Summer 2001 - Port Aventura & Parc Asterix

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Tuesday, December 11, 2001 2:24 PM
Here's a trip report which I wrote 4 or 5 months back which I posted on another forum before I joined CoasterBuzz so I thought I may aswell post it also on here for all to read :)

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Burst through the front door with burn marks on my shoulders from the bags I've been carrying and my legs creaking and what do I do? Jump on the computer and give you all my trip report, oh how kind.

This was going to be one trip that I would never forget, a trip that could widen my view of coasters, experience of coasters and knowledge of coasters... as well as to ride some kick*****coasters!!! It would also be my first time to ride anything outside of the UK which I was very excited about.

Arriving in Spain with the hot scorching weather (and the lovely ladies) surprisingly didn't take much time getting used to, but when I arrived I only had half a day so I chilled ready for the next day where I was going to come across a world class B&M and a CCI racer.

I entered Port Aventura with the music blasting, the atmosphere electric and with my senses focused on the roar which I could hear booming from the back of the park. For me Port Aventura turned out better than I expected and in my view blows Alton Towers away in the view of theme but with me a roller coaster enthusiast and not so much a 'theme park enthusiast' my remarks may be argumentative as there are many attributes for a park which I didn't take time to look at, i.e. young children's rides and live entertainment. But with how well they do stitch everything from the theme of the street lights and the op's clothing together, they have made a great effort to keep the magic constant in the park and at a high quality and the backing from Universal Studios can only be for the best - with the waste land surrounding the park for miles and the hotel on its way, this park is going to grow and maybe we could see a European contender for strain on the Florida holiday popularity very soon.

It was the morning and with me crashing through the gates on opening hour after buying a good value 15 day pass for about £38; I headed straight to the back of the park without looking anywhere but in front. When I raced through and entered the China area it was scarce with many people not making it straight to the back of the park except the usual rowdy teenagers but fortunately there wasn't many of these as it was obviously the busiest time of the year with the summer holidays and a high majority of the people visiting there being families taking it easy as they venture this large park. First impressions - glorious, with the light music in the background and sweet green trees and Chinese houses I looked from the mock-up Wall of China basking in the glory of the theme while peering to my right at this monster of a coaster called Dragon Khan.

It might be just me but I would watch coaster videos of world class coasters which I hadn't rode and be raged with jealousy wishing I could have the chance to experience them, well Dragon Khan was always one I watched and admired from afar, and now was my chance. While watching this slick coaster move in the bright blue Spanish sky I was taken in by its sheer height and speed, and the fact that this coaster was a B&M and its reputation was so dramatic I was way too over-enthusiastic even before reaching the loading platform. Hang around the station glaring at it... let's give it a ride!

Many people describe a coaster monstrous but no word could suite this coaster better, monster of all coasters is defiantly the title that should be christened to my now favourite looper. Chugging up the lift hill with what looks like desert land to the left as this coaster just stands on the edge of the park raised up next to motorways, 7-11's and Motel's made you feel unique to anything else almost dominant then the surroundings, now I think I know what it feels to ride Desperado. My first ride was in the back seat which is where I always aim on a coaster, seems second nature these days and with the fact that at this time I was riding on my own I cut the very short queue to fill the odd space.

Then the drop - I love this drop, floating straight to the ground is outstanding and into a beast of a loop with the blood pouring from my head as I hit the G's at the foot of this first inversion, then elapsing from my feet as I get flipped through my favourite inversion of the ride - the dive loop. Through the dizzy height of the barrel roll and into the very hasty cobra roll which I exceptionally enjoyed then into the trims which were none existent when DK was functioning with 3 trains at night riding. The corkscrews are just as exhilarating and brisk - then hitting into the brakes proceeding to me faltering out of the train with unsteady knees and trembling teeth with the adrenaline streaming through my veins with tingling fingers. Like when I rode the skycoaster, I was totally gobsmacked but for a longer period with my on-ride photo reviling my tonsils.

Overall, truly mad and I just had to ride it over and over again, furthermore I still cannot get over how smooth this coaster is considering its sheer hight, the quantity of inversions and back seat riding. I don't think I matched Dave's day riding on Nemesis though, but I'm sure I beat you on number of inversions in one day riding, muhahaha! :)

The UK should get one of these coasters and surely resort from the gimmicky world-firsts and just get a coaster that is half-decent. I can't wait to ride Kumba someday, the question will be which first drop will I prefer and also the head chop of the vertical loop which I think will make a crucial difference in my overall comparison of the two. In conclusion, this coaster is one of the best in the world, but if 50 feet deeper into the ground with John Wardley's set design, this coaster could have been the best in the world - lets hope JW gets a call in the near future from Port Aventura.

After my first and second rides on Dragon Khan I walked (steadily) to the CCI Racer - Stampida. Like most, we all love a CCI and this one packs a punch of speed with a lack of airtime which I don't like on a woodie but with the fact that it has a purpose for rapid speed and roaring power, this one ranks highly in my list of most enjoyable woodies, I would hate to ask myself though how I would rate it if it wasn't a racer.

The first thing that hits you is height and the speed, even though the dual sounding of shaking and rattling can be a misapprehension in the perception of the coaster's speed. I especially liked the banked dives and twisting turns that had me slamming from one side to the other and I love the way that the end run increases speed living up to its name of fierce wild stampeding animals, very reminiscent. Galloping around the circuit I wish the designers had done something more with the height as the coaster never reaches lower than a 20foot high off the ground so I think they could have done a lot more with this coaster. One down point was that I wasn't really impressed with the way they intertwined Tomahawk, I was expecting more from what I heard. Overall, very fun coaster and I ended up riding Stampida more than Dragon Khan due to the fact that I would work my way to the exit at night and just keep going on this woodie as the queues were always very short so I would end up being dragged from it, although I wish the dark riding was 'dark riding' like Dragon Khan.

I then proceeded to the other coasters making sure I rode them all and then for the rest of the day swapping between Dragon Khan and Stampida as I wanted to get as much as I could out of these two coasters. A big thanks to the Spanish climate as the park stayed open till midnight which is worth hanging around for as entertainment is set up as well as the nightly firework display over the lake which I was impressed by, tip: it starts at about 11:30 so make sure you get there about 30-45 minutes earlier for a good seat.

End of day one at Port Aventura and I rated this park highly while looking back, people with cars may want to avoid parking in the car parks as they charge you close to £4 (I think) and you can park right by the entrance for nothing if you get there early. Day two was spent with the family riding smaller rides with one on the river rapids to name a few which was a shorter ride then Alton Towers' but more 'rapid' which was to my liking and also very refreshing. Another was Tami-Tami which is worth a ride and the most attractive Vekoma Roller-skater I've ever seen, stop me before I say that Vekoma should stick to building these, well, we'll see how Odyssey does. I also took my camera on the second day with to my disappointment there was an overcast which I think I jinxed with saying "I can't wait till I take some photos with the nice blue sky" and this happened to be the only day of the holiday when there was clouds. The third and final day (I spread them out over the week as I had to take in the sand and Mediterranean sea, how could I resist?) with lots of riding on the two coasters and generally walking around relaxing to say my goodbye's to this superb theme park, I'm sure I'll be visiting again sometime.

From one CCI to another with the thunder of a Greek God present, it was time for Parc Asterix. I've heard about it, read about it, talked about it, watched it on TV, seen it in books but nothing came close to what I experienced on this coaster, nothing remotely described Tonerre de Zeus. Alongside the motorway lay a fun cartoon French theme park in the shadowing trees with the Mickey Mouse of the park sat upon a mountain top and as I always do I raced through the gates with only TDZ on my mind which is reasonable. Thankfully it wasn't two much of a walking distance (I'm a very lazy person and walking and site seeing bores me) and I stopped for a brief second to observe Goudurix on the lakeside which did look quite nice. I then got myself together and realized there was this woodie further on which I have hunted to ride for along time. When I stood in the queue it still hadn't hit me that I was going to ride this coaster and I didn't see much of it as it's concealed away excluding the blue cars gliding around the last turnaround into the station with a stern jolt into the breaks. With this coaster the station is unorganised which is to my liking as you opt to where you want to sit - back row of course :)

When travelling up this frighteningly lengthy lift hill I was very thrilled and when seeing the steepness of the first drop I just stopped breathing as I was stunned, why I hadn't heard or saw of this before I don't know, but I was shocked. Then there was the drop which dragged me down quicker than any other coaster has ever done and it was pure airtime delight. What I loved about this coaster was how it shared so many essentials just like my favourite coaster Megafobia, with its airtime crammed camelbacks and its side shunting turns and drops - this coaster seems infinite, it just delivered one punching breathtaking element after another. I love this coaster and when I left the park I just said "wow" as TDZ is absolutely world-class and I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to ride it.

Next was a walk around the park in the blazing 35ºC weather where I then decided to ride Goudurix entirely for understanding so I can say in the future, "well, at least it's not as bad as Goudurix!" And oh man, this was horrifying, I heard it was bad but bad is an understatement. The queue was non existent and people were in the station just taking there time to when they were going to ride it, I couldn't comprehend what was going on and I do not realise why they run this death-trap, I really did think it was going to fall apart as I squeezed my head as much as I could into the head rest to prevent head bang (failed awfully) while holding the rails as if in a coffin - if the heath and safety got in on this coaster I'm sure they would burn it down, get out the dynamite and have a dancing ritual - all the works of course and shut down Vekoma and scorch a steak on their forehead which says 'watch out Fantasy Island'.

Took some time out from that ride (head anti-blistering cream goes cheap these days) and then got myself together to ride the new bobsled called La Trace Du Hourra. It's a good bobsled with all the customary character though not enough G pulling as the BPB bobsled even though obviously longer but still a very fun ride, more of a family coaster and I think a sound investment for the future but if you have visited PA before, I would say this coaster isn't the primary excuse to go again.

Rode the other coasters, some other rides and then left wholly satisfied as well as being still in astonishment over TDZ and getting that deep stomach feeling when thinking about it, Dragon Khan also. An exceptional trip and it has definitely transformed my outlook of coasters and confirms to me that you don't have to cross the Atlantic for excellence and with the up and coming investments it's looking fantastic for Europe.

I've always said to my coaster friends that I don't know if I'm a woodie fan or a steelie fan as I say I haven't rode enough top quality coasters of each type to decide, but I must say that it's swung towards the woodie side after this trip. What will be the decider for me to which side I take? Next year will be the time to hear the steel side of the story.

*** This post was edited by Andy One Click on 12/11/2001. ***

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