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Standing 76 metres-tall (249 feet) and reaching speeds of up to 133kph (83mph), Shambhala is now Europe’s tallest and fastest rollercoaster. At €25 million, it’s also the largest single investment at PortAventura since the Spanish park opened back in 1995. Like Silver Star at Europa-Park in Germany, which held the European record until this season, the hyper coaster is a product of Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M), the revered Swiss designer. PortAventura director of development Luis Valencia (pictured), who was


Shambhala’s project manager, discusses the ride’s


development and the park’s enduring success.


Shambhala! T


PortAventura’s record-setting hyper coaster


he idea for Shambhala, as with all the projects we do at PortAventura, was to look at the experience, the sensation – not just the ride.


We also wanted to create some more guest capacity, so we chose to build not only the attraction but also increase the area of the park with a new themed area; previously it was just an expansion area. It was important to have the new coaster interact with [B&M looping coaster] Dragon Khan, and create a lot of areas where guests can come close and watch the two coasters.


Shambhala is nearby the China themed area of


PortAventura, so we already had a guide for the theming; the question was what. The profile of the coaster is like mountains with all the camelbacks, so we had the idea that we could do something with the Himalayas. We explored a lot of myths and legends, and when we found the Shambhala legend we thought that it what very good for us because it is not real and so it gave us the freedom to base it on some real things but also put in some elements that are fantasy. The legend also says that Shambhala is connected with the rest of the world, and at PortAventura we already have themed areas such as Mexico, Polynesia and the Mediterranean, so it fits very well.


The ride is a hyper coaster – 76 metres tall with a 78-metre first drop and 1.6km [1 mile] in length –


but it’s not the typical thrill ride where you want it to stop, you want it to go on and on; it’s amazing. That is why we chose to do a hyper coaster rather than some other sort of thrill ride.


Something Special


When we decided on a hyper coaster, we then chose to have the biggest in Europe and also to add some things to make it even more special. We wanted to have as much airtime as possible so that’s why we have five camelbacks, and also the speed hill. We introduced a tunnel at the foot of the first drop for a cutting neck effect, and we introduced a splash area so the guests who are not riding can also enjoy the attraction. With B&M the design is perfect, the fabrication is perfect, the only problem we had with construction was to do all the hoisting because of the ride’s size. Working with Rollercoaster Construction Services (RCS), we tried as far as possible to do all the preassembly on the ground, but for that we needed a lot of space. Sometimes you had to wait days before you could do the next step. But we were finished on time, and the ride opened on May 12. From the top of the ride you can see everything!


Shambala’s splash area


26


PortAventura is on a hill, so we are already high up to start with. In fact, you can see the ride from my


JUNE 2012


A tale of two lift hills: Shambhala in white, Dragon Khan in red


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