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If you ask any Brazilian child or teenager where he or she would most like to visit, the likely answer will be Disney World (affectionately known as “Disney,” pronounced “geez-nee”). In fact, many middle and upper class Brazilian teenage girls go to Disney World as a fifteenth birthday present from their parents.
However, Brazil also has a few major theme parks, known as parques temáticos. These include Playcenter in Sao Paulo State, Hopi Hari also in Sao Paulo, and Beto Carrero World in the state of Santa Catarina. Beto Carrero World is the largest theme park in Brazil and the largest in Latin America, at 14,000,000 square meters. In fact, it’s the fifth-largest theme park in the world, and has welcomed around 10 million visitors since it opened in 1991.
Beto Carrero World was the dream of a man named João Batista Sérgio Murad, who grew up poor in rural Sao Paulo. He was a cunning businessman and after careers in radio, rodeo promotion, and marketing, he finally made his dream come true when he inaugurated Beto Carrero World at age 54. He adopted the name “Beto Carrero” as a stage name for his cowboy character, which was featured in a few Brazilian movies.
Beto Carrero World includes the theme park, a zoo, and shows. Like Disney World, the theme park includes several different areas: Avenue of the Nations, Radical Adventure, Pirate Island, Animal World, Fantasy Land, the Wild West, and the German Village. Some of the attractions include a huge roller coaster (montanha russa), a Ferris wheel (roda gigante), and an enormous castle (castelo).
Like Disney World, the park offers various shows throughout the park, like the “Mysterious Africa” show and the “Wild West” show. It also has a full-scale zoo with over 700 animals.
Sadly, Beto Carrero died this month, on February 1st, at 70 years old, after a failed heart surgery. But luckily, his dreams live on in Latin America’s biggest theme park in the south of Brazil.