The Basílica Nossa Senhora de Aparecida is an enormous Catholic shrine located roughly half way between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo on the eastern side of Brazil. It was built to house a celebrated eighteenth century clay statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the traditional form of the Immaculate Conception. As with many such sites, the grounds include a shopping mall selling tourist junk (such as crystal crosses illuminated by flashing red and blue lights), a food court (with McDonalds), and an amusement park with two roller coasters.
The amusement rides have operated under a number of different names over the years, beginning around 2004 as Magic Park, before changing to Sol Park, and more recently Big Center Park. They are divided into two distinct areas, the larger of which is anchored by the Looping Star (#1874). This is a fairly typical Pinfari ZL42 that rides about the same as the other members of the family, being thrilling but limited by half a dozen ouch moments. This area also has a ferris wheel, a pirate ship and a surprisingly good Ghost Train. The smaller section has a Brucomela (#1875) and another dark ride, Utopia 2100, which was also better than expected, if not quite as impressive as its brother.
12th January 2013
The second stop of the day was at Park Aquarium, a kiddie park located behind Aquário de Itaquera, a fish and plant store in the outskirts of São Paulo. The Brucomela (#1876) here was located over water, and while this wasn't noticeable from on board, the reflections made for an excellent off ride photograph.
12th January 2013
It took less than fifteen minutes to drive on to Parque Marisa, a nicely kept park with a good selection of adult rides located directly beside the motorway. The star attraction here was the Montanha Russa (#1877), a nondescript Galaxi clone that was surprisingly thrilling despite having a few bumps that did bad things to my knees. The group also rode the Trem Fantasma ghost train, and while I'm not able to remember any specifics as I write this it was still a good way to pass a few minutes.
The other really interesting attraction in the park was a locally built tower ride, the Turbo Drop, manufactured by Garcia Brinquedos. I'm given to understand that there are quite a few of these machines travelling on the Brazilian fair circuit, but that they have not been exported elsewhere as yet. The experience is best described as a cross between any gravity drop and the Zierer spinning towers, with a ride car that rotates during its ascent (at a considerable speed) before dropping very abruptly. The landing was a little on the hard side, but not unmanageable, and the free fall sensation was well up there with the very best rides of the genre.
Neo Geo Family
12th January 2013
Lighter than expected traffic left us well ahead of schedule, allowing us to fit in an additional park. As it was raining we chose to go to Neo Geo Family, an indoor family entertainment centre located within the International Shopping Mall at Guarulhos. Regular readers will know that I'm rather fond of custom indoor roller skaters, but it simply wasn't possible to enjoy the Montanha Russa (#1878). Though the ride looked nice, it suffered from rough tracking and a number of particularly violent corners that turned the overall experience into an endurance test rather than a thrill ride, especially when the operator sent the train around for a third lap.