Terra Encantada, Rio de Janeiro’s Abandoned Amusement Park

By now, you might be used to seeing abandoned theme parks set in barren, post-apocalyptic landscapes in China. But this one’s different. Not only is it set in Rio de Janeiro, it’s also right smack in the middle of  Barra da Tijuca, one of city’s most valuable real estate zones. And, it’s not far from the future 2016 Olympic games. The Barra zone will accommodate 20 Olympic competitions and the Olympic Village, roughly half the athletes will compete here.

Barra da Tijuca is a fascinating study of contrasts: beautiful white sand beaches, inland lagoons and mountain backdrops on one hand; a pattern of gated communities, high rise condos and shopping malls on the other hand.  Planned by Lucio Costa in 1969 with wide avenues and open spaces, Barra da Tijuca has turned its back on the utopian ideals of its founding and has allowed its urban form to be dictated by developer demands. The transformation of Rio de Janeiro for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics have only put more pressure on Barra to provide what Rio de Janeiro cannot in terms of space.

Source: Rio 2016

Terra Encantada (“Enchanted Land”) sits in the middle of this contested space. Opened in 1998, the park closed after a 61-year old woman was killed after being thrown from a ride and an investigation uncovered multiple engineering and maintenance failures. Terra Encantada has sat empty since, apart from being used for the set of a Brazilian soap opera.

On a trip to study the  legalization of street art in Rio de Janeiro,  I was able to visit the abandoned amusement park. It is a real explorer’s delight, replete with a Main Street, a replica of the Pompidou Center in Paris, and gloriously decaying edifices:

The  major rollercoaster at Terra Encantada

We climbed up, but it was much steeper than it appears


Part of the Main Street

The Pompidou Centre replica

Inside one of the abandoned storefronts

It is doubtful that Terra Encantada will remain in this form for long, as real estate pressures increase in the area and the “cleaning” of Rio continues in preparation for the upcoming global sporting events. According to a source, the developer plans to build hotels, hospitals and residential buildings. Until then, this remnant of a past Barra da Tijuca will stand incongruously amidst the new construction for the Olympic Games.

Terra Encantada [Map]

More photos on our Facebook page. Read about an abandoned theme park in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.

14 Comment

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  • wow, Fastinating article, can we have more on Brazil please.

  • Nossa esse parque me marcou, bons momentos que vivi ai dentro, é de encher os olhos de lágrimas quando olho para aquele portão e me vejo com 10 anos de idade de frente para ele.

  • Joint Venture Investiment in Rio from Rio investors = maximum feedback (money from public) . Exploitation. It means prostitution or great construction built not for public like family park enjoy olympic games intervals but…

    Grey lots in construction means only feedback condominium taxes.

    Committee never worry about family fun park.

    Sad to know another brazilian investor pay off the park to build up another condominum tax building.

    It seems a commandement: never family fun park in Rio. It´s innocent fun.
    Try another prostitution spot.

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  • The park was built right after the closure of our former local park, called Tivoli.
    So it came to fill up a hole in the city’s population heart, but it never managed to do that.
    Altough with an astonishing architecture, the park advertised as “Disney”, and even used images of rides from Orlando theme parks, but when it opened, had three major rides for time: aan 8-inversion coaster, a 200 ft drop tower and a 2000ft long river rapids.
    All the rest was kiddie fair rides basically.
    And the ticket costed the equivalent to 35 dollars, which, by that time, was the same price Disney used ti charge for the admission at their parks.
    The plunge ride, the enclosed roller coaster inside a castle, the pyrotechnical and water show, every promisse was not fulfilled.
    Not at the opening nor at the following years.

    And we say here that “the difference between God and your costumer is that God forgives”.

    So the people stoped going. The company applied for bankrupcy, but the park kept running with the rides lacking maintenance and deteriorating.

    Untill the day an old lady fell from galaxy roller coaster. 20 feet down to her death.

    And the park was finaly shut down by the authorities.

    Some say it is a cursed place. To make this rummor even more consistent, a baloon fell on top of their main roller coaster station. Since the ride was themed as an indian construction, the roof was made of hay and the whole station burned down, including one of the coaster trains.

    For us brazilians, all that’s left is the hope that the 8-inversion coaster, designed by Werner Stengel on behalf of Intamin, will remain in the country, in a different park that will honor its memory and take good care of our “diva”.

  • Terra Encantada used to be a wonderful place to have fun. I live in Rio de Janeiro and I went in Terra Encantada 5 times. I’ll never forget the time I spent there. It’s a pity.

  • Very nice article and great pictures!

    Just one correction: The park opened in january 16, 1998, not in 1990 as stated.

    And REX, a real state company owned by Eike Batista, Brazil’s richest man, purchased the land a few months ago.

    The rides are under negociation by several amusement parks that dream of having Terra Encanta’s main roller coaster: an 8-inversion Intamin.

  • Nice! It’s probably going to get mowed down – you’re right. I’m planning to visit Rio in the next year…should probably get lots of travelers’ tricks from you!