AD | I was invited to Portaventura to review with my family, all views are my own.
In case you didn’t know (which I didn’t!) Portaventura is a theme park in Salou, around an hour from Barcelona, Spain. It’s not only Spain’s most popular theme park but it’s also the 6th most visited theme park in the world and after spending a long weekend there I can completely see why.
We arrived on a Friday afternoon after a long travel to stay in Portaventura’s newest hotel Colorado Creek, right next door to the Gold River Hotel and complex. The hotel was absolutely delightful, clean and welcoming, with friendly staff who, considering we were arriving on opening day, were efficient and well organised. The rooms were absolutely lovely, decorated in the theme of the wild west like the rest of the hotel and the complex it was on, however as a family of 5 I did note that it was a shame the rooms were not connecting or able to house 5 people, so we had to split up. We usually prefer not to do that and it can work out a bit more expensive, however I will say that as Reuben gets older and likes to sleep in a bit more, it does mean that he isn’t woken up by the little ones and gets a longer sleep – pros and cons and all that jazz.
Once we dropped our bags off in the hotel lobby we headed straight to the park because like all good tourists we weren’t going to let being awake since 2am put us off exploring!
The kids were genuinely delighted by the wild west theme, and cowboys/wild west isn’t really their thing, so I can’t imagine how excited a child would be if it was the one thing that they really loved. All of them wanted to take pictures with the bulls and the props/decorations that are everywhere, from the prison cart to the old style wheelbarrows and cannons, we couldn’t walk more than 100 yards without one of them shouting “Mummy, look at me!” or “Mummy take my picture!”. In order to get to the park from Colorado Creek you take a short walk through the main complex, past the HUGE river pool which the kids begged to dive right in and past the main square. The main square is where evening entertainment takes place, from discos to saloon parties, it sounded like a real hoot.
You enter the main Portaventura park from the hotel in the Far West area, so when we first walked in there was a lot of fun fair style games which we ignored as we don’t usually let the kids spend extra if they are in a theme park already. Restaurants and ice cream/snack stands are at every turn which is perfect for us as you can guarantee that at least one of the kids will be hungry or thirsty at some point and dragging the other two away from having fun isn’t ideal. I would highly recommend you try to get your hands on a refillable bottle cup or even just a bottle of water early on as there are plenty of drinking fountains where you can fill up and you will save yourself a fortune. Edith also developed a passion for the mini lolly packs, which I think are a must grab with an iced espresso smoothie for the adults.
If you’re feeling brave and you don’t mind getting wet there are plenty of water rides and walking right in the park will take you right past two of them – but don’t worry, you dry off so quickly in the heat and if it’s not a hot day, 2EUROS will see you in the body dryer.
What I really loved the most about Portaventura was the way that everything was themed, each area had a different style, from China with it’s great big rollercoasters and palatial style buildings, not to mention the great wall you can walk up and down, all the way to the understated and extremely pretty “Med” area with it’s beautiful restaurants and shops. The Med area is where we had our first lunch and the food was pretty much exactly what I would expect from a theme park – it wasn’t world class and amazing, but it was tasty, easy eating that pleased the kids and got us on to the next area for more fun!
After we’d eaten a late lunch we had a bit more of a look around, walking through Polynesian, China and Mexico, all the way around to the Far West again where we watched the fantastic Far West show, which the boys absolutely delighted in. After that it was straight back to the hotel. We ate in the Colorado Creek restaurant and it was absolutely delicious, with a beautiful setting and a really lush range of foods for adults and children alike. The whole family managed to find food they enjoyed and try new things before heading back to the hotel to fall into an exhausted sleep.
The following day we took a little detour away from the main park into the absolutely beautiful Portaventura Caribe Aquatic park which was absolutely phenomenal. If you are holidaying nearby and you aren’t theme park folk, or you just don’t fancy a full day in a theme park but love pools and playing in the water then I absolutely urge you to get yourself to the Caribe park as you won’t regret it. The children’s areas are amazing with so much for the kids to do, both inside in the shade and outside in the glorious sunshine. The Sesame Street swim area was so much fun, my only issue was that, despite being rather small slides, Edith was too short to go on any of them in the Sesame Street area, something which she took great umbridge to, however, I take the stance that it is better to be over cautious at a theme park than under. The slides in this area were all 1.10 or 1.20m in height restrictions and Edith is only 1.01m but she could happily go in the smaller children’s area and big pools with us.
I felt like the Caribe ticket was well worth the extra fee of around 30EUROS or as part of the 3 park pass, all three kids cried when we left at closing time – but they were quickly consoled with a couple of hours in Sesame Adventure in Portaventura park. Again a few rides that I really felt would have been safe for Edith had a 1.10m height restriction but there was plenty that didn’t and plenty for her to see, not to mention a HUGE play area where we stayed until closing. We also managed to squeeze in an Aloha show and I can’t recommend it enough, they managed to get Edith up learning how to dance and she LOVED it!
We spent a final night in the Colorado Creek and I have to say that dinner, like breakfast in the morning, was delicious once again, with an even better range of food.
The following day we spent the morning in the main park enjoying all of the wonderful things to offer, making our way around china and the small rides there for Edith’s age range, and even some of the more daring rides for Toby and Reuben. Once again I feel like it’s only fair to mention the height restrictions – and I really want to impress that this isn’t a criticism but more something to make parents travelling aware. As Brits I think we have a low expectation of European safety standards in comparison to ours and that couldn’t be more misguided with a place like Portaventura, if anything the height restrictions meant that Edith had a fair few rides but mostly characters and play areas, Toby had fewer than he’s used to and less daring (he’s 1.22) and Reuben who is 1.43 could go on everything. I guess it depends on your child – Toby and Edith are both crazy daredevils so Toby was pretty upset to find he couldn’t go on the really big rides, but I did feel reassured that safety was paramount to Portaventura and that’s what counts.
The rides that Toby and Edith did go on were declared “amazing” or “totally awesome” so I say that’s a win.
In the afternoon we spent 3hrs in the beautiful Ferrari Land and I can’t tell you how beautiful the décor was, nor how much the kids loved it. Edith had a blast in the children’s world and Reuben took his dad on the utterly terrifying Red Force, which Adam declared “utterly petrifying”. Toby really felt the brunt of disappointment in Ferrari land as there weren’t that many rides in the middle, they were either white knuckle monsters (which he was desperate to go on) or they were “too baby-ish” according to him. Again, it all depends on your kids. I highly recommend you get yourselves on to Ferrari land flying dreams – it was magic.
When we left Ferrari Land we headed back to the park for their last 3 hours and after playing and looking around we headed to watch the most recommended show of all, Dancing with Movies. This didn’t disappoint at all, from songs that you recognised to amazing gymnastics and acrobatics, it was astounding and even the kids were clapping along.
After our day in the park we headed back to our new hotel Gold River for our final night, and whilst it was apparent to me that this hotel wasn’t as nice as the other one and the food wasn’t as good, this had a connecting room so we had more of an apartment feel and we didn’t have to be separated which I much preferred. I think it’s a case of weighing up which you prefer, two rooms and the adults sleep apart or an apartment style room and you open a door to a connecting room.
On our final day we went back into the park and made sure we revisted all our fave parts, from the new Sesame Street ride Street Mission to the brilliant Canoes.
All in all, we had an amazing time at Portaventura and we would LOVE to go back in the future. If you wanted to visit the parks but you only had a day or two or you wanted to stay off site then the parks are 10-15mins away from Salou, which has a wonderful holiday vibe and 1hr from Barcelona itself.