It happens almost every summer. We plan what to do with our childhood and almost always rule out the big theme parks. “Now it’s time off. There will be a lot of people there, and we won’t have nearly enough facilities,” we say, “So another time. Today we’ll go to the gym in the meantime.” we are not alone. One of the biggest problems with theme parks is crowding. After all, it’s frustrating to stand for extended minutes – and sometimes even hours – to enjoy a fix of a few minutes (or seconds).
On first look, an empty amusement park is excellent news. More problematic art is the cases where it is empty for the wrong reasons and mostly abandoned. When that happens, those parks can make their way to our site. There are quite a few abandoned amusement parks worldwide for various reasons. In most cases offer a particularly creepy atmosphere, which is a very suitable horror movie location. And hey, it takes great photos too.
Why Are Amusement Parks Abandoned?
Anyone who spent long hours in their childhood building amusement parks in the computer game SIMS (um…) knows that this is a very complex task. The cost of setting up a theme park is enormous, and they require a lot of investment around the clock: from planning through construction to operation, maintenance, marketing, and so on. The parks require round-the-clock care, including operating or driving tests of the facilities, infrastructure maintenance, repairs if necessary, and so on. These expenses may mean that, at some point, the park owners will realize that a repair is not a very smart move.
With the high expenses, the chances that the park will deteriorate financially, like a sharp descent on a roller coaster, are high. If the park does not generate enough revenue or its management is poor, it may experience severe financial difficulties, go bankrupt or go into liquidation. From here, the road to his becoming abandoned is undoubtedly short. One of the most evident examples of abandond theme parks for such reasons is SpreePark in Berlin, which we wrote on the website in detail not long ago.
We must remember that in advance, this is a very competitive and complex field to deal with. It is sometimes challenging to match the public’s taste, and the park must adapt, update, and change to survive over time. Some theme parks, in advance, only operate at set times (say during school holidays), making it difficult for them to survive financially. In addition, they may compete for the visitors’ attention against parallel parks or other attractions in the same environment. To this, we can add measures at the macro level that make it very difficult for a theme park, such as the Covid-19 restrictions from the last few years that resulted in parks being forced to close precisely at times that are supposed to be the busiest for them.
Already at the starting point, amusement parks are subject to stringent requirements at the level of licensing, regulation, and day-to-day operation: mainly in regards to safety, but not only (take, for example, the issue of environmental laws, which in recent years have received much more focus). If the park finds it challenging to comply with these regulations, you guessed it; it may find itself in a complex situation, get into legal trouble, get a closure order, or discover that the operating costs are already reaching the heights of a giant Ferris wheel.
Nature And Other Disasters
It is impossible not to address the subject of disasters in general, which unfortunately is not reserved only for “Final Destination” movies. There were quite a few parks that were significantly damaged due to a natural disaster, for example, a hurricane, flood, or earthquake: one of the most well-known parks in this context is Six Flags in New Orleans, which was almost destroyed following the terrible Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and has remained abandoned ever since. Of course, man-made disasters can also have an effect, with the most chilling example in this regard being the Pripyat amusement park, which was supposed to open a few weeks after the terrible disaster destroyed the Chornobyl environment, causing countless casualties and resulted in the area being unsafe to stay to this day.
Against the background of the complexity of the repairs and the enormous destruction that may be caused, it is possible that the park will not recover and will have to be closed in the first stage and then abandoned. Accidents in an amusement park – and we have witnessed some horrific accidents in recent years around the world – can cause the park to be closed, its financial entanglement (filing a lawsuit, of course), or the public to vote with their feet, even if the park manages to stay open.
What’s So Appealing In Abandoned Amusement Parks?
Those who have visited an abandoned amusement park will likely note that this experience stayed with them. The parks offer a creepy and scary atmosphere. It is impossible not to notice the contrast between what used to be, with the crowded facilities that housed countless children and adults who came to enjoy themselves, and the obsolescence and rust that characterizes them today, as is likely to happen to any abandoned amusement park at some point. In some cases, nature takes over abandoned amusement parks, making it surreal or even post-apocalyptic.
One exciting fact cannot be ignored: there is something attractive, or even beautiful, about amusement parks that have been abandoned and allowed the ravages of time to affect them. “The beauty of decay” is breathtaking; a quick check on Google or photo sites is enough to learn it. Staying in such parks can also be emotionally powerful, especially against the contrast between what they symbolize, or what they used to be, and the current situation. The parks evoke childhood memories in everyone, contributing to the secret of their magic. It is hard to stare at an abandoned roller coaster in deathly silence and not imagine the music, the bustle of the children, the shouts of joy, and the screams of fear that must have characterized it in happier days when the park was operating at full strength. The result is eerie silence by any measure. This feeling, created when we look at facilities covered in rust, crumbling, peeling, or surrounded by vegetation, paths empty of people, or safety signs no longer relevant, causes the feeling that something is “wrong.” Indeed, if we remember again how the park is supposed, by its very essence, to be one of the most lively and happy places there is.
The story behind an abandoned amusement park can be interesting, fascinating, and scary. Some parks have behind their closure an absolute disaster, a horrific accident, a tragedy, and so on. In some parks, creepy myths have emerged, such as urban legends, stories about ghosts that still roam the facilities, etc. That’s why a guided tour of an abandoned places such this can be fascinating, but from our impression, this is usually different. Abandoned parks, by their very definition, are supposed to be closed – partly because some pose significant dangers for those who visit them.
Can A “Dead” Amusement Park Come Back To Life?
The encouraging news is that an abandoned theme park, for whatever reason, really doesn’t have to stay that way. Although many parks worldwide have been abandoned for decades, some cases show that otherwise is possible. The park can go through a renovation and rebuilding process, which is expected to be expensive and lengthy but may result in it receiving a new life. The park’s designation may also change.
You can find several examples of once abandoned amusement parks that came back to life. The Wonderland amusement park in Beijing, China, was closed until it was decided to recalculate the route. It was demolished at one point to be replaced by a bustling shopping center erected in its place. The amusement park in Sydney, Australia, originally opened in 1935 but was closed and abandoned at some point. In 2004, however, it was reopened in a modern format – but one that also preserves a specific part of its old character – after very significant renovation processes.
The amusement park Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark, is another example. This park first opened in 1843; it suffered financial difficulties that led to its closure but managed to recover, so today, it is an excellent attraction for families coming to Denmark.
Horror Movies About Abandoned Theme Parks
The truth is that the writer of these lines very much loves movies set in horror attractions, and not only abandoned theme parks and such. Whether it’s a maze of scares (such as the “Hell Fest” from 2018 – “Haunt” from 2019), escape rooms (two “Escape Room” movies and several horror movies with similar names), an entertainment complex for children with scary mascot dolls (” Willy’s Wonderland”) or just regular parks that get out of control, like the disaster-filled “Final Destination 3”, “Piranha 3DD” that brought terrifying fish into a silicone-filled water park and others. Some very endearing scenes have to do with a specific amusement park facility, such as the Ferris wheel scenes in the mediocre “Death Note” (even though it stars Margaret Cavali) and “Divergent,” the first film in that series with Shailene Woodley. Although the quality of these movies is very questionable, as you can see from some of the terrible names that appear here, something silly about them makes the whole idea fun or even amusing.
A horror film whose success is crucial to its location can undoubtedly take advantage of the “natural” advantages of abandoned amusement parks. Quite a few movies have done this, even if their number is relatively limited. Earlier, we mentioned that an abandoned amusement park could well symbolize, in contrast, the post-apocalyptic worlds, a frequent theme in horror films. It’s probably no surprise that one of the most successful and memorable scenes in “Welcome to Zombieland,” about a group of people trying to survive after a plague has turned most humans into extremely murderous and cannibalistic zombies, takes place in an abandoned amusement park. In various films, and not only horror films, we got very memorable scenes in abandoned amusement parks: for example, the final chase in the action film “Hannah” starring Saoirse Ronan, filmed in the SpreePark in Berlin.
Those looking for a complete horror movie in an abandoned amusement park can see “The Park,” released this year (2023). The film is about a world where a mysterious virus has killed adults and left children to face the world alone. If we understood correctly from the trailer and the film description (we have yet to see it), a life-and-death battle begins between a group of children to control an amusement park that no longer operates. Another (relatively minor) movie that takes place in a theme park, in whole or in part, is “Closed For The Season” (2010), in which an unfortunate girl gets stuck in an abandoned theme park and faces a lot of evil spirits, “Dark Ride” (2006) in which a group of friends visits In an abandoned horror attraction, you encounter a killer wearing a strange mask, and more.
So, do we want it to be empty the next time we visit a theme park with the kids? It seems only if we expose them to the world of horror at an early age. Choosing suitable parks or timing their visit to less busy hours and days is the key to success. But that’s a topic for another article.