Take a look at these 16 dream worlds which became crumbling nightmares!
Why: To be opened in time for the 1986 May Day celebrations, plans for the Pripyat Amusement Park were interrupted on April 26th when the Chernobyl disaster occurred mere kilometres away.
Why: Converted from a public playground into an amusement park in 1980, Dadipark enjoyed brief success before poor upkeep caused increasing dilapidation, and rides became more hazardous. Eventually a boy lost his arm on the Nautic Jet Ride and the park was closed for ‘renovations’. It never reopened.
Where: New Orleans, USA
Why: Six Flags New Orleans- originally opened in 2000 as Jazzland- was pre-emptively closed just before Hurricane Katrina swept devastatingly across America in 2005. Judging the damage to be too costly to reopen the owners sold the park, which now lies derelict, a creepy playground for urban explorers.
Why: Many speculate that the short 4-year life of Gulliver’s Kingdom- based on the novel Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift- was down to its close proximity to such grim locations as Aokigahara Forest (the world’s second most popular suicide site after San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge) and extremist cult Aum Shinrikyo’s headquarters.
Where: Chorley, England
Why: Though the owners cite bad weather and the 2012 London Olympics as reasons for the terminally low visitor numbers, disturbing accidents- including the death of a worker struck by The Gauntlet rollercoaster, and a child falling from the Excalibur 2 ride- could be more likely reasons for closure.
Where: Beech Mountain, North Carolina, USA
Why: Open for a mere 10 years between 1970 and 1980, the Land of Oz- based on the Judy Garland-starring classic film The Wizard of Oz- was plagued by dwindling visitor numbers and, perhaps more devastatingly, a fire which destroyed the park’s Emerald City recreation and museum collection (including dresses worn by Garland in the film).
Where: Berlin, Germany
Why: Opened in 1969, at its height Spreepark attracted 1.5 million yearly visitors. But bankruptcy in 2001 forced the park to close its doors, and subsequent attempts to save the park were derailed by the uncovering of 167kg of cocaine in the- wait for it- magic carpet ride.
Why: The official story is that an Earthquake caused such damage to Encore’s Garden in 1999 that the park couldn’t afford to reopen its gates. Ask locals for an explanation however, and more sinister stories surface; tales of mysterious visitor deaths, and the regular appearances of a girl in a red dress…
Where: Arkansas, USA
Why: Based on the comic strip Li’l Abner- created by cartoonist Al Capp- Dogpatch USA was such a success when it first opened in 1968 that the owners decided to open up a sister park, Marble Falls. This second project spread company finances too thin however, and its failure to engage the public forced both Marble Falls and Dogpatch to close indefinitely.
Where: Dunaújváros, Hungary
Why: A very popular park in the 60s and 70s, long term financial repercussions from the 1956 Hungarian Revolution meant that less and less people could afford to pay the ticket prices for Dunaújváros (which were actually increasing due to growing maintenance costs). With no way out of the downward spiral, the park struggled along until its inevitable closure in 1993.
Where: Wichita, Kansas, USA
Why: Open for just shy of 55 years (1949-2004) Joyland is one of the more longstanding theme parks on this list. A familiar story of ongoing financial troubles and reputation-damaging accidents (a 13 year old girl sustained serious injuries in a 30ft fall from the park’s ferris wheel) resulted in- you guessed it- indefinite closure.
Where: Hobara, Japan
Why: Regularly enshrouded in a cloak of fog, this creepy theme park was open for a mysteriously brief 2 years, from 1973-75, before closing without warning. Some cite poor ticket sales for the shutdown, others say that a number of violent, hushed up deaths were the cause.
Where: Beijing, China
Why: This park takes the biscuit for briefest period open (or it’s disqualified, depending on your outlook), as it was completely abandoned before its proposed opening date in 1998. Our old friend financial troubles is the official ’cause of death’.
A second attempt at getting Wonderland off the ground was halted in 2008, due to the predicted-to-be-unbeatable competition from neighbouring behemoth Tokyo Disneyland.
Where: California, USA
Why: Known alternatively throughout its 42 year history as Rock–A–Hoola Waterpark and Discovery Waterpark, Lake Dolores turned off its pipes in the late 1980s after a drastic downturn in popularity.
Where: Waterbury, Connecticut, USA
Why: A passion project designed by attorney and Christian John Baptist Greco, Holy Land enjoyed great success through the 60s and 70s. The park was closed in 1984 in preparation for numerous expansions, but with Greco passing away in 1986 and no one else to take up the mantle, Holy Land lay dormant for 27 years. A plan to clean up and revitalise the site began in 2013 however, so religious thrill-seekers should watch this space.
Where: Okpo City, Geoje Island, South Korea
Why: So this is a sinister one. Not much is known about Okpo Land (even its opening date can’t be agreed upon), but after a string of visitor deaths in the 1990s, the most recent of which involved a young girl falling from one of the rides, the park’s owner mysteriously vanished and Okpo Land was indefinitely abandoned to decay.