The amusement park Vaikų Pasaulis was built 25 years after the founding of the Elektrėnai and it opened in 1986.
During the existence of the Soviet Union, quite a lot of Soviet power plants sprung up, and Elektrėnai in Lithuania was one of them. A city was built nearby to house workers and their families, but later on, most unusually, so was an amusement park.
Both the power plant and the city were given the Lithuanian name Elektrėnai meaning “electricity.” The name of the amusement part is Vaikų Pasaulis in Lithuanian, which means Children’s World when translated into English.
The construction of the power plant and its associated settlement began in 1961. Part of the design included constructing an artificial lake to provide water to cool the power plant.
The lake was created by damming the river Streva. In order to build the dam, it was necessary to flood several small villages and lakes in the surrounding area, meaning around 140 families needed to be relocated.
The city plan of Elektrėnai included the construction of large monolithic residential buildings. Over time, in addition to the usual housing for workers, various facilities and entertainment venues began to appear to make life in the city more enjoyable.
At the time, it was the first and only amusement park in the whole country. It was sited about halfway between Vilnius and Kaunas.
The park was built by the side of the lake in a wooded area. The initial goal of Vaikų Pasaulis was to provide entertainment for local workers, but the park flourished and attracted many visitors from other places. Vaikų Pasaulis soon became one of the most popular Lithuanian tourist attractions.
In 1991, Lithuania seceded from the Soviet Union and became independent. This had a negative effect on the park since the thousands of tourists from all over the country who had visited here during Soviet times declined.
In 2000, there were plans to renovate the amusement park, but the owners were not able to achieve this. However, in 2002, Vaikų Pasaulis did manage to secure and transport a Jet Star 2 roller coaster from Gorky’s Moscow park. This roller coaster was only one of two of its kind in existence at the time.
Unfortunately, the ride didn’t work well and often broke down. There is amateur video footage from 2009 showing passengers who found themselves stuck at the top of the roller coaster rocking the car to try and get it started again. By 2011, only one car was running on the roller coaster, with the others being kept for parts.
In 2012, there was an incident that strongly contributed to the park’s subsequent closure. Several visitors got stuck in a car at the top of the roller coaster. To get back to safety, they needed to clamber down themselves, going from one car to another, using the structure for support.
Although there were no injuries, this experience combined with other health and safety issues gave the park a negative reputation. On a wider scale, the country was experiencing a general economic downturn which also resulted in low attendance at the park. Vaikų Pasaulis was forced to close in 2013.
After the park shut down, nature immediately began to take over. The rides rusted and became overgrown with vegetation. However, photos of this interesting abandoned location began to spread across the Internet and the forgotten amusement park soon became a popular tourist destination, both for urban explorers and locals.
Several urban explorers commented on how well preserved the rides were, noting that aside from the rust, they looked like they could start up again at the push of a button. Indeed, some of them even reported seeing other people pushing the carts and cars around the rides or setting the swing chair in motion.
Many lovers of abandoned places who visited the abandoned theme park compared it with Chernobyl, suggesting Vaikų Pasaulis was a good alternative for those who didn’t want to visit the Russian exclusion zone. The two most popular attractions were the Ferris Wheel and the Jet Star 2 Coaster.
Eventually, local authorities decided to transform the abandoned amusement park into a public park with a cafe. Vaikų Pasaulis was demolished in late 2019/ early 2020.
The Elektrenai Power Plant kept working, however, and after the Ignalina Power Plant was closed down in 2009, Elektrenai became Lithuania’s main source of power. Because the lake is still supplying water to cool the power station, it is often used for water sports because the water there is warmer than it is in other nearby reservoirs.
The photos provided here are taken by Andrius Aleksandravičius who is a freelance photographer based in Kaunas, Lithuania. You can follow his work on his website via this link and his Facebook page is here.
A big thank you to Andrius for allowing us to use such amazing photographs of this fascinating Lithuanian amusement park before it was demolished.