These Abandoned Amusement Parks Should Be At the Top of Every Urban Explorer’s Bucket List

Samantha Franco
Photo Credit: 1. Nadia Nadienka / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 2. gonzo_vision / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo Credit: 1. Nadia Nadienka / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 2. gonzo_vision / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

Once places filled with laughter, excitement and stomach butterflies, several amusement parks around the world struggle to stay open and are eventually abandoned. These forgotten and decaying attractions now stand as haunting reminders of the passage of time; each tells their own story of amusement turned to desolation.

The following is a list of notable abandoned theme parks that no longer evoke joy and wonder.

Six Flags New Orleans – Louisiana

Six Flags New Orleans was a Louisiana-based amusement park that opened in 2000 as “Jazzland.” It was later rebranded as “Six Flags New Orleans” when Six Flags purchased the park in 2002.

Unfortunately, the attraction faced several challenges, including severe damage during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Following the intense storm, the park was submerged under several feet of water and suffered extensive damage, leading to its closure later that year. Any efforts to revive or redevelop the site have faced obstacles, including legal and financial issues.

Aerial view of Six Flags New Orleans completely flooded out
Photo Credit: James Efstathiou / Bloomberg / Getty Images
Attractions at Six Flags New Orleans on a gloomy day
Photo Credit: Patrick Semansky / Bloomberg / Getty Images

The abandoned theme park has since become a subject of urban exploration, and it’s been featured in many films and television shows. Various proposals for redevelopment have been considered, such as transforming the site into a retail and entertainment complex or even into new amusement park. However, progress has been slow due to the complexities of revitalizing the area and resolving legal disputes.

As of now, the site remains largely abandoned, serving as a haunting reminder of the devastation caused by Mother Nature and the challenges of revitalizing this once-thriving park.

Pripyat Amusement Park – Ukraine

The Pripyat Amusement Park, in Pripyat, Ukraine, is situated near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. While reports claim the park was briefly opened on April 27, 1986, before the evacuation was ordered, these aren’t supported by any evidence and aren’t believed to be true.

The park was never open to the public, though it was intended to celebrate the May Day holiday, with its grand opening slated for May 1, 1986. Its iconic Ferris wheel, bumper cars and other attractions serve as eerie relics within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, now largely abandoned and overgrown with vegetation.

Rusty rides surrounded by overgrown vegetation at Pripyat Amusement Park
Photo Credit: SERGEI SUPINSKY / AFP / Getty Images
Rusty ride in the middle of Pripyat Amusement Park
Photo Credit: Maks Muravsky / Global Images Ukraine / Getty Images

Despite being highly contaminated, Pripyat Amusement Park has become a popular destination for tourists and photographers who are interested in the history and aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster.

The site is a haunting reminder of the catastrophic event and its impact on the surrounding area. The Ferris wheel, in particular, has become and symbol of the abandoned park and is often photographed against the backdrop of the desolate, post-apocalyptic landscape.

Bongoland – Florida

Bongoland Ruins, in Port Orange, Florida, was once part of a dinosaur-themed attraction known as Bongoland. The site was created by Perry G. Sperber, a businessman with a passion for the extinct creatures.

It opened in the 1940s and featured life-sized dinosaur statues and a jungle cruise ride. However, over time, the popularity of Bongoland waned, and the attraction closed in 1952.

Large dinosaur statue in the middle of a wooded area at Bongoland
Photo Credit: Ebyabe / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.5
Sign reading "PREHISTORIC ANIMALS MADE BY M.D. 'Manny' LAWRENCE, EARLY 1950's" in the middle of a wooded area at Bongoland
Photo Credit: Ebyabe / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.5

Since its official closure, the site’s become a fascinating destination for photographers and urban explorers who are intrigued by its decaying, nostalgic charm. The remnants, including its deteriorating dinosaur statues, can be visited at Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens, which has since taken over the property.

Hồ Thuỷ Tiên waterpark – Vietnam

The abandoned waterpark near Huế, Vietnam, known as Hồ Thuỷ Tiên provides a haunting glimpse into an unfinished and  deserted attraction – it’s even home to crocodiles!

The site was designed to be a recreational complex featuring waterslides, pools and a dragon-shaped aquarium that was intended to represent the park’s protector. Construction began in the early 2000s, but was abruptly halted, despite being opened to visitors in 2004, leaving it in a state of eerie disrepair.

View down a boardwalk toward a dragon-shaped aquarium at Hồ Thuỷ Tiên waterpark
Photo Credit: MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP / Getty Images
Graffiti-covered water attractions at Hồ Thuỷ Tiên waterpark
Photo Credit: MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP / Getty Images

There are several theories regarding why Hồ Thuỷ Tiên failed, with some stating locals were spooked by its establishment close to temples and royal tombs and others claiming visitors were upset over its use of the dragon – a sacred symbol – as its mascot.

Today, Hồ Thuỷ Tiên has become a magnet for urban explorers who are captivated by its post-apocalyptic ambiance. Despite its dilapidated state, it continues to attract visitors from all over the world who are interested in uncovering the mystery behind this forgotten waterpark in the Vietnamese countryside.

Disney’s River Country – Florida

Disney’s River Country was a waterpark located near the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. It opened in 1976 as Disney‘s first waterpark and featured a rustic, country-themed atmosphere with waterslides, a lazy river and a large central swimming pool; it was unique for its use of water from nearby Bay Lake for its attractions.

River Country operated seasonally from 1976, until its closure in 2001. It was another two years before Disney announced it would never reopen, citing declining attendance and competition from newer Disney-operated waterparks.

Abandoned waterslides carved into a rocky structure at Disney's River Country
Photo Credit: Coreyjune12 / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0
Abandoned shed in the middle of a wooded area at Disney's River Country
Photo Credit: Quarax / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Following its closure, Disney’s River Country was abandoned, and it’s since become a subject of urban exploration. Its remnants, including the empty pools and waterslides, remain visible near the Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. There have been quite a few efforts to redevelop the site, but they’ve faced challenges due to its location and environmental concerns.

Despite its closure, Disney’s River Country holds a nostalgic place in Disney history and continues to be remembered by fans of vintage theme park attractions.

Spreepark – Germany

Spreepark, an abandoned amusement park in the middle of Berlin, Germany, opened in 1969 as Kulturpark Plänterwald Berlin. It was renamed in 1991 and featured various rides and attractions, including a Ferris wheel, roller coasters and a dinosaur-themed section. The most interesting (and illegal) thing about the theme park’s rides was that the site’s owner used their parts to sneak illicit substances into the country from Peru.

Spreepark operated until 2002, when it closed due to financial difficulties and declining attendance. This was in stark contrast to its annual visitor count while under Soviet control, when it averaged around 1.7 million.

Cat-themed wall with a rusty rollercoaster rail going through its mouth at Spreepark
Photo Credit: TonkBerlin / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0
Rusting amusement park ride in the middle of Spreepark
Photo Credit: dronepicr / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

After its closure, Spreepark was abandoned, with its rides and attractions left to decay. While guided tours were initially offered, these were put on hold in 2014. In recent years, efforts have been made to revitalize the site, with the latest news coming in 2018, when a restoration plan by Grüe Berlin was presented to the public.

Despite its closure, Spreepark continues to intrigue urban explorers and tourists who are interested in its unique history and abandoned charm.

Western Village – Japan

The abandoned Western Village in Japan was, as the name suggests, a Wild West-themed amusement park in Tochigi Prefecture. It opened in 1973 and featured attractions like cowboy shows, saloons and replica Western buildings, which were inspired by both classic and more niche Western movies, including 1973’s Westworld, starring Yul Brynner and James Brolin.

Along with the typical Western-themed decor, there’s also a replica of Mount Rushmore and several animatronics.

Exterior of a building at the abandoned Western Village
Photo Credit: John S Lander / LightRocket / Getty Images
Animatronic dressed as a person in the Wild West sat in a chair, with various items in front of it on a wooden table
Photo Credit: John S Lander / LightRocket / Getty Images

More from us: Uncle Harvey’s Mausoleum: A Lesson In Why You Shouldn’t Risk It All

The Western Village gradually declined in popularity and closed its doors in 2007. Since then, the park has remained abandoned, with its decaying Western-style buildings and statues becoming a hotspot for urban explorers. The site offers a surreal experience, frozen in time with the remnants of its once-thriving Wild West theme.