There is something alluring about abandoned amusement parks. Perhaps it is because they have traditionally been classic horror movie settings. Maybe it is the fact that these places were once filled with joy and their current state plucks those irony strings that most of us feature prominently as part of our personalities.
One thing is for sure – abandoned amusement parks are fascinating and while the rest of the world has plenty to offer, here in the United States, we boast the majority of the best among them.
One of the most spectacular abandoned amusement parks in the country has to be Holy Land USA, located in Waterbury, Connecticut. As its name would suggest, the amusement park was religious in nature, featuring stations of the cross, Israelite villages and other replicas pertaining to the Bible. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the park was that it was actually an ecumenical place, founded by a lawyer who wanted everyone to be able to come to find peace there, regardless of their religion.
Holy Land USA peaked in the 1960s and 1970s when it attracted tens of thousands of visitors a year. The park was temporarily closed in 1984 pending renovations, but its founder died in 1986 and the park remained closed. Even though the park was closed for decades, people still visited it as a curiosity. In the last few years, some work has been done to try and refurbish the park, but it is still the perfect picture of an abandoned amusement park. And a weird one.
The majority of the abandoned amusement parks in the U.S. have somewhat sad stories lurking in the background, but none more than Six Flags Jazzland New Orleans. The park originally opened in 2000 when it was called simply Jazzland. It featured a number of rollercoasters, a log flume and other standard attractions you would see in an amusement park.
In 2002, Six Flags got involved and they upgraded the park, renaming it Six Flags New Orleans. They introduced a number of new attractions and started planning a water park.
Then, disaster struck. Hurricane Katrina swallowed the park and the drainage pumps couldn’t handle the floodwaters. The corrosive and toxic floodwater remained in the area for more than a month, rendering the park irreparable.
Some of its attractions were salvaged and found new life all over the country, but Jazzland still stands abandoned, a reminder of one of the worst natural catastrophes in the history of the U.S. There is no doubt it is a sad place, but also strangely alluring.
In the town of Beech Mountain, North Carolina, you can find the remains of the Land of Oz, an amusement park that was inspired by, you guessed it, the famous book and movie about a girl called Dorothy and her dog Toto.
The park was one of the shortest-lasting, being truly opened for public for less than ten years in the 1970s and 1980s. It was beset by problems from the very start, with the founder dying before the park opened and with a huge fire destroying a number of attractions and movie artifacts that were a huge part of the park’s draw.
The best thing about Land of Oz is that it comes to life in autumn when the annual Oz festival is held and when people from the area gather in the park to enjoy the vintage attractions as well as movie artifacts that are once again brought over for the public. Even some of the original employees from the original park come and do their thing, as well as talk about the good old days.
If you are up for something much creepier (some might say outright scary), you should definitely find your way to West Virginia and a tiny town of Lake Shawnee which once boasted the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park.
When it was built in 1920, no one told the new owner of the land that it was the place of a desecrated Native American burial ground, as well as a number of massacres in the early settler days. It was pure horror background story and the most horrifying thing is that the horror came to life on two occasions during the park’s days of glory. A young girl died on the swings while a boy drowned in the lake. He accidents caused the park to close in 1966 and many of its attractions still stand there. Visit them at your own peril.
There are a number of other abandoned amusement parks in the United States, such as the Chippewa Lake Park in Ohio with its overgrown Ferris wheel or a whole bunch of Santa villages all over the country.
If you want a unique American experience, we would definitely recommend one (or more) of these.