There’s very few things that people love more than amusement parks. But nothing fascinates hardcore theme park fans like myself more than abandoned theme parks. There’s something really creepy and eerie about old rides rotting away like a graveyard. Plus, beneath all the rusting hides serious history.
Check out a list of a few of the most interesting abandoned theme parks.
1. River Country in Orange County, Florida (1976-2001)
Disney’s first ever water park was incredibly popular with guests. It had a lot less restrictions than most water parks today. It featured a freshwater pool that connected to Disney’s Bay Lake next to Magic Kingdom. The park has been abandoned after closing in 2001. Other than the pool that was drained in order to avoid attracting mosquitoes, the park remains intact today, though it is rotting. If you walk around Disney’s Fort Wilderness hotel you can still see a lot of the remains of this once beloved water park.
2. Land of Oz in Beech Mountain, North Carolina (1970-1980)
This Wizard of Oz-themed amusement park from the '70s is pretty strange. It was in a small mountain town in North Carolina, and it featured a yellow brick road, Dorothy’s house (where guests “experience” a tornado), and an artificial balloon ride. After being abandoned in 1980, the park was restored in the '90s and is now open for special events and festivals in June and September of every year.
3. Pripyat Amusement Park in Pripyat, Ukraine (1986-1986)
This amusement park never actually opened due to the Chernobyl disaster that occurred only a few miles away. The park was set to open just days before the accident, and due to the radiation, the whole city had to evacuate. It is mostly intact and the park, especially the Ferris wheel, has become a symbol of the famous disaster.
4. Nara Dreamland in Nara, Japan (1961-2006)
Dreamland was the Japanese rip-off of Disneyland. It was designed almost exactly like the then new Disneyland in Anaheim. However, they had none of the rights to any Disney characters. Once Tokyo Disney opened in the '80s, visitors to Dreamland greatly declined. It closed and was abandoned in 2006.
5. Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara County California (1982-2006)
Okay, I know this is a bit of a stretch, but this was technically an amusement park, just a private one. If you didn’t know, Michael Jackson turned his home into an amusement park named after his hero Peter Pan. It had rides, a railroad, and a zoo. Jackson fired his park staff during his investigations in 2006, and since then the park was closed. Michael’s daughter Paris Jackson removed the rides in 2013 and converted some of the area into a garden. In 2015, they announced Neverland Ranch was on sale.
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