Wild West Adventures: Mini Hollywood
Did you know that Almeria, Spain is the perfect destination for fans of Wild West films? Mini Hollywood, a theme park set in the the only desert within Europe, Tabernas Desert is a legacy of the bygone era of Hollywood Westerns and some of the film sets remain for moviegoers to explore.
The Tabernas Desert is a 110 square mile patch of beautiful rose coloured sandstone cliffs and huge cracked valleys where rivers have long dried out. The landscape is breathtakingly stunning and it has been an ideal choice of backdrop within the Wild West movie industry for decades.
Today, there are three theme parks which stand in the area which make up Mini Hollywood; Oasys Theme Park, Western Leone and Fort Bravo. Oasys Theme Park is the largest and longest standing of all three, and the only theme park dedicated entirely to commercial tourism. It has a large variety of activities, ranging from family friendly to those for the movie obsessed.
Twice a day, there is a town wide simulation of a Wild West gunfight which starts as a group of bandits hold up the bank. This is equally thrilling as it is terrifying, and is sure to get the adrenalin pumping in all those who witness it. It is a great chance for kids, both big and small, to feel part of the Wild West culture documented in so many films.
A more family friendly attraction is the large zoo filled with exotic animals; from huge rhinos and snarling tigers to the adorable otters and miniature insects, there really is something for everyone. There are also several museums, including a film and car museum, and a swimming pool where guests can cool off from the searing desert heat.
Those looking for entertainment can watch the daily parrot show, or step inside a salon to watch a real live can can show.
For fans of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Fort Bravo is an excellent park to visit as it was built purely for the film. All props are in near mint condition, and with nearly every iconic Western setting imaginable, from saloons to stables, it is all too easy to imagine yourself back in the 1800s.
Western Leone is still often used in film shoots but when it’s free, you can enjoy a cowboy show and drinks in a traditional western saloon.
If you are planning a trip to Mini Hollywood, it is worth getting there early in the day so that the towns can be explored before the full heat kicks in. Oasys Theme Park is the most family friendly, with plenty to do, but comes with the hindrance of being a little crowded at peak times. If you are simply going for a taste of the Wild West, Western Leone and Fort Bravo offer a realistic setting which will have you feeling like an extra in a Wild West film.