We are in Brazil. Driving to Rio de Janeiro, you might spot an eerie sight on the side of the road: an abandoned gang of Santas, surrounded by palm trees and greenery. If you look closely, you’ll see these Father Christmas clones aren’t alone, because there’s a sad looking sleigh and dilapidated reindeer nearby, but also faded candy canes, battered slides and an eerie house.
This is the Park Albanoel, in Itaguaí, that was intended to be the largest theme attraction in all of country, but the death of its creator and endless internal struggles have left it as Brazil’s largest abandoned park.
Beloved Brazilian politician Antonio Albano Reis conceived of the park as a huge, eclectic attraction that would have had multiple fantastic areas in a variety of themes and genres. The sprawling complex, which covered over 38 million square meters, the equivalent of 460 football fields, was to contain a Santa park (in honor of Reis himself, who was known as the “Santa Claus of Quintino” thanks to his habit of dressing up as Santa each year), water slides, a replica Old West town, a concert hall, and even a ten-story tower meant to evoke the famous Christ the Redeemer.
Work on this incredible project began on the many attractions in 2000. However, Reis was tragically killed in an automobile accident just meters from the entrance of the park (either the victim of murder or a random crash with a European tourist). While a great deal of work had been started on such features as the Wild West town and some of the water slides, only the Santa Park was ever completed. After being opened to the public for a few short years, the entire site was closed and with Reis no longer at the helm of the project, the entire site was left to decay as family, government, and investors tied up the park’s future in bureaucracy.
Today, the expansive Cidade Albanoel sits dormant and the completed attractions are slowly being taken over by rust and undergrowth. All the wishlists in the world could not have kept these Santas working.
Despite clearly being the setting for a festive horror film, or perhaps a festive iteration of this absolute monstrosity, Cidade Albanoel has become a perverse tourist attraction for those with a dark sense of humour. The park is also gained popularity as an Airsoft battleground.
Images from web.