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One of Europe's most popular theme park resorts, PortAventura in Spain, 85km from Barcelona, boasts a wide array of rides and attractions, along with four hotels. The park features a variety of major thrill rides, including the innovative winged launch coaster Furius Baco, eight-inversion coaster Dragon Khan and 330-foot drop tower Hurakan Condor. Unlike many European parks, though, it places a heavy emphasis on theming as well as rides, and its six lands are intricately detailed. Kids are well served, too, by the Sesame Street-themed SésamoAventura area.
First opened in 1995, PortAventura was built by a consortium involving the Tussauds Group (the owner of Alton Towers and Thorpe Park, since taken over by Merlin Entertainments Group), Anheuser-Busch (which owned the Busch Gardens parks in the US) and Universal. Universal bought out its partners in 1997, rebranding the park as Universal's Port Aventura. Despite the addition of two hotels and a water park, it opted to sell the resort in 2004 to investment group Criteria CaixaCorp. The firm invested heavily in new rides and attractions, including the addition of the towering Shambhala: Expedicion al Himalaya roller coaster in 2012. However, it opted to sell its stake in the park to Italian private equity group Investindustrial in November 2012.