Stampida (Port Aventura)
The following review will go into explicit detail regarding the attraction and the surprises it may conceal. If you choose to read on, be warned that it may detract from your first ride on the attraction.
Tussauds opened Port Aventura 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 them.
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 Port
Aventura would be the blessed party.
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
the 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 date.
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
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 record.
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, Port Aventura’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
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 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 down.
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
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
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
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 Megafobia.
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 intense rides.
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 to offer.
4/5 Marcus Sheen