When it comes to finding the beautiful in forgotten and derelict places, there’s nothing like the faded glamour of an abandoned amusement park. Apart from the fascination of seeing nature reclaim a deserted space and the intrigue of a vanished human presence, there’s a whole other level of strangeness in the fact that the places were created as spectacular fictions in the first place. And maybe that’s why abandoned amusement parks have such a strange mixture of the beautiful, the creepy and the uncanny. Let’s take a look at some of the best examples.
The ruins of the half built amusement park Wonderland lie among fields and houses in Chenzhuang Village, China, about 20 miles northwest of central Beijing. Construction ground to a halt in 1998 after arguments between local government officials and farmers over property prices. There was a brief attempt to resurrect ‘the largest amusement park in Asia’ in 2008 but to no avail.
A farmer standing in his field that contains an abandoned castle building of the amusement park.
The vacant car park and derelict front of Wonderland amusement park.
The park’s abandoned entrance way.
A deserted walkway covered in fresh snow.
Entrances to abandoned building that lead into the amusement park.
Overgrown streets and derelict buildings in the abandoned amusement park.
The hulking steel frame of incomplete vast buildings that would have been part of the now abandoned amusement park.
Writing scrawled on a wall tells people ‘be responsible for your actions’.
A sign pasted on a girder warns people of potential poisons in the soil.
via The Atlantic
Spreepark was an amusement park in north Plänterwald in the Berlin district of Treptow-Köpenick which was formerly part of the GDR-controlled East Berlin.
Situated next to the river Spree, the amusement park was opened in 1969 as Kulturpark Plänterwald. It was the only constant entertainment park in the GDR, and the only such park in either East or West Berlin.
However, due to mismanagement, the park closed its doors in 2002 with the owner Norbert Witte leaving for Lima. He shipped six of the doomed amusement park’s attractions out with him, getting them past authorities by claiming they were being sent for repair, and attempted to run another amusement park called Lunapark.
Lunapark also failed and on 19 May 2004 he was sentenced to seven years in jail for attempting to smuggle 180 kg of cocaine with a value of £14 million from Peru to Germany in the masts of the Flying Carpet ride.
The ferris wheel was the main attraction.
An abandoned ride.
As if all that, all the overgrown and faded flashiness wasn’t eerie enough, the park also featured a lot of large model dinosaurs that now litter the ground in various states of disrepair.
Nara Dreamland (奈良ドリームランド) is a huge abandoned amusement park in Japan. Situated on the outskirts of Nara, it was built in the sixties and modeled on Disneyland in California.
The opening of Disneyland in Tokyo and Universal Studio in Osaka caused a dramatic drop in visitor numbers and after 45 years, the park finally closed its doors in 2006.
The Nara government is currently planning to demolish the once majestic park.
The road to the dreamland is paved with weeds.
The lights aren’t on and there’s nobody home.
The Miracle-Gro really seems to have worked then.
This was one of the park’s main attractions, the Screw Coaster.
And this was the other- Aska, a large traditional wooden rollercoaster.
And so the sun sets on Dreamland.
Here’s a great walkthrough video by Michael John Grist.
Gulliver’s Kingdom was a failed theme park built in the shadow of Mount Fuji in Yamanashi prefecture, Japan. The park opened in 1997 but was really just an example of a ‘bridge to nowhere’ construction project championed by Japan’s government and banking sector in the 90s in an effort to create some short-term construction jobs but ultimately yielding little permanent employment.
Although the foot of Mount Fuji might seem like an ideal location for a theme park, that wasn’t exactly the case for Gulliver’s Kingdom. The Aokigahara area where the park was built is known as Japan’s ‘suicide forest’ – said to be the second most popular suicide location in the world after San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
As if a suicide forest wasn’t enough, the park was also close to Kamikuishiki village, notorious for being the location of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult’s headquarters and nerve gas production facility. Oh dear.
Pripyat Amusement Park
The Pripyat amusement park is situated in Pripyat, an abandoned city in northern Ukraine, Kiev Oblast, near the border with Belarus. With a population of around 50,000, the city was once home to the Chernobyl nuclear plant’s workers before the Chernobyl disaster and is now a ghost-town in the so-called ‘zone of alienation’.
The theme park was intended to be opened on May 1, 1986 in time for the city’s May Day celebrations, but it in the end it was only ever open for a couple of hours on 27 April to keep the people entertained before the announcement to evacuate the city was made.
Despite the obvious danger of venturing into the area, some intrepid urban explorers have done exactly that and returned with some haunting pictures of the doomed amusement park.