There’s something fascinating about large structures that have been completely abandoned. But abandoned amusement parks are especially creepy. The fact that such a bustling, busy place full of excitement and fun is now a desolate, quiet graveyard combined with rusted kiddie images and clowns… yeah, that’s pretty much a recipe for a horror story. Although these amusement parks are no longer in operation, they’re still a source of… well, interest, if not amusement, exactly.
The Enchanted Forest, Hope Valley, RI
This Enchanted Forest apparently wasn’t enchanting enough. It opened in 1971 and had a fairy tale theme, including Humpty Dumpty, the shoe house that belonged to the Little Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, and the House that Jack Built. It used to have a big petting zoo, too, along with your typical theme park rides like bumper cars and a merry-go-round. It closed in 2005 and, although for sale, seems to still be sitting empty. Picture from News Channel 10 via the Enchanted Forest Preservation Society
Chippewa Lake Park, Chippewa Lake, Ohio
Chippewa Lake Park is exactly what you would expect an abandoned amusement park to look like – old, wooden skeletons of structures with trees and overgrowth and nature taking ownership of the land again. It was in operation for 100 years – from 1878 to 1978. The first modern roller coaster was installed in the 1920s and was called the Big Dipper; you can still see the remnants of the old gal (old fella?) today.
In 1968, this theme park based on the Li’l Abner comic strip opened up on Highway 7 in Arkansas. It was a huge hit at first – in fact, a sister ski resort called Marble Falls was opened in 1972. By 1979, Dogpatch had more expenses than income and they were being sued by at least two people who had been injured at the park. The owner of the park announced that negotiations were going on to sell the park to a private group who wanted to convert the land into a biblical amusement park, but that ended up falling through. Nevertheless, a new owner stepped in and made some park improvements, including new rides, corporate sponsorships and superhero appearances. This wasn’t enough to save the park – after a few seasons of resurgence, the park again began to lose money. It didn’t help that Li’l Abner had gone out of print by this time – kids didn’t know who Li’l Abner was. They tried dropping the Li’l Abner theme so they wouldn’t have to pay money for licensing the characters, but, once again, this tactic failed. The park closed for good in 1993. Picture from Arkansas Traveler's fascinating Dogpatch page
Enchanted Forest, Maryland
Fans of the movie Cry-Baby will recognize this park – part of the Johnny Depp flick was filmed there. It opened just a month after Disneyland on August 15, 1955, and had lots of nursery rhyme-type rides . It also had some rather bizarre attractions, such as a ride to Mount Vesivius, which was a big slide… so I guess the children sliding down were trying to escape the fiery inferno of Pompeii? Slightly morbid. But people must have liked it, because the park entertained more than 300,000 people during the height of its popularity. It was closed for good in 1997, but in 2003, a society was formed to try to preserve the park. Most of the attractions were still just sitting quietly behind nothing more than a chain link fence, so the idea of reviving it isn’t a total lost cause. Picture from Clark's Elioak Farm
Hamel’s Amusement Park
This particular amusement park definitely wasn’t the biggest, but it was pretty beloved in the state of Louisiana. It did pretty well in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but in the early ‘90s, a tornado ripped through the park and literally bent their famous ferris wheel in half. It never really did recover – after that, it was mostly just used as a place to hold a monthly arts and crafts fair. It closed for good in 1999. Lots of the buildings are still there, though, and you can apparently see the log ride from a nearby bridge. Picture from Haunted Louisiana