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Six Flags New Orleans: destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, this theme park now lies half-submerged

Nikola Petrovski

There is no need to describe the details of what happened after Hurricane Katrina struck the state of New Orleans in August 2005.

The chaos that this brought is best described as hell. Among the worst affected areas, one can find Six Flags New Orleans, a now-abandoned theme park lying in the middle of a lake.

Aerial view of SFNO after Hurricane Katrina. 

Aerial view of SFNO after Hurricane Katrina. 

This theme park is placed over 566,560 square meters of land and once served as a breeding ground for laughter, joy, and screams that came from the roller coasters. Today, all that is left are memories from a not so distant past.

Flooded Roller Coaster. Author: John Von Curd CC BY 2.0

Flooded Roller Coaster. Author: John Von Curd CC BY 2.0

The park was owned by Six Flags Entertainment Corporation since 2002, but after Katrina struck, this corporation sought to terminate the 75-year lease with the city due to high costs of repair. There were numerous announcements that the site would be repaired, but no project ever saw the light of day and the park remains a “zombie land”.

Closed For Storm. Author: Infrogmation CC BY 3.0

Closed For Storm. Author: Infrogmation CC BY 3.0

One thing that makes this site different from the other abandoned places is that this park is under 24-hour surveillance and security and the trespassers are harshly prosecuted. The photos that we see from this theme park are from the thrill-seekers that never got caught.

The inevitable part of every abandoned site – Graffiti. Author: John Von Curd CC BY 2.0

The inevitable part of every abandoned site – Graffiti. Author: John Von Curd CC BY 2.0

The original name this park had when it opened in 2000 was “Jazzland”, and it was owned by Alfa Smartparks (now Palace Entertainment). Three years later, Six Flags upgraded the park and renamed it Six Flags New Orleans. They even added an inverted coaster named Batman: The Ride.

Batman The Ride. Author: Chris Hagerman CC BY 2.0 

Batman The Ride. Author: Chris Hagerman CC BY 2.0 

The area where this amusement park is located was badly flooded after Hurricane Katrina. The park’s drainage pumps failed, and a combination of rainwater and seawater caused a massive storm surge, submerging this park to a depth of two meters.

The aftermath of the Katrina hurricane. Photo Credit: Nathan Hoang CC BY-SA 2.0

The aftermath of the Katrina hurricane. Photo Credit: Nathan Hoang CC BY-SA 2.0

The damage was beyond repair and the park was closed with no plans to reopen. The initial report states that 80% of the park was destroyed beyond recognition. The only large ride to escape relatively unscratched was (just like any superhero) Batman: The Ride. The Corporation Six Flags determined the value of assets destroyed by Katrina Hurricane at $32.5 million.

Nature claiming its own.Author: Karsun Designs CC BY-ND 2.0 

Nature claiming its own.Author: Karsun Designs CC BY-ND 2.0 

The profit that Six Flags made from this amusement park would have been far greater had it been placed somewhere closer to the tourist districts. Unfortunately, this park was located near the poverty and crime-afflicted Eastern New Orleans district, where the residents of this side of the city were less interested in the expensive season passes to the theme park.

Six Flags New Orleans abandoned. Author: Keoni 101 CC BY 2.0 

Six Flags New Orleans abandoned. Author: Keoni 101 CC BY 2.0 

 

Six Flags New Orleans 2004. Author: Chris Hagerman CC BY 2.0

Six Flags New Orleans 2004. Author: Chris Hagerman CC BY 2.0

In 2011, the disaster-stricken park was used as a filming ground for the movies Killer Joe and Stolen. Later, in 2013, 20th Century Fox was allowed to film Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters there.

During the filming of the 2013 release feature Percy Jackson Sea Of Monsters.Author: Jdarn010 CC0

During the filming of the 2013 release feature Percy Jackson Sea Of Monsters.Author: Jdarn010 CC0

During the summer of 2013, portions of the park were being used to film the movie Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and later in 2014, it was used to film portions of the movie Jurassic World. In 2016, the video game Mafia III portrayed portions of the amusement park, which is of course flooded.