Getting the most out of your day at a theme park is top on anyone’s agenda. Theme parks these days are grossly expensive if you have not researched discounts and offers. The food and beverages are another expense that you forget to factor in and nearly EVERYONE comes away with a bit of sunburn (unless you’re visiting a park in England). We were fortunate enough to visit PortAventura twice while we were in Spain this Summer. This post is here to tell you a little more about it and help you plan your day…
I think I have quite a good understanding on the park having visited at the start of the season and at the end, however I am no expert. From my experiences some things were better at the start of Summer and others were best at the end. We visited on the 7th July 2014 (just as season was beginning to hit) and then again on the 4th September 2014 (as everything was beginning to die down).
Getting to the park is as simple as getting on a bus (or train shuttle). We used the bus both times but beware, some buses do not run as late as midnight. Travelling back to Salou is quite easy, but from Tarragona look at paying 20-25euros for a taxi home so try and share (or leave earlier… but then you miss FiestAventura). The great thing about getting the bus in the morning is that it drives past the queue of cars trying to get into the car park. No waiting for you!
At both ends of the season, be sure to get your discounts. Nearly every year Chupa Chups runs an offer with PortAventura. Buy three packs of sweets and get 20 euros off of your entry to PortAv. Without these packs your entry will be 45 euros. This soon adds up for big groups.
If you’re using the packets of sweets to enter the park you need to buy your tickets on the door, on the day. So get there early! In July we queued for 30-40 minutes just to get into the park AND we had to pay full price because we didn’t know about the sweets offer. We arrived at 11AM, an hour after the park actually opened, thinking more people would arrive earlier (turns out they don’t). In September we waited about 15 minutes and got into the park just as it officially opened. PortAventura ‘opens’ a short time before it officially opens and you can walk around while the rides are still being tested/are still closed.
Getting here early means you are first in line for near enough everything. On our first visit our longest waiting time was about 1hr 30mins. Although this isn’t too bad, our second visit’s longest waiting time was 40mins (and that was just because the ride wasn’t open yet and we had been on everything else). Once this ride opened we were the 8-12th people on the ride.
Try not to queue for the Furious Baco (aka Kevin Bacon) straight away. It’s a bloody awesome ride, but the queues are biggest at the start because it’s the first ride anybody comes to. Go back to it later. First head to the Dragon Khan (aka Dragon Klauss). It will probably be the only other ride open and it is also awesome.
|Dragon Klauss is the red one|
After this, queue for the Shambhala (aka Shamu). Shambhala (aka Shamalamalam) is the newest ride at PortAv, except Angkor (which in my opinion is a waste of time unless you have children or really fragile people with you). Shambhala (aka Shish Kebab) is unlikely to be open, but queue anyway, outside of the queue. Trust me. If this doesn’t sound like a good plan to you, you can always try your luck later. The park quietens down as it gets darker but be aware that MORE people arrive at 7PM for the evening entry.
|Wear a good bra for Shambhala, or your tits will blow away|
After Shambhala (aka Shikira), queue for Hurakan Condor. Just do it. Even if it’s not open. This queue is probably one of the slowest in the park. The Hurakan Condor takes four people at a time so the queue is long, and boring. The ride itself is terrifying but over in seconds. No one wants to queue hours for it.
The Stampida is an old, rickety roller coaster that is likely to give you the harshest beating of your life but is hilarious. Queue on the blue side. It seems to be shorter than the red every time I’ve ever been to PortAv (which has been plenty over the last ten years).
The water rides are super busy as long as the sun is out. The best time to do these is just before the sun sets when everyone gets wimpy and wants to stay dry. The driers are 2 euros to get you warmed up again afterwards. Alternatively, man up. Word of warning though, don’t leave the water rides too late. They tend to shut earlier than the rest of the rides.
All the other rides sort of slot in around these main attractions.
|Carousel in the Far West|
The Submarine Odysey used to be one of my favourite rides. Not so much anymore. The 3D glasses, the terrible organisation and the change in storyline is just a big waste of time. BRING BACK THE DOLPHIN.
The Templo Del Fuego starts at four and is a much better ‘simulation’ type ride than the Sea Odysey. It’s a great display of pyrotechnics and great acting (if you get the lady).
At the end of the season it was noticeably quieter around the park. Queues were shorter and we packed more rides into our day than we did at the start of the season. I think it helped that on our second visit, we came more prepared with food and water.
Taking a packed lunch with you is a great option for long days at parks. In the UK a packed lunch would normally be enough to keep you going from 9AM-6PM. However, PortAventura is usually open from 11AM-12AM. Yahuh, a whopping thirteen hour day. Taking a packed lunch will stop you buying lunch AND dinner at the park… which can set you back over 30 euros PER PERSON!
We took baguettes and used the water fountains to fill our bottles, treating ourselves to a coffee (1.70 euros each), a large coke for two (3.70 euros) and then dinner (between 15 euros and 20 euros each for a three course meal with a drink if you eat at the canteens). Eating in a canteen is far cheaper than eating in the restaurants and I recommend the three course Mexican Canteen (La Cantina) over the three course American Canteen (The Iron Horse).
|Go to La Cantina for Nachos, Chilli con Carne in a taco and crepes|
When you’re feeling overwhelmed by the landslide of fun your having on the rides (or you’ve just eaten), sit down and enjoy one of the shows. PortAventura puts on some fabulous stunt shows. Bang, Bang West wasn’t one of my favourites but it includes a few laughs, horses playing dead and lots of explosions. You get to pet the horses afterwards, so don’t rush out as it begins to end.
|Bang, Bang West: Where horses play dead|
Generation Forever, when we visited in July, was the highlight of my day. It’s not JUST a musical. It includes comedy, basketball tricks, acrobatics (the best I’ve ever seen in my life) and fantastic illusions. Sadly, in September, it seemed the cast were tired. They replaced some of the epic illusions with a pretty mediocre Spice Girls tribute and it seemed the police man and the rebel routine was ruined by something out of the acts hands. Big sad face 😦
|‘We are music generation foreeeever’|
The fire show in Polynesia is also a must see. The cast is made up of beautiful ladies in hula skirts and big, muscly men dancing with fire. You don’t have to be a good photographer to get an amazing picture here. The later showing is a good way to wind down your day before heading off to get a place for FiestAventura.
FiestAventura is a big display of fireworks, pyrotechnics and floats on the water at the entrance of the park. It’s a definite DO. The parade before hand is a great time to get pictures of the acts of various shows across the park or to sing along to a repetitive monotonous tune, only made worse by repeated plays no less than six times. Try not to position yourself where Kevin Bacon will ruin your photos of the show on the water, you want to be further around towards the exit. Opposite the souvenir shop is a good place to be.
|SIESTA! SIESTA! I mean… FIESTAAA!|
Grab a beer and enjoy your last hour at PortAv in style.
All of this advice and info might only apply to the months of June to September. Outside of the season, the park closes earlier, some shows are cut and ride queues might be shorter or longer around holidays. One thing always stays the same though… take suncream. It’s nice and hot here in Spain.