The Death of Amusement Parks

by J-Mirabelli

These are the top ten abandoned amusement parks in the world.

When we think of amusements parks, we conjure up images of daredevil rides, cotton candy, and entertaining side shows. But what happens to an amusement park when the crowds stop going? There is no sendoff, no ceremony, no eulogy. Because of land disputes, cost to repair and refurbish, or just plain lack of interest, these parks have been left to die a slow death as the earth reclaims them.

Oddly enough, many parks have been enjoying a strange afterlife, thanks to adventurous travellers/photographers. Abandoned amusement parks have become “must-photograph” destinations for the traveler who is looking for something out of the ordinary to see and photograph. Dilapidated buildings, derelict roller coasters and happy faced clown statues peering out through overgrown brush make for unique images and stark contrasts.

Looking at these abandoned amusement parks, you can’t help but feel a sense of loss.


In Chenzhuang Village, China, about 20 miles northwest of central Beijing, the ruins of a partially built amusement park called Wonderland sit near a highway. Construction work at the park, which developers had promised would be “the largest amusement park in Asia,” stopped around 1998 after disagreements with the local government and farmers over property prices. Developers briefly tried to restart construction in 2008, but with no success. Go to site


The old Six Flags Jazzland amusement park in New Orleans, which was abandoned after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, still shows no sign of recovery. From the ominous looking Tilt-a-Whirls to decaying clown heads, the park now looks more like a zombie movie set than a happy family retreat. Go to Site


Prypiat Amusement Park was supposed to open on May 1, 1986, but on April 26th of that year, the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Plant had a devastating nuclear explosion. Some theories suggest the amusement park rides were opened before the scheduled grand opening to keep residents entertained before emergency evacuations began. No one remembers for sure. Radiation levels around the park vary greatly. It has never officially opened. Go to Site


Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Heritage USA opened in Fort Mill, SC, in 1978, and by the mid-eighties was the third most visited park in the U.S. drawing in six million visitors each year. After scandals regarding fundraising efforts to build the park’s never-completed hotel and the IRS’s revocation of its tax-exempt status, Heritage USA was hit by another, more physical blow. Hurricane Hugo wreaked havoc on the park’s buildings in 1989, and Heritage closed for good shortly afterward. Go to Site


Okpo Land, is an abandoned fun park perched on a hill on South Korea’s Geoje Island. The park was shut down in 1999 after a number of fatal accidents, the last one being a young girl falling to her death from a ride. Immediately after that incident, the owner of the park disappeared and was never heard from again. The park was closed and still sits abandoned. Go to Site


The Joyland amusement park in Wichita, Kansas opened in 1949 and ran continuously until it was closed in 2003 because of financial problems. In its heyday, thousands of families from across Kansas would flock to Joyland Park. It re-opened briefly in 2006, but since then it has been left to rust away. Numerous attempts to revive it have to date failed. Go to Site


When it opened its doors in 1969, the entertainment park known then as Kulturpark Plänterwald was the only theme park in the former East Germany. The park covers an area of 30 hectares next to the river Spree and welcomed up to 1.7 millions visitors per year.

In 1991, the park was transformed by a private company, Spreepark. Thirteen attractions were added in order to change the park to give it a more western style. In 2002, Park Manager, Norbert Witte, his family, and a few of his closest coworkers travelled to South America with six attractions under the guise of having them repaired. He never returned to Germany. In August 2002 the park was declared completely insolvent and closed its doors, leaving behind a debt of over $14million U.S. dollars. It still sits abandoned today. Go to Site


Gulliver’s Kingdom Theme Park, built close to Mount Fuji, Japan, was built with government stimulus money. The park opened in 1997 and never did see a profit. In October of 2001, the theme park shut its doors after the financier, Niigata Chuo Bank, declared it an unprofitable asset. The Bank itself, later collapsed. Today it looks like Gulliver is still waiting to be untied and freed from graffitti artists and vandals. Go to Site


When the Niigata Russian Village opened in 1993 in Niigata Village, Japan, owners hoped to attract tourist dollars by importing a little slice of Russia to Japan’s west coast. The Theme Park managed to stay open for a decade before it fell into bankruptcy. After another grand opening in 2002 — that only lasted six months — the Village was closed permanently. Today, you can still see a re-creation of the Cathedral of the Nativity in Suzdal, Russia, fake cars from the Trans-Siberian Railroad, and a woolly mammoth. Go to Site


Lincoln Park opened on July 4th, 1894. One year later, concession stands were added, the original Loof Carousel was installed, a ballroom and, in 1912, a Giant Coaster was built. A new coaster, the Comet was built in the late 1940s and the park grew from 20 to over 40 acres. An improved dance hall, a boathouse, Ferris wheel, more concessions stands, games and clambakes were added or improved upon.

In the late 1980s, new owners began to charge admission and picnicking was no longer free. Landmark rides were auctioned off to “improve” the park. The park ended up losing much of its original character, and in 1987, was closed after 93 years in operation. After many accidental and intentional fires, the only remaining signs of the Park are the Comet, the Popcorn stand and a few buildings. Go to Site

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