- Photojournalist Seph Lawless has taken pictures of 10 abandoned theme parks around the US.
- Some of the theme parks, like Lake Shawnee Park in West Virginia, closed down after guests died at the park.
- The haunting pictures show graffiti, decrepit rides, and overgrown greenery.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
When you think of theme parks, your mind probably goes straight to the modern rides of Disney World, but there are some amusement parks around the country that have been left completely abandoned and decrepit.
Seph Lawless has made a career of documenting urban decay and abandoned places in America and beyond. Over the years, he’s visited a number of abandoned theme parks in the US – and the photos are haunting.
Check out the 30 photos below to see the eerie remains of 10 different neglected parks for yourself.
The Enchanted Forest Playland in Ohio only ran for five years before shutting down.
Amateur builder R.W. Bishop purchased 14 acres in North Toledo in 2000 and transformed the land into an amusement park that he called “Enchanted Forest Playland.”
Despite Bishop’s hopes, attendance never picked up enough to sustain the park, and five years after its grand opening, the Enchanted Forest Playground officially shut down.
The park’s owner has been selling the remaining equipment and rides in the hopes of getting out of debt.
The overgrown trees have taken over the isolated clown ride.
Small entertainment venues like the Fun Spot Amusement Park in Indiana were the precursors to the corporate theme parks in operation today.
The Fun Spot Amusement Park and Zoo opened its doors to the public in 1956. For the most part, the park catered to tourists exploring Indiana’s northern lakes, and it managed to grow and expand over the years.
The family-owned park boasted unique rides and a remote location.
The Matterhorn ride, pictured above, was supposed to simulate an Olympic bobsled race – now, it looks like an arena in ruins.
At one point, the Fun Spot was doing well enough to add a waterpark and a zoo …
Now, there are no guests to fill any of the parks.
… but as mega-venues like Six Flags, Kings Island, and Cedar Point started to thrive, the Fun Spot’s popularity dwindled.
The amusement park’s hours of operation were sporadic and unpredictable near the end.
The park shut its doors in 2008, 52 years after its debut.
The park blamed “the economy” for its closure.
This Six Flags theme park in New Orleans, Louisiana, was ravaged and subsequently abandoned after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.
A sign at the entrance of the park reads “Closed for Storm” several years later.
The park, which was originally called “Jazzland,” was built in 2000 before Six Flags acquired it in 2002.
The Six Flags company terminated their lease and gave the park up to the City of New Orleans following the hurricane.
The decaying rides and apocalyptic landscapes serve as an eerie reminder of the hurricane’s devastation.
Hurricane Katrina’s calamitous reach spanned multiple cities, but it primarily affected New Orleans; nearly 20,000 people were displaced and relocated to the city’s Superdome, and 1,833 people died in the aftermath.
There’s been talk of rehabilitation, but the park still remains in shambles.
Several Hollywood films have used the ruinous landscape to their advantage, like “Jurassic World” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”
Once the largest theme park in Central Kansas, The Joyland Amusement Park was home to one of the last surviving original wooden coasters.
The park was founded in 1949 and was owned by several different families and corporations over the decades until an incident concerning the park’s Ferris wheel served as a catalyst for Joyland’s eventual demise.
In April 2004, a 13-year-old girl fell 30 feet from the Ferris wheel and was gravely injured. The park had to close for an investigation of the incident.
It never reopened, and it has been repeatedly targeted by vandals since its closure.
Vandals are common in these types of parks.
Walt Disney World’s first water park opened in 1976 in Orlando, Florida.
The park was called Disney River Country and ceased operations in 2001 after Disney’s second and third water parks, called Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach respectively, became more popular attractions for guests.
As attendance dwindled, Disney decided to let the park deteriorate rather than demolish it.
Disney was initially willing to reopen the park if there was “enough guest demand,” which could explain the company’s decision to forgo hypothetical demolition plans. Now, a sense of abandonment permeates the once-lively waterpark.
Lawless hopes that Disney will repurpose the land in the park to be more hospitable to surrounding wildlife.
You can find more photos of the ghostly Disney World venue in Lawless’ photo series “Dismaland.”
Bushkill Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is yet another park that fell victim to flooding.
The eastern Pennsylvania theme park opened its doors in 1902 until a series of floods overtook the property in 2007, damaging it beyond what owner Neal Fehnel could repair.
Of the park’s 17 vintage attractions, 14 have been sold.
Bushkill Park’s website still reads: “The owners of Bushkill Park are working hard to repair the damage that has been done by the floods and other means.”
The park has reopened for special occasions, such as the owner’s 115th birthday, over the years, although the rides are still not operational.
Fehnel’s hope is to have the rides back up and running soon.
A fire, rather than a twister, meant the end of The Land of Oz theme park in North Carolina.
The park, which opened in 1970 – 31 years after the release of the “Wizard of Oz” film – closed in 1980 after its owner passed away and a fire destroyed the site’s Emerald City.
Even though the attraction shut down, the park hasn’t been completely abandoned, as it’s home to annual local events.
The eerie Land of Oz reopened in 1991 for a single day for curious visitors, and locals maintain the premises enough to run an annual Autumn in Oz event.
The remains of Chippewa Lake Park are hidden on a lake shore in Medina, Ohio.
At the height of its popularity, the park had three operational roller coasters, a carousel, a ballroom, and more.
The park, which operated from 1878 to 1978, is now overgrown.
Rides are ensnared by trees and strewn throughout the landscape.
Established in 1887, Geauga Lake was an amusement park in Aurora, Ohio.
Funtime Incorporated purchased the park in 1969; 31 years later, Geauga Lake received a $US40 million expansion and became Six Flags Ohio from 2000 to 2004.
The park went through several acquisitions and was even billed as a “Wildwater Kingdom” from 2004 to 2007.
Six Flag’s reign didn’t last long; Cedar Fair acquired the park from 2004 to 2007 and invested $US26 million. They eventually renamed it “Geauga Lake & Wildwater Kingdom.”
However, it closed in 2008.
The Wildwater Kingdom section continued to operate until the 2016 season.
Lake Shawnee Park in West Virginia was shut down in 1966 after two young patrons died on site — and now it’s believed to be cursed.
The park, which was built on the site of a Native American burial ground in 1926 in Princeton, West Virginia, was repurchased by a man named Gaylord White in 1985.
The park’s owner reopened the venue for three years before it ceased operations once more.
The Ferris wheel and swing ride are all that remains of the park.
Today, Lake Shawnee Park is a huge draw for paranormal investigators.
Since closing, the park has been featured on the Discovery Channel’s “GhostLab,” as well as the Travel Channel’s “The Most Terrifying Places in America.”
- Read more:
- I toured two Ellis Island hospitals that have been abandoned for almost 65 years. Here’s what they’re like inside.
- Built in 1829 and abandoned since the ’70s, Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary is one of the creepiest places in America. Here’s what it’s like inside.
- Take a look inside the famously creepy Winchester House, which has 160 rooms, staircases that lead to nowhere, and doors that open into walls
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.