Tussauds opened PortAventura
to great acclaim, and for them it would have been easy to
sit back on their laurels and let the park run itself. Opening with a
fantastic selection of family rides, coasters and water rides, they
already catered for every caste of visitor that the world could throw at
was soon after the park opened that one of the creative designers behind
the park, John Wardley, was seen to be walking around with a
not-too-subtle folder with ‘woodie’ written on it. Fingers around
Europe were crossed, and because it was obvious Alton Towers were not to
be the auspicious beneficiaries of the said ride, even the most obtuse
of people would be pretty much certain that PortAventura would be the
park satisfies the most visitors with its water rides. A rather
blinkered view may lead you to think that Dragon Khan is the most
popular ride in the park, but it is Tutuki Splash that draws people with
its allure of a refreshing break from the harsh heat of the Spanish
summer. Besides, Tutuki Splash is a family ride, attracting thrill
seekers and families alike.
this statistic in front of them, the park thought it prudent to weigh up
pros and cons of building a coaster, a ride that ultimately may not
have the draw of a water ride. There was no doubt in Wardleys’ mind of
the potential success of a wooden coaster, thus he managed to cajole the
park into building what would turn out to be one of the prevalent rides
in the park.
Coasters International was called on to build Stampida. For reasons of
innovation and to provide adequate capacity the ride was to be a racer,
something Wardley is particularly keen on. To cater for the minors,
Tomahawk, a small junior wooden coaster would intertwine with Stampida.
With so many board-feet of lumber, this wooden mountain rising from the
dusty plains behind Penitence School would be CCI’s largest project to
so like the sound of thundering hooves, Stampida rode into town. Themed
as the wildest wagon race in town, a red train and blue train follow the
hugely twisted circuit primarily in tandem, finishing always with a
winner, and always with a loser.
way through its first season, disaster struck. A dim-witted rider
thought it necessary to stand up. A predictable demise became of him and
so the park closed the ride. Although it took no time before the park
were cleared of any felony, they thought it shrewd to make alterations
so that no other rider could tarnish their previously unsoiled safety
the beginning of its second year, the ride reopened, sporting a pair of
sparkling trim brakes down the first drop, and seat dividers as high as
the sides of the train between you and your partner. No seatbelts were
added (strangely), yet as operators were pinning you in, you would have
to be Houdini to leave the ride finishes it’s assault.
so through the Far West, PortAventura’s prevailing and sprawling
land. It is at the far side of this huge region of park that Stampida
lurks. To get to the entrance, you go beneath one of the first hills
that swoop of to the left hand side. Once under, you can turn nowhere
without being faced by a wall of wood. As you pass under the sign
marking the rides entrance, you meander for a while through various
cacti and other Western flora before the question is asked: red or blue?
choice is made by making a beeline for the corresponding corridor of
coloured flags that lead to a wagon, through which you go through. The
wagons’ livery also tallies with your choice, and from here it is just
a short walk to the station.
station is entered via a series of ramps that zig-zag vertically up the
walls to the station platform which is around 20ft in the air. On the
ceiling, coloured lights indicate the winning train so you can at least
try to make a fair assessment as to whether you have chosen well.
train full of riders are let onto the platform at a time so that
overcrowding won’t occur. You could try your luck asking for a back
seat, but due to the nature of the platform and the ramps preceding it,
it is probably more of an inconvenience than it is perhaps worth. Since
the accident too, operators try and fill the train from the front, so
they probably will exchange frosty glares for your request.
the trains arrive, and riders leave towards the middle of the station,
the gates in front open and you board the train. The trains are the PTCs
that used to come as standard with Custom Coasters’ rides. The
modified seat dividers mean that it is a bit more snug than you would
probably like, before an operator pushes the single lap-bar tightly
up before the trains are tyre driven from the station. You sharply twist
down to the lift-hill before you engage flawlessly and begin the swift
ascent. To your left is nothing, but to your right is an almost
indescribable amount of wood twisting, turning and knotted together. The
climb is swift, and once at the top, there is no pause before you turn
to the right.
left hand train dips down out of view, lining the two trains up
perfectly before you dramatically accelerate, sharply beginning the
first descent. As the pace reaches shameful speeds, the perfectly shaped
drop lifts you from the seat just as your tender head passes beneath the
track of Tommahawk.
the train scuffs the ground, you bank slightly to the right as the track
climbs away through a swooping right-hand curve, lining up with two
return tracks and the track from Tommahawk. A well timed dispatch from
the station means that you can often meet the amber Tommahawk train at
this point before you fly up and over the pathway, dipping down what
appears to be an unassuming drop laden with a surprising amount of
airtime before a double-up feeds you into a swooping turnaround.
speed soaked up by the double-up is soon salvaged by the oblique shape
of the turnaround which banks to the left as you undulate towards a
powerful double-down, diving under the prevailing track before climbing
sharply into a tunnel.
bearings are at this point lost. As you leave the tunnel and mull over
the recent disappearance of the challenging train, from the opposite
direction, right towards you comes the rival train thundering past like
the 8.15 from Manchester.
turn-or-two later, the trains join up again following each other like
shadows. An abrupt plunge takes you past a wind-pump hiding the ride
camera, before the next climb buries you deep within the structure for a
long and relentless turn towards the back of the ride before you thunder
onto the brake-run, either all conquering or just conquered. Each train
load of riders have ample opportunity to jeer each other with gleeful
tears running from their eyes before the brakes release, and each train
coasts into the station.
you zig-zag down the exit ramp, through the turnstile, and past the
substantial wall of screens for the on-ride photography, you realise
that Stampida is absolutely nothing like either Tonnerre De Zeus or
to the two, it runs like a milk float on a dead battery. Who says
that’s a bad thing though? Although I regard Tonnerre De Zeus and
‘Fobia highly for their righteous amounts of airtime, speed and
stamina, Stampida makes up for this with an diverse mix of elements,
including helixes, turn, double-ups, double downs, and yes, a fair
amount of airtime inducing drops.
lest we forget the racing element. Tonnnerre De Zeus may be able to dish
out airtime by the barrel load, but neither Zeus nor Megafobia can
compete with the amounts of fun that Stampida offers. It may be lacking
in some respects, but it is obvious from riding Stampida that it is a
completely different class of ride from some of Custom Coasters’ more
unclear to me whether the brakes on the first drop have an effect.
Perhaps by throwing the train into a turn so soon the kick is taken out
of the rest of the ride. It is still swift, smooth and a lovely, re-ridable
attraction, something many wooden coasters, even newer ones, are pushed
▪ Racing element is a
well executed novelty
▪ Some good airtime and
▪ Smooth without being
▪ Very fast and well
▪ Interacts well with
▪ Handrail means trains
are often too far apart
▪ No choice of where you