the whole way down.

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Splash!

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There were people huddled around the splashdown all day long.

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Not sure if the hills were profiled differently or something, but the hills all made my stomach drop, which is a rarity for me.

Up next was another half hour wait for Dragon Khan. I was expecting to find a single rider line on this one much like Shambhala or Red Force, but there was no such thing on Dragon Khan. Like Shambhala, Dragon Khan was only running one train (it’s almost as if they were trying to convince people to buy Express Passes or something…), but unlike Shambhala, seating was completely assigned as opposed to first come/first serve. I would have loved to have tried Dragon Khan in the very front, but instead I got rows 3, 6, and 7 for my three rides.

 

As an older B&M, Dragon Khan was certainly more forceful. I haven’t been on Kumba (though that will change next month), but the layout seemed fairly similar. I was excited to see a long, straight drop on Dragon Khan. The drop looked very similar to SFDK’s Medusa, which gives some fantastic air and is the highlight of the ride. Unfortunately Dragon Khan’s drop was just merely good. It had good whip, particularly in the back, but it didn’t have any air. It felt more like the straight drops on Green Lantern or Rougarou.

 

But the drop does built up a full head of steam for the arsenal of inversions that were to follow. The vertical loop and dive loop were both heavy on the positive Gs and that was followed by arguably the best zero-G roll I have experienced. I hear tons of praise for Kumba’s zero-G roll, so if Dragon Khan’s isn’t comparable, Kumba’s must truly be something otherworldly. Like all zero-G rolls, Dragon Khan’s has excellent hang-time, but the difference here is the ferocious whip associated with it.

 

Usually cobra rolls are a ride’s downfall for me, but Dragon Khan’s was actually smooth while maintaining the intensity of the first few inversions. The second vertical loop wasn’t quite as good as the first, but it was still good. Then the final two corkscrews were outstanding. They were extremely snappy maneuvers compared to the calculated grace newer B&Ms take them at. Despite the ride’s intensity Dragon Khan manages to be mostly smooth. Sure the aggressiveness of the ride causes some minor headbanging here and there, but I’ll take that in exchange for this intensity. Dragon Khan is the perfect complement to the airtime extravaganza of Shambhala. 9 out of 10

 

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Dragon Khan appears to be having an identity crisis.

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Does anyone else find it funny just how much Shambhala dwarfs Dragon Khan?

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Dragon Khan is so much more forceful than the newer B&Ms.

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And it still somehow manages to be smooth.

The rarely talked about mine train was next, El Diablo. The ride has an odd location, a dead-end walkway in the center of the park, but as far as Arrow mine trains go, it’s definitely one of the best ones. Like the rest of PortAventura, the ride has some great landscaping around it and really captures the feel of a mine. I was amazed the ride was running 3 trains after consecutive one train operations on the park’s two top coasters, but I certainly wasn’t going to complain about a walk-on.

 

If you are lucky enough to ride towards the front (they load this one back to front, no choice seating), you get some rare mine train airtime. There are 2-3 hills shortly after the first lift that give tiny pops of air if you’re in that first car. Even if you ride further back, the first segment is still the strong point of the ride because of the interaction with the park’s log flume. The segments after the next two lifts (yes the ride has 3 lifts) rely more on the terrain, with the last segment in particular having a great tunnel thrown in as well. El Diablo is a really long ride and unlike the other Arrow mine trains, not jerky at all. 7 out of 10

 

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What's in the shed?

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That's a pretty big drop for a mine train.

I then decided to cross the border into Mexico for the park’s most intense ride, Hurakan Condor. While the S&S towers in Ferrari Land were cute, Hurakan Condor is a real drop tower. Like many of these Intamin 2nd gen towers, this one wasn’t exactly running at full capacity. In fact, it was running far from that. Only two sides were open, which resulted in a 40 minute wait. Even worse, the sides that were closed included the stand-up, tilting, floorless ones.

 

By the time I reached the front of the queue, I realized that I missed out on an unmarked single rider line. It was a bummer for sure, but I made good use of that thing for my many rerides over the next 2 days. Without fail, the single rider line would get you on within 5 minutes unlike Shambhala’s where it was honestly a debate whether or not the regular line was faster. On day 1, the sit-down tilting seats were the only option.

 

Intamin drop towers are one of the few rides that still genuinely scare me. The ascent up the tower is surprisingly quick. The views at the top are stunning, particularly if you’re on the side facing the coast. But soon enough you reach the moniker atop the tower and the seats tilt forwards. I personally didn’t notice the tilt too much, but I don’t even think it was needed. The sheer height of this tower was terrifying enough. The drop is somewhat spoiled by the camera (it flashes a half second before the drop), but it’s probably the best single drop of any tower I’ve been on.

 

You drop like a rock. There’s floater air the whole way down and the final deceleration inside the ruins is very sudden. It honestly feels like you plunge into a hole after looking at the bright, sunny coast of Spain. The drop was also gut-wrenching, a feeling some of the Intamin towers with larger vehicles cannot replicate. 10 out of 10

 

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Hurakan Condor was a fiesta. It even had a hat.

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In typical 2nd gen Intamin fashion, several sides were closed.

VolPaiute was a rare flat I was interested in trying. It looked like a combination of a trabant and a tilt-a-whirl. While the ride looked visually exciting, it was a major dud. The ride felt more like an inclined Ferris wheel than a spinning ride. I never once got a full spin in my vehicle and from what I saw, it appeared no one else did either. Instead it was a relative snooze fest. 1 out of 10

 

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Is VolPaiute Spanish for Inclined Ferris Wheel? This ride was a snooze fest.

Tomahawk was a junior wooden coaster I had honestly forgotten about. But with no line I hopped aboard and was assigned somewhere near the back. I believe the ride is sporting those mini-llennium flyer trains and they were quite comfortable. It was nice being able to ride a junior wooden coaster and not have my knees up against the seat in front of me.

 

As opposed to the other junior woodies I’ve ridden, Tomahawk has a unique layout that interacts well with Stampida. Honestly, you’d be hard pressed to tell the rides apart unless you see the trains. The first and last drops were surprisingly steep for a junior coaster and came close to providing air. There was also a sweeping turn midway through the ride that provided some surprise laterals. As a family coaster, Tomahawk is a major win for the park. 5 out of 10

 

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Tomahawk has a much better layout than the other junior woodies I've been on.

At this point it was 6:50, so I was making good time in my loop around the park. I still wanted to hit both sides of Stampida, the flume, and then make my way back to Shambhala for one last ride on the day. I figured I had plenty of time since the park was scheduled to close at 8. Up first was the blue side on Stampida (surprisingly they actually do let you choose that). I was honestly pretty nervous about this coaster. I had no experience with the Kumbak trains and hadn’t heard much about the ride. Knowing how CCIs can get rough without TLC, I went in expecting something as rough as Mean Streak.

 

I was assigned row 2 and thought the ride was decent. I didn’t really notice the racing/dueling aspect due to the ride’s layout, but the ride had some solid air in the first half. The first hill in particular and the double up launched me out of my seat. There were also some solid laterals too on the mostly unbanked turns. However, the ride absolutely petered out in the second half.

 

I couldn’t help but notice the trim on the first drop. Had that trim not been there, the last few hills of the ride probably would have given some solid air. I do understand why the trim is there though since the ride is very bumpy. In the second row, I still found the ride ridable, but I’m guessing that was a different story in the back rows considering they were roped off. 6 out of 10

 

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Stampida had its moments.

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I wish I could have ridden it during the inaugural year before the bumpiness and trim brake.

I planned to get back in line for the red side, but saw the queue was roped off. Did Stampida just close early due to low crowds? As I made my way towards the flume, I noticed that it was closed as well. It was at this point I found out the park closed an hour earlier than scheduled. I have no issue when parks close early, I just ask they make a loud announcement at least an hour before they close. On the bright side, I did see Skeleboner.

 

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Hello Skeleboner.

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I pity the child whose parent actually buys this for them.

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Also what's so scary about Texas?

On day 2, I knew that I wanted to hit Shambhala before it developed a line. I navigated my way through the park and reached the ride first, only to discover it would open a half hour after the rest of the park. Aw drat. I decided to wait it out since it was the only way I could guarantee myself a front row ride. By 10:30, the ride had already developed a decent sized line so my plan for a few rerides was thwarted. The front was excellent as well, but I still preferred the back. Since the line wasn’t quite as long as yesterday, I got back in line and in about 20-25 minutes I was in the second to back.

 

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Over Dragon Khan, which is one of Shambhala's specialties.

I got a quick ride (well 30 minutes) on Dragon Khan before heading back to Mexico. I wanted to complete the loop with some of the attractions I had missed yesterday. I heard good things about the Temple Del Fuego, but unfortunately it was down all day. As a consolation prize, I tried El Secreto de los Mayas. I had absolutely no clue what it was. I figured it’d be some time of walkthrough. As I boarded I was given a cheap pair of gloves and then realized it was a mirror maze.

 

It was easily the hardest mirror maze I have ever done and it whoever designed it is a cruel human being. The gloves combined with the dark lighting in the room conceals any dead giveaways where there is and isn’t a mirror. But the spawn of all evil is the center of the maze. The center of the maze is a revolving wheel. When you head back out into the maze, you may be rerouted right back to the center. The revolving wheel makes it impossible to tell which ways you had already tried. I was probably in the maze for 10-15 minutes until I found my way out. I enjoyed the challenge, but I could see this leading to a lot of temper tantrums and pissed off people. 10 out of 10

 

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Someone must have pissed in the designer's Cheerios the morning he made this mirror maze.

I decided to use my good friend the single rider line for a few rides on Hurakan Condor. This time all 5 sides were open, so the line absolutely flew. Even better was that the two sides with the tilting floorless seats were available. In typical PortAventura fashion, they do not let you wait for those sides even though they are definitely more unique than the other sides. They did let people wait an additional ride to avoid those seats, but you couldn’t specifically wait for them. Since the single rider line got me on in less than 5 minutes, I just kept reriding and probably got the stand-up side 3-4 times.

 

Simply put, the stand-up, tilting seats were absolutely bonkers. I rode Acrophobia at SFOG last year and was surprised just how much more intimidating it was standing and being forced to stare at the ground. While I didn’t notice the tilt on the sit-down side, I definitely felt it on this side and the drop was just as outstanding. Hurakan Condor is a vast improvement on Acrophobia, which I already loved. This tower is an extra 100+ feet taller and also isn’t quite the ball buster that Acrophobia was. I’m not sure what Intamin did to fix it, but I could ride this one without feeling like I could never have children. Outside of Tower of Terror, this is my new favorite drop tower. 10 out of 10

 

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Don't be afraid, your balls will be ok. If you have an issue with heights, then be afraid. Be very afraid.

I then hit another rare flat, Serpiente Emplumada. It was a weird polyp type ride with large spinning cars. The individual cars spun surprisingly fast and really piled on the Gs. This spinning was amplified as the ride bobbed up and down, as it created a whipping effect. I don’t quite remember how long the cycle was, but the ride was a ton of fun. 8 out of 10

 

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Is the center figure a girl straddling a snake? This park isn't subtle at all.

I returned to get my red Stampida credit. This time I was assigned the back of the fifth car, which was as far as they’d seat people. Does PortAventura always block off the back row of Stampida or was it due to the crowds? I’m thinking it wasn’t crowd related since they were still running two trains per side. Needless to say my ride towards the back was considerably bumpier. In the ride’s first year before the trim brake, I could have seen this being a really awesome ride. But as it stands, the ride had too little speed on the drops to give good air. Due to comfort and extra air, the front really is the place to ride Stampida. Too bad your fate lies with the grouper.

 

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The double up is hands down (or hands up depending on your perspective) the best part of the ride.

I then got in line for Silver River Flume and about 5 minutes later I was off, seated in the very front of the log. I was really looking forward to this flume after seeing how expansive the layout was from the mine train and it delivered in that area. It was a long ride. I believe it had 3 drops. The last drop in particular was noteworthy as it was quite tall and went over the side of a hill.

 

When I ride a water ride, all I ask is that my shoes don’t get destroyed. I accept that it’s inevitable on a shoot the chutes ride, Valhalla, or Ripsaw Falls, but otherwise I shouldn’t have to worry. Soak my shirt and pants? Fine I can live with that. Well I got hosed sitting in the very front of this flume as the entire front of the boat flooded on each drop. I knew to lift my feet for the second and third drops, but the damage was already done on the first drop. Thankfully it was warm enough out that they were able to try off relatively quickly and it didn’t sour an otherwise good flume. 8 out of 10

 

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All decked out for Halloween.

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The interaction between El Diablo and the flume is pretty cool.

I rode Crazy Barrels on the way by, a Huss breakdance. New England used to have a breakdance at Six Flags New England and Palace Playland. Both parks removed theirs in the past few years, which is a bummer since I really do like these flats. So when I see one and am not pressed for time, I try and ride them. PortAventura’s was run somewhat slowly until the second half when the speed was cranked up. The second half had the whipping and spinning I have missed. 7 out of 10

 

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I miss SFNE's Rodeo.

Since my shoes were already soaked, I decided to ride the river rapids. Grand Canyon Rapids looked amazing with the amber colored walls along the ride’s path. When the raft disembarked from the station and rapidly gained speed, I was bracing for some massive rapids. I was surprised that the ride’s many rapids were far from soakers. Instead, they were little splashers. In fact, the flume got me far wetter. Even the waterfalls on the ride were relatively small. The wettest element on the ride were 3 well-hidden sprayers, but those were no worse than a Super Soaker. I still did enjoy the ride since it was pretty long and did try to get you wet, albeit very slowly. Maybe the effects were turned down since it was cool by Spain’s standards (70-75 degrees), but I wouldn’t know. 6 out of 10

 

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Their river rapids ride was an absolute beauty. And I'm not just saying that because my shoes didn't get wet.

I made it a trifecta with the water rides with Tutuki Splash. I saw the ride down earlier in the day, so I figured I may miss out on it. I mean it is an Intamin after all. But it did reopen and I sure am glad that it did. It’s an extended shoot the chute style ride with some great theming and an extra drop. The first drop comes after a long, dark cave. It’s tiny (probably 10-15 feet), but has some good zip to it. After a relatively small splash, I figured I may come off the ride dry. Guess the level of wetness is reversed at PortAventura.

 

Not so fast. As we ascended the main lift, another boat went down the main drop and the wave went directly at our boat. So needless to say we got soaked. The final plunge is really good. It has a hump about 2/3 of the way down that gives a brief pop of air. Then the resulting splash barely was on par with most log flumes since it was sent away from the boat rather than upwards like the Hopkins ones. Honestly had we not been hit by the wave on the lift hill, I probably would have come off no wetter than I went in. Still the theming and great final drop makes this the park’s best water ride. 9 out of 10

 

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This isn't your garden variety shoot the chutes ride.

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It has two drops and some great theming.

With an hour left, I wanted to get my final rides on the B&Ms. Dragon Khan was only about 20 minutes. I came off and made my way over to Shambhala. I was hopeful I’d be able to get two rides in. And I was lucky enough to! Even better, I was able to pick the back row on two consecutive rides. I don’t know why Shambhala’s hills are better than the other hypers, but they are and it’s why it’s in my top 5 steel coasters.

 

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"I hope to ride you again soon." - Bill Clinton to Monica Lewinski

Quick aside about the park’s operations. The inability to wait for a row on any of the coasters is frustrating for sure, but I can accept that in exchange for fast operations (see Fury 325). On the days I went (weekdays in September), the crowds definitely didn’t seem to warrant Express Passes. Nothing had more than a 5-10 minute wait with the exception of Shambhala and Dragon Khan which were at or above 30 minutes all day. It’d make sense the park’s two marquee coasters posted the longest wait times, but then I saw why. The park was only running one train on these two coasters.

 

When you see a park running 3 trains on a mine train coaster, essentially 4 trains on their racing wooden coaster, and even 2 trains on their kiddie wooden coaster, you’d think the park would run their top two rides at max capacity as well. Nope. I can’t help but imagine the park intentionally did this to try and sell Express Passes on an otherwise slow day at the park. I was extremely tempted to get one to get more rides in on Shambhala and Dragon Khan (particularly the former), but decided against it. The primary reason ended up being that they’d funnel you towards the center of the train, but on principle I was tempted not to anyways because of how they probably could have avoided the two longest lines in the park.

 

Outside of the upsetting operations, PortAventura was a perfect park. It’s one of the most beautiful parks in the world, has a true world-class coaster in Shambhala, and a great mix of supporting rides. PortAventura definitely is a park I plan to return to sooner than later. The hotels and attention to detail in the main park definitely feel like a resort destination. The only thing PortAventura needs to do is turn Ferrari Land into a true full-day park because as it stands, it feels analogous to Universal Studios versus Fun Spot. Fun Spot is fun don’t get me wrong and you'll go there basically every time you pass it, but you really can’t spend a full day there with its next door neighbor.

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After your review of Hurakan Condor, I can't wait to hear what you think of Falcon's Fury next month.

 

I rode Ikaros at Grona Lund, which will be in my next update, so I think I have an idea how Falcon's Fury will be. Staring at the ground was definitely freaky, but I wasn't as impressed by the drop as I thought I would be. The drop felt slower than on other Intamin towers, but the novelty of staring at the ground redeemed it for the most part. It was still a great ride, but it was closer to a 9/10 than a 10/10.

 

NICE! I'm sure it was breathtaking to visit such a beautiful park!

 

I'm a big fan of theming and that's one of the biggest things I noticed in the overseas parks. They place a greater emphasis on theming.

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After spending two days at the park, I'd say it's Busch Gardens with worse operations and no orgasmic bacon pretzels.

 

Yeesh, you make the place sound like hell on earth.

 

Awesome pics. I don't care what anyone says, Furius Baco looks amazing.

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Sorry to hear about the operations. That's just so annoying but it is what it is.

 

Glad to hear Shambahla lived up to the hype! It looks stellar. Baco is such a "fallen from grace" story, in my opinion haha. It had such immense hype/curiosity around it and has some great moments but what's talked about most at the end of the day is the roughness. Bummer.

 

Thanks for the report!

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After spending two days at the park, I'd say it's Busch Gardens with worse operations and no orgasmic bacon pretzels.

 

Yeesh, you make the place sound like hell on earth.

 

Awesome pics. I don't care what anyone says, Furius Baco looks amazing.

 

Being mentioned in the same breath with Busch Gardens is a major compliment from me.

 

I agree Baco looks amazing. The bad part isn't visible offride.

 

Sorry to hear about the operations. That's just so annoying but it is what it is.

 

Glad to hear Shambahla lived up to the hype! It looks stellar. Baco is such a "fallen from grace" story, in my opinion haha. It had such immense hype/curiosity around it and has some great moments but what's talked about most at the end of the day is the roughness. Bummer.

 

Thanks for the report!

 

If you could select the front every time to guarantee yourself a good ride, it wouldn't be as bad of an issue like it is with regards to Kingda Ka's roughness. Still the launch, hump, and inline twists redeem the ride and are very much worth experiencing.

 

Great report! This has always been a bucket list park for me, it's a shame to hear about the operations but it still seems like an amazing place.

 

The only reason I brought up the ops is that this park had top 5 potential if they were good. Honestly that and the merely average food were the only things lacking. Everything else was top notch.

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