Yes, it’s another theme park post! This time it’s a 7 night stay in the PortAventura El Paso Hotel, and visit the three parks that make up the resort. These are the PortAventura theme park, the Ferrari Land theme park and the Caribe Aquatic Park (that’s a water park to you and I!)
The Details of Our Stay:
- We stayed in the El Paso Hotel, which is a four star hotel that is owned by PortAventura and is situated on their property. (It takes approximately 10 minutes to walk to the parks from the hotel).
- The hotel El Paso is the only All-Inclusive PortAventura hotel: our package included Breakfast in the main buffet dining room each day, dinner in the same buffet dining room every day BUT we were also allowed to have dinner one day in the Italian a la carte restaurant.
- There were three options for lunch: You could have lunch in the main dining room. You could have lunch from the poolside snack bar (this including normal poolside food such as burgers, salads, and pizzas). You can take a meal voucher, which entitled you to a main meal from one of the restaurants inside any of the PortAventura theme parks. We went with option three almost every day and this was incredibly good value: the voucher enabled you to select a three-course menu and a large soft drink from any of the ‘quick service’ restauants and meant that we didn’t have to waste time leaving the park to get lunch.
- As an all-inclusive hotel, you could also get alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks all day and night, but only when you were in the hotel (we wasted this benefit a lot, as we spent most of our days in the park).
- Park tickets for the PortAventura park are included for every day of your stay, and you also get one day ticket to Ferrari Land. If you want to go to the water park, tickets for this can be purchased from the hotel reception. These are subsidised (and therefore cheaper than buying from anywhere else). We paid approximately 20 euros per ticket, and we visited the water park for two days of our stay.
- The El Paso hotel offered evening entertainment and regular character meet and greets, with minimal queues. This was such a highlight for the children (especially the youngest who was just turned 4 at this point, and Sesame Street crazy!)
Fun in Ferrari Land
Ferrari Land is probably a park that is better suited to older children, teens, and adrenaline junkie adults: the thrill rides and rollercoasters in this park are insane! Having said that, they do have half a dozen child-friendly smaller rides and a junior rollercoaster. The ‘pit crew’ experience where you can see how fast you can change a tyre on an F1 car was a lot of fun. And my F1 and Ferrari mad 8 year old just loved wandering around the cars, sitting in them and experiencing the atmosphere of the place. For car geeks/enthusiasts, the Ferarri museum was fascinating, and my husband was super excited to be sitting in some of the most famous F1 winning cars.
I really liked the theming of this park; it was stylised to look like Italy, with the town squares and fountains. It was also organised really well for families, with all of the rides suitable for smaller children (those under 120cm) situated in the same area. This area was right by the stage, where we grabbed an ice cream and watched a pretty remarkable stunt show: think BMX bikers, par cour runners and acrobats. It was a small boy’s dream!
I would suggest that Ferrari Land is only a full day trip if you are going to join the queues for the larger roller coasters though: we entered as the park opened, and left in time to go and get our lunch in the main PortAventura park, having ridden all of the kid rides, explored the Ferrari museum, and all of the other walk-through experiences. We had the option to buy another days ticket, but we just didn’t feel the need to.
Caribe Aquatic Park
I often joke that my boys should have been born with gills: we are a family of fish and we all love being in the water! In fact, even if we’re only booking a one or two night stay away, having a pool is on our ‘essential’ list for any hotel. The Caribe Aquatic park ticked all the boxes! Family slides, kids slides and huge almost-vertical thrill slides. A lazy river, wave pool, and selection of indoor and outdoor fun pools.
If I had one criticism then it would be that the height limits seemed overly cautious: aside from the kids structure pictured below, our youngest couldn’t go on any of the water slides, although he is such a thrill seeker that he was very keen to join his brother on some of the bigger slides. I understand that safety comes first, but it was definitely very frustrating for him.
We visited at the beginning of June and (it’s a cliché, but I know it’s something so many people worry about) we had absolutely no problem securing sun loungers every time that we went to the water park (and around the pool at the hotel too). We wanted loungers under some shade, to protect the boys from the heat of the sun at its hottest, but if you’re a sun worshipper then there were plenty of loungers for baking on too. In fact, you couldn’t move around the pools for loungers, so they clearly have plenty of capacity for when they’re really busy at the height of the summer!
The PortAventura Park is almost like half a dozen different theme parks in one, thanks to the way that it is zoned into six different worlds. By far our favourite world (because of the ages of the boys) was Sesame Street land. It was bright, it was colourful, and it was fully immersive: you felt like you had walked straight onto Sesame Street.
The newest ride in Sesame Street Land (officially called Sesamo Aventura) is Street Mission. Whilst the queues for this could be pretty long at points (because it was the newest ride in the park) we just loved this: we wrote it twice a day when we could, and made riding it every time we were in the Port Aventura park our main mission! Detective Grover is on a secret mission and to carry it out he needs the help of brave and fearless families: this is a 3D dark ride where you travel in a circular taxi cab and try to capture as many cookies as you can whilst helping Grover to solve the mystery, and save the day. Portaventura have really excelled themselves with this ride, and although they are known for having some of Europe’s best roller coaster, this and the rest of the Sesamo Aventura area helps to cement this as a family park too.
That doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy the other worlds too: in fact, the children’s rides are cleverly distributed so that there is at least one child-friendly ride in every land that you enter, and we enjoyed spending time in every single on of them. Although I am a roller coaster junkie, because we had planned this to be a ‘family-focused’ holiday I didn’t take advantage of all the bigger rides on offer, but I did slip off to ride SHAMBHALA, which is the highest roller coaster in the park at 76 metres and also has the steepest drop. It was awesome: a truly incredible, exhilarating ride. If you’re a thrill seeker with an iron stomach to hop from coaster to coaster then I would suggest that Portaventura is the perfect theme park for you.
Your guess is as good as mine as to whether travel to Spain will be allowed this summer, as the country is now perceived to be in the grips of a ‘fourth wave’ of Coronavirus. But if it is, then the Portaventura website are currently offering free entrance to the Caribe Beach waterpark if you book your stay with them directly.
We were supposed to be staying here again for four nights in August before we embarked on our now-cancelled Mediterranean cruise out of Barcelona, but for now we don’t have plans to visit Port Aventura again this year. However we will definitely be back again, and I know as the boys get bigger their enjoyment of this park will only deepen and grow.