Western Mail - - GETAWAY -

MY 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. ■ STEVE WOLLASTON 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 por­taven­tu­ra­ or call 0808 234 3399.

■ Hol­i­day Ex­tras of­fers trusted park­ing ser­vices at all ma­jor UK air­ports. To book park­ing from £21.64 for a week, visit Hol­i­dayEx­ or call 0800 1313 777.

■ 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 0844 871 0878. 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

Cal­laghan’s Ho­tel, left, and the Far West zone groan with pe­riod de­tail

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