Attraction Review: PortAventura Navidad

First Christmas theme park trip locked in, so Christmas 2017 has officially begun! This year we kicked things off with a quick trip over to PortAventura World. As some of you may have noticed, the park had a slight expansion this year including a whole new second gate park with Ferrari Land, including Europe's tallest and fastest coaster Red Force!

So yh, it was obviously a must for 2017, but knowing how terrible PA can get with crowds we decided to leave it til the very last minute. I've visited PA at Christmas a couple of times before and we've always nabbed really cheap deals, plus the park is usually really dead so we can maximise our ride time! Sadly this time, and with the opening of Ferrari Land, no such deal ever surfaced, so instead we checked into a cheap and cheerful apartment in Salou which was about 10 mins walk away from the park - sorted!

If there's one thing I note about PortAventura's Christmas celebrations its the frankly nightmarish decorations. The entire Mediterranea area has seemingly been infested with a plague of Santas. These things are bloody everywhere and their cold, expressionless faces haunt you from every angle. I do not like them. And to add to the nightmare fuel this year, the park have also decided to introduce a bunch of creepy snowmen characters, complete with realistic human features like eyebrows, tongues, lips and teeth! These things have no business being on the face of a snowman and they make me sad. we ran away from them by diverting into the Furius Baco queue.

If you're new around here, then you may be shocked to hear that I BLOODY LOVE ME SOME BACO. OK, I agree that a coaster that has to be ridden in a particular seat to be good isn't truly a good coaster, but damn, Baco in the front row is epic! The launch is gut-wrenching and combined with the insane airtime hill it's enough to have me running straight back around for a second go. The rest of the group unfortunate enough to ride in rows other than the front complained of headaches and aneurisms, internal bleeding etc, but for me the ride was perfect. Baco <3.

Oh, and it's at this point I'll mention the park was totally dead, as dead as it had been in previous years. I did wonder if the park would be a little busier this year. The lack of super cheap off-season deals gave me the impression that the park was doing super well at getting people through the gates this year, but apparently not as everything was walk on. Meh.

We wandered over to the B&Ms next, stopping off at S├ęsamoAventura first for a quick go on the Magic Fish. It's one of those super fun water skimming spinny rides, I always have a blast riding these things (so much so that I did not take any pics lol) but yh, a defo must ride for me at any park!

Finally - B&M time. Shambhala was up first because it was fab. And here was our first run in with the annoying operations of the park. I'd heard a lot about PA having terrible ops over recent years and seeing as my last visit was back in....2014 I couldn't say I agreed. But now I do. OK, I get it, there's not a TON of people in the park, but ONE TRAIN on Shambz?! ONE?! Are you kidding me? Soooo annoying. Oh, and also they don't let you choose where you sit, so you wait around for your go for ages only to be placed in the middle seats, which any self-respecting enthusiast knows is the most pointless seat on a B&M hyper. Super irritating!

Soooo Shambhala. Ahem. My first go on this B&M bad boy I got shoved in the back row, which was fine by me. Sadly I spent most of the ride looking around and asking 'hey, goober, where's the airtime?' It was so disappointing! Just waiting and waiting for those mighty bursts of airtime and they just...never came. Pooooo!

Dragon Khan next, only I'll let you in on a secret. I wasn't feeling 100% myself on this trip and these old school B&M loopers leave me feeling a little dodgy at the best of times, so I figured it wouldn't have been my best decision to chance it. So I took a bunch of pics instead - enjoy! From the consensus of the group it sounds like Khan was running pretty well, but on a similarly frustrating one-train operation to Shambhala. Grrr!

We rode lift-hill:the ride next, AKA El Diablo: Tren de la Mina. I love the way this mine train interacts with the log flume, and have always felt it gives a similar ride to Big Thunder Mountain, which gets less of a bad rep because of the awesome theming. I found out on this trip that originally there were plans to enclose both the flume and the mine train in a similar large, mountain style themed building, however due to financial constraints, this was scrapped. Now we know why that area looks so weird and why the mine train rides so strangely - just close your eyes and imagine the theming next time you ride.

Another no-go for me next, the group braved Huracan Condor, I took pics. I'm a huge wimp, and generally will only ride a drop tower once just to say I've done it. I simply do not enjoy them, so don't see the point in riding. I've always loved how Huracan looks though, the way the temple ceiling sits precariously atop the tower. It's so menacing - the perfect example of how to theme a drop tower expertly!

Sadly Temple del Fuego was spiting. That's a downside to visiting PA during the winter - a fair amount of attractions are closed. I understand the water rides being shut, but why one of the park's only indoor rides isn't operational is beyond me.

We grabbed lunch at the Mexican cantina and enjoyed a show whilst we munched. The food options here were good but damn, quickly reminder of how expensive the food at PA is. Lunch for Conor and I (starter and a main for Conor, main and a dessert from me, plus two drinks) set us back £30 - a bit too much for theme park food if you ask me, and I don't often complain about prices!

Post-lunch we grab the Tomahawk cred for those who didn't have it yet. The once single-file trains have now been replaced by adorable Mini-llennium Flyer trains from GCI, resulting in a much more comfortable ride and double the capacity! I always forget how much fun Tomahawk actually is, I love the way it interacts with Stampida and how at some points you can't tell where it ends and Stampida begins!

Urgh, speaking of Stampida, I guess we should talk about bloody Stampida. The others rode one side of this before lunch but I bailed. I've heard legends of Stampida once being fab, but apparently Kumbak ruined it with their terrible trains. It's such a weird ride, there are so many moments that should be dripping with airtime, but it just never comes? Also urgh, the bloody laterals! SO MANY LATERALS! You can't have that many laterals and no padding or relief from them, my sides felt bruised by the end and I spent more time trying to brace and protect myself than enjoying the ride. Blergh.

Have you ever noticed how HUGE the Far West area of Port Aventura is. It's MASSIVE! It just stretches on and on, it pretty much occupies the entire west side of the park (clever!). Shame that the log flume was closed as it is a great one, and apparently is the highest publicly rated ride at the resort! We plumped for rapids instead, which were really fast and spinny but not very wet. That is until the spiteful fountains at the end. Rude.

And that was a full loop of the park done! One of the best things about visiting PA in December is that the sun sets early, and that means maximum time for night riding! We decided to give Shambhala another go, and this time I ended up at the front - yasss! This is what I'm talking about - that punchy airtime that boots you out of your seat and has you floating pretty much the whole way around the track. Beautiful!

We just had time to nip in to the PortAventura Christmas Show in the Gran Teatro Imperial in China. to describe this show. Basically, imagine everything Christmassy you possibly can and braindump it onto a stage. Singing, dancing, projection mapped dresses, penguins on hoverboards, trampolining Russians, break-dancing made EuroVision look understated let's put it that way. It was bloody brilliant!

Finally it was time for the night time Christmas show down in Mediterranea - and apparently that's what the rest of the guests in the park had in mind too, the place was rammed. So, let me break it down for you: there's a Christmas parade, followed by a mini stage show, followed by a float show on the lake. It's not huge in scale, but it's cute. Lots of Port Aventura characters and Christmassy goodness like Santa and some snowmen and people in cute Christmas outfits.

What's annoying though is all of the different areas this shows take place: if you have a good spot for the parade, you'll miss the show, if you're in a good spot for the show you'll miss the parade, if you hold tight in your spot for the lake show you'll miss the parade and the show. I basically had to run like a maniac and barge my way through the heavy crowds to try and get a spot for each - a pretty much impossible feat for families with kids, so it doesn't really make sense to me why they do it this way.

The show is good. The three parts in themselves are all good. I just feel like they should scrap the parade and mini-show and pump all of the money and effort into making one massive spectacle on the lake - which is easily the best bit of the whole thing!

We headed back into the park in the evening on the following day to get in a few more rides on Shambhala but that was our visit to PortAventura Navidad! Honestly...I wasn't that impressed. I make no attempt to disguise my disdain for PortAventura, I've never been a huge fan of the park and don't get why others rate it so highly. It's expensive and the operations are rubbish. I feel like everything good there is a hangover from when Universal had their mitts on it and it's all kind of gone a bit downhill from there. It'll take something huge to get me back any time soon!

Talk later xoxo,