For a great time with the whole family, it’s hard to beat a day at a good amusement park. The rides, the food, the sights, the characters — there’s something for just about everyone to enjoy. What happens, though, when people stop buying tickets and the gates close forever? Left to languish, those roller coasters and snack shacks take on an eerie new aura that’s a far cry from the sunny sights and sounds of an operating park. These then become the creepy abandoned amusement parks sought out by urban explorers and photographers from all over the world.
There are a number of creepy examples– many of them even in the United States, which may surprise locals. Yes, some are gone and only preserved here due to archival photos, but remnants of others remain, hidden by overgrown brush and nature reclaiming itself. Seeing these images ignited our youthful imaginations, and we realized that if we wanted, we could actually travel to some of these abandoned parks and explore their empty shells for ourselves. Sure, we would possibly be arrested for it, but that’s part of the adventure.
So with that spirit of urban exploration in our hearts, won’t you join us for a look at some of our favorite creepy abandoned amusement parks?
1. Okpo Land
Located on South Korea’s tiny Geoje Island, this park has all the makings of a ghostly horror movie. One of the park’s main attractions was a duck-themed roller coaster. It’s known to have caused at least one fatality in the late 1990s, for which no compensation or apology was received, and the ride continued to operate. Then in 1999, a cart derailed and capsized at top speed, and a young girl tragically fell to her death. The park’s owner immediately disappeared and was never heard from again; Okpo Land was closed.
According to Wikipedia (which may or may not have all the facts), in the fall of 2011, the site was completely demolished, and there are now plans to build a hotel over the site where Okpo Land once stood. Cue Poltergeist-style music.
This family-owned amusement park in Wichita, Kansas was once the largest theme park in central Kansas and featured a wooden roller coaster and other old-timey attractions. It operated for 55 years but closed in 2004 due to financial troubles. (It was temporarily reopened in 2006, but only lasted one season).
Since then, it’s been vandalized numerous times, with buildings covered in graffiti and the vintage sign atop the roller coaster getting stolen. The administration offices have also been destroyed, and in August 2012 a maintenance building was burned down.
3. Jungle Habitat
Long before the Six Flags used Warner Bros. characters at their theme parks, there was Jungle Habitat in West Milford, New Jersey. This Warner Brothers-owned animal park opened in the summer of 1972. Tourists could slowly drive their vehicles along the designated roadways as wild animals freely roamed about. While these animals were kept behind fences so they did not leave the park, they could walk right up to the window of a passing car.
Alas, the park was closed by October 1976 due to numerous problems. Dangerous animals reportedly escaped into West Milford, animals injured visitors on multiple occasions, several of those same animals contracted tuberculosis and were euthanized, and locals hated all the traffic. According to the park’s Wiki page, competition from theme park giant Great Adventure, combined with poor management and the park’s inability to easily expand, may have contributed to the demise as well.
For years the site’s deteriorated buildings remained, and rumors of animals still roaming the property attracted visitors. It’s since been redeveloped for public land use, such as hiking and biking trails, so there isn’t much left of the old park. But some traces remain.