Why do people still love good old Westerns?! Is it about those freedom-infused landscapes or maybe, the sense of danger and adventure! What do you think?!
What about cowboys, sheriffs, and outlaws this week?! You´ll be surprised to find out that many of the top Hollywood Westerns were actually filmed in Spain. Let´s take a journey to Almeria – Andalusia´s iconic Wild West!
Almeria: A Filmmakers´ Favorite
Better late than never – I´ve finally started to wrap up my April´s trip to one of the most sun-kissed regions in Spain, the province of Almeria.
Situated in southern Andalusia, Almeria often gets overshadowed by its famous neighbors. However, since more people discover a passion for the off beaten path places – Almeria lately appears on the radar a lot!
You might have already had a brief preview of Almeria´s wide and dry expanses, back when I shared the Game of Thrones filming locations in Spain. In GoT Season 6 scenes depicting the land of Dothraki´s were filmed in Las Tabernas Desert of Almeria. But this was only a beginning…
Movies set in Almeria
In reality, the list of movies set in Almeria´s Tabernas Desert goes far beyond that. And here we are talking about big Hollywood names: an iconic Clint Eastwood´s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Lawrence of Arabia, Cleopatra and more…(I´ll live it to IMDb to fill you in here).
And there´s one more thing we should agree on here: when a certain place has such a long history with the filmmakers – there are always some traces left, aren’t they?! Those impressive decorations, the key elements for an authentic Wild West experience. How can you miss it?!
Therefore, if time-traveling to a good old Western is on your bucket list – there´s no better place to start than Almeria. 10 years ago, before I moved to Spain and started to travel extensively through the country, I´d swear by the fact that all of those Hollywood blockbusters were filmed in the USA, somewhere close to the Mexican border. But, nope! They were closer than I ever imagined…
Fort Bravo vs. Oasys Mini-Hollywood
Let´s start with two theme parks in the heart of Tabernas Desert – Fort Bravo and Oasys Mini-Hollywood. While reading the reviews of both places, we couldn´t choose in between them and ended up visiting both! Although each of these is focused on the Wild West, both appeared quite different to me…
For the comparison, we´ve spent less than an hour in Fort Bravo and could have stayed all day in Oasys Mini-Hollywood.
The first one has a real Wild West town, a fort built from trunks of wood, a small Mexican village area, and a typical Indian village, plus several expositions. Although a restoration wouldn´t hurt this place, as well as more animation and maybe, informative panels showing which movies were filmed where. An entrance fee of 20 euros didn´t seem quite reasonable to me here. It was not well-adopted for disabled or baby strollers. On the plus side, Fort Bravo was significantly less crowded and therefore, felt more authentic (if you can use this word to describe a movie decorations).
Oasys Mini-Hollywood is a complete theme park. The decorations are “prettier” and it feels way more touristic (including huge groups of kids on school trips). You have literally everything – Western Show, Can Can Dance Show, Carriages Museum, Cactus Garden, Zoological Reserve, cafes, photo corners… And yet it was an interesting experience: so far we´ve seen the Wild West decorations in large theme parks around the world, but I´ve never been to a park entirely focused on Western vibes.
It shouldn´t come as a surprise to you that our kids enjoyed Oasys Hollywood more. The oldest one was in awe of all the decorations and atmosphere (and she loved that there were so many kids around). While the little one enjoyed a nice nap inside her stroller as we could walk around a lot (unlike at Fort Bravo).
To sum it up, I feel like visiting both parks could be an interesting experience. If you travel with kids – Oasys Hollywood is better, if not – Fort Bravo could be enough for you. And if you´re a fan of Westerns – make sure to visit both!