The rusting roller coasters, the lifeless Ferris wheel and the absence of children’s laughter. What was once filled with pleasure and fun, now slowly being reclaimed by nature… There’s something extremely eerie about abandoned amusement parks and here we share some of our favourites!
Located south of Antwerp in Belgium lies Dandipark, the oldest amusement park in Europe. Opening in 1950, the amusement park was initially a hit. It was built over an area of around 12 hectares and consisted of a variety of amusement rides including bumper cars and carousels. The purpose of the amusement park was to offer affordable entertainment for children.1
As the years progressed, the amusement park couldn’t seem to keep up with ever-changing safety precautions and ultimately, the rides became rundown. In 2000, young boy lost his arm in a tragic accident on the nautical jet attraction.2
After the accident, people started to question the safety of the amusement park and the number of visitors dropped significantly. The park closed their doors the same year, stating that they would be renovating. However, they never re-opened. Several developers considered re-vamping the amusement park but with the gruesome accident looming overhead, it was theorised that it would never be popular or well-visited.
Nature soon reclaimed the park as its own. For several years, the attractions stood in place as a memento to memories past but in 2011, it was announced that the park would be demolished. The demolition took place in 2012.
Yongma Land, Seoul, South Korea
Even though this amusement park has long been left abandoned, you can still pay a small entrance fee to the owner to be granted access to explore this dilapidated wonderland!
This amusement park first opened its doors in 1980 and was an extremely popular day out for families during the first decade. Nestled among the woods of Yongmasan, the amusement park had all the essential park rides such as the Merry-go-Round and the Viking.
Unfortunately, when Lotte World opened in 1989, people seemed to lose interest in Yongma Land which was seen as a more humble and family-friendly amusement park. Eventually it could no longer compete with the larger and more modern amusement parks and closed its doors in 2011.
Despite the fact that the rides are no longer in use, the 80s-era amusement park still manages to attract a number of visitors each year, mainly photographers and urban explorers.
The Land of Oz, North Carolina, USA
Opening in 1970, The Land of Oz was created as a place that would hopefully bring people to the Beech Mountain ski slopes in the summer. If you visited, I’m sure you remember the fear-inducing ski lift ride up to this amusement park!
Once off the ski lift, the first stop was a museum that contained artefacts from The Wizard of Oz movie. From there, you entered Dorothy’s farmhouse. Once inside the basement, you could hear the tornado approaching and when you went up another set of stairs, you entered another house that was exactly the same layout as the previous one but it was now lying on its side, damaged by the tornado! Of course there was also a yellow brick road which led to Emerald City.
In its first year, The Land of Oz attracted more than 400,000 visitors. In fact, it quickly became North Carolina’s leading tourist attraction according to a display at Boone’s Appalachian Cultural Museum. The popularity didn’t last long, however, and due to a changing economy, financial problems, and insurance costs, The Land of Oz closed in 1980.3
Over the forthcoming years, the owners rented The Land of Oz out for weddings, parties and picnics. In 2016, they reopened for four days in June with guided tours along the three-quarter mile road, paved with 44,000 yellow bricks.
Pripyat Amusement Park, Pripyat, Ukraine
This eerie amusement park stands at the very centre of the town where the infamous Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred. It was scheduled to open in May of 1986 for the then USSR’s May Day celebrations. However, the grand opening never materialised when the Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred just a couple of meters away on the 26th of April, 1986, forcing everybody in the vicinity to evacuate. It was the largest nuclear disaster in history
The amusement park had five attractions which included the Ferris wheel and the paratrooper ride. Over thirty years have passed since Pripyat was evacuated and the barren amusement park still stands, decorated with rides that have never even been ridden.
The moss and rust covered Ferris wheel has become a grim icon of the nuclear disaster which left the town radioactive and abandoned. In fact, the area around the Ferris wheel has some of the highest levels of radiation in the amusement park. 4
Today, several tourist companies offer guided tours of Pripyat but the thrill seekers cannot stay in the area too long due to the radiation.
Six Flags, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
This amusement park opened in 2000 and was initially named “Jazzland.” Some of the most-loved rides included the Mega Zeph, which was a wooden roller coaster and Rex’s Rail Runner, a wild mouse steel roller coaster. There was even a log flume and a splash waterfalls ride.
The park reported a profitable first season with 1.1 million visitors. However, attendance dropped nearly half in 2001, leading to bankruptcy in 2002. Six Flags eventually brought the park out of bankruptcy, paying a discounted price of $22 million. They spent another $44 million on park improvements, changing the theme of the park to a comic book superhero theme.5
Six Flags New Orleans closed when Hurricane Katrina struck on the 29th of August, 2005. The park was submerged under seven feet of floodwater for more than a month following the deadly hurricane. It now sits as a haunting memorial to the devastation caused by the natural disaster. The derelict site has 24-hour security in an attempt to stop trespassers.
- The Vintage News, 24 May, 2017 – “Dandipark, the Abandoned & Creepy Amusement Park in Belgium”
- Daily Mail, “Creepy Images of Abandoned Amusement Park”
- Herald-Journal, 10 October, 2004 – “Closed Land of Oz Park Continues to Spread Magic”
- Entertainment Examiner, 28 April, 2014 – “Top 10 Creepiest Places on Earth”
- The Advocate, 21 January, 2008 – “N.O. Theme Park Waves White Flag”