Inside the Spanish theme park by the beach that's cheaper than Disney – and has the fastest rollercoaster in Europe | The Sun

SIZZLING sunshine, thrilling rides, splashing waterparks, incredible shows and top-class hotels and dining.

If you think I’m describing Walt Disney World, think again.

All this and more is just a couple of hours from the UK on Spain’s sun-baked Costa Daurada.

PortAventura World is home to some of Europe’s most exciting rides with more than 40 attractions and 5km of rollercoasters, set within six different worlds.

Add to this a huge waterpark, Ferrari Land and seven fabulous 4* and 5* onsite hotels you begin to understand how much value this attraction can offer hard-pressed families versus its European Disney rival.

PortAventura World, just over an hour from Barcelona, is far more than just a discount Disney.

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The main theme park is beautiful, incredibly spacious and well-designed, ensuring the maximum family fun even in the middle of August, under some seriously hot Spanish sun.

We made the most of our time with Express Passes — around £36 each — to gain access to all of the best rides with minimum queue time.

With two teenage adrenaline junkies to keep satisfied, we set ourselves the target of completing all of the park’s rollercoasters in one day.

First up was Furious Baco in the Mediterrania area.

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Legs dangling and barely just strapped in, I found myself hurtling at 135km per hour in just three pelvic floor-loosening seconds.

We hurtled at full speed for 850 metres through tunnels, gliding scarily close to the ground and skimming our feet over the lake, before finally coming to a grateful but decidedly shaken halt.

Then we were off to the China area to scale Shambhala, at 76 metres the park’s tallest hypercoaster, which also has the longest drop.

Just the sight of it proved too much for me and the hubby, so we left fearless teens Poppy and Barney to it.

Judging by their green expressions afterwards we made the right choice.

After a quick hot dog lunch in the park we were back on our mission looping EIGHT times in 69 seconds on the exhilarating Dragon Kahn.

Climbing across the Great Wall of China, we headed to the hidden cities of Mexico for the 100m vertical jaw-dropping Hurakan Condor.

Seeking some respite from the heat we had an absolute blast on Tutuki Splash, situated in the stunning Polynesia world.

Nobody minded getting soaked as our barges tipped over the edge of the volcano into the refreshing waters beneath.

After a full on day in the park, we were more than ready to head back to the 4* Mediterranean-themed Hotel Port Aventura for a quick swim before dinner.

We had opted for half-board, and wow did we get our money’s worth.

Served buffet-style, the quality and quantity of the food was exceptional.

Local specialities like paella, seafood platters, an array of pasta dishes, sushi, a salad bar and delicious desserts kept us coming back for seconds and thirds.

Less adventurous kids were well catered for too with plenty of burgers, nuggets and chips to keep them happy.

By staying in one of the park hotels, we also got unlimited access to the park and a day at Ferrari Land.

So unlike Euro Disney which generally closes at 9pm, PortAventura stays open until 11pm so you really can wring the maximum out of your stay.

Taking the five-minute stroll back into the park after dinner, we hit the rides again, luxuriating in the cool evening air.

Our day reached a crescendo as we took our place on the edge of the lake to watch the nightly PortAventura parade and FiestAventura firework display.

Even my too-cool-for-school teens were wowed.

While the big thrill rides understandably grab the headlines, younger families are well provided for with a huge schedule of themed entertainment shows at the park, tea cup rides, log flumes, and mini rollercoasters.

Plus PortAventura’s partnership with Sesame Street means there are plenty of familiar furry faces to keep little ones entertained.

We all found our inner child on the seriously Street Mission, Europe’s first dark ride where you help Grover on his secret quest, solving clues and collecting cookies along the way.

Due no doubt in part to the searing August temperatures, The Caribe Aquatic waterpark was extremely popular thanks to its huge slides, rapids, rafts and wave pools.

I’d recommend arriving early in the day to beat the queues.
Ferrari Land is a must see for petrolheads.

The Red Force ride recreates the full F1 experience taking you from 0 to 185km per hour in just five seconds.

There are plenty of rides for youngsters too, but beware quite a few charge extra.

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While it may never beat the magic of Walt Disney World, a family break at PortAventura guarantees high-octane thrills and fun under the glorious Spanish sun, without breaking the bank.


GETTING THERE: Ryanair offers direct flights to Reus Airport – just a 20-minute drive from PortAventura World.

Fares from £35 one-way in June. See

STAYING/PLAYING THERE: Seven nights’ B&B at the 4H Hotel Caribe at Port Aventura World is from £586pp including Jet2 flights from Manchester, Leeds Bradford or Stansted in April, 22kg baggage and transfers plus unlimited entrance to the park, one day at Ferrari Land and discounted entry to the Caribe Aquatic Park. See


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