Taman Festival: An Ambiguous HistoryCosting a whopping $100 million to build, the park was to feature Bali’s biggest swimming pool, an inverted roller coaster, a 3D cinema and an exciting laser show. However, for ambiguous reasons, the park never opened its doors. There are several theories as to why: the first is that it simply closed due to financial difficulties; the second is that there were disputes over land use; and the third – which is my favourite – is that it was struck by lightning on Friday the 13th of March 1998, causing irreparable damage which insurance companies refused to cover. Regardless of the reason, the park shut down and has been left abandoned ever since. According to Balinese legend, abandoned sites become occupied by “roaming spirits,” and Taman Festival Park is now thought to be one of the most haunted places in Bali, attracting spirits from all over the island. Locals don’t dare to enter and have dubbed it a ‘ghost town’, making it an exciting location for the intrepid backpacker looking to explore, or the keen photographer looking to snap some mystery. I, for one, am very partial to delving into derelict sites, especially those with a whiff of the supernatural. So, naturally, upon hearing about Bali’s abandoned theme park, my first thought was ‘sign me up!’
Setting Off For The Abandoned Amusement ParkMyself, and my two travel companions grabbed an Uber from our hostel in Sanur and made our way to the entrance of the theme park. After a puzzled look from our driver, we ventured through the gates, passing old ticket booths and decaying cafeterias. Fake security guards were poised at the gates, where they attempted to charge us for entry. Knowing it is a derelict site, and that there is no entrance fee, we ignored them and boldly walked in. Taman Festival is a place to test your nerves. Creeping vines, broken windows and crumbling, graffiti-covered buildings portray a post-apocalyptic vibe. You’ll find an old cinema with film tape strewn eerily across the ground; the remains of a crocodile pit and the screeching of bats.
When Nature Takes OverIt was fascinating to me just how quickly mother nature had reclaimed the park. Trees had begun to push through buildings, jungle vines wrapped around gates and some areas had been completely closed off by thick foliage. I wondered how it would look after another 20 years of abandonment. There have been rumours that crocodiles were left behind after the park was deserted and that they were fed chickens for a while by local farmers. Eventually, the farmers stopped coming and the crocodiles instead resorted to cannibalism. It’s said that the one remaining crocodile had been known to eat humans, but has since been removed from the park. Nonetheless, I was very wary. As we passed the old crocodile pit, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and kept a close eye on my surroundings. Luckily, no crocodile was to be seen. The old 3D cinema was perhaps the most interesting feature of the park. I do not believe in the supernatural, but something inside me screamed at me not to venture too far inside. Shattered glass, film reels and debris littered the ground, and, without a torch, it was difficult to see. Perhaps it was the fact that it was an unstable structure that frightened me, but either way, nerves got the better of me and I swiftly exited. If you’re looking for an interesting day out, I highly recommend a visit to Taman Festival. You could easily spend hours exploring here – especially if you’re an avid photographer or even a graffiti artist. There are no plans for it to be renovated, so it should be open to exploring for some time. Which is great news for the Urbex fans amongst us!
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