What is: Shambhala Shambhala is a steel roller coaster located
at PortAventura World, in Salou Spain. The ride opened to the public as Europe’s tallest
roller coaster, taking guests up 76m (249ft) high before allowing them to plummet back
towards the ground below. On top of this, it became the 2nd hyper coaster in Europe
to be constructed by Swiss roller coaster manufacturer, Bolliger and Mabillard. Unfortunately,
however, Shambhala is no longer the continents tallest roller coaster, as the record was
broken in 2017 by another attraction located at the same resort, Red Force. Shambhala opened to the public on the 12th
of May 2012, at the cost of 25 Million Euros. Interestingly, the ride is themed to the ancient
myth of Shambhala, the mythical lost world located deep within the Himalayas. Shambhala
is said to be an inaccessible paradise, a cradle of eternal youth, a centre of happiness
and a kingdom of both peace and wisdom. The myths forgo that the king of the world resides
in this lost city, a city which connects every continent on earth, the city of Shambhala.
As guests enter the ride’s plaza, they are said to be exploring central Asia on a journey
to find the mythical world. The attraction’s design has been inspired by the Kingdom of
Bhutan, seen from the plaza’s entrance arch to the interesting station design. Snow is
also present throughout the area, further iterating the exploration and Tibetan theme. Once guests have navigated the ride’s queue
line, they board one of three vehicles, each of which seat a total of 32 riders per train.
Unlike other similar roller coasters, Shambhala features trains which seat visitors in a v
formation. Not only does this increase the length of the train, but also helps to isolate
the individual guests, exposing them to the surrounding elements. Once they have boarded,
the trains are dispatched from the station building and undergo a right-hand turn. At
this point, riders begin to ascend the lift hill. They slowly climb 76m (249ft) high,
obtaining breathtaking views of the park itself, as well as the nearby coastline and vast ocean.
Once they’ve crested the lift hill, the trains quickly plummet down a 78m (256ft)
descent, at the maximum vertical angle of 76 degrees. It’s at this point that riders
enter a short underground tunnel and reach the maximum speed 134kmh (83mph). After emerging
from the tunnel, guests enter the attractions first floater airtime hill, giving them the
sensation of total weightlessness for a brief period of time. They fall back towards the
ground, before entering one of Shambhala’s signature elements, its huge ampersand shaped
track structure. Riders navigate the upwards, and then downwards 540-degree helix, which
leads immediately into a speed hill. After a pop of ejector airtime, guests are subject
to a second large airtime hill, followed by a descent into an artificial splashdown element.
The trains of the ride appear to enter the water, causing a large splash to occur, produced
by a series of water jets. Visitors complete two further floater airtime hills, before
entering the ride’s brief mid-course brake run. The trains undergo sweeping left-hand
turn, a final airtime hill, and an upward ascent into the attractions final brake run.
Throughout the entire airtime filled experience guests navigate a total of 1564m (5131ft)
of track in approximately 64 seconds of ride time. That’s measured from the moment the
train leaves the lift hill, to when it hits the final brake run. Because of this, and
the three individual vehicles, Shambhala has a large maximum theoretical throughput of
approximately 1680 riders per hour. Upon its debut, the ride received fantastic
reviews. Many people enjoyed the long, smooth experience, packed with large amounts of floater
airtime and other interesting forces. Shambhala quickly became known as the best roller coaster
at PortAventura World, and as one of the best attractions within Europe as a whole. However,
with the construction of newer roller coasters throughout the continent, does Shambhala still
remain as Europe’s best hyper coaster? What’s your opinion?