Ferrari Land – Opening Weekend – April 2017

Alex: Last weekend Ferrari Land, one of the main projects for 2017 in Europe, opened. Despite the hype I had for the park, it felt as such a disappointment. Why? Where to start…

First of all, I want to state that this is a personal experience based on my visit to Ferrari Land on Saturday 8th of April, the 2nd day of public operation of the park. That doesn’t means that everything mentioned in this report will always be this way (well, I hope so!), but these are my impressions from the experience I had. Being that said, let’s start!

Our day started, as usual in PortAventura World, at the fountain plaza but this time it was slightly different. The huge Ferrari Land sign which stood on the side for more than a year, has transformed into the new park entrance!

After the turnstiles, a pathway with beautiful gardening lead us to the main entrance plaza of the park. In the background, the impressive rollercoaster and so we couldn’t resist heading there straightaway!

But as we walked to Red Force, we took a quick glance at the park. Very quick. Because it’s so small we could almost see the entire park from the main plaza in front of Ferrari Experience!

We went left, around the huge building standing just in the middle of the park and through the Italian themed section of the park. Look at it, it’s beautiful! But – SPOILER ALERT: don’t touch it! It looks real but it is not, it sounds empty inside when you knock the bricks or the facades. I won’t complain much here, as the recreations are good enough.

The big coaster was waiting for us, so we decided to start there! Most of us are familiar with cabinets and pigeonholes to leave your bag, right? Not in Red Force. You aren’t allowed to enter the queue with anything. Even glasses! What’s the solution then? Lockers for a fee!! Yes, you must pay 1€ to leave your belongings outside and then ride Red Force. Of course, I can’t post photos of the queue as I couldn’t carry a camera with me.
Ironically, there’re vending machines on the queue. How I’m supposed to pay? Well, never mind, let’s just queue….

Luckily I was able to wear my glasses during the queue but on the ride I had to safely keep them on the pocket of my jacket, zip protected of course.

The queue is like the ones at PA, a simple zig-zag handrail, so the only entertaining thing is the train being launched right next to us. A train of 12 people every 3 minutes… And only one train working… That means a throughput of 240 riders per hour. YAY! Thanks for the good operations Ferrari! Honestly, we queued for 3 HOURS!!! Breakdowns included, of course. They tested an empty train and did a rollback, then stood on the launch zone for 30 minutes maybe. Here’s a video of what happened next (not our video, all credits goes to @AlbertRobertR14 on Twitter).

Our last hour of the queue was right out in the sun due to the breakdown. Between the last part of roofed queue and the station there’s like 25 meters/82 feet in full sunshine. Luckily it was beginning of April with a good 20ºC/68ºF – I don’t want to imagine this in August, with almost 40ºC/104ºF under the Spanish sun!

This brings me to another painpoint of the park: lack of shade. This one here is maybe the most noticeable one, made by the building itself. Fortunately, all queues have roofs (except the one part in Red Force I was talking about) but when you’re outside, it is recommended to wear a cap or some protection from the sun.

Sorry for this digression, let’s continue talking about the coaster. Finally after spending 3 hours queuing of the 7 opening hours of the park, we reached the station. My first ride was in third row. The lap-bar type was pretty comfortable, you don’t even notice it during the ride. We exit the station and without stopping, we’re launched at 180 km/h or 112 mph in a never ending launch section! Despite that, Furius Baco’s launch is more intense. One thing I liked from the launch is the sound it makes, it roars loudly like a F1!

Then we went straight up to the sky and here came what was new for me. The ejector airtime on the upwards section of the top hat blew me away! I wasn’t expecting that and I loved it, it caught me by surprise. Also, I did not experience any pidgeon problems luckily!

If you realize to look down when you’re at the top, you’ll enjoy some brief views from the surroundings and even the sea! Then, the train takes a plummeting dive from 112 m/367,4 ft down to ground level, ending the ride with a brake section to return to the station.

I can’t lie, I liked the coaster, but it’s not in my top 3. It’s a good coaster but when it’s the main reason you’re there, you might be disappointed. It can have the title of highest and fastest roller coaster in Europe, but it sure isn’t the most thrilling one. Also a small note, the photo ride wasn’t working so no chance to see your screaming face at 180 km/h, sorry.

At this point, we had spent almost half of the day and rode only one ride. That’s why we decided to go to the so called Ferrari Experience. This building consist of three attractions:

  • Ferrari Land Gallery: a museum about Ferrari with cars on display and the history of the brand.
  • Racing Legends: an Omnimax type of cinema. A simulator ride within a giant dome screen.
  • Flying Dreams: a Brogent i-Ride, also known as Flying Theater.

Of the three rides, we only tried Flying Dreams as it’s a new type of ride in Europe this year and we were hyped to see what it has to offer. The queue is shared with Racing Legends and features this impressive mapping wall.

At both sides of the main screen, a F1 and a sports car were also part of the mapping system, which was synchronized with the big screen and together formed such an awesome queue!

It was cool standing in the queue with this video for a while, but the problem comes when you spend 2 HOURS queuing for the ride. After this big queue, there are a loooot of pre shows, maybe 4 counting safety instructions, etc. You think that next door is the one of the ride itself but no, only more queue with mapping on the wall (because every little queue room featured a mapping installation). After a while, it was pretty disappointing.

Nevertheless, I want to mention one pre show I liked for its quality, the one on the photo below. The system is the same as the used on Derren Brown’s Ghost Train at Thorpe Park or at the Harry Potter rides at Universal parks, but this time with Enzo Ferrari, Ferrari’s founder, sharing his story on how he set up the Ferrari company from a dream. I congratulate the creators of this display, it felt so real.

So after the 2 hours of queue, we finally boarded our “vehicle”. The theater consists out of two floors with 3 “vehicles” per floor. The middle vehicle on the top floor, best seat in the house, wasn’t in operation, I don’t know why. That’s why my seat was on the right vehicle.

The experience was great, I really enjoyed it and believed to be flying with a little of effort from my part, because the black roof of the building was clearly visible and that diminished the immersion. Maybe I missed more elements like smells or feeling hot or cold, things I know other rides of the same type have. The images were beautiful and the soundtrack was majestic, which remembered me of Soarin’. As usual in this park, I was expecting a little more. The ride was good but the overall experience was totally frustrating.

It was 3 pm and we had only 2 hours left at the park… As we were so fed up, we went to the Guest Relations of the park to make them aware of our awful experience. I can say that we weren’t the only ones there… The park offered us an Express ticket for Shambhala as a compensation so we kindly accepted.

In case you were wondering, the park was totally empty. Proof can be seen on the photo below. There was no one in the streets because they all were in the queues! How is this possible? I blame the operations of this park and I truly hope these will get better over time. As a conclusion, I felt like this park was not ready to open for the public, and more rehearsals or training were required to give a satisfactory service to the people willing to have fun in there after spending money on an expensive ticket.

However, not everything can be bad at this park! We were hungry, so we went to eat at the “à la carte” restaurant Ristorante Cavallino, the best one of the park. Of course, there are other options such as hot dogs or hot sandwiches at various terraces. There’s supposed to be a self-service restaurant too, but it was closed as it wasn’t finished yet…

Our experience at the trattoria Ristorante Cavallino gave us a pleasant surprise after all the previous unfortunate events. A whole menu costs 40€ (42 USD / 34 GBP), but a pizza or a dish of pasta plus a drink costs 14€ (14.9 USD / 11.9 GBP) more or less. Keeping in mind that a fast food menu in PortAventura costs about 11€ (11.7 USD / 9.3 GBP), the price is rather affordable. I ate a dish of tagliatelle carbonara (11,90€) and it was tasty! The group I went with complained a little about the quantities of the food, but I was ok with mine. The theming was romantic, they brought the food very quickly, the service was excellent, the waiters and waitress were very nice and I enjoyed my meal. Good job in here!

We had some time left until the closure of the park at 5pm so let’s take a look at the other rides of the park.

  • Maranello Grand Race: this is supposed to be one of the main rides though it wasn’t very appealing to us. It’s the Ferrari version of Autopia at Disneyland but not as good. Unfortunately, it literally takes up one third of the park. If the park isn’t small enough already, let’s put an enormous boring ride in here! In my opinion, this space could be used better and wisely.
  • Thrill Towers: an original name for an original ride (sorry for the irony). Why put these rides here when you have Hurakan Condor, a 100m/328ft multi drop tower minutes away?! I will never understand… These 55m/180,5ft are different: one works as a free fall while the other one works as a bounce tower. Honestly, I didn’t ride neither of them.
  • Junior Championship: described by the park as “the whip ride” and remembered by enthusiasts as “that ride at the funfair”, this ride is now part of the lineup of Ferrari Land. Yep, we also did not ride this one.
Source: PortAventura

Anyway, the fun doesn’t ends here! If you are willing to pay to ride even more rides, you’re lucky! They have something for you!

  • Pole Position Challenge: you can drive semi-professional simulators and challenge your friends in a race on a F1. Only if you and your friends want to pay 25€ each for approximately 15 minutes! I can’t say it isn’t cool, but I won’t pay that amount of money for this, personally.

    Source: PortAventura
  • Pit Stop Record: a game of changing wheels on a F1. If I’m not wrong, this game is 3€ per person up to 4 people. For me this here is more doable as it’s more like an ability game, and it’s cheaper. I’m unsure how many tries you have, I hope more than one… Anyways, from my point of view, I would pay for it if I had the time.

Indisputably, Red Force is the main attraction at Ferrari Land and that’s why we went to ride it again before the park’s closing. Luckily now it was only a 10 minute wait! This time the ride felt even better, except for one thing. I rode it second row and it rattled!! I know it’s a coaster that goes VERY fast, but it’s brand new… I hope it ages well…

One more item to add to the list of “Things I like about the coaster” is that you can stand in the middle of the action! I absolutely love coasters where you can stand by closely and feel surrounded by a coaster. That black dot at the bottom of the photo is me, look at the HUGE scale of the coaster!!

To end our day at Ferrari Land, we dared to enter the shop. As all the items are Ferrari officially licensed, you know the prices are not going to be cheap.

I was tempted to buy a 5€ lanyard, but then I discovered the 16€ mug, the 29€ cap, the 29€ notebook, and the 70€ hoodie and I ran out the store. Just joking, I stayed there for a while, but these prices are real. I can come to understand that the prices are imposed by Ferrari and that’s why is not affordable for everyone.

It should state: “Thank you for spending your money here!”

So after 7 hours at the park – 5 of which queuing- we jumped to PortAventura as we had a combined entrance, because you can’t buy a ticket just for Ferrari Land. The cheapest ticket is 60€ (63,6$/£51,21) for 1 day/2 parks.

It’s always good to see this beautiful sight again! Welcome PortAventura 2017!! 😀 As we had Express for Shambhala, we went directly to this glorious B&M coaster. Lucky enough because PA was crowded! Not like Ferrari Land, here paths had people walking in them!

Oh boy, I can’t say no to a ride on Shambhala. Maybe is not as tall as Red Force but the experience as a whole is much better. Still my number one, I enjoy every ride as it was the first one 🙂

And after my compulsive need to ride Shambhala, we went to the woodie of the park: Stampida. Here ther was a more silent novelty at PortAventura. Stampida has, just like these previous years, a part of its layout retracked. This year it’s the final turn that received the treatment. For me, this used to be the most painful part of the ride. Now, even though it’s not butter smooth, it’s enjoyable, which is saying a lot. So thumbs up for Stampida!

After the bad experience at Ferrari Land, PortAventura seemed nicer than ever. A good way to end our day!

To sum up in few words, the brand new Ferrari Land was a disappointment. I felt frustrated all day because we weren’t able to ride attractions! I felt ripped off because I spent 60€ to be standing in line for hours. The way I see it, this park isn’t ready to open just yet. More rehearsals and trainings is what they need. What was supposedly a happy day made me fed up, and this is not the experience I am looking at a theme park, and even less in a park with the name Ferrari on it. Eventhough the rides were ok, the overall experience let me down.

I like to think that my experience is something isolated and won’t happen to you. Unfortunately, during this first week of operation, worse things have happened. Breakdowns almost half of the day on the main rides and queues for Guest Relations!! I hope that Ferrari and PortAventura hurry up for the summer crowds. If not this is going to be something serious and very harmful for the just-opened park.

Thanks so much for reading our Trip Report of the opening weekend of Ferrari Land. Please keep in mind, all images found on this site, unless otherwise stated, are owned by European Coaster Kings! Sharing them is fine, but only if credit to is given!

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