If you’re looking for an interesting day out, we highly recommend a visit to the haunted theme park, Taman Festival Bali. We had read about this park online and as we both love urbane exploration, we thought it would be an interesting place to explore for ourselves. And we weren’t disappointed…
“Exploration is curiosity put into action.”– Don Walsh –
What is Taman Festival Bali?
Taman Festival Bali was created with the vision of giving Disneyland a run for its money. Rumoured to have cost a whopping $100 million to build, you can only imagine the grand scale of things planned for this amusement park. Taman Festival was briefly opened in 1997 and featured the biggest inverted roller coaster in the world, a 3D cinema, the biggest swimming pool in Bali, majestic laser shows, and even a huge volcano and big crocodile pit with 100+ crocodiles!
As destiny would have it though, in less than a year on Friday the 13th (no less), Taman Festival’s $5 million dollar laser equipment at the Turbo Theatre, was struck by lightning. In that time of the Asian economic recession, no one could really afford to rebuild, take ownership or bear the losses. Since then, it has just remained a vast, abandoned piece of land.
No one really seems to know exactly what happened in this huge abandoned space in the last two decades, but we felt something off putting there, for sure. It is so big easy you could easily get lost in the park. Accompany this with overgrown creeping vines, crumbling derelict buildings, and broken windows, and you get a post-apocalyptic vibe. There was a very strange feeling to the whole place.
One of the most surreal parts of the experience is noticing just how quickly Taman Festival Bali has been swallowed by the jungle in just over 20 years. Dense foliage has crept into the derelict structures with partly collapsed roofs, some still sporting signs denoting their original purpose. Jungle vines wrap around pillars and moss creeps up the indoor walls. Statues and ornamental stone figures, which once beautified the park’s courtyards, now stand broken and overtaken by vines.
The old 3D cinema’s walls have become a gallery for artwork with lots of hidden alcoves with bright colourful graffiti / street art. From crude tags to amazingly detailed murals making for some very photographic shots.
As for the crocodiles, it is said that they were simply left to roam free. Some villagers fed them chickens regularly however, when they stopped coming, they slowly turned into cannibals. There’s an urban legend that the crocodiles also ate several humans, another reason why the Balinese won’t go near the place.
According to Balinese legend, abandoned sites become occupied by roaming spirits and Taman Festival Park is said to be one of the most haunted places in Bali, attracting spirits from all over the island. The local villager that took us around said that he has seen many ghosts and unexplainable things in there. He also claimed that 174 people died during the construction of this huge park and they do spirit cleaning ceremonies every day to keep the park safe for them.
Despite the park now being empty, there’s a small shrine right in the middle of the grounds near the crocodile pit, with statues draped in cloth and fresh incense. Seeing this shrine kept immaculate, while the rest of the area is in overgrown ruins, was all the more eerie.
While we were there, we saw very few other tourists. However, the park seemed to be a very popular place for paintball enthusiasts and on many occasions, we found ourselves in the middle of a paintball war. Upon seeing us, a whistle signal was sent out and all action around us stopped immediately. We could definitely see the appeal of ‘playing war’ in this type of setting with so many places to hide.
Taman Festival Bali – Details
We allowed approximately 2 hours to explore the park however, if you are avid photographer like Jonas is, you could easily spend many more hours here. Also, if you have a specific interest in graffiti, I would recommend allowing at least a half day.
Location of Taman Festival Bali
You’ll find Taman Festival Park at the end of Jalan Padang Galak Beach Road, just north of the main hub of Sanur. It’s easily recognisable by an iconic structure featuring an impressive owl drawn in graffiti, which rises up high above the foliage.
How to Get There
Don’t expect locals to know where or even what the place is, as most of the people we talked to had never heard of it before. The address is Jl.Pandang Gakak, Sanur, at the end of Jalan Padang Galak Beach Road, near the beach front. It would be an easy 7km bicycle ride north from the main area of Sanur.
The park is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Whilst this park is derelict so technically closed, local ‘security guards’ man the gates and charge an entrance fee of 20,000 IDR / person (approx. AUD$2 or US$1.40). We happily paid this price and they included a tour of the grounds by one of the locals.
What to Wear
- Closed in shoes – it is not safe to walk around the park in sandals or thongs as there is too much glass and debris lying around.
What to Bring
- Insect spray – essential as there are insects, in particular mosquitoes, everywhere at Taman Festival Bali.
- Water – it gets very hot and humid so take water with you.
- Torch – we used our torches in parts of the park where the density of the jungle obscures all natural light and also in the interior of some of the darker buildings.
While this ghost town makes for interesting urban exploration, take extra care during your visit as the rusty and crumbling structures can cause injuries.
If you plan on visiting the 9-hectare site of Taman Festival Bali, be prepared to brave dirt, broken glass and debris, heat and humidity, as well as dense foliage and plenty of cobwebs.
Our visit to Taman Festival was a surreal but interesting experience. The local who showed us around, said that it’s even better at night and that we should come back then. He said he is the only guy who would enter at night and he would keep us safe as the park accepts him. “Supernatural experiences guaranteed, come you will see many things”. Maybe next time…
Have you been to Taman Festival Bali? What was your experience? Leave a comment below.
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- BEST AREAS TO STAY IN BALI
- 10 REASONS WHY YOU’LL LOVE SANUR IN BALI
- TAMAN FESTIVAL BALI – THE ABANDONED THEME PARK