Abandoned US Theme Parks
Empty streets, sports venues and theme parks everywhere can be a creepy site to see. Some are closed for business and probably will never reopen and become abandoned forever. Check out the creepiest abandoned theme parks! This top 8 list of haunted and scary amusement parks have some of the most frightening and mysterious places in the US. Which one is the creepiest to you?
Years in operation: 1949-2004
Creepy factor: 7
Decidedly more sad than spooky (save for Louie, the Wurlitzer-playing robo-clown), Wichita’s Joyland, a traditional, family-owned amusement park, became the target of rampant vandalism and destruction after closing in 2004. Margaret Russell, who ran the park with her late husband Stanley since the late 1960s, told the Wichita Eagle: “We’re sick. Our hearts are just sick. It’s not easy, not easy.”
Although Joyland may be gone, leaving behind a heartbroken owner, this Heartland institution has certainly not been forgotten thanks to a haunting short film called “No Joy” from Vimeo user Mike Petty and an entire initiative dedicated to bringing back Joyland to its former glory while adding new attractions.
Joyland was once the biggest theme park in central Kansas, but today it is still abandoned and has since been vandalized. The park opened in 1949, and it continued to remain in operation for 55 years until 2004 when it shut down due to economic troubles and safety concerns.
The park had over 24 kids rides, a 1949 roller coaster, a miniature train (built between 1905 and 1910), and , of course, a Mammoth Military Band Organ (or Wurlitzer Style 160, built around 1905).
In 2006, maintenance work was attempted, aiming to reopen the park again, but this just never happened. Today, an organization is trying to raise funds to restore Joyland.
The strange Jazzland/Six Flags New Orleans amusement park
New Orleans, LA
Years in operation: 2000-2005
Creepy factor: 9
When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, park operators at Six Flags New Orleans were in the planning stages of opening a water park. Well, they got one.
Severely damaged by Katrina’s devastating floodwaters and forced to close, Six Flags New Orleans, which originally opened as Jazzland in 2000, remains in an arrested state of decay to this day and is perhaps more famous now — thanks in part to numerous camera-wielding urban explorers — than it was when in operation. Home to still-standing Cajun-themed attractions like the Zydeco Scream and the Muskrat Scrambler, the future of the property, now owned by the city of New Orleans, is unclear, although Southern Star Amusement is leading an effort to redevelop that park.
Dogpatch USA – Strange, abandoned & unloved!
Marble Falls, AR
Years in operation: 1968-1993
Creepy factor: 7
When Dogpatch USA, a “rustic” theme park fashioned after Al Capp’s Appalachia-stereotyping “L’il Abner” comic strip, finally succumbed to closing its gates permanently in 1993, the park itself probably breathed a large sigh of relief. During its 25-year stint, Dogpatch USA experienced numerous owners, legal battles, heat waves, lawsuits, bankruptcy, fierce competition (curse you, Silver Dollar City!), the fall of hillbilly pop culture and a generation of young patrons who had no clue what “L’il Abner” even was — a lot for an Ozarkian amusement park where the top rides included Earthquake McGoon’s Brain Rattler.
Although some efforts to clean up the heavily vandalized rural property have been made over the years, the park, under exciting new ownership, remains in a state of disrepair.
Heritage USA – The abandoned theme park
Fort Mill, S.C.
Years in operation: 1978-1989
Creepy factor: 8
This is the theme park that Our Lady of the Tattooed Eyebrows (Tammy Fate) was the mother of. At its peak in the mid-80s, Heritage USA, a Jesus theme and water park built by fiery PTL televangelist Jim Bakker and his then-wife, the late Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, was a top American vacation destination on par with Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
Ask your parents. They would have visited or dreamed of visiting!
Then the attendance-damaging trifecta of Jessica Hahn, the IRS, and 1989’s Hurricane Hugo hit, and not even the Lord himself (or Jerry Falwell) could save the park from closure. Since then, some of the park’s 2,300 acres have been repurposed and redeveloped, but the creepiest castle in all the land, once home to a Christian arcade and go-kart track, remains standing.
The abandoned Enchanted Forest, Rhode Island
Hope Valley, RI
The Enchanted Forest was a fairy tail-themed amusement park for children. The amusement park contained rides such as bumper cars, a merry go round, a kid roller coaster, and a petting zoo. Additionally, the park included Fairy Tale like sculptures. In 2005, the park shut down due to financial issues. Throughout its lifetime, it was mainly oriented to younger children and families. The park contained rides such as a child-sized roller coaster, bumper cars, and a merry go round, as well as having a live petting zoo. The Enchanted Forest was closed in 2005 due to low money flow. Some of the rides were sold to Edaville, including the coaster.
Abandoned ‘Flintstones’ Theme Park
Bedrock City, AZ
Explore the now-abandoned legendary Flintstones theme park of Bedrock City Located in Arizona not far from the Grand Canyon. The soundtrack of Flinstones cartoons broadcast continuously over the park’s tinny loudspeakers, echoing eerily between the dusty, dilapidating houses of Bedrock’s infamous residents from a long past era. Built over 40 years ago during the old Route 66 roadside attraction craze, this sad concrete replica of the Bedrock cartoon town had seen better times.
One can only ponder how Bedrock City in Arizona still even stands and if was it ever a favorite stop for travelers on their way to the Grand Canyon. Isolated in the middle of the Arizona desert, a giant Fred Flintstone cutout prevails over the arid landscape. The park probably employs a staff of two or three people at best. Infrequent curious tourists drift in and out of multicolor concrete bungalows and peruse the neglect that marks the expiration date of a 60s cult animated series that so many of us grew up with.
Celebration City, Abandoned Theme Park
The original amusement park named Branson USA was opened on the same site in 1999. The park struggled in its early years and closed in 2001.
Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation purchased the park in 2002 with plans to redevelop and reopen it, The Branson Courier reported at the cost of over $40 million.
It was reopened as Celebration City in 2003, after a redesign and expansion. It was equipped with a laser, water, and fireworks show, a wooden roller coaster, and a brand new log flume ride in 2008.
On Friday, October 24, 2008, Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation announced that the park would finish out its 2008 season and not return for 2009, due to unmet financial expectations.
It closed its doors for good on Saturday, October 25, 2008. Herschend continues to operate the nearby Silver Dollar City and White Water Branson attractions, and in announcing the closure, stated: “…the company is already exploring various new development concepts for the site including an aquarium, other family attractions, re-theming the current park and also, destination retail and dining.”
Holy Land USA: An abandoned Bible theme park
In 1940, the Roman Catholic attorney John Baptist Greco, created Holy Land USA, a Bible-inspired theme park in Waterbury, Connecticut. Greco, a Waterbury native, wanted the community to be able to understand the Bible better. His vision was a place for all people, regardless of race, creed, or color, to sit and be peaceful.
The park was created with the assistance of a group of volunteers called Companions of Christ. Holy Land USA featured Jerusalem, Herod’s palace, Bethlehem, a depictionof the Garden of Eden, a diorama bringing to life Daniel in the lions’ den, and various stages of the life and ministry of Jesus. The centerpiece of the park was a 56-foot (17 meters) tall cross and an illuminated sign that read “Holy Land USA.”
During the 1960s and 70s, Holy Land USA became the largest tourist attraction in Connecticut, with more than 40,000 visitors annually. The park was closed down by Greco in 1984 with plans to improve and expand the site. The word, however, was left unfinished when Greco died in 1986.
Since then, the park has fallen into a total state of advanced disrepair. The property was bequeathed to Religious Sisters of Filippi Greco. They have been accused of preventing any restoration attempts. Currently, the park remains closed although it still attracts the attention of many travelers as well as urban explorers.
The abandoned Santa’s Village
From May 28th, 1955 to March 1st, 1998, Santa’s Village in Skyforest, California by Lake Arrowhead was once one of the most popular theme parks in California.
It opened a month before Disneyland, but the years have not been so kind to this haven of kitsch. Now it lays abandoned, lonely and forgotten. Like all those Yuletide wishes you made under the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree.
- Abandoned US Theme Parks
- The strange Jazzland/Six Flags New Orleans amusement park
- Dogpatch USA – Strange, abandoned & unloved!
- Heritage USA – The abandoned theme park
- The abandoned Enchanted Forest, Rhode Island
- Abandoned ‘Flintstones’ Theme Park
- Celebration City, Abandoned Theme Park
- Holy Land USA: An abandoned Bible theme park
- The abandoned Santa’s Village