13 Abandoned Amusement Parks That Will Give You the Creeps
When these parks were in their prime, they were fun, fantastic, and anything but freaky. Now, they seem like something out of a nightmare.
What’s scarier than a wooden roller coaster, freakier than a funhouse, and more chilling than a clown? The decrepit remains of a park that once rung with children’s screams—screams of happiness, that is. Take a visual stroll through these abandoned amusement parks around the world, some of which you can also take an actual stroll through…if you dare. These abandoned historic sites are too dangerous to visit.
This once-sparkling place of merriment now stands as an eerie reminder of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which flooded the city and closed the park in 2005. It would never reopen, and it’s now one of the attractions that are so creepy, they’re off-limits to tourists. The roller coaster, “Big Easy” Ferris Wheel, and other rides are now deserted—if you don’t count the snakes and alligators wandering through them. But this sad memorial may soon be gone, as plans for its demolition were recently announced.
Entering this desolate place in Berlin on your own is verboten (forbidden in German) and for good reason. The communist-era park opened in 1969 East Germany, but it was closed in 2001 and left to the elements. It now features toppled dinosaur statues, rusting roller coasters, and a track leading into a surreal monster mouth. After gaining popularity as an off-the-beaten-path destination for urban explorers, the place is now open for visitors through official tours only. Here are some other forbidden places no one will ever be allowed to visit.
Lake Shawnee Amusement Park, West Virginia
Beware of this cursed amusement park: Like something out of a horror movie, Lake Shawnee was reportedly built on an Indian burial ground. In the 18th century, a bloody confrontation erupted between Native Americans and a colonial family who attempted to settle here. Over a century later, the amusement park opened on the site in the 1920s—until closing in 1966 after the accidental deaths of two young patrons, including one on the spooky circular swing that still stands. Some say the place is haunted and even claim to have seen ghosts of the park’s victims. It’s a popular spot for paranormal investigators, and every Halloween, the spot hosts a “Dark Carnival” with tours, ghost stories, a corn maze, and campouts. Is it one of the most haunted places in America? You decide.
Boblo Island, Ontario
Picture an 1898 Victorian amusement park: music from an organ grinder, women’s skirts swishing around the dance hall, children’s laughter echoing from the various newfangled rides. That’s what this theme park on Bois Blanc Island (nicknamed Boblo), near Detroit on the Canadian side of the Detroit River, was to Michiganders and Canadians alike. Its doors were shut nearly a hundred years later in 1993, and the area is now closed to the public. But you can boat or kayak by the remains, listening for the ghostly sounds of long-past visitors. While you can’t stay here overnight, you can rent these 8 haunted places on Airbnb.
Pripyat Amusement Park, Ukraine
The tragic story of this Ukraine amusement park centers on the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, a couple of miles away from Pripyat, one of 14 historic places that are now abandoned. Many of the power plant’s workers and their families lived in the town, where the park was set to open for the May Day celebration on May 1, 1986. But the explosion at the plant occurred just a few days prior on April 26, so it never happened—although according to some reports, officials opened the park early to keep residents busy before evacuation orders were given. Once the announcement was made to leave, everyone fled almost immediately, leaving the park (and everything else) to the elements. Since then, the abandoned Ferris wheel has become a symbol of the ill-fated town. Today, you can take a tour of the grim place. Want to be creeped out all through the night? These are the spookiest places you can stay.
Where else can you see ruins of a sugar mill, a botanical garden—and a dinosaur theme park? Built on the grounds of a pre–Civil War mill, Bongoland opened in the late 1940s and featured concrete dinosaurs, animals including the park’s namesake monkey Bongo, a replica of a Native American village, and a kiddie train. After this Port Orange attraction closed in 1952, it was abandoned for decades; today, gardens surround the old prehistoric creatures, which remain as spooky relics of the park’s past. But beware of falling dinos: This summer, the crumbling T. rex toppled after heavy rain. For an amusement park with working attractions and rides, Orlando is just an hour away. But before you go, make sure to check out these insider secrets from a Disney World superfan.
Taman Festival, Bali
The origins of this never-opened Indonesian amusement park are mysterious—it’s not even known exactly why tourists never got to ride its rides or stroll its paths. Today, Taman Festival is being consumed by the jungle, an example of what happens when nature takes over abandoned places, and it is also covered with vibrant graffiti. Explorers should watch out for what was planned to be a crocodile pit—or more accurately, for the ravenous reptiles who may now be wandering free. Another FYI: Locals may ask you for a “donation” to see the site.
Yongma Land, South Korea
The still-colorful Yongma Land amusement park in Seoul, which was open from 1980 to 2011, serves as a nostalgic reminder of childhood—so much so that it’s become a hot spot for both amateur and professional photographers. The kitschy place was even the setting for several K-Pop videos (Korean pop, for the uninitiated). And if you want to see it, you won’t be breaking and entering: For a fee, you’ll be allowed to look around. After dark, the lights are even turned back on, creating an atmosphere of chills and thrills even without going on any of the derelict rides. If you love a good scare, check out these 12 true stories about the world’s most haunted forests.
This “city of toys” was conceived in the 1960s as an adult amusement park, a Las Vegas–style resort in the middle of Italy just an hour from Milan. Structures were to be built in different styles, including a Muslim minaret, Chinese pagodas, and a faux-medieval castle. There were also plans for a zoo and a racetrack. But tragedy struck in 1976 when a landslide destroyed the road to the city. The plans for the sprawling complex were abandoned, the half-finished buildings left to decay. Today, it’s one of the creepy but real ghost towns around the world.
Fantasy World, Philippines
Another “woulda coulda shoulda” amusement park, Fantasy World’s owners had, well, fantasies of it becoming a Philippine Disneyland. But the place never opened, reportedly due to financial difficulties. Now overgrown with weeds, the rides rusting and paint peeling off the castle, Fantasy World is finding new life as a “photo park.” For a fee, you can enter the property, look around, and take pictures of the eerie theme park that never was. If you like taking trips on the proverbial road less traveled, check out these truly bizarre tourist destinations.
Ho Thuy Tien, Vietnam
Ho Thuy Tien‘s giant dragon looms over a sci-fi-looking aquarium, welcoming visitors to this now-algae-covered water park. It’s one of the most bizarre sights at any abandoned amusement park, and one of the most chilling photos of abandoned places around the world. The park was opened briefly in 2004, despite being only partially completed. But if you stop by today, you might not be alone: Rumors of roaming crocodiles have plagued the park, although reports say the creatures have been removed. Still, we don’t recommend getting in the murky water—or trying the rickety waterslides.
Land of Oz, North Carolina
This 1970s-era, Wizard of Oz–inspired attraction isn’t a functioning theme park anymore, and most of the year, it stands empty in Beech Mountain, North Carolina. But the privately-owned property opens to the public twice a year, with one event in September and one in June. Although not strictly abandoned, it’s still creepy to think of the yellow brick road winding its way through the woods with no one to follow it except the wind. Here are 9 more quirky theme parks you need to visit in your lifetime.
Nara Dreamland, Japan
Japan has more than its fair share of abandoned amusement parks. But the most famous, the Disneyland-inspired Dreamland, became more of a nightmare than a dream. Forty-five years after opening in 1961, Dreamland closed and was left to rot, not to be seen again except by the urban explorers who dared to enter illegally. It languished until 2013 when the land was bought and the park was demolished in 2017—but not before being immortalized by photographer Romain Veillon. If you’re looking to plan a more traditional trip, check out this list of the best amusement parks in America.