>  Adventure   >  Impressions of PortAventura Park & Ferrariland
PortAventura - Mediterrania

From our last few posts, both getting to Reus Airport and our stay at the Hotel Gold River, it’s evident that the reason for our trip was to spend a few days visiting PortAventura World and to a far lesser extent, the surrounding area.

I’ve stayed – as a kid – in Salou twice, and had no major desire to stay in town once again, and as an adult, I can confirm the distance between the resort and Salou, should you feel the need, is very much walkable anyway.

Since theme park crowds can be so seasonal, I’ll begin by saying that our visit was over the first weekend of June – and to be honest, even then, crowds were mixed. We expected the worst crowds to be over the weekend (Saturday/Sunday) but Monday, and particularly Tuesday, were pretty dire. Almost more so, to some extent.

Far West Crazy Barrels - PortAventura

The other very major issue with PortAventura that we encountered was that queue jumping is both rampant and entirely unchallenged. During our visit, there were a large number of schoolkids visiting the park and it was just never-ending – on one occasion when I challenged a kid trying to jump the queue and refused to budge, his teacher instead shouted down, from further up the queue, to berate me over it. Great lesson.

Generally though, the biggest take-away I got was to plan your thrill-seeking activities at either opposite ends of the park to where crowds are likely to be, and at odd times, like lunch, or early evening when folks are heading home. For example, we did Dragon Khan during peak lunchtime hours and waited only about 15 minutes; Shambala was taken on with about a 25 minute wait towards the end of the day in the evening.

Shambhala, PortAventura

Furious Baco, to the front of the park, more or less dies off entirely after the morning rush, when the crowds have surged past the Mediterrania area and into the rest of the park.

Furious Baco, PortAventura

If you’re looking for thrills though, PortAventura is a big improvement over say, Disneyland Paris – but then on the flipside, probably isn’t so character-heavy, with just a few appearances from the likes of Woody Woodpecker or Sesame Street characters throughout the day.

Cookie Monster greets the WSP Cohort

While most guests arrive to the Mediterrania section of the park, we always arrived by virtue of our private hotel entrance, to the Far West. This area is pretty expansive and depending on the direction you start from, begins with the Grand Rapids – I was so confident after the first ride during which I stayed entirely dry, that the same thing would happen second time round; big mistake. Then, the crazy barrels, which despite being two adults, we found so much fun, log flume, and their newest rollercoaster-in-the-dark, Uncharted.

Far West Grand Rapids, PortAventura

Uncharted is an anomaly in that the loading capacity seems to be so low that you need to arrive at the crack of dawn – of the two times we took on this roller coaster, both were because we were able to use the hotel entrance ahead of official park opening.

From there, we carried on into Mexico, and had a fun go trying to keep our bags tied to our legs on the Serpiente Emplumada, themed after some kind of wild serpent; before continuing on to the old mine train classic, El Diablo. Somehow, although I first went on this roller coaster when I was a kid, it seems to have gotten longer and somehow slightly more boring as time has passed – there’s an incredible three lift hills on this ride, with two of them almost back to back.

The ’China’ themed land is undoubtedly the thrill capital of the PortAventura Park and it was here we discovered both the parks’ main and by far most thrilling rollercoasters; Shambhala, and Dragon Khan.

Dragon Khan, PortAventura

As I said earlier, we managed to do both at off-peak times – although not without me staring at the example seat for Shambhala coming to terms with my apparent deep-seated fear of any form of restraint other than the over-the-shoulder bars you find on the likes of Dragon Khan.

Both rollercoasters are supremely thrilling – although I did find Dragon Khan to be quite rough in its increasingly old age, and have the on-ride picture to prove my discomfort! Having said that, it’s a must-do for any visit to PortAventura.

Shambhala, PortAventura

We flew through Sesame Street, although truthfully, aside from it being clearly geared towards kids, we struggled because of – again – the low loading capacity of many of the rides.

There is actually a fun, though almost impossibly hidden, water ride behind both China and Sesame Street, Angkor, which you’d nearly need a GPS and compass to find. I don’t know why it’s so hidden as it was really a lot of fun – as I thoroughly enjoyed trying to soak the man in the opposing raft, and when that was impossible, then his family instead. In fairness, he took pride in doing likewise.

Angkor, PortAventura

Polynesia is of course home to the great Tutuki Splash and I enjoyed being soaked twice, knowing full well I was no more than 10 minutes walk from the hotel, and a chance to dry off and having a celebratory glass of wine!

There’s another park next door that we got a ticket for as part of our hotel stay – Ferrariland. To be quite honest, having visited, we both came to the conclusion that we’re not really sure why this is an entirely separate park and not an additional themed land, other than maybe to recoup the investment on what was presumably a very expensive roller coaster (‘Red Force’).


We visited, and sure enough I did Red Force (absolute terror, but very enjoyable after the fact when I thought about it) – but beyond that and the drop towers, there’s not really a whole lot to do. The park opens only in the evenings for a few hours, and that seems more than enough.

Overall, we had a great time at PortAventura World – hopefully some of the queueing time tips above are useful if you’re planning a trip there (don’t forget to let me know if you find some top tips to let others’ know about), and though we’d be unlikely to go back, in favour of going somewhere new instead, it’s definitely a fun place to spend a few days – kids, or no kids!

Reformed backpacker & former ultra-cheap traveller, Andy now atones for his past by overspending on premium travel experiences and failing at making the most of the miles & points game. Former expat now returned to Ireland, he is a product manager by day, and travel aficionado by evening and weekend.

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