Nothing says summer fun like a great scream-filled roller coaster ride and a clump of cotton candy, at a fun-intoxicating amusement park. These parks have been designed to provide the ultimate level of enjoyment for their visitors since their beginning in the Middle Ages. Exhibiting jugglars, acrobats, and conjuring magicians, the entertainment gradually evolved into full circus performances, complete with exotic animals, hot air balloon rides, and fireworks. Starting with large markets and ‘pleasure gardens’, which were created for people’s recreation, the idea of an amusement park became a reality in 1583, with the opening of Bakken, located in Klamenborg, Denmark. World fairs and expositions became a huge influence in the United States, also leading to the development of the first amusement park after the first Ferris Wheel was set up for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, in Chicago, Illinois.
There are about 1300 amusement parks in operation today, and 400 of them are in the United States alone, with one of the largest being Disneyland. But what happens when the amusement park loses funding, people, or some unfortunate disaster claims it? They become an entirely new type of attraction that brings in a completely different type of crowd. And so, here is a list of the top 10 haunted and creepy amusement parks located around the world.
10. Prypiat Amusement Park, Pyrpiat, Ukraine
Located North of Kiev, Ukraine, Prypiat was a city that was abandoned right after the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, as it was built mainly for housing workmen at Chernobyl. The amusement park, built in the downtown of Prypiat, had all the staples of a park, with its ferris wheel and bumper cars. Unfortunately, the park opened on April 27, 1986, and closed the same day due to the catastrophic nuclear disaster that occurred the day before, a mere 21km from Prypiat. Nothing has changed in the 28 years since its abandonment, except that nature has begun to take over, giving the park an eerie apocalyptic look to go along with the city that was evacuated in a hectic 2 days. The abandoned amusement park appears in a number of games and movies, including: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and the Chernobyl Diaries.
9. Holy Land, Waterbury, Connecticut, USA
Easily seen from anywhere around Waterbury, the huge cross atop Pine Hill marks the Holy Land that now only caters to ghosts. Once an attraction that drew in 40,000 people in the 60’s and 70’s, the park was built for the religiously faithful. John Greco, after getting a message from his god in the 1950’s, single-handedly created a park that paid tribute to the Holy Land in Israel. By fashioning chicken wire, plywood, fiberglass and plaster, he built slightly-smaller-than-life-size versions of Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and many other biblical locales and figures. When all was said and done, Greco had created 200 unique structures. It was temporarily closed in 1984 for renovations, but officially closed in 1986 after the death of John Greco. The theme park was left to a group of nuns who kept it closed to the general public, and the renovations that Greco had hoped for never happened. In 2010 a teenager was murdered near the site, giving the area a haunting ghost story, and only adding to the creepiness factor. In 2013 it was bought from the nuns for $350,000, and is in the middle of revival discussions.
8. Gulliver’s Kingdom, Japan
Based on the Jonathon Swift novel, the theme park opened in 1997 and struggled until it finally closed in 2001. There were really no rides as an attraction except for a luge and bobsled track, which probably affected the sales, but what presumably put the final nail in the coffin was the fact that it was built beside ‘Suicide Forest’, which held the highest number of suicides in all of Japan. Along with being based beside Japan’s infamous forest, it was also adjacent to the same village where the Aum Shinriyko dommsday cult, the group behind 1995’s Sarin gas attacks in Tokyo, was headquartered. Gulliver’s Kingdom was backed by Niigata Chuo Bank, which slid into the ocean, leaving behind red ink, and debts and loans that couldn’t be paid. The park was officially, and completely demolished in 2007, leaving only a concrete foundation and the odd chunk of insolation caught on a few boards.
7. Six Flags, New Orleans, USA
Opening in 2000, Six Flags Amusement Park, or Jazzland from 2000-2002, was loved by all who went to play. It is home to rides that include Mega Zeph, a wooden roller coaster built on a steel track to prevent termite infestation, SpongeBob Square Pants: The Ride, and Goliath which was formerly Batman: The Ride. Along with those rides, other themes came to life at the park including: Looney Tunes Adventures, Mardi Gras, and Cajun Country. Each one of these attractions brought in thousands of people. In 2005, Six Flags got the warning signal to close the park and evacuate with the rest of New Orleans in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina. The park became submerged in sea and rainwater and remained under 4-7ft of corrosive brackish floodwater for over a month. With decapitated clown heads, rusting rides, and a saltwater line that is only now fading away, along with tipped over carts and faded peeling signs, the park gives off and eerie feeling. Many people who visit the sad, broken park, say that you can hear faint laughter and joyful screams in the distance. The park has also appeared in a few zombie movies and had an appearance in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. Another amusement park torn asunder by natural disaster is Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy left the Jet Rollercoaster poking out of the sea.
6. Land of Oz, Beech Mountain, North Carolina, USA
This was a 16-acre theme park, dedicated to allowing you to experience the greatness of skipping down the yellow brick road, arm in arm with your very own lion, scarecrow, and tin man. It opened in 1970, with the intention of having the ski resort be a year-round attraction. It did not have any of the classic amusement park rides, but was only intended to allow the visitors assume the role of Dorothy. The adventure started out at Dorothy’s house in Kansas, went through all the famous scenes, and finally coming to an end in Emerald City to meet the Wizard. It’s opening day saw more than 20,000 visitors. Grover Robbins, the owner, developed it to be based more on the book rather than the movie, but after his death a few months after the park opened, the number of visitors quickly decreased, due to the lacking driving force and real-estate prices. In 1975 a fire occurred in Emerald City, destroying many of the artifacts that were actually used in the movie. The park is opened every year for 2 days in October for the “Autumn of Oz”. The park is still mostly intact except for a few missing brings, but it still has an oddly weird feel to it.
5. Spreepark, Berlin, Germany
SPREEEEEEE!!!!!! Opened in 1969 as Kulturpark Plänterwald in the former East Berlin, before becoming Spreepark in 1989, after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Next to the river Spree, it was the only park of its type in both East and West Berlin, providing the majority of entertainment and fun. Now known for its toppled dinosaurs, rusted Ferris wheels, and vandalized swan boats, the park has a haunted, cold air around it. The motive behind its shut doors lies with the bankrupt owner, Norbert Witte. Witte, after losing all his money, fled from Germany to Lima, Peru, taking his family and several attractions with him. He had hoped to retry his dream and tried to open another park, but it also failed. In May of 2004, Witte was sentenced to seven years in jail after being caught trying to smuggle 400lbs of cocaine back into Germany by hiding it in the masts of a “flying carpet” ride. He became a huge tabloid subject in Germany, and was even the subject of a 2009 documentary film, “Achterbahn”. Spreeland appeared in the movie Hana.
4. Okpo Land, Okpo City, Geoje Island South Korea
Also known as the Amusement Park of Death, the Korean ‘fun’ park has a seedy and bloody past. The date of its opening is completely unknown, it was likely younger than 20 years old. The small park only had about a dozen attractions, but was hugely profitable as it was the only park in the area. In the late 1990’s, a young girl was killed by a duck themed ride. The parents received no compensation, apology, nor explanation, and the park remained open. Another girl was thrown from the same ride after it derailed in 1999. The owner took it as a sign, and by the next day the park was closed with everything left the way it was, including the derailed duck, and the owner was nowhere to be found. The park was leveled in 2011 and is now a site covered in hotels.
3. Dunaújváros Vidám Park, Dunaújváros, Hungary
Opened in 1952, the park was extremely popular during the 60’s and 70’s. When it first opened, the park was overwhelmed by people who had come to have fun. After the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, the park became even more popular, and continued to be a huge part of the lives of those around, until the end of the 1970’s. By then, people had started to run out of money and more and more people could no longer afford to go to the amusement park, who had also started to raise the price of the tickets because of maintenance costs. The park officially closed in 1993 and was left for about 20 years before it was torn down, leaving only concrete foundations and skeletons.
2. Joyland, Wichita, Kansas, USA
Less creepy and more just sad and depressing, this park was privately owned and run by the Ottaway family. It was founded as more of a permanent home for the 12-inch gauge steam locomotive that Lester Ottaway had purchased back in 1933. After Lester’s death in the 1950’s, his three sons continued to look after the park and even added a few more attractions, including a rollercoaster (Nightmare), and a water ride known as The Log Jam. Unfortunately, the park became the victim of youthful pranks which included overwhelming and disheartening amounts of vandalism after the park closed for economical and safety reasons in 2004. The park stayed closed until a Seattle based company became interested in Joyland. After further financial concerns with the park, the company kept it closed in 2006, and it remains closed to this day. It continues to be worn down by vandalism and Mother Nature.
1. Takakanonuma Greenland, Hobara, Japan
True to its name, the Japanese park has officially become lost in the lush wilderness that once surrounded it. Built in 1973, the park only lasted for 2 years before it closed down for what some say were bad ticket sales and repairs, while others blame the large number of deaths that occurred on the rides. After a 10 year hiatus, the park reopened. Rumors say that the break in time was more to allow people to forget about the past tragedies that the park’s rides caused. After reopening in 1986, the park remained open until 1999 when it was finally abandoned. The second closing was mainly caused by the stiff competition that newer amusement parks brought, such as Tokyo Disneyland. After its final closure, the park was left to rot. It is now incredibly hard to find, as in the past decade, the mountainous rural area has completely retaken the land. Allegedly, the park was demolished in 2006, but a man by the name of Bill Edwards stumbled upon a rusted, completely untouched park, caught up in a thick fog. Word is Edwards took many pictures, but only one showed up on his computer: one of the entrance with a young 6 year old girl in a white dress staring at the camera with a serious, indifferent face.
There are many other eerie, abandoned, and terrifyingly creepy amusement parks in the world. One was once an extension of Disneyland that was built for animals. It once included the one remaining Dusky Seaside Sparrow, which died in 1987 and the species was pronounced extinct in 1990. Another, known as Kaesong Youth Park, in North Korea, was built to prove the growth of the people. All of these have disturbing, or sad histories and explanations behind their closures, and most have some goosebump worthy ghost stories.