Lost and Abandoned: Forgotten Amusement Parks

By Sophia Maddox | May 1, 2024

Holy Land USA: The Abandoned Christian Theme Park

Very few places bring memories of joy and laughter more than a theme park. Whether you've snacked on cotton candy while visiting with some of your favorite Disney characters or you have memories of spending your summer vacation soaring upside down with friends on a roller coaster, you likely have fond memories of a theme park. While some theme parks continue to provide people of all ages with a variety of memories, the world is filled with some theme parks that have closed their gates and shut down their rides for the last time. 

These once-thriving playgrounds now stand silent, nature reclaiming what was once a realm of excitement. Ferris wheels stand frozen against the sky, their stillness a stark contrast to the dynamic scenes they once framed. Carousel melodies have faded, replaced by the whispers of wind through rusting structures. Join us as we unravel the stories of these lost amusement parks, where the echoes of joy linger amidst the rust and decay.

test article image
public domain

Holy Land USA was an unconventional religious theme park that was perched on top of a mountain in Waterbury, CT. The park aimed to blend faith with entertainment. Established in the 1950s by John Baptist Greco, the park featured replicas of biblical scenes and landmarks, attracting visitors from near and far. The brainchild of Greco, Holy Land USA was born out of his deep religious convictions and desire to create a place for spiritual reflection and education.

As the years passed, Holy Land USA faced various challenges, including financial struggles and a decline in visitors. By the late 1980s, the park fell into a state of disrepair. Its closure in 1984 marked the end of an era for this unique destination. 

In 2014, the park found itself back in the news when a local arts organization embarked on a restoration project to revive Holy Land USA. While efforts were made to clean up the site and restore some of its religious displays, the park remains largely abandoned.

Spreepark: Abandoned in Berlin

test article image
Flickr

Developers put Spreepark on the banks of the River Spree in Berlin, Germany. The park, which has been closed for more than 20 years, originally opened in 1969 as Kulturpark Plänterwald, the park underwent a transformation in the early 1990s when Norbert Witte, an entertainment entrepreneur, took over. After undergoing a rebrand, the park featured a unique blend of East German nostalgia and new, imported rides, becoming the only amusement park in the former East Berlin.

Spreepark's allure, however, was short-lived. Financial difficulties, coupled with a series of legal troubles for Witte, led to the park's closure in 2001. The once-vibrant rides and attractions, including the iconic Ferris wheel and dinosaur-themed displays, were left to succumb to the encroaching forces of nature. Attempts were made to revive the park in the mid-2000s, but they proved unsuccessful.