There’s something so undeniably creepy and sad about abandoned places, especially ones that were once go-to destinations for adventure and laughs with your friends and family. Ever since the debut of the Ferris Wheel at The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago, the world has gotten behind the amusement park craze with full force. Although the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II in the 1940s made amusement parks temporarily less popular, they have mostly restabilized, thanks to the likes of Walt Disney World and Six Flags. However, many other parks have now closed their gates permanently and are left to ruin. Here are our picks for 10 of the creepiest abandoned amusement parks in the world.
1. Six Flags - New Orleans, LA
Among the scariest abandoned amusement parks in the United States is the Six Flags in New Orleans, LA. This park opened in 2000 and was soon after seriously damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Without proper funding for repairs, the park fell further and further into ruin. Brave adventurers who break into the closed park to nose around often claim to hear the sounds of children laughing and the ghostly sing-song music of the rides that used to fill the air in its glory days.
2. Land of Oz - Beech Mountain, NC
Land of Oz, located in Beech Mountain, North Carolina, originally opened in 1970 and was, as you could guess by the name, a 16-acre park dedicated to the world of Oz. The first few months of operation were a huge success. Unfortunately, interest quickly began to decline and visitors turned up in smaller and smaller numbers. The park was partially devastated by a fire in 1975 and now stands primarily abandoned. As of this year, the park reopened on June Fridays for "Journey with Dorothy" tours and for 3 days in September for an annual "Autumn at Oz" festival. Despite these events, the park remains more ghostly than joyful due to the present state of the park.
3. Pripyat Amusement Park - Pripyat, Ukraine
Intended to open on May 1, 1986, this amusement park never had even a full day of operation. The Chernobyl disaster, which took place only a few kilometers away, forced the entire city to evacuate. The radiation levels surrounding the park are deemed unsafe to this day.
4. Okpo Land - Okpo-dong, South Korea
This park was forced to close in 1999 after a child died as the result of a fall from a duck-themed rollercoaster and the manager of the park disappeared. There are rumors that this death was the second caused by the duck coaster, but it is unclear if this is true. The area was left to ruin until 2011 when the grounds were cleared to make way for the construction of a new hotel.
5. Nara Dreamland - Nara, Japan
After visiting Disneyland in the United States a Japanese businessman named Kunizu Matsuo made plans to open a similar park in Japan. He met directly with Walt Disney and the two were in talks to partner with one another for the new development, but they came to a disagreement on licensing. Matsuo went ahead with his park in 1961, creating new characters of his own. Nara Dreamland was immensely popular for about 20 years, but when an actual Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983, all attention was diverted to the real deal. The park held on for as long as it could. Nara Dreamland closed in 2006 and the grounds were left abandoned until just recently when demolition plans were finally put into effect.
6. Joyland Amusement Park - Wichita, KS
Once the largest amusement park in Kansas, Joyland ran successfully for 55 years before coming to a screeching halt after a few changes in ownership, costly renovations, and a small fire that was suspected to be arson. The beginning stages of demolition began in the summer of 2016. Some parts of the park still stand today, making what remains even creepier.
7. Lincoln Park - Dartmouth, MA
Dating back to 1894, this park was opened by the Union Street Railway Company and was a people pleaser well into the mid 1980s. In 1986, a fatality occurred on a wooden roller coaster called the Comet. Many parkgoers began to doubt the safety of the park, and attendance declined. Despite significant investment in updating the park, Lincoln Park was closed in December of 1987. The Comet was torn down in 2012 and the wood from it was used to make Adirondack chairs that were sold for charity donations.
8. Gulliver’s Kingdom - Kawaguchi-machi, Yamanashi, Japan
Opened in 1997 and closed shortly after in 2001 due to financial troubles, this is hands down the most terrifying looking abandoned park on this list. And the land right next to it is an infamous suicide forest. Not the cheeriest place in the world to buy a pretzel.
9. Disney’s River Country - Bay Lake, FL
River Country was the first water park in Disney World, opened in 1976. The park was forced to close in 2001. A combination of safety issues, increasing competition (some from other Disney parks!), and the impact of September 11th on tourism made it impossible for the park to make enough money for Disney. It’s one of only two official Disney theme parks to ever close permanently and left to ruin rather than being torn down.
10. Disney’s Discovery Island - Bay Lake, FL
This is the other Disney park left to ruin. Discovery Island essentially functioned as a zoo for the Disney resort. It closed in 1999 due to lack of popularity and profitability. Its animals were moved to the Animal Kingdom.
This Story Was First Published on The Hauntist.