Whether it's raining on the plains of Spain or not, we recommend a visit to Port Aventura for traditional theme park fun with a splash of Spanish flavor. For kids who love virtual reality rides, roller coasters, and high-tech attractions, make this a day trip from the wonderful city of Barcelona.
At Universal Studios Port Aventura (+34 93 285 3834) on the Mediterranean coast 66 miles/100 kms south of Barcelona, plan on two days to sample the five themed play areas: Mediterrania (lakefront cafes and shows), Far West (Wild West shootouts and Indian dances), Mexico (El Diablo ride and Mariachi bands), China (acrobats and kiddie play areas) and Polynesia (jungle gardens and aviary.)
Within the 117 hectares are 32 attractions, numerous dining areas and shops (baggage check and package delivery available), as well as more than 100 daily performances culminating nightly in the multimedia Fiestaventura, an extravaganza of lights, giant puppets, water scooters, kites and fireworks. Port Aventura features Sea Odyssey, a computer-animated, virtual reality ride utilizing 70mm film, motion control and an audience platform which simulates the free floating sensation of being on a submarine.
And for "the extremely daring," the recently opened Furius Baco is a roller coaster enthusiast's dream. Going from 0 to 83 mph in just three seconds, the coaster was "invented" by a mad scientist and his monkey assistant. Located in Mediterrania, the unique seat design of Furious Baco is sure to intrigue and maybe even frighten the bravest rider.
However, for families of non-thrill seekers, there are still several attractions for preschoolers and the faint of heart to enjoy: pint-sized coasters and rides, such as Tami-Tami and Buffalo Rodeo.
For the May 2013 opening, PortAventura is expanding its Costa Caribe Aquatic Park, an ideal place to relax in Catalunya's sticky summers. The main attraction is the new waterslide, Europe's highest free fall at 31 meters (equal to a 12-storey building) with a 55degree pitch.
In addition, there will be a new kids’ area, a kiddie pool with two levels of depth, and a pirate ship with characters from Sesame Street. Beside the pool, there is a Splash Pad, a small play area with interactive water jets.
The park will also have large green areas, where families can relax, with more than 50 species of plants and palm trees that create a real Caribbean atmosphere.
Allow time to visit this region of Spain. See historic Tarragona and sample the nougat, tour several medieval monasteries, and enjoy the beaches at Salou and Vila-seca. The park, open mid-March to early January (check for closed dates), provides wheelchair access and a kennel.
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