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).
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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).