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8 eerie, abandoned amusement parks

Sept. 2, 2011, 9:12 a.m.
abandoned carousel horse in front of rusted rollercoaster rails

Photo: SteveSmash/Flickr

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Take a ride ... or not

After tracking down a handful of the world’s most unusual theme parks, we got to thinking about defunct amusement parks, specifically ones that are officially closed off to the public but are still receiving patrons in the form of urban explorers who risk injury, arrest and even radiation exposure for the chance to experience them firsthand.

Like nightmarish scenes taken straight from Alan Weisman’s “The World Without Us,” these parks that filled so many visitors with happy memories (and motion sickness) have been left to rot in various stages of deterioration after being ravaged by flood, nuclear disaster and poor ticket sales. Although there’s something inherently spooky about abandoned amusement parks, there’s also something beautiful about them, particularly in the curious way Mother Nature goes about reclaiming landscapes punctuated by idle roller coasters and collapsing funhouses. In some cases, neglected amusement parks have proven to be more photogenic in death than they were in life.

Here you’ll find eight decaying anti-Disneylands — all with fascinating, sometimes tragic stories to tell — captured in all of their haunting glory. (Text: Matt Hickman)