PortAventura, Caribe Aquatic Park and Ferrari Land, read my review of PortAventura World for tips, tricks and recommendations for visiting all three parks.
The first thing that struck me was – it’s huge! With the addition of Ferrari Land, PortAventura World now has the largest number of theme parks in Europe. If you want to visit the main PortAventura park, Caribe Aquatic Park and Ferrari Land, I would suggest taking three full days to see them properly.
Home to 41 attractions and 40 daily shows, I was really impressed with this park and the variety on offer. There are plenty of rides for all ages and my 6 and 9 year old had a ball. There are six different lands, each with their own unique feel. When you walk into Mediterrania, ‘O Sole Mio’ bellows from the sound system, while ‘The Good, The Bad And The Ugly’ plays in the Far West land, it is extremely well thought out and the attention to detail is superb. We loved the water rides. Grand Canyon Rapids is perfect for kids of all ages while Silver River Plume is more like a coaster with one big drop, and you will need to factor in that you will get quite wet!
The wooden coaster Stampida is a good choice for those who like rollercoasters but don’t like going upside down (my type of coaster!) It is still intense though and I would say suited to 8 years and above. There are plenty of rides for adrenaline junkies, Shambhala, Dragon Khan and Tutuki Splash, being the most popular. The one attraction that we all disliked was El Secreto de los Mayas, a maze of mirrors which was extremely hard to get out of. Luckily we met a staff member inside who helped us out – definitely not for anyone with claustrophobia! Little ones are well catered for too with the Sesamo Aventura land offering 11 rides as well as sesame street characters wandering around.
The park itself is spotless and the restaurant choices are excellent. Thankfully not all burger joints like some other parks I have visited. We ate in Raco de Mar in Mediterrania and it was great. There are pretty views across the lake and flowers everywhere, you would never think you were in a theme park! Prices were very reasonable too and they had a good mix of pizzas, chicken Caesar salad as well as a kids menu. Beers and ice creams didn’t break the bank either, dearer than in the resort centre but not extortionate. We found the park overall very reasonably priced compared to others we had visited.
We went during a weekend in July, which I was told was quieter than going midweek strangely enough. I guess holiday makers tend to arrive over the weekend and go to the park during the middle of their visit. We didn’t have express passes and the longest we queued was 30 minutes. We didn’t opt for the express passes for two reasons. They were very expensive and most of the rides they covered (the high speed rollercoasters) we weren’t going on anyway. If you want to go on the fast coasters, then possibly you should consider them, but it really depends on how busy the park is and the time of year you visit. There are many options to choose from. The Express Max (€33pp), only allows one fast access per attraction (and not front row seats). The Express Premium Gold (€58pp), allows unlimited express access to the main attractions rides, with one single ride in the front row on the three main coasters, Shambhala, Furios Baco and Dragon Khan. See more details here.
Another highlight was the parade and fireworks display at midnight. Not only is night time a great time to visit the park as there are virtually no queues, but the fireworks are in my opinion a ‘must see’. We arrived 15 minutes before the start time and got a perfect viewing point, in Disneyland you would need to arrive an hour before hand and even then you may not have a clear view.
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Caribe Aquatic Park
This is right beside PortAventura park, in fact you can walk from one to the other in minutes. This was another big hit, we all loved it. There is a huge Caribbean style wave pool with sun loungers if you just want to chill out, a splash park for younger kids and a pirate ship pool with slides for older kids. I loved that there were plenty of family rides and queues were minimal. The longest we queued was 30 minutes but on average it was about 10 – 15 minutes for most rides. All of us were able to go down on one ring in El Torrente and we were able to go on double rings in lots of other rides. We also raced each other on Rapid Race and relaxed on the lazy river.
Needless to say we weren’t brave enough to try King Khajuna, where you free fall from 31 meters and reach speeds of 6 meters per second! We did however, find that there was plenty of rides to suit us all and we left happy! Note you will need to rent lockers (big queues) for your camera, glasses etc, as you can’t bring anything on the rides with you, including waterproof cameras. You can purchase a photo pass, where an automated machine takes pictures of you on the rides, but unfortunately I didn’t notice this until we were leaving! Note Caribe Aquatic Park is only open from June to mid September.
We didn’t visit Ferrari Land on this occasion but I was there for the opening launch, you can read my review on Ferrari Land here. This is also located beside Port Aventura park but in my opinion a half day is plenty of time to discover it. Europe’s highest rollercoaster Red Force is a must for rollercoaster fanatics where you reach 180km per hour in 5 seconds! Car enthusiasts will love the F1 simulator rides (extra charge) where you can feel what it is like to drive a Formula one car. However I thought most of the other rides are fairly tame and not as good as the rides on offer in PortAventura, so we opted to skip it on this occasion.
Where to stay:
Salou, Cambrils and La Pineda are nearby holiday resorts offering a wide range of self catering and hotel accommodation. We stayed in the lively resort of Salou in Camping La Siesta for two nights and also in one of the PortAventura hotels for two nights. Camping La Siesta is a four star family resort that offers high quality bungalows and mobile homes. There is a day and evening entertainment program and a great pool area with slides for children of all ages. This is a great option if you are looking for a lively resort but within easy access to PortAventura. Read my review of my family holiday in Salou.
If you want unlimited access to the park and plan on visiting at night time, then you should consider staying in one of the PortAventura hotels. You can come and go as often as you like throughout your stay. We were staying at the Gold River hotel and we loved it. The wild west theme was a huge hit with the kids and the rooms were very spacious and well equipped. We were staying on a half board basis and we were able to dine in the a la carte restaurant which was great. They have a dine around system, where you can dine in any of the restaurants in the park or the a la carte options in the hotels. There may be a small supplement to pay, depending on what you choose but in our case it was minimal.
TOP TIP: If staying in one of the PortAventura hotels, check that your booking automatically includes access to the other parks. In our case it didn’t and we had to pay an additional €75 to enter the Caribe Aquatic Park (and that was with a 30% discount for staying at the hotel). If you are staying in one of the hotels or apartments in Salou or surrounding areas, I would definitely recommend pre purchasing your tickets, it is much cheaper than buying them at the gate and you get a better choice of ticket options. Make sure you read my blog post on the best tickets to buy for PortAventura before you book.