It almost feels wrong writing this; there’s an element of sacrilege to it. It’s something that feels like it deserves a hushed whisper – like saying you put the milk in first when making tea, or admitting to never having watched Game of Thrones.
Nevertheless, I’m going to make a bold statement. Disneyland isn’t actually the happiest placed on earth.
The Parisian park may well be celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, introducing a new Star Wars land and a Pirates of the Caribbean ride that features Johnny Depp in honour of this landmark event, but to my mind it still isn’t a patch on another European theme park of a similar age – PortAventura.
Situated in the Spanish hills outside the popular holiday resort of Salou, PortAventura has come a long way from the small water park that first opened 20 years ago. It’s now comprised of three theme parks, numerous hotels and restaurants, and even has its own beach club on site.
On paper it sounds pretty similar to Disneyland Paris – but here’s why it’s so much more:
Disney is dated
I love some good old nostalgia as much as the next person, but Disneyland in many ways hasn’t moved with the times. Kids growing up in the watch-anything-you-want-in-an-instant era don’t spend their Sunday afternoons watching western films with their grandparents; instead of amazing them, the cowboy and Indian theme in Frontierland baffles them.
And don’t even get me started on It’s A Small World – the ride that takes you past singing animatronic children from around the globe. These days it just seems weird; very few people under the age of 50 understand what the experience is about and you don’t realise what you’ve let yourself in for until it’s too late. Then you have to spend the rest of the day with the irritating yet insanely catchy tune running relentlessly through your brain.
PortAventura has updated its offering with the new Ferrari Land (PortAventura)
On the flip side, PortAventura continues to evolve to accommodate popular trends and themes. Kids would much rather ride on family-friendly Stampida, where two wooden rollercoasters race each other. The resort has also undergone a €100 million investment and opened Ferrari Land this year, with a flying theatre, simulators and some of the most thrilling rides in the park.
Thrills and spills
Disneyland Paris is a condensed version of its DisneyWorld cousin in Florida, with all the key features of the bigger…