Amusement parks conjure up images of fun, but the reality of those closed and left to decay is quite the opposite. Broken down rides, nature creeping back in, and the spooky feeling of abandonment makes for some strange environments.
Here are 10 of the creepiest abandoned and defunct amusement parks in the world.
Location: Wichita, USA
This former Kansas institution closed in 2004, since when vandalism throughout the park has become endemic. The park’s former owner Margaret Russel has described herself as heartbroken at the current state of Joyland. It isn’t all doom and gloom though, as a local initiative to return the park to its former glory is in full progress.
9. Jazzland/Six Flags New Orleans
Location: New Orleans, USA
Jazzland/Six flags is another example of abandoned amusement parks brought to a standstill by major emergencies. Opened in 2000 as Jazzland, and taken over by the Six Flags group , the theme park was planning an expansion when in 2005 Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the USA and decimated New Orleans. The park was flooded and severely damaged during the storm, and was forced to close shortly after.
Attempts have been made to reinvigorate the park and talk remains of the site being re built, but for now it sits empty, damaged, and only visited by photographers keen to document the disaster.
8. Okpo Land
Location: Okpo City, Geoje Island, South Korea
For a defunct amusement park with a back story perfect for a horror film, look no further than Okpo land in South Korea. The park closed in 1999 after a series of fatal accidents, the last of which involved a young girl falling from a ride. Further adding to the horror feel, the owner of the park disappeared after the last accident never to be heard from again.
The park’s creepy location perched atop a hill on Geoje Island just adds to the atmosphere of fear. Surprisingly, the scary vibe has not put off explorers and visitors to the park including one brave soul who spent the night there. Whether there were any supernatural goings on remains his secret.
7. Heritage USA
Location: Fort Mill, USA
If you thought that a theme park dedicated to all things Christian might be spared the wrath of God, Heritage USA will prove you wrong. In 1989 it was hit by Hurricane Hugo, and the storm combined with the park’s ongoing financial problems forced it to close its gates for good.
In the years prior to its closure the park had been a huge tourist attraction on a par with the perhaps more famous Disney parks. Since closing some of the park’s land has been redeveloped, but a hugely creepy abandoned castle, which was home to arcades and a go kart track, remains.
Location: Berlin, Germany
Spreepark had been a popular Berlin destination since 1969 when it became insolvent and closed in 2002. The park remains closed and contains many vandalized versions of its former rides. Not all the attractions remain though because shortly after the park closed, its owner fled Germany for Peru taking rides with him and attempting to re start his theme park career in South America. Money must have remained tight, because in 2004 he was sentenced to jail for attempting to smuggle cocaine into Germany hidden inside a flying carpet ride.
5. Gulliver’s Kingdom
Location: Kamikuishiki, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan
The abandoned Gulliver’s Kingdom park in Japan offered visitors the chance to feel like a real life Lilliputian thanks to its huge concrete statue of Gulliver himself. Based on the beloved Jonathan Swift novel, Gulliver’s Kingdom shut due to poor ticket sales in 2001.
The literary theme may have seemed like a novel idea for a park (no pun intended), but unfortunately Gulliver’s Kingdom was located near Japan’s infamous ‘suicide forest’, a fact which seemed to put off a lot of potential visitors.
4. Dogpatch USA
Location: Marble Falls, USA
This hillbilly themed park in Arkansas survived legal battles, insolvency, extremes of weather, and fierce local competition before it closed its doors in 1993. When the park opened in 1968, TV shows and comics that traded on rural stereotypes were at the height of popularity. Over the years though pop culture changed and these fell out of fashion, taking the park’s success with them. It still lies unoccupied and vandalized.
3. Prypiat Amusement Park
Location: Prypiat, Ukraine
Bad timing has rarely hit harder than that experienced by the owners of Prypiat Amusement park in 1986. Their brand new theme park threw open its doors, on the same day that the Chernobyl disaster brought the world to a standstill and rendered large parts of the Ukraine uninhabitable.
The entire city of Prypiat was abandoned that day, and large parts of the city and the park still have dangerously high levels of radiation today, almost thirty years on. Open for just one day and now highly dangerous to even visit, Prypiat Amusement Park must rank as the most dangerous abandoned theme park with one of the saddest stories.
2. Takakanonuma, Greenland
Location: Hobara, Japan
This park in Japan holds the dubious honor of being the only park on this list to have been abandoned twice. When it was first built in 1973 it only stayed open for 2 years during which time there were several deaths on the rides. Takakanonuma lay empty for over a decade, before being revamped and re-opened in 1986. The park had a far more successful run the second time around, but financial pressures caused it to close again in 1999. Since then the local forests have started to reclaim the park, giving it an eerie feeling of desertion.
Location: Beijing, China
Not far from the hectic city center of Beijing lies the half completed skeleton of what would have been the biggest amusement park in Asia. Containing a fairy tale town and castle not so subtly modeled on the more famous Disney one, construction of the park ground to a halt in 1998 when funding ran out and it has remained one of the world’s most famous abandoned theme parks ever since.