Fantasilandia: a distinctly Chilean theme park in Santiago

Wwith adrenaline and people-watching to spare, this amusement park in the center of Chile’s capital packs a powerful punch.

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Nestled within central Santiago’s Parque O’Higgins, one of the capital’s largest metropolitan parks, there is a deceptively large fun fair. If you’re a tourist or student visiting the country and are looking for something to do in Santiago, it’s a great way to kill an afternoon while seeing an entirely different side of Chile’s cosmopolitan capital city.

From the outset it’s obvious that similarities between Fantasilandia and your average American or European theme park are limited. While the rides are certainly as technologically advanced, the atmosphere is distinctly Chilean. Instead of hotdogs or nachos, vendors sell completos or mote con huesilllo, alongside rides that blare the música Chilena.

But most entertaining are the multitudes of rambunctious, good-humored kids that flock to the park on days of school, taking their pololas (girlfriends) for a day out, or hanging out with their friends playing reggaeton or cumbia as loud as they can from mobile phones that double as boom boxes.

This may be one of the insights that Santiago has to offer into the life of an average Chilean teenager – even more so than the other parks where others gather to make out sans parental supervision. Watching the way they interact, joke among one another and woo their women might give an idea of what it would be like to grow up in Chile’s capital.

It might also distract you from your impending fate while queuing for rides like Raptor, Elevator, Kamikaze, or Xtreme Drop – nail biting, 100 km per hour roller-coasters, free-falling platforms and long metal arms that dangle you upside-down in rickety white cars.

A full day at Fantasilandia costs about USD 15 (CP7,500) for adults, and is half that price for children. Be sure to go on the early side to make sure you squeeze in all those rides – the park is bigger than it seems.

Raptor – a ride that hurls its victims through a series of loops and barrel rolls while suspended from two twisted bars of metal – is the main attraction. Queues are longest during weekends and school days off, but even at maximum, waiting time is only around 35 minutes.

For more information and directions, visit http://www.fantasilandia.cl/