Ride Review: Shambhala – PortAventura

Alex: Now that the new European record-breaker rollercoaster Red Force has opened meters away from Shambhala, let’s review this huge B&M hypercoaster which held the record of the tallest coaster in Europe for 5 years!

– Over the years, many of our images have popped up on other sites and forums, awesome that our coverage spreads, not so awesome that not everyone mentioned where they got the images from. We are totally fine with our audience using our images, BUT ONLY IF credit is given to californiacoasterkings.com. Thank you! –

Set in the back of the park, Shambhala can be seen from kilometers away. This is the first view when you enter the park. It truly is the main attraction and makes you want to run to be the first to ride it!

Despite the shortest way from the entrance to the coaster is through SésamoAventura, the main entrance of the area is located in the China plaza, right next to Dragon Khan and this is where we’re going to start our tour.

The themed land

Nowadays it is a trend in European parks to create the so-called mini-lands, little themed areas made for one or two rides with theming only related to that ride. Shambhala isaccording to the park, still in the Chinese area, but we can’t help but see how the landscape changes once you’ve crossed the gate of Shambhala: Expedición al Himalaya.

Some jeeps and an explorer’s base camp stand on both sides of the corridor which leads to the queue building. It also has a kinetic element, being the train passing over the pathway every few minutes.

Following the path, we turn right and discover the true marvel of this area: the coaster itself.  The ups and downs of Dragon Khan and Shambhala bend together in this space full of pretty high supports forming the ultimate B&M paradise. On the left side, we have the stairs to the queue line, the exit and the photo shop, but we’ll check that later on.

Now we’ll walk a few meters straight until we reach what, in my opinion, is the landmark of the land: the splash zone!

This is my favorite spot in the Shambhala area. The train goes through the lake at full speed and then soars over the square, creating an artificial splash that, depending on the wind, can soak you a little. A simple but effective element that brings a nice interaction between the coaster and the people to the sides (who might be to scared to ride this magnificent piece of steel.)

If we walk a bit more down the pathway, we find ourselves going right next to Dragon Khan and Shambhala’s drop and through a tunnel, but the best awaits at the other side…

Commonly known among the enthusiasts as “the coaster plaza”, this is the last part of the Shambhala area. It is an almost empty space but a true coaster fan will appreciate this spot.

Standing right in the middle of these two B&M’s is pure awesomeness for a coasterfan as you wait to hear the roar of Dragon Khan and watch Shambhala going full speed through the tunnel at the bottom of its drop. It will give you goosebumps for sure!

Now if we turn left, we will go straight into Angkor land, also a mini-land part of the China area. A walk there is totally recommended even if you’re not going to ride the splash-battle, the views on Shambhala are AMAZING. Look at the crazy scale of the coasters!

If we turn right, we will exit the Shambhala area and enter SésamoAventura. Once again, thrilling views of both coasters, but mainly Dragon Khan. We know this is a Shambhala review but hey, look at this, pure old-school-B&M beautiness <3

The coaster

The whole themed area described above was the build up to this big coaster. Remember when we left the queue building on the left? We’ll pick up from there and finally go up the stairs into the large queue building.

The queue is unfortunately, not so interesting… Just a very long meander queue but with a nice view once more on the impressive coasters! If you’re lucky enough, you’ll see both trains going down the drop synchronized, which is quite cool.

Once you’re at this point, you know you’re minutes away to ride Shambhala! You lower your restraint -which holds your hips, giving a strange sensation of freedom and safety- and the train starts moving right hand to the lift hill.

It ascends the lift hill at a fairly high speed, faster than Dragon Khan, which we leave behind as we go up. Do enjoy the view while going up of the park, Salou and beyond!

And when you’re almost at the peak, it slows down a little. If you’re sitting first row, it keeps you at the edge of the drop. If you’re last row, it propels you up the last meters of the straight lift hill and then you take the drop at full speed!

The drop of Shambhala is breathtaking. Literally. You are so high and then you’re almost vertical and you go so fast that it’s hard to realize all that in the moment. You either grab your restraint or raise your hands, but you enjoy it to the max.

Suddenly, the air hits you in the face as you go through a tunnel at the bottom of the drop and your vision has little time to adjust to the darkness because in no time, you’re outside again, facing up the first camel back with a sightly left turn. Here, and pretty much on all the next ones, you can experience some nice airtime!

As in almost every hyper coaster, there’s the turnaround element. In Shambhala, B&M designed a new type of turn: the ampersand, and looks this beautiful. You pass really close to the supports and the track itself while going downwards, which makes them good near-miss elements. But unfortunately, despite the good-looking of this element, it’s quite forceless.

Just after the turn, comes another atypical element: the speed hill. It’s kind of a very small camelback, I think it’s only 5 m (16.4 feet) high or so. But as we’re going very fast after the ampersand, this hill gives you a good dose of airtime. Here is a close up of a previous photo where we can see the speed hill.

It’s time for the second of Shambala’s five camel backs, shorter but as intense as the first, giving a good floating airtime. But in this one, we will drop directly into the splash zone!

And then soaring back in the air, with the third and fourth camel back – the ones which are on both sides of the entrance corridor – that lead right to the Mid-Course Brake Run.

After this straight section, without loosing speed, we take a left downwards a 180º helix, which is where it’s time to smile for the ride photo. The helix is followed by the last camel back and upwards to the brake-section which, surprisingly, also gives a tiny bit of airtime.

You conquered Shambhala! Now it’s time to see your picture and video or catch your breath after this intense experience! Ready for another ride? No problem for Shambala, if you’re not scared of heights. Despite it’s very tall and fast, it’s also very smooth and enjoyable. Tip: There’s also a Single Rider queue and usually not many guests are aware.! So you can give it another try, I’m sure you’ll never get tired!

As many coasters, it’s very recommendable to ride it at night. It’s a totally different experience as it’s sightly faster and the fact that you can see less where you’re going, makes it a different experience.

We can conclude by saying that Shambhala is one of the top European coasters and maybe even beyond. It has a good theme, a fair thrill factor (not insanely intense but it will live up to the expectations of the enthusiasts) and together with Dragon Khan, they probably made the best B&M pair worldwide, visually stunning. It may have lost it’s title as Europe’s tallest, but you don’t need to go far to experience that one as well!

Thank you very much for reading this Ride Review of Shambhala at PortAventura. Please keep in mind, all images found on this site, unless otherwise stated, are owned by Coaster Kings! Sharing them is fine, but only if credit to thecoasterkings.com is given!

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