Every year people travel from far and wide to spend time at their favorite amusement park. But you, dear traveler, are not so cliché. You don’t seek thrill rides. You seek a more spine-tingling thrill. Your instagram won’t be just another grid of mouse ears, kitschy snacks, and rollercoaster pics. No, no– you are looking for a more refined amusement park experience.
From the eerie to the downright terrifying, nothing says creepy like an abandoned amusement park. The juxtaposition of a former fun-for-the-whole-family attraction and the remnants of what’s left behind give “haunting” a whole new meaning. Ruins that are overtaken by nature are like decaying memories of what used to be, and amusement parks without patrons can be intriguing, and in some cases, nightmare-inducing. You can find a startling number of abandoned parks around the world, and some are creepier than others simply because of how they met their demise. Dig into our round up of abandoned amusement parks and start planning your next thrilling visit.
Pripyat Amusement Park, Ukraine
The Pripyat Fun Fair met its untimely end before the locals even got a chance to enjoy a single spin on the Ferris wheel, bumper cars and swing boats. Opening day was set for May 1, 1986, but the Chernobyl disaster struck less than a week before.
It’s been rumored that the owners opened it up for one day on April 27 in an attempt to distract people from the terrifying situation, but an order to evacuate forced everyone out of the area. Pictures have turned up of people enjoying the site prior to its completion. You can visit, and people do still tour the site today, but with questionable radiation levels, it’s a dangerous game.
Castle d’Oultremont, Land van Ooit, Netherlands
The fairytale appearance of the Castle d’Oultremont is like something out of a Grimm’s story. When it opened in 1989, Land van Ooit was meant to be a perfect children’s play place. With people and props all playing a part in the magical stories made for the park, the children were the kings of the castle.
They entertained visitors with their pretend knight fights, but a tragic death during one of the routine duels turned the whimsical tale into a real-life nightmare. The park recovered but shut down in 2007 due to bad finances. The pink castle has since been repurposed by the local government and turned into a public park. You’re welcome and encouraged to visit and reflect on all that is, and all that was.
Hồ Thuỷ Tiên (Thuy Tien Lake), Vietnam
This three million dollar water park opened in 2004 before it finished construction. The main draw was a giant dragon aquarium that stood three stories tall and housed manta rays, sharks and an assortment of live fish in its ribcage stairway and lower body.
Although the park closed due to financial constraints, its existence now is what makes it so interesting. It seems to be lost between two worlds, and travelers are more likely to find the location through word of mouth. Among the decaying remnants of the park, some of the crocodiles survived its closure.
Disney’s River Country, USA
As the first water park built by Walt Disney Company, River Country had a lot of promise. Its close proximity to Discovery Island and Fort Wilderness Campgrounds provided easy access for tourists wanting to enjoy an adventure through the Floridian wilds.
After its closure in 2002, rumors began to swirl. Some said that it closed because of financial cutbacks, but another rumor was far more menacing. A child died in 1980 after swimming at River Country. Doctors discovered that he died from amoebic meningoencephalitis after an amoeba that lives in the nearby waters got into his body and attacked his nervous system.
The front half of the park is still open to visitors. Walk past the abandoned ticket gates as far as you can, and you’re likely to find some small places to peer through the fencing and gaze at what is left of this abandoned park, imagining what could have been.
Jungle Habitat, New Jersey
Warner Brothers opened Jungle Habitat in 1972 with the promise of giving tourists a safari-like experience with more than 1,500 wild animals. It didn’t offer rides, but glimpses of exotic wildlife were enough to get patrons excited about the opening.
The open-concept zoo didn’t last long. A man and a woman were attacked, animals escaped into the nearby town of West Milford and a tuberculosis outbreak forced the park to euthanize several of its main attractions. Warner Brothers hoped to expand to include amusement rides, but the good folks of West Milford, New Jersey, put a stop to that idea. Today the remains of Jungle Habitat serve as a public park, and visitors can wander the grounds hoping for a rogue kangaroo sighting.
Lake Shawnee, USA
Lake Shawnee is perhaps one of the most infamous abandoned amusement parks, thanks to its bloody history. Not only was the amusement park built on an ancient Native American burial ground, but it was also the site of a tragic massacre that claimed the lives of three children.
That might explain the trail of death that Lake Shawnee left in its wake. Two children died in park accidents before it finally closed in 1966. All that’s left are the remnants of what used to be — a field of rides covered in vines and growing grasses.
Enchanted Forest Theme Park, USA
Leaping straight out of a fairytale, the Enchanted Forest Theme Park in Maryland was supposed to be an imaginary world of whimsical storied times for children to enjoy after WWII. After its opening in 1955, it welcomed more than 300,000 visitors each year.
By the time the ’80s rolled around, the park began to lose its fanbase and slowly became obsolete in a world filled with video games and arcades. By the ’90s, the park closed, and the Cinderella castle and attractions deteriorated rapidly. The contents of the park were moved to a nearby farm, and people can visit to see the remaining buildings from April to November each year.
This creepy park was built in East Berlin by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) government in 1969 and welcomed more than a million visitors each year until closing 20 years later. It was reopened in 1991 by Norbert Witte, who renovated it with new rides and a more scenic landscape.
Witte’s ownership only lasted until 2002 when police discovered he used ride parts from Peru to smuggle cocaine. He was arrested for drug smuggling, and the park was abandoned to be consumed by nature. It was used in the film Hanna before falling victim to arson in 2014. All that remains are a few rides and a restaurant.
Holy Land, USA
The derelict Christian attraction that is Holy Land USA has been closed since 1984. The owner of the park closed it for renovations in an attempt to attract more visitors. Before it reopened, he passed away, leaving the religion-themed park to a group of nuns.
It was designed to be a smaller version of Biblical Bethlehem, but the park was vandalized after its closure, and the nuns couldn’t maintain it. In 2010, a teenage girl was murdered on the grounds, and the park was sold. A cross is still visible from the roadside, enticing visitors to check out the ruins to this day.
Kejonuma Leisure Land, Japan
Kejonuma Leisure Land was home to all the typical amusement park rides, but it also housed something darker. Japanese legend says that a woman gave birth to a snake on the grounds. The snake-baby then escaped into the water, constantly crying for her mother and slowly driving her mad.
The woman committed suicide by drowning herself in the lake. Some explorers say their cries can be heard when visiting the park grounds at night. Visitation remained high until 2000, and the park finally closed. Tourists can now wander the grounds and watch nature consume the slowly rusting ferris wheel and other attractions.
Joyland Amusement Park, USA
Joyland has been plagued with death and destruction ever since it opened in 1942. A series of ride-related deaths damaged the reputation of what was once the biggest amusement park in the Southwest. It continued to grow over the years, but the vicious murder of a park employee in 1982 paused the expansion.
Once the dust settled, the park was getting back to normal when another employee was hit by a roller coaster and killed, and a young patron died after falling off the Ferris wheel. These events brought on significant financial hardship for the park and led to its inevitable closure. Now it serves the purpose of creeping out the visitors who dare to wander its grounds.
Rocky Point Amusement Park, USA
Generations of Rhode Islanders have precious memories of visiting Rocky Point Amusement Park. It opened in the 19th century and had more than 25 attractions, including the famous Shore Dinner Hall.
Shortly after the opening of the park, a 5-year-old-girl was murdered by her father after they finished their meal at the dining hall. He took her to the edge of the water and bludgeoned her to death with a rock. The gruesome murder didn’t mar the park’s reputation, however, and it stayed open for more than 150 years. The park finally closed in 1995 due to financial issues, but you can still go explore the grounds.
Six Flags – New Orleans, USA
In 2002, Six Flags purchased the failing Jazzland Theme Park in New Orleans in an attempt to open another amusement destination in the U.S. The new park had six different areas for visitors to explore. The popular theme park closed for the season in 2005 because of the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina.
The park was flooded and didn’t drain for more than a month, which ultimately led to its permanent closure. After a lengthy battle with the city — who insisted Six Flags honor its lease and reopen — the company decided to remove the rides that could be saved. What was left behind was a forlorn skeleton.
In 2021 a developer was identified by the city to revitalize the decrepit park. Let’s hope that third time’s the charm.
Land of Oz, USA
Even the Wonderful Wizard of Oz couldn’t have saved Land of Oz from its inevitable failure. The park opened in the ’70s, but shortly before the official launch, the owner lost his battle with cancer before things even got off the ground.
The park was destined for closure after a mysterious fire destroyed Emerald City and some buildings that housed props from the original 1939 film. A decade after it opened, the doors closed until the ’90s, when it was reopened as a cabin rental hot-spot. Many of the park’s rides and attractions are still on the site today.
Western Village, Japan
The Western Village was an ode to all things Wild West America. The weird thing, though, was that it was located in the heart of Japan, about 70 miles north of Tokyo. The weirdly-specific theme park opened in 1970 with attractions like a haunted house, a Wild West Show and a scaled-down Mount Rushmore.
After its closure in 2007 due to some much-needed maintenance that was never completed, the remnants of the park remained. Visitors of the park today can find decaying pictures of the old Wild West and even some creepy statues of Clint Eastwood and John Wayne.
Expoland wasn’t ever meant to enjoy a long-lasting life. It was supposed to be an add-on for Expo ’70 and nothing else, but after the popularity of the park skyrocketed, the owners reopened in a more permanent way. The park had tons of attractions and rides, including roller coasters, a water park and a Ferris wheel.
In May 2007, the Fujin Raijin II roller coaster came off the tracks, killing one woman and injuring more than 70 others. After that tragedy, the park was never the same, and attendance became so abysmal that they closed up shop in December of that same year. The park was reportedly renovated into a much smaller park called Farm Expo.
Loudoun Castle Theme Park, Scotland
The Loudoun Castle Theme Park was built around the ruins. What was left of the area surrounding Loudoun Castle became part of the quaint theme park, giving it an eerie sense of urban decay, even while people still rode the roller coasters and ate the cotton candy. The park was left abandoned after the owner couldn’t keep up with financial payments.
Today, many of the rides and attractions still stand on the site, completely abandoned and taken over by the natural surroundings. It now blends in with the ruins it was built upon, upping the creepy factor ever so slightly.
Chippewa Lake Park, USA
This century-old park opened in 1878 and was a popular attraction for generations of families. It ended up closing its doors in 1978 due to poor attendance. After it closed, several buildings and structures were destroyed or damaged in fires.
Because of the haunting relics of amusement park history left behind, horror films often use the derelict conditions to create backdrops for their scary stories, such as the 2008 film Closed for the Season. The Ferris Wheel, the Little Dipper and some remnants of the burned structures still remain. In 2020, the Medina County Park District agreed to buy the property and restore it to a nature park, with the intent to leave some of the relics of its former days intact.
Takakanonuma Greenland, Japan … Part 1
The Takakanonuma Greenland Park is so shrouded in mystery that some believe the park itself never existed. It was real and opened in 1973. Shortly after, ride-related deaths occurred, and locals thought the park was cursed. Almost two years after its opening, the park closed to investigate the number of ride-related deaths. A lengthy 10 years later, it was determined the park staff were to blame.
The Japanese government closed the park 12 years after it opened, denying access to anyone who wants to visit it. The only known records of the park’s location are coordinates that can be found online.
Takakanonuma Greenland, Japan … Part 2
In 2007, an urban explorer by the name of Bill Edwards found the park and uploaded a picture to prove it. Some people claimed to spot a young girl wearing all white in the picture, but that’s just another myth. The validity of his creepy find couldn’t be further investigated because Edwards himself seemed to vanish shortly after his picture surfaced.
The photo was scrutinized and found to be an undoctored photo proving the park’s existence, but it still wasn’t enough. The myth of Takakanonuma is now all that’s left unless a brave explorer manages to find it again — and prove it.
Umoja Children’s Park, Zanzibar
The mystery behind Umoja Children’s Park has gone unsolved for years. The history of when it opened or closed is nowhere to be found online, and all that remains are the remnants of a carnival-like amusement park. It could have been a wondrous place, but no one really knows for sure what happened there.
The eerie photographs that circulate online show a park in disarray, with a run-down Ferris wheel, a merry-go-round taken over nature and a rusted-over children’s train. The details of the park exist now only in the macabre scenery that is Umoja Children’s Park.