Andorra side trip from ¡ACEspaña!
Our story begins on July 28th 2009 when the Coach departed from PortAventura. Rob Derman had been informed of an Alpine Coaster in Andorra within a few hours drive of Barcelona by Justin Garvanovic of the ECC. It’s one of Wiegand newer Alpine Coasters. Supposedly it was the longest in the world. We got mixed reports on that from other ACE’rs though. Some said they had a long Alpine Slide and just a small Alpine Coaster. Either way it peaked our interest.
After about 20 minutes of driving we were informed that our side trip to the Aqueducts was not possible. There was a major accident recently and they were closed indefinitely. Now that we were heading to Barcelona with and extra hour or 2 of time to spare, the gears started turning.
After getting to the hotel, Rob & I immediately dropped our bags in the room and left for the nearest tourist information center. They didn’t have any information on any of the resorts in Andorra. But, they were able to tell us that there was no train to Andorra. The only way there was by bus or car. We then proceeded to the bus terminal to get more detail there. After hearing the cost and knowing the bus would take longer, we decided renting a car would be the way to go. Finally we walked to Spain’s World Trade Center where the Andorra Tourist Information Center was located. But, by the time we arrived, they were closed for the night.
Upon returning to the hotel following our 5 mile hike through the beautiful winding roads of Barcelona, we decided to pay the 11€ to get on the internet. Unfortunately Wiegand did not list the name of the resort or the coaster. Just that there was on in Sant Juliâ de Lôria, Andorra. With a quick search on Google, we found Tobotronc at Naturlandia. There were no hours listed for the park. So, we knew that the earlier we got there the better our chances were. Rob booked a car with Europcar and we were set for the night.
In the morning after a quick breakfast, we recruited Jeff Waters to go with us. Rob and I then walked the 2.5 miles to Europcar. After finding out Rob forgot how to drive stick shift, I drove us to Tibidabo. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention, we still had another park to do that day. After some great ERT, some time with the General Public and a quick bite to eat, we were on our way to Andorra.
The drive up to and through the Pyrenees was amazing. The mountains were gorgeous. The drive was cool, literally & figuratively. Much better AC than what the coaches had. Since the institution of the European Union, there are barley any borders anymore. You might as well be driving from state to state in the US. As we crossed the border, there was a guard shack. But, the guard was yawning as we drove through. Apparently they don’t have much to do anymore. Though this made for a quicker drive, it also meant, that we didn’t get to have an Andorran Stamp for our passports. Now that we were in Andorra we made our final climb up the twisted mountain roads to Naturlandia in Sant Juliâ de Lôria. We arrived at 4:40pm. It was about a 2.5 hour drive.
When you pull in, your greeted by a sign with a friendly looking bear waving you into their free parking lot which hold a staggering 200 cars. The first thing you see as you walk up to the resort office is the coasters station on the right hand side. Still not knowing when the ride would close we approached the Ride Op. He only spoke Spanish and French. So the best I could do was point at the coaster and ask, “¿Que Tiempo?” He responded with 20 minutes. Wow, only time for 1 ride. No wait, he didn’t mean the ride closed in 20 minutes. He meant the ride lasted 20 minutes. Wow, now we were really excited. They were still open for another 2 hours. The last ride up was set to leave at 6:30pm. The cost of the ride is 9€ for 1 ride, 25.50€ for 3 rides, and 41€ for 5 rides. We felt we had enough time and opted for the 5 ride package.
On to Tobotronc we went. It has your typical Wiegand car. It’s big enough to 2 people or 1 ACE’r. ;-) The ticket we were giving had up & down arrows for each of the 5 rides. We didn’t notice this at first. Our ride op tears a corner from the ticket and off we go. Not having to do anything on the way up, you have plenty of time to look around, enjoy the ride, the view and take lots of pictures. With the fact that there is no one with in shouting distance, one begins to wonder what might happen if a bear were to wander out of the woods at that moment. You have no where to go. So, up, up and up we go. When will we reach the top, we don’t know. You just keep going and going. Finally cresting at the top and… nope. Another lift hill appears. 4 total to be exact. Approximately 13 minutes later you reach the summit of the coaster. That’s weird, what’s with the huge sign and red ribbons to go through. The sign is in about 4 different languages. But, did that say finish? Oh well, we keep on going and on into a row of empty cars? A ride op approaches and explains that we were supposed to get off at the finish line and walk around to the 2nd station. Apparently the ride is also used for transport to different activities higher up the mountain. This is why there are 5 up and 5 down arrows on the tickets.
So, back on the ride we get. And, in classic Alpine Coaster style, I first wedge my foot back to hold the brake handle in the “coast” position for a truly brakeless run. Off I go into the downhill portion of the ride. Left turns, right turns, drops, double downs, triple downs, helixes, speed and a ton of fun are all a part of the ride. You are buzzing through and around trees, and even over the lift hill a few times. It’s an awesome experience that I would do again in a heart beat. The 5 minute and 10 second downward trip would be longer if you braked at all. But, who would want to do that? Oh yeah, not everyone riding Tobotronc is in ACE. There was general public there too. I tried doing a video on my second run and I caught up to several cars about 3 minutes into the ride down. On the third trip, we waited at the top for a few minutes until a father and son walked up. We were also beginning to realize that we may only get 4 of our 5 rides. On my 2nd try at the video I decided to record the full circuit even if I caught up to GP. Riding full out with no brakes, the video is turning out great and about 100 meters before the end of the ride I caught up again. My 3rd try at taking the video was our last ride of the night it was about 6:20 and the last ride of the night goes out at 6:30. I get to the top and the ride op says it’s been 6 minutes since anyone went down. Perfect. I get the video and my second brakeless run. It was a great way to end the night. At 5.3 kilometers, Naturlandia says it’s the longest in the world. Regardless, it is an awesome ride in a gorgeous country. It is well worth the drive from Northern Spain or Southern France. The drive to the park was half the fun of the side trip. I highly recommend this to any Alpine Coaster fans. I doubt I’ll be riding one better for quite some time. 2 thumbs up, 5 stars or 10 out of 10. Any way you put it, it was great.
Hours: Open 365 days a year from 10am to 7pm with the last ride at 6:30pm
Adults Cost: 1 ride 9.00€ 3 rides 25.50€ 5 rides 41.00€ Group 7.50€
Child 5-11 Cost: 1 ride 5.50€ 3 rides 15.00€ 5 rides 24.00€ Group 4.50€
Stat’s from the website:
Length of climb: 1,700m
Maximum slope increase: 60%
Ascent speed: 2.5 m/s
Ascent time: 11min
Length of descent: 3,550m
Average difference in altitude for descent: 10%
Maximum speed: 40km/h
Average descent time: 7min
We timed the accent at about 13 minutes.
The decent with no brakes was about 5 minutes and 10 seconds.
With a decent of 3,550 meters and a time of 5:10, our average speed was 41.2 km/h
So it wouldn’t surprise me if we hit 45 or 50 km/h in some spots.
On Ride Video of the Downhill portion only.
Loved the Video. Looks like a blast.
Thanks. It was. Now, what I need to do is get a camera with better anti-shake.
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