Y obsession with theme parks has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. On a recent trip to Pembrokeshire I insisted that we took a detour to Oakwood to ride the wooden beast that is Megafobia.
When I suggested we spend some time in Salou, my wife had visions of relaxing afternoons on the beach and little else.
Until I told her what I really had in mind. Rollercoasters, big ones!
PortAventura has been the jewel in Costa Dorada’s entertainment crown since 1995, and has grown over the years from a theme park into a fullyfledged entertainment resort.
Just a 10-minute ride from Reus Airport, the sheer scale of the place is impressive. The resort houses five hotels with a sixth Ferrari-themed option in the pipeline.
Our accommodation, The Callaghan’s, was one of the newest additions to the site, loosely linked to the park’s Western-themed Hotel Gold River.
You have to pinch yourself to realise that you aren’t actually in the middle of a cowboy film set.
From the cactus trees lining the walkways to the authentic shop fronts, it oozes period detail.
The inside of our annexe was tastefully designed, with an impressive entrance hall straight out of a Clint Eastwood movie. stayed at PortAventura as a guest of the park. Hotel prices start at £178.91 per night including unlimited PortAventura Park entry and one-day access per stay, per person for Ferrari Land tickets. For full details visit
TUI Airways offers return flights from 10 UK airports to Reus airport on May 17, 2019 from £185 per person including taxes and charges. Visit your local TUI holiday store or call
Car hire is also available to book through TUI from £9 a day.
My jaw was already on the floor and we hadn’t even got near the theme park yet.
One of the real plus points of PortAventura is that everything is easily accessible. You can float around in the pool while watching riders scream on the rollercoasters.
Our first ride was my favourite. Not that I was surprised. I’d done my homework.
Stampida is a huge sprawling mass of timber, one of the world’s finest wooden rollercoasters. Any enthusiast will know that a coaster made of wood is completely different to riding a modern steel structure. There’s something about the creaking timber and the bone-shaking nature of it that just adds to the thrill. Ride it in the dark if you can, and make sure you sit on the back.
It’s not the only impressive thrill ride in the park. Shambala has a top speed of more than 80mph and at 75 metres tall, you can see it from quite a distance. Up close, it’s even more terrifying.
When riding it, it has a huge first drop that leads to various twists and turns at terrific speed. If you’re brave enough, look to your left when you’re on the hill climb – the views over the Salou coastline are quite breathtaking.
Portaventura isn’t just about big white knuckle rides, though. There’s plenty for all the family, with water rides and general theme park attractions designed to offer thrills for every age group.
There’s a great Western-themed Silver Flumes ride that had the biggest queue I saw during our stay, probably due to the searing heat and the guarantee of a cooling drenching.
Smaller children are well catered for in the Sesame Street