Today, Alain Littaye of the Disney and more blog finishes up our trip to Spain’s Port Aventura theme park. This European theme park has an American heritage and, according to Alain, the quality is quite apparent. Interestingly enough, the park’s Old West land also has a Spanish heritage, thanks to the U.S. movie industry. ~~Rick
In the first part of my Port Aventura article, we visited four of the five lands of the park: Mediterranea, Polynesia, China, and Mexico. The last land of the park is the Far West, i.e their verson of Disney’s Frontierland. We’ll take a close look here as I like it a lot. To read part one of this article, click HERE.
The artists who originally created Port Aventura didn’t simply duplicate Disneyland’s original Frontierland – they created a totally different “Far West”. In fact they built a whole town!
No river here, no Tom Sawyer island either, but a real town – probably even more real than Disneyland ‘s Frontierland. I’m guessing that the original towns in the American West probably looked more like this town in Port Aventura than Frontierland. But, in the end, that’s not the point. The point is that you have the delicious feeling of being in the “old west” and not viewing another “copy”.
I also have to tell you something that may surprise you. It turns out that Spain is full of “Far West” towns? And even some ghost towns? No kidding. And particularly in the region of Almeria, in Andalucia, south of Spain. Why? Because the wonderful desert of the province of Almeria looks so much like the vast lands of America’s original Far West that in the 1960’s most of the Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns were filmed here. In fact, in the 60′s, a lot of movies were filmed in Spain: Doctor Zhivago was filmed entirely near Madrid. El Cid, Lawrence of Arabia and 55 Days at Peking with Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner were filmed in part near Almeria. And some of the towns that were created as sets for these movies still remain. Many of them are now small “Far West” theme parks.
This long history of Western movie sets in Spain is probably why this one is so well done…
When you exit “Mexico” and enter the Far West town, you enter by way of the cemetery! Then, just a few yards away, is the school! A real school, just like in the ol’ times. If you turn left, you’ll enter the main street of the town. But if you turn right, you’ll find one of my favorite attractions here, called “Stampede.” Stampede is a wooden roller coaster. Well, I should say “two” roller coasters, as concept here is that two trains depart together and race to arrive first! Sometimes the two tracks are side by side, sometimes they separate, then join again, up to the arrival line. It looks pretty simple but you don’t have any idea how much fun this “race” is! It seems strange that Disney never tried this! Don’t miss this one if you’re there one day!
Upon entering Main Street, you’ll find everything that you would expect: restaurants and shops, all perfectly themed. In one building, there is even a spiritual medium who will tell you everything about your future – quite a good medium, by the way, as well as a very nice girl!
The train station here is called Penitence Station and you can board the train that takes you around the park perimeter.
You will also find a really good “wild wild west stunt show”. The show decor, stunts and explosions are as good as those that you will find in the States.
When you exit the show, you’ll see the saloon at the corner of the street. This one is a real saloon with a show, a good show, and lovely girls! Everything is perfectly themed – including the girls!
Not that far from the saloon is the hotel. You can’t sleep in it, but you can dine in the hotel restaurant.
When you approach the other end of the town, you’ll find a lot of attractions: a mine train (like Big Thunder but with no mine), and a log-flume ride housed in a huge and greatly themed wooden building. A nearby bridge leads to the other entrance of the land.
Finally, right at the exit of the land, there is a raft ride called Silver River Flume, set in a kind of Colorado canyon theme.
As you may have noticed, this is a quite different “frontierland” they’ve built here. Honestly, the Port Aventura “imagineers”, or whatever they call them, have done a darn good job!
Spain in the summer can be hot, really hot. So when Universal bought the park some years ago, they had the good idea to build the Costa Caribe water park next to Port Aventura’s entrance where guests can refresh and have fun.
Don’t expect a Typhoon Lagoon or a Blizzard Beach here, but you’ll find elements of good theme, like this giant plane floating overhead in the indoor section.
When Universal owned the park they also built two very good hotels, one with Mediterranean decor and one with Mexican theming. Both are quite large – my favorite is the Mediterranean as it is built like a Mediterranean village.
I hope you enjoyed this little flight to Spain, and that someday you’ll be able to visit Port Aventura!
All photos : copyright Alain Littaye or Port Aventura