In time for summer, going to a “functioning” amusement park can set you back $85 plus the price of some nachos dipped in cheese sauce. So why not consider vacationing at a creepy abandoned amusement park? An abandoned amusement park is like a scary clown; a graveyard of fun echoing with long silenced laughter. If you happen to be in the area, here are a bunch of amusement parks you can go to free of charge – just bring a pair of wire cutter and the love of climbing fences. Let’s journey into the land of childhood nightmares….
1) Pripyat Amusement Park, Ukraine
Talk about bad timing. Pripyat Amusement Park was scheduled to open on May 1, 1986 – in time for the May Day celebration (decorations for this event are still in place to this day). Then, the Chernobyl disaster happened a few kilometers away on April 26. The amusement park was opened for a couple of hours on April 27 to keep the city people entertained before the announcement to evacuate Pripyat was made.
If you do journey to the Zone of Alienation to visit Pripyat Amusement Park – be aware: radiation levels in parts of the park are still dangerously high.
2) Heritage USA, Fort Mill, South Carolina
In 1978, Christian TV evangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker opened the doors to Heritage USA; a Christian theme park, water park, and residential complex. At the time, Heritage USA was the third most-visited amusement park in the U.S., right behind Disney World and Disneyland.
Then problems. Attendance dropped. Jim Bakker had problems with the IRS; he was also caught having an affair with Jessica Hahn. Then Hurricane Hugo swept through and damaged the park. The 165,000 people who gave $1,000 to Jim Bakker’s planned Heritage USA hotel tower in return for promised four-day vacation stays received $6.54 each. Jim Bakker ended up going to prison and Heritage USA shut its gates. The park now looks like a post-apocalyptic movie set.
3) Jazzland/Six Flags New Orleans
Six Flags New Orleans originally opened as Jazzland. Then cruel irony: When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, the park’s operators were planning to open a water park on the site. Don’t ask for what you wish for; Jazzland was severely damaged by Katrina’s devastating floodwaters and forced to close.
4) Spreepark, Berlin, Germany
During the Cold War, Spreepark was the only long-running amusement park in East Germany. Built in 1969, after the fall of Berlin Wall the new owners added some new park attractions, but that wasn’t enough for the Spreepark to survive. The final nail in this Cold War amusement coffin; in 2002 the owner moved to Lima, Peru. Later he and his son were sentenced to prison for drug smuggling.
5) Gulliver’s Kingdom, Aokigahara Japan
The theme park, based on the novel Gulliver’s Travels, was built near Mount Fuji close to Aokigahara forest; the second most popular suicide spot in the world after the Golden Gate Bridge. The park’s neighboring village is notorious for being the location of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult’s headquarters and nerve gas production facility. In 2001, the unpopular theme park shut its doors – leaving behind a ruin of a giant 147.5 ft. decaying Gulliver being captured by the people of Lilliput.
6) Okpo Land, Okpo-Dong, South Korea
The South Korean park was no Magic Kingdom. It was popular for a short spurt, and then things turned dark. A girl was killed by the park’s duck-themed ride. Okpo Land’s owner offered no compensation, apology, or explanation to the grieving family. Tragedy struck again in 1999 when the duck ride claimed a second victim; a cart jumped the track and capsized. The girl inside was flung from the ride and hit the pavement below. Okpo Land closed overnight and the owner disappeared. Everything was abandoned exactly as it was; even the capsized cart was left dangling over the edge of its tracks.
7) Nara Dreamland, Japan
Nara Dreamland was built in 1961 and was inspired by Disneyland. In fact, the entrance was designed to look like Main Street USA and the familiar Sleeping Beauty Castle was at the hub. The park’s mascots were Ran-chan and Dori-chan; two kids dressed as bearskinned guards. On August 31, 2006, Nara Dreamland closed permanently due to low visitor numbers; leaving behind one creepy abandoned amusement park that looks inhabited by the girl from The Grudge movies.
8) Chippewa Lake Park, Ohio
Chippewa Lake Park ran as an amusement park for 100 fucking years! After the park’s closure, the rides were left untouched. Today it’s a tragic shell of its once glorious era of family fun. The fenced off stretch of land is overgrown with vegetation – kept secure by faded NO TRESPASSING signs. By the 2000s, large trees began growing through rides, such as the rollercoaster and Ferris wheel, and several buildings had collapsed or been damaged by the effects of the elements. Chippewa Lake Park now resembles the place of childhood nightmares where you might encounter the toothless guys from Deliverance.
9) Miracle Strip Amusement Park, Panama City Beach, Florida
Miracle Strip Amusement Park opened in 1963 with the Starliner Roller Coaster as its main attraction. The park grew along with the popularity of Panama City Beach. As the city became a spring break hotspot, the popularity of the family friendly Miracle Strip Park waned.
The owner shut the park’s gates in 2004 – citing lack of interest from tourists, loss of money, and increased expenses.
10) Wonderland, Chenzhuang Village, China
Wonderland was designed to be the largest amusement park in Asia; covering 120 acres. Financial problems stopped construction in 1998 while a 2008 attempt to restart construction also failed.
What remains is the framework of Magic Castle–esque building. The medieval-themed outer buildings were reclaimed by local farmers; to grow various crops.