Spain’s PortAventura World has giant rollercoasters and endless worlds to explore

THERE is something comforting about a theme park.

That clattering “whoosh” of a rollercoaster is the same the world over.

Stampida coaster PortAventura World, near Barcelona, is the squeal deal

You know you will queue, it will be gaudy and colourful, you will often exit through a gift shop and, at some point, one of your children will eat something that turns their mouth blue.

Even abroad, there is none of the apprehension that can come from taking your family somewhere unfamiliar.

The experience is the same . . . only sunnier.

PortAventura World, an hour south of Barcelona, could not be more of a home from home for Brits.

Enjoy a Sesame Street singing show and a traditional street parade

A massive theme park with six worlds to explore, six hotels on site, caravanning opportunities and an enormous waterpark, you could stay for weeks and still find new things to do.

The seven modern rollercoasters are jaw-dropping giants. Then you have the rapids and log flumes, the SesamoAventura kids’ world, soft-play area, mazes, spinners, carousels and countless old-school funfair attractions.

The five other worlds — Wild West, China, Polynesia, Mexico and Mediterrania — each have at least one theatre or stage, with hourly live shows, singers, dancers and entertainment. Then you have Ferrari Land next door, boasting even more ridiculous rides, including a rollercoaster 112 meters high that accelerates from 0-112mph in just five seconds.

We flew with BA from Heathrow to Barcelona on a Friday afternoon and were in our fabulous Callaghan hotel room by early evening, raring to go first thing the next day.

The kids have a massive waterpark and six worlds to explore

And what a treat there was in store for a family with two young girls — Martha, six, and Lyla, three.

New for 2019 is the Sesame Street Mission, a hi-tech ride suitable even for three-year-olds just over a metre high. Here, Detective Grover is on the case . . . as a cookie has gone missing.

You and the family must don 3D glasses, climb into a New York taxi-style ride and shoot 3D cookies with your lasers. It cost £13million to make and the money shows.

It really is world-class. Although the main narrative is in Spanish, there are enough English phrases to keep you in the loop as you whirl round street scenes, past characters from the long-running kids’ TV show, to be plunged into an immersive 3D film. Best of all — for competitive parents, anyway — you are up against the rest of your family and find out who shot the most cookies at the end. The ride is slap-bang in the middle of SesamoAventura, so there is plenty to distract little ones who want to jump back in and zap more cookies.

GO: PORTAVENTURA

GETTING/STAYING THERE:

Flights from various UK airports to Barcelona are from £23.21pp one way. See easyjet.com.
Three nights’ B&B at the Hotel Colorado Creek is from £251pp based on a family of four sharing, including tickets with unlimited access to PortAventura World and one day access to Ferrari Land.

There are loads of rides for kids, although some have height restrictions.

The Magic Fish — in which you skim in pods across the water — proved a particular favourite. There were some lovely smaller roundabouts for our youngest, too.

And there are plenty of soft-play areas in each world to keep them entertained should the older ones want to go off on the bigger rides.

There is also a train that travels round most of the park — which is a godsend for anyone with tired feet by the end of an action-packed day on the rides.

One area where the Spanish resort has an edge over its British counterparts is the food. There is a tapas bar with an extensive wine list, a grand terrace serving Mediterranean favourites, a “wok show” cooking canteen, the best of Mexican cuisine and a post-colonial cantina.

Add to that multiple snack bars, American favourites and a steak bar, plus various general stores dotted about.

Martha, six, and Lyla, three, meet Betty Boop

Food here can be pricey, so if you plan to come for more than a day, I would get to a local supermarket for picnic essentials.

The shows are absolutely incredible, too.

We caught a can-can dance production in the Wild West world — and it featured Woody Woodpecker, so there was something for all the family.

There are also Polynesian tribal dances, Mexican rituals, Wild West stunt shows and dances celebrating hit movies. Or take in a Sesame Street singing show, and a traditional street parade.

Importantly for parents, there are loads of well-maintained bathrooms, too.

Also opening this year is the £22million, zero-emission Hotel Colorado Creek. With 150 rooms, it expands the resort’s accommodation offering to 2,200-plus rooms.

More than a million Brits visited the park last year and it is easy to see why.

All the staff speak English and most of the signage around the park is in English. It is just an hour down the motorway from Barcelona airport, near a beach and close to the popular tourist town of Sitges, so it would be perfectly possible to visit on a day trip if you were holidaying locally.

Think Alton Towers combined with Thorpe Park — but with more hotels, a massive waterpark and way more sun — surrounded by mountain scenery and sea views. It is enough to tempt even the hardiest of home-birds away for a ride.



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