Tournament 2018: Alton Towers vs. PortAventura

March 18, 2018, 2:16 PM · We are into the second round of the 2018 Theme Park Insider Tournament, and today we are voting on two European theme parks that are vying to reach that regional's final.

In the first round, Alton Towers defeated Thorpe Park, while PortAventura defeated the UAE "play in" winner, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.

As always, we invite you to rate and review the attractions and restaurants at the parks we cover here on Theme Park Insider.

(And, in case you missed it, we invite you to check out Ben Mills' review of Alton Tower's new roller coaster, Wicker Man.)

Tomorrow, the second round continues with Islands of Adventure vs. Busch Gardens Williamsburg in the U.S. big brands semifinal.

Replies (6)

March 18, 2018 at 4:01 PM ·

I've not considered it before, but this is actually a very even match-up. Both parks contain some world-class coasters and effective environments, and are particularly good value as part of on-site vacation packages.

But I'm going to have to ignore the things that could potentially give PortAventura the upper hand. It seems unfair to judge this tournament based on the weather in the places the parks are, even though it does make a genuine difference to your appreciation of a park. (PA's is gorgeous for most of the year... while Alton Towers had an almost total shut down yesterday - the first day of the season - courtesy of an impromptu snowstorm.) And although the new Ferrari Land certainly adds an extra dimension to a stay at PA, the price level means that it has to be taken as a second gate - and shouldn't factor into our appraisal here.

Ultimately, the thing that tips it for me is operations. While Alton Towers ride management has really become something other parks can learn from, PortAventura's has gone in the opposite direction. Throughput on some of their attractions has really suffered from under-staffing, which can affect the enjoyment of a whole day.

So yep - Alton gets it, just. (And I'd be lying if I said my recent encounter with Wicker Man didn't slightly nudge me along, too.) But PortAventura, if you're reading? Get Templo Del Fuego back to a proper opening schedule, and maybe we can talk...

March 18, 2018 at 8:17 PM ·

Growing up in England Alton towers is the reason I loved and now work in an American Theme Park, loved the corkscrew and the Black Hole (England’s Space Mountain) both rides no longer there , the cable car ride over the gardens was always spectacular

March 19, 2018 at 9:39 AM ·

I think Alton Towers is benefitting from there being a lot of fellow Brits on this site. Whilst the new Wicker man ride looks great, the rest of the theming at Alton Towers is bare minimum and doesn't compare to PortAventura. They both have good rides but if you're not keen on roller coasters there isn't really much else to do at Alton Towers. PortAventura has both daytime and night-time shows including fireworks, we also had some nice table service food there which I've never managed in Alton Towers. Most my friends and colleagues over here in the UK haven't even heard of PortAventura which is a shame as I think it makes a nice alternative to visiting Disneyland Paris, the good weather being an added bonus!

March 19, 2018 at 11:22 AM ·

I don't feel qualified to vote b/c I've never been to PortAventura. But as Ben pointed out, ride operations at Alton Towers are first rate. They far exceed those at any US park I've visited for efficiency. OK, so a ride op made an egregious error in 2015 but since then things have really tightened up. As for people in the UK not having heard of PortAventura, that surprises me. I sometimes envy people who live in the UK b/c they can get to the continent relatively inexpensively. Almost every Brit I know - and I know many as a result of my job - has holidayed in Spain at one time or another. For me to get there would involve a major expense.

March 20, 2018 at 3:08 AM ·

Port Aventura wins this hands down.
Three parks to choose from shows and theming on another level.
Not to mention its tropical weather and gardens.
15euro admission fee to Ferrari Land is not the cost of entry to other parks.
Alton Towers charges Ten Sterling to skip to the top of the queue on the smiler for one go. Other similar charges apply for the other coasters too.

March 24, 2018 at 9:16 PM ·

I visited PortAventura a few years ago in September. The park was fairly quiet but the queues were terrible. They were running one car on each of the rollercoasters aswell as being slow to load and unload.

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