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That happened to us this morning too! We got fuel but then the route back into the airport brought us out beyond the car rental drop off lane so we had to do another lap. That airport is a right old mess at the moment.Getting lost trying to find petrol and lapping the airport three times on the way back
Mysterious Sue said:I have never, cred edition
Mysterious Sue said:Feliz Navidad
Serena said:Cheap, plasticky, bare, boring, small, mediocre Ferrari Land!
Oh my god. My expectations were pretty low and FL still managed to stoop below them. First, we have the two dark rides that feel like boring advertisements. How did they get them both so wrong?!
Serena said:Second, we have Junior Red Force – which isn’t even red!
Serena said:A special thank you to all those who were new to the park for not putting on their bossy cred boots and demandingly marching us from coaster to coaster. It’s way more fun when we can all just go with the flow together!
Awesome report! Loved reading that! It's really helped fill in those hungover gaps in the memory too ?Here’s a hopefully brief (by my standards) trip report of the whole weekend, but first a bit of context:
PortAventura was my first European theme park visit as an enthusiast, back in 2016. At that point I had ridden about 60 coasters, almost exclusively in UK parks, and I was wowed by the scale of the place, the great theming and some awesome rides. I was amazed by both Shambhala and Furius Baco and based on two rides of each actually rated Baco higher as I’d never experienced anything quite like that launch at that point! (caveat: we only rode front row)
So, returning three years later with 200 more creds and 35 more parks under my belt, how would the park stand up to my more experienced scrutiny and would Baco remain in my Top Ten above Shambhala? Read on to find out!
I headed to Birmingham airport and met up with @Howie for our flight to Barcelona, kicking off with the obligatory pre-flight pint.
A few hours later we arrived at the airport, breezed through security, met up with @Slamming Coastercore and @Taikavarpu, grabbed our hire car (SEAT Ateca SUV –nice) and hit the road for the drive to Salou. Excitement levels were high and the conversation flowed as we talked creds, Metal and gaming and before we knew it we were at our apartment, which was very decent for the £10 a night we were each paying. After a quick freshen up we drove up to Ferrari Land which was open for the evening to meet up with @daviddoc and @MouseAT who had arrived earlier. The park was absolutely dead so numerous night rides were in prospect!
First up was obviously Red Force, which would be my first cred to go over 300ft (way over!) and also my first to go faster than 100mph. Quite a step up from my existing record holder for height and speed, Hyperion.
I must say I was a little nervous as I boarded the train on the front row, donned the protective goggles and uncharacteristically held on for my first ride.
Wooosh! What a rush. The LSM acceleration seems to go on forever and then you zoom up the top hat, getting some airtime at the top and slowing down to what feels like a near stop before plummeting back down the other side and returning to the station via a neat little airtime hill. What an awesome ride! Watching the on-ride video was hilarious as it showed my reactions to that first ride, not to mention the effect of the G-forces on my open mouth.
Needless to say we went straight back around and rode again, and this time I was further back on the train. The overall ride experience was great again, though the train has a noticeable vibration the further back you sit, with the back row giving the worst ride where it feels like the train might derail before it reaches the end of the launch. Overall though a great ride and we would be back again later in the evening (and the next day)
After grabbing some food we tried some of the other rides in the park and, well, they were all a bit ? to be honest. From a bland and jolty kiddie cred, to a shot tower with no force, to flying theatre and simulator rides that lack immersion and any sense of thrill, everything in Ferrari Land seems to be a bit more crap than it looks like it would be!
That criticism can even be levelled at Red Force when you ride at the back, but it’s still a pretty amazing ride experience so that’s where we stayed for most of the evening, only taking a break to try out the Pit Stop Record experience which again was nowhere near as fun as it promised to be.
Despite the mediocre supporting rides, it was still well worth the 15EUR entry fee for those night rides on Red Force and we had a lot of fun as a group, which continued when we got back to the apartments as we bought some beers and played games until the early hours. Probably not the best preparation for the two days ahead but common sense rarely applies in these situations.
Despite the late night we were up nice and early, excited to hit the main park, and we all headed there for opening time to get a head start on the rest of the group who wouldn’t be arriving till lunchtime. It was a lovely warm day already and both @Howie and myself had taken the opportunity to wear shorts and T-shirts, though clearly many locals thought it was chilly as they were wearing their winter jackets!
Due to the park’s annoying staggered opening policy the coaster selection at 10am was limited to Furius Baco or nothing, so with everyone else queuing for that we opted to make our way to the back of the park in time for the 10:30 opening of the two B&M big boys. First up was the obvious choice…
We lucked out on a back row ride straight away and it was awesome. My appreciation of airtime has come on leaps and bounds since my first visit to the park, as has my willingness to allow a bit more wiggle room in the restraints on a hyper coaster, so I was treated to many seconds of sublime floater, and with three first-time riders in our group there was plenty of excitement afterwards. Possibly too much excitement from @Howie! ?
With the queue time under 15 minutes it would’ve been rude not to get a re-ride so we went for another and this time bagged the front row. What an amazing start to the day! Front row was also incredible with the added thrill of being hung over the top of the drop for a few seconds, while the airtime was perhaps not quite as strong as at the back but still plentiful.
I actually think we may have had a third ride that morning but I can’t remember for sure, but after riding Shambhala we headed over to Dragon Khan, which was walk-on. It’s showing its age a bit and is particularly clunky through the Zero-G roll, but it’s still a decent old-school B&M looper with that trademark roar.
We then did a full loop of the park with the intention of catching the Christmas show in the Wild West Saloon, hoping to see Howie’s fabled Donkey in a hat, but by the time we got there the show was full, so instead we made our way back to the front of the park for lunch, expecting that the rest of the group would be arriving soon. We grabbed food from the café under Baco’s brake run and were amused to see some stray cats that had made their homes there.
With the rest of the group delayed due to hotel faff, we had time for one more ride and with our closest coaster now only having a 10 minute wait, the obvious choice was…
So as I mentioned earlier, the first time I rode Baco it was front row and I enjoyed it so much it became (at the time) my number two coaster (above Shambhala!) and was still comfortably in my Top Ten at the time of this trip. I was now about to take a middle of the train ride on an outside seat at the insistence of @daviddoc to get the true Baco experience! Would it remain in my top ten?
Well, no. It’s a bit rough innit? I wouldn’t say painfully rough but the vibration on the outside seats is pretty bad and makes for an uncomfortable ride. Having now ridden a lot more launch coasters it’s also not as impressive a ride in general, though the launch is still fantastic, I do strangely enjoy that slooooow inversion and the final turn over the lake is lovely, if somewhat juddery on-ride. So it’s no way a top ten ride for me anymore but I still enjoyed it in places and would happily ride it again.
The rest of the group were now making their way to Ferrari Land so we did the same and the Live officially began with a ride on Red Force. Bizarrely the park was even quieter than it had been the previous evening so everything was walk-on. Those of us that had ridden the other rides on Friday skipped them this time, and it didn’t take long for the group’s newer arrivals to realise that everything else the park had to offer was a bit ?. Obviously those that needed it grabbed the kiddie cred, and for some reason Mr “I don’t do kiddie creds” Howatson had another ride too.
After that we just focussed on more Red Force rides until everyone had their fill and we ditched Ferrari Land for the main park. I did get my last ride on Red Force on the front row with @Taikavarpu which was a great way to end our experience of the ride because it’s so much better at the front.
So back we went to PortAventura and what followed was what could best be described as an hour of faffing as we walked towards the back of the park via the Wild West area, stopping numerous times to take photos before stopping for a late lunch for the many new arrivals that needed to get food. I didn’t need to eat but it was still fun to relax with the group and have a chat after a hectic first half of the day.
After that break it was pushing 5pm so we headed for some rides, starting with Dragon Khan (more enjoyable for me than my earlier ride) before getting in the queue for Shambhala, which had grown to about 25 minutes. This gave the chance for some queue line games and my first experience of Cred Head, which I had really been looking forward to. Now with dark rides and theme parks added, it was a lot of fun and passed the time well until we neared the front of the queue with the sun beginning to set.
I managed to snag back row along with @Slamming Coastercore (I think) for a stunning sunset ride packed with airtime, and again with several more first time riders in the group everyone was buzzing when they got off, so we went around for another go which was a full-on night ride and a fabulous final ride of the night. After that we all headed down to the front of the park for the Christmas fireworks display, which was pretty straightforward but fun to watch.
The night was far from over though, as we then made our way out of the park and over to the El Paso hotel where much of the group was staying. Much alcohol was consumed, dodgy hot dogs were eaten due to the other alternative being an hour-long wait for the buffet, many games were played and much conversation was had before we staggered back to our apartment in the early hours (again). It was a fantastic evening with a wonderfully friendly group of people, though my hangover the next morning begged to differ!
Sunday morning was rough, I must admit, and I was not feeling my best for the first few hours, to say the least! We managed to drag ourselves out of bed and up to the park before 11am, where we met up with the rest of the group at the entrance to the new Sesame Street dark ride, Street Mission.
This had an hour-long queue which was probably for the best as it gave us time to recover from the previous night’s indulgences, drink plenty of water and play some more cred-themed games which were again a lot of fun. Before we knew it we were through the queue and on the ride, which is a decent trackless system with some practical theming, big screens and shooting elements. The shooting is always fun to a point (and I got the best score on our cart) but it does detract from the story somewhat, but it was a nice relaxed way to start the day and by the time we came out, the sun was up again and basking in its rays definitely helped clear the hangover.
After that it was back to Shambhala for a couple more rides, including a sublime one on the third row from the back, left outer seat which might be one of those magic coaster seats that people talk about sometimes. It really was phenomenal!
It was then cred-run time as we progressed around the park picking up all the +1s, starting with El Diablo (boring and uncomfortable mine train) before progressing to Tomahawk (kids woodie that gave a bit of air on the back row!) and then Stampida, where the group split so we could race. I noticed something amongst the queue line graffiti that I thought might be of interest to the more adventurous CF members so I took a photo ?
Anyway, I was on the red side and we won. Screw you, blue side! The ride seemed a bit less rough than when I rode it in 2016 but the trains were still nasty. Never did get back to ride the other side on this trip, which affects my OCD badly but not my spine.
Next stop was lunch at a nearby Wild West buffet, which had the second-longest queue of the day after the dark ride, then afterwards we rode the dodgems and the rapids, with our boat missing any serious splashing all the way round – others weren’t so lucky.
Returning to the front of the park it was time for another ride on Baco (the first of the trip for some members of the group) and this time I got an inside seat and have to say it was totally fine, not rough at all. It was so enjoyable in fact that some hardy souls from the group went around for a second ride immediately as it was walk-on. I was hoping for a front row ride to compare to my last visit but the ride op was being a dick and only allowing 4 people into the front row queue So I ended up on the second row, outside seat and again it was pretty shaky, but still had its moments.
Two rides in a row was enough though so we moved on to the most shameful cred of the trip – Tami Tami in the kids area! Again there were a few people that needed the credit, but most of us didn’t and yet we still all joined the queue which resulted in a CF takeover.
It was after 5pm and although some of the group still needed the ‘other side of Stampida’ cred, everyone agreed that the best use of the next hour was some more lovely Shambhala rides, so we headed back to find a virtually walk-on queue and had a few more rides before much of the group had to depart to catch their flight. So we said our goodbyes and the remainder of the group split into two factions – those that needed the Stampida cred and those that wanted a night ride on Hurakan Condor. I was in the latter group. I’d not had a night ride on a drop tower before so this was a good ride to try it on, but actually the impact of such a huge drop is somewhat lost when all you can see is darkness, so it’s probably not something I’d bother doing again.
After that it was back to Shambhala for another three night rides, with our small group dashing round like 12 years olds after each ride to make it into the station for another. Ultimately this paid off handsomely for myself, @daviddoc and @Taikavarpu as we got off the third-to-last train of the day, ran all the way around and got back on it for the last train of the night… on the back row!
As if that wasn’t cool enough, the nightly firework show began just as we were returning to the station and we got the added bonus of disembarking the train on the brake run because the ops didn’t want to send the empty train in front of us round for another lap. Seemed an odd decision but we weren’t complaining as we got a rare manual release cred. It was quite simply the perfect way to end a fantastic weekend and also my final park visit of not only the year but also the decade.
(Excuse the finger!)
After leaving the park we met up with @MouseAT and headed into Salou for food , eventually finding a restaurant that was open and served pretty much every kind of food you could want, which in our case was either pizza, curry or tapas. Conversation flowed, as did some beer, and after the meal we returned to our apartments for a few more drinks and played a pretty hilarious rap battle game before heading to bed around midnight ready for the early start back to the airport the next day.
Views on the park three years after my first visit? The main park is still really nice with decent theming throughout and nice landscaping, and Shambhala is a stunning ride. Baco not so much but it was interesting to see how my opinions on rides had changed since 2016. Ferrari Land is pretty terrible though aside from Red Force, and the sooner they give up on it being a separate gate, the better. Overall though it’s still probably the best European park I’ve visited so far when considering the balance between thrill rides and theming.
So there you go, another trip report that I spectacularly failed to keep brief! This was without doubt my favourite CF live so far. Everything just fell into place perfectly: the great weather, the parks being quiet, the lack of cred anxiety because I’d visited before and having 2 days at the park with no driving in between. Add to that being with a lovely group of people that all got on well and had plenty of socialising time and this was the event where I truly felt part of this great community. So thanks again to everyone that made the weekend such a perfect end to my first decade as a coaster enthusiast!
I’ll finish with some highs and lows:
Best 3 things of the weekend
1. Night rides on Shambhala and Red Force
2. Shambhala’s ride ops barely checking the lap bars
3. Drinking beer and playing silly games every night
Worst 3 things of the weekend
1. Pathetic/non-functional hand driers in the PortAventura toilets
2. Ferrari Land’s crappy shot tower and simulator rides
3. Throwing up that nasty hot dog on Sunday morning and it tasting exactly the same on the way up as it did on the way down ?
Also a few more photos from the weekend that I really like...
Ice Cream on the last day of November!
I had lots of photos and actually started writing the trip report a couple of days after we got back. But your summary is basically the TLDR of my reportNot quite sure how you remembered everything so well, all I got is foggy recollections of Red Force being shaky, Shambhala being awesome and beer being abundant!