concept of PortAventura was dreamt up by Anheiser Busch, a company
famed for Budweiser, Sea World, and perhaps more importantly, Busch
Gardens. Like today, the park centred around a big coaster, however
whilst the hallowed reins were in possession of Busch, this ride would
be an Arrow of similar dimensions and concepts of Loch Ness Monster at
their Williamsburg park. The climax of this ride would be the
interlocking vertical loops in which trains would be able to pass at
the end, Busch settled for being merely shareholders in the park, along
with various other Spanish groups like banks and construction companies.
Now at the helm of this most delectable vessel, Tussauds, and behind the
drawing board, John Wardley.
park opened in 1995 with the notable absence of this specific Arrow
coaster, but with the equally and perhaps arguably more-so presence of
the hugely gargantuan Dragon Khan, a Bolliger and Mabillard behemoth
that suitably towers over the Spanish park.
you round every corner on the somewhat oblique path leading to China,
the powder-blue structure supporting the rich red track-work dips in and
out of view, and as you home in on this restless beast the outwardly
small trains do little but intimidate.
anxious stroll takes you up and onto the ramparts of the Great Wall of
China, crossing a large courtyard, upon which the station looks. The
authentic tiled roof supported by large columns plays host to the first
part of the queue. Underneath this cooled roof, and around a large
Chinese lantern, the queue zig-zags, and before long, the path will lead
you to the entrance of the station building.
inside, you are free to pick your favourite seat. Like most of Bolliger
and Mabillards’ coasters, the front seat is great for visuals, but
perhaps better in the case of Dragon Khan, the back is just a riot.
is on boarding the train that you realise how much we take the shabby
efforts of Vekoma’s coachwork for granted. Merely a small step is
required to stride into the four across car. Once sat in the
refreshingly comfortable chair that will play host to your rear for the
next few minutes of anarchy you will be pleased to note the generous
amounts of leg-room and the inconspicuousness of the car in front which
will do little to obscure your view.
you are comfortably cradled into the restraints, the train leaves
swooping to the right around a 180-degree bend. As smooth as Barry
White, the train engages onto the lift and begins its climb away from
ride is on somewhat of a hill. This, and the fact the coaster is at the
far end of the park give the lift a very exposed feel. It is a brisk
climb, and it is as silent as it is fast, and the first hint of the
approaching lawlessness is when the rows of cars fronting yours begin to
dip out of view.
the summit, you curl over the end of the lift, turn 90-degrees before
the track straightens out and the train is launched into a long,
straight drop. As your stomach goes haywire and your shoulders hit the
restraints, at a ludicrous pace, the train skims the ground as it peels
begins a long, skyward climb and inverting the train in one of
the worlds’ largest vertical loops.
the train reaches the top of this outlandish element, it teasingly slows
giving you a longer-than-usual inverted view. As you begin to face the
ground the pace once again quickens as the train bounces from the ground
into another skyward lurch. The track tilts more and more to the side
before again, inverted, you hurtle towards the ground in a spectacular
the ground the only way is up, and once as much height as possible is
regained, the train is yanked round a spectacularly forceful inline
twist, as arms and legs are flailing in all directions regardless of
your intensions, as supports seemingly skim your fingertips, you would
be right to say that this single inversion alone is the best single
demonstration of B&M’s genius.
is after this crazed flip that you swoop down climbing into what may at
first appear to be a normal vertical loop. Half way through this you are
pulled to the side, curling round before after a short pause the same is
reversed. The cobra roll as it is called rides as well as it looks.
Still going along at the speed of a rocket-fuel powered bus, a short
break is offered in the form of a mid-course block-brake that merely
skims the train. No respite though as the train lurches off to the right
into a Shwarzkopf-esque drop diving through a trench and over a
semi-buried vertical loop.
tight turn out of this is followed by a tight and fast barrel roll;
another turn around feeds you into another barrel roll that intertwines
the first, before a final turn hurls exhausted riders onto the
you return to the station via the transfer track, you have time to
reflect. To your right lies the mess of track including eight
inversions; two barrel rolls, two vertical loops, a cobra roll, a diving
loop and best of all, the inline twist.
and every twist, turn and dive is perfectly engineered to exert powerful
and varied forces on you, with the combination of strong Gs and floating
sensations of the first vertical loop to the weightlessness and lateral
vigour of the inline twist.
much as these contrast with regards to sensation, they all negotiate
these seemingly impossible twists with the elegance of a ballerina. Each
is smooth, and where the continuous radius of the Vekoma corkscrew is
both boring and rough, the way the B&M barrel roll tightens at the
top gives a fantastic ‘flick’, yet still maintains the consistent
gliding manner that the rest of the ride adopts.
theme of the ride is a good one, although it is somewhat let down by the
fact that the ride has little (read: no) theming around its course at
all. It is not hard to get great photos of it though, the path stretches
along the whole length of the ride, it just seems to lack what I’ve
come to expect of John Wardley over the years.
some, the ride may seem to be too ‘loop, loop, loop’, which is true.
Kumba, which is nearly identical to Dragon Khan has a powerful final
helix, Hulk, which is similar, has a few drops and extra turns, along
with a tunnel. Dragon Khan really does lack
non-inverting track, but the
straight first drop and the baby-smooth nature of every dip and dive
make up this quibble.
it stands, Dragon Khan is a living showroom of Bolliger and Mabillards’
best inversions and loops. Riding it though, it just feels so right. It
would be a shame for people to ride rival companies’ multi-looping
coasters only to be left battered and bruised, never wanting to ride
another major coaster again; they would of course miss out on what a
proper coaster is all about.
Well paced with a good
selection of elements
▪ Not much to it other