1The Land of Oz (Beech Mountain, North Carolina)
The Land of Oz is located in Beech Mountain, North Carolina. The 1970s theme park was abandoned less than ten years after it opened.
Entrepreneur Grover Robbins dreamed up the theme park as a way of attracting families—and money—to the resort town. He was indeed onto something. In its heyday, the theme park attracted up to 20,000 visitors a day, but Robbins never lived to see them—he died at 50 of bone cancer, only six months before the park opened in 1970.
Tragedy continued to beset the park. A fire destroyed the Emerald City and part of the museum collection, including dresses that were worn by Judy Garland in the movie. Visitor numbers started to dwindle and finally, ten years after its opening day, the Land of Oz closed its gates.
All hope is not lost, however. In the 1990s, Project Emerald Mountain was started by a group of kind-hearted volunteers who have slowly restored the park. While it is still somewhat derelict, tourists are welcome to going in search of the Emerald City. Oz is also home to a two-day festival each year with a guided tour through the park, a picnic at Dorothy’s Kansas farmhouse and, for an additional $100, a whirlwind visit from Dorothy herself.
2Atlantis Marine Park (Two Rocks, Australia)
Atlantis Marine Park sits 60 km north of Perth in the small fishing town of Two Rocks. Built in 1981, it was part an ambitious plan for a resort and residential area called Yanchep Sun City, a proposed satellite city to support Perth’s growing population.
The park was initially a huge success with families from Western Australia, who flocked to the park to watch live dolphin shows, swim, ride pedal boats and have their obligatory photo with King Neptune, the statue at the entrance. (See above.) But despite the popularity of Atlantis, the area’s financial boom never occurred, and the 1987 stock market crash put a halt to any prosperity. Just nine years after opening, the park shut its doors.
Atlantis has since been damaged by vandals and has become overgrown and derelict. In 2015, however, King Neptune was restored to his former glory after a petition by locals demanding something be done with the ruins. Volunteers cleared the gardens, fixed the broken fences, and the park is now open to the public on weekends.
The site is currently owned by the Fini Group, and a plan has been put forward to develop the area into a mix of retail, commercial and public open spaces, including the preservation of King Neptune.
3Discovery Island & River Country (Bay Lake, Florida)
Just east of the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, Florida, is Bay Lake. In the middle of the lake is an island that Disney won’t let anyone set foot on.
Discovery Island is home to an abandoned theme park. Just across the water is another deserted park, River Country.
These are the only Disney parks to close permanently. Discovery Island was a nature reserve from 1974 to 1999 and River Country, a water theme park, operated from 1976 to 2001.
Why did the parks close? Well, Disney remains mum, but some believe it has to do with the lake itself. New Florida Laws prohibit the use of natural water bodies, requiring chlorination and only municipal water supplies, for water park use. According to Ruin-Nation, a blog of abandoned places in the United States and beyond, “The deadly Naegleria Fowleri bacteria is said to be alive in the (River Country) park’s water during the hot summer months. This could also have added to the reasoning of the park’s final season.”
4Happy World (Yangon, Myanmar)
In 1997, some of the most influential men in Myanmar’s dictatorship gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a glitzy new theme park by Yangon’s city zoo.
The powers-that-be hoped that it would help distract an isolated population from the realities of life under tyranny. State media branded the theme park a “recreation center for the people” and boasted of “world class, modern games.”
Today, the park lies derelict as vines and trees slowly swallow the majestic red rollercoaster, the Viking pendulum ship and an array of other dead machines. But there is life—dozens of people still live in the abandoned restaurants and amusement centers on the park’s southern edge after losing their jobs when it closed over three years ago.
No one knows why the park closed, but the offices of owners Doh Pyi Thar Enterprises Ltd. are now inhabited a vicious pack of stray dogs.
The park’s future is uncertain, and squatters fear they will eventually be kicked out when bulldozers arrive.
5Kejonuma Leisure Land (Tohoku, Japan)
Is this theme park cursed? Some people believe so.
Kejonuma Leisure Land, in Tohoku, Japan, attracted hundreds of thousands of children each year, boasting an amusement park, a campsite and a driving range.
Visitor numbers started to decline in the late ’90s, and by 2000, Kejonuma closed its doors, in part due to Japan’s low birth rate and economic collapse. But according to The Japan Times, the theme park was built next to the site of “the pond of the ghost woman,” an ancient myth which could have been a factor in its premature closure.
6Six Flags (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Hurricane Katrina crippled New Orleans over a decade ago, but in some parts of the area, the devastation looks like it occurred yesterday. The Six Flags theme park is one such example.
Photographer Seph Lawless’ chilling images show that the once lively park has gone virtually untouched since the storm hit. “Everything is still intact. You can see where the people would wait in long lines; the roller coasters; the snow cone stands; the souvenir shops, and even the Ferris wheel is still there, which was decaying in some parts,” he said. Lawless even spotted an alligator while in the park: “A lot of the flood waters were trapped there, so alligators are out there, and some at least 10 or 12 feet long.
The derelict theme park was the setting for the box office smash reboot, Jurassic World. Because it was in such bad condition, a crew of 400 people built a new backdrop on the grounds to bring out the “modern world meets Jurassic World” feel of the movie.
7Presidents Park, Williamsburg, Virginia
In February 2016, images emerged of a farm in Virginia littered with 43 giant busts of former US presidents—the remnants of a failed theme park in the state.
After Presidents Park, near Williamsburg, went belly up in 2010, Howard Hankins began taking the busts to his 400-acre farm some 10 miles away. The process took a week and cost around $50,000, with each of the president weighing up to 9,000 kg. He has launched a crowdfunding page to help restore the heads and open a new park.
“The plan is to open a new museum and relocate these statues to a place where they can be seen by all,” the GoFundMe page, seeking $500,000, explains.
Some of the 20-foot sculptures are missing vital parts such ears or noses and Lincoln has a gaping hole in the back of his head, but there are nevertheless plans to revive the idea. Hankins also wants to include exhibits on the White House, America’s First Ladies and a Spy and Covert Operations Center.
8Camelot (Chorley, Lancashire)
An eerie theme park lies abandoned after being a popular resort with local families for nearly 30 years.
The site was formerly home to Camelot, a theme park in Chorley, Lancashire. It closed in 2012 after being open for almost 30 years. Owners blame the closure on low visitor numbers, inclement weather and events such as the 2012 Olympics and The Queen’s Jubilee.