Barcelona. Food, drinks and fun- the call of Spain was too much for us to resist as we packed our bags and headed to Europe’s sun-soaked coasts. Arriving on Sunday we enjoyed visiting Tibidabo, a historic municipally-run park set high in the hillside of Barcelona. It was quite a trek to get there, we had to take three different subway lines, an electric streetcar and a funicular. However the wait was worth it as the park offered some amazing views of the city. The property’s two star attractions- Avio, a unique twist on the classic airplane swing, and the 50-meter tall Sky Walk, which is most like a Gravity Works Skyscraper, but with a riveted structure and vehicles meant for enjoying the view- not flipping upside down.
Sunday night I headed out to Port Aventura where I enjoyed dinner with the IAAPA Board of Directors and got to experience a few of the park’s attractions. The next morning I met with the great team of the IAAPA Hall of Fame Committee. Want to know who won? Be sure to attend the opening ceremonies at the IAAPA Conference in November!
The show was a good one this year as we got to share the Skywarp from Skyline Attractions (more details to come soon!) in our booth and enjoy spending time with our other partners, Lagotronics Projects, Gerstlauer Amusement Rides, Funtime and Valtiner & Partner.
Tuesday night Tibidabo put on an amazing celebration for us. There have been some fantastic IAAPA events, but this was beyond anything we have seen. Food from across Spain, fantastic wine, and a beautiful park situated high above the Barcelona and the Spanish coast. We enjoyed some rides on their attractions like the very fun Vekoma Family Coaster Muntanya Rusa. Mark put it best when he said that this coaster, which uses the park’s topography quite well, is a new take on the classic Lisebergbahn at Liseberg.
After the show ended we visited our friends at Port Aventura. This unique park feels like a combination of a U.S. and European theme park. This makes sense as Busch Entertainment and Universal Studios have had various ownership stakes and design influences over the years. The park does theming very well. Like most theme parks not in the U.S. it has a U.S.A. western area, complete with singing cowgirls in chaps and very well done old west theming. There are also Chinese, Indian, Polynesian, Italian and Indian areas in the park, with a children’s section anchored by Sesame Street.
Mark really seemed to enjoy the unique layout of Stampida, the CCI wooden coaster from 1997 that now sports trains from Kumak Engineering. I think my favorite ride at the park was actually the triple-drop Arrow log flume, which dates from the park’s opening. This was one of, if not the last, major flumes that Arrow installed. The other coasters included Shambhala, a B&M hyper with a very good first half, Dragon Kahn (Kumba plus a loop), a three-lift Arrow mine train, a Vekoma Roller Skater, Tomahawk, a CCI Junior Coaster with GCI trains and Furious Baco (an Intamin hydraulic launch wing coaster…no comment). Another stand-out was the Intamin Freefall named Hurakon Condor, which featured three sides sporting traditional sit-down seats and two that had stand-up (but no tilt) options. The stand-up seats were definitely a rush and made this tower, which stands approximately 250 feet, a favorite of ours. All-in-all Port Aventura is one of the most well-rounded parks in Europe that takes geographic theming to another level, Mark noted that most of the areas were themed with vegetation native to the theme.
This park was a fantastic foil to Tibidabo and made for a great way to close the week. I wrote this from 30,000 feet as we left Barcelona this morning, so I am going to take a nap so I can enjoy some quiet before getting home to my daughters (and yes, I did buy them something).