Skip to content

Category: Travel

Róisín against Shambhala – the tallest Roller Coaster in Europe

We were at PortAventura, the theme park that’s 1 hour from Barcelona, for their Halloween ’15 event.

Me – “Hey Róisín, would you like to go on the tallest Roller Coaster in Europe with me?”

Róisín- “Yes”

I never expected her to say yes, never mind queue for almost an hour before committing. That was plenty of time for her to change her mind and think of an excuse. But no, we talked for an hour about her being the smallest in the queue, what the others in our group were doing and whether I was scared or not. Truth is, I was. I’m not keen on heights. But love to face fear, albeit with a firm faith in physics and under tightly controlled and rigorously tested conditions.

Shambhala is a world class Roller Coaster designed by Bolliger & Mabillard. The Swiss based company custom-designed the Shambhala to weave its way around the existing and now dwarfed Dragon Khan (also designed by Bolliger & Mabillard). As if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, they needed to ensure that the new coaster offered something worthy of the $34,500,000 price tag. They did this by creating the tallest Roller Coaster in Europe and one that pushes the riders from -0.5G to 3.8G.  Dropping you at an angle of 77.4 degrees from 249 feet. Quite literally, taking your breath away.

Did I know this before joining the queue? Did my 10 year old daughter that only just made the 140cm minimum height restriction know this? Well, no. And by the time the train returned to the start of the ride I felt a little guilty that I didn’t find out the statistics before hand and present all the facts to my very bright daughter and allow her to rethink her decision.

So should I have taken her on the Roller Coaster? It was a rite of passage of sorts. It was on her 10th Birthday. She is probably too young to form irrational thoughts and let them cloud her judgement. Roller Coasters do crash, as we saw in Alton Towers this Summer and although it is an extremely rare event, I have to work very hard to put these thoughts aside. If Rosie can learn from an early age to not let irrational thoughts cloud her judgement she will be free to experience life to its fullest.  Also, when hurtling towards the earth at 83mph you are truly living in the moment. There are no distractions and perversely it’s a meditation of sorts. Finally, it’s exhilarating.  Once out of the seat and the blood returned to her legs she was jumping up and down with glee, telling me how proud she was and thanking me for coming with her. The elation that Róisín felt upon leaving the train is a natural human response.  It comes from what you may recognise as the “Fight or Flight” scenario. Learning to recognise this will enable her to appreciate and harness its power.

So what next? Ferrari Land? The new theme area dedicated to the Prancing Horse Roller Coaster that is scheduled to open from 2016 within the PortAventura resort. Following an estimated total investment of over 100 million Euros, this will be the first Ferrari theme park in Europe and the second in the world after Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. Ferrari Land will cover a surface area of 75,000 square metres and will feature exciting attractions for fans of the brand of all ages, such as the highest and fastest vertical accelerator in Europe.

Me – “Wow Róisín,  the highest and fastest vertical accelerator in Europe…do you want to go on it?”

Róisín – “No”