Most coaster enthusiasts hearing the name Mirabilandia will immediately think of the large park in Italy, which is home to several spectacular roller coasters and a large collection of flat rides. Less well known is a somewhat smaller park of the same name, which can be found close to the city of Recife in north-eastern Brazil. The two parks have little in common other than their name and logo, which date back to a time when they were operated as a partnership.
The Brazilian Mirabilandia is the only fixed coaster park within a one thousand kilometre radius, and with that in mind, we decided to visit it as a day trip by air from Rio de Janeiro. In a somewhat embarrassing move, we failed to check published opening hours prior to booking flights, and this could have ended very badly at a park that normally opens its gates at 3:00pm. Fortunately, we were rescued by the park marketing manager in conjunction with Maria Renata França (again), who made arrangements for us to enter three quarters of an hour early. This special treatment quite literally saved the day, as it would have been impossible to ride the roller coasters and make our return flight any other way.
Our visit began with a ride on Thunder, a shiny new frisbee ride built by Technical Park, and one that I really enjoyed even though my stomach wasn't all that happy with me afterwards. While on board we could clearly see the track from the former Déjà Vu resting in a backlot area. On asking about it, we were told that this ride has not been constructed yet because the entire park is closing at its current location at the end of this year, ahead of a 2015 reopening at a new site in the same area.
The major roller coaster in the park at the moment is Super Tornado (#1900), a Vekoma Whirlwind coaster and the same design as Flying Tiger, Korkiruuvi and Speed Snake. This particular unit was originally constructed for Tivoli Park in Rio de Janeiro in 1983, where it ran for twelve years. It was relocated but never installed at Luna Park, also in Rio de Janeiro, before Mirabilandia acquired it in 2008. The ride was actually surprisingly good for its age, running very well indeed with no jarring whatsoever. After disembarking, I took the liberty of climbing the nearby Ciclone slide in order to capture a overview photograph.
Our short visit concluded with a ride on the Zamperla Dragão, a particularly fast model with extra supports raising it about three feet higher off the ground than is typical for this model. It was originally built for the now-closed Playland Eldorado before being relocated here in 2005. I'd have liked to have ridden the Trem Fantasma, but there simply wasn't time. With luck I'll get back to the park some day.
My thanks to all the staff in Mirabilandia for going well beyond the call of duty in their hospitality today.