These abandoned amusement parks make the Tower of Terror and Kingda Ka look like child’s play. From a water park in Disney World that’s slowly being reclaimed by nature, to a radioactive park near Chernobyl, these sites are some of the creepiest in the world. Grab a seat and join us as we explore these chilling funfairs.
1. LAKE SHAWNEE AMUSEMENT PARK
Whoever thought building an amusement park on a burial ground was a good idea soon came to regret it. The area was the site of a turf war between a Native American tribe and a European family in 1783. The dispute ended in a violent massacre, but that didn’t stop a businessman from turning the land into an amusement park in 1926. Forty years and six deaths later, the park closed down, leaving behind rusting rides and plenty of ghost stories from those who dare to explore the grounds. Some report the swings creaking without being touched. Some hear chanting. Others say they’ve seen the ghost of a little girl, her dress covered in blood. If you’re feeling daring, you’re in luck—you can take a tour of the haunted site.
PRINCETON, WEST VIRGINIA
2. TATAKANONUMA GREENLAND
You’ll have a hard time finding this park—it’s been all but swallowed up by the wilderness around it. It was only in business for two years after opening its doors in 1973, then taking a 10-year hiatus before reopening in 1986. It closed for good in 1999 and was allegedly demolished in 2006, but some claim parts of it still stand. A man named Bill Edwards says he stumbled upon the rusted park and took photos. We’ll have to take his word for it; Edwards says that none of the pictures showed up on his computer. Well, except one: a shot of a young girl in a white dress, staring expressionlessly at the camera.
3. PRIPYAT AMUSEMENT PARK
This amusement park barely had a chance to open before the tragic Chernobyl nuclear disaster on April 26, 1986. Today it stands as a symbol of the catastrophic day. Parts of the park have incredibly high radiation levels, but that hasn’t stopped photographers from snapping shots of the rusting ferris wheel, bumper cars, and merry-go-round.
Opening in 1969 and thriving throughout the communist era, Spreepark’s downfall started in 1991 when it came under the ownership of Norbert Witte. Visitor numbers didn’t do well under Witte … perhaps because he was busy smuggling cocaine in piece of ride equipment. Today the grounds are littered with forgotten rides and toppled life-size dinosaurs—and some say that Witte himself can be found living in a trailer parked on the grounds of the abandoned park.
5. DISNEY’S RIVER COUNTRY
BAY LAKE, FLORIDA
What’s unsettling and eerie about Disney World’s first water park isn’t what happened there: it’s what was left behind. Since the park’s closure in 2001, the water slides, lagoons, and fountains have been almost completely reclaimed by nature, succumbing to rust and overgrown plant life. “The overgrowth is something that I cannot emphasize enough, in 5 more years this place will be totally covered up,” one explorer wrote.