Defunct Theme Parks I Wish I Could Have Visited

Long-time followers of this blog will know that I'm not a huge fan of the type of theme park enthusiasm that clings to the ideals of the past, pining through rose-tinted glasses for the 'good old days' in a way that is detrimental to their enjoyment of any new venture. I find it reductive and dismissive of the exciting changes and innovation that have always been synonymous with the world of theme parks, and also limiting. If we only focus on the past there's only a finite list of things to focus on, whereas the present and the future offer endless possibilities. 

But that said, there are certainly moments in theme park history that indeed warrant memorialising, whether that be through a YouTube channel dedicated to defunct attractions or an Instagram account dedicated to sharing awesome old imagery of attractions from days gone, there's certainly tons of exciting stuff to get stuck into. Perhaps the most obsessed over on the internet by enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike are the legendary theme parks of yonder - places that exist now as only memories, anecdotes and a shared nostalgic longing for the ability to go back for just one more ride - or indeed just blind-curiosity from those of us who were not lucky enough to ever make a visit ourselves. Today's blog post is all about six defunct theme parks I wish I could have visited for myself!

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Kicking things off with the grand-daddy of defunct theme parks, Geauga Lake sounds like a RollerCoaster Tycoon scenario gone terribly wrong. Everything about it sounds like it should never have been a thing, but for a short while it very much was, and arguably helped shape the state of Ohio's obsession with coaster-heavy amusement parks to this day. You can find an awesome video that goes into far more detail than I will here about Geauga Lake here

It's not so much any particular ride I was interested in trying for myself at Geauga Lake. Having been owned by Cedar Fair in its final days, all the 'good' stuff was redistributed to other attractions owned by the company. No, my fascination with this place is what a behemoth it was. A theme park frankenstein, if you will. At what I would argue is the park's most interesting era, it was owned by Six Flags, who decided to absorb the adjacent SeaWorld Ohio (yes, THAT SeaWorld) to create a kind of mega-amsuement park/aquarium combo. Needless to say it was too big for its boots and the park was officially closed in 2007, but what I wouldn't give for a day at was for me is the epitome of American noughties excess before it all came crashing down 2008 and beyond. Sigh. 


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This is a park I will always kick myself over not visiting as it was very much alive and kicking when I visited Japan back in 2015, but sadly it didn't fit our schedule. Looking like a leftover of the 90s space/computer game obsession, Space World was, as I'm sure you may have guessed, a theme park with a space theme. The place was littered with what can only be described as the RollerCoaster Tycoon space theming pack - giant rockets, crashed UFOs, retro arcade fonts and pop-culture sci-fi inspired facades were the name of the game. The place kind of looked like something out of a 90s anime. 

And being the huge Stealth fan I am, I'm gutted I wasn't able to ride Zaturn - a mirror image near clone of the Thorpe Park-based Intamin accelarator (yep you read that right, Stealth had a clone!) And that's not mentioning the log flume themed to alien invasion, Arrow hyper-coaster Titan MAX whose angular bunny hills look like they could give Magnum XL-200 a run for their money and a figure-8 type coaster known as Boogie-woogie Space Coaster (peak Japanese coaster naming if I ever saw it!) The whole place just looked amazingly retro in the best way and it's such a shame it didn't make it past its 2017 season after operating for almost 30 years.


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Growing up in the nineties in the UK, theme parks were very much a staple of any school holiday period. We were very much a dedicated Tussauds family without even realising it - being located in the south Thorpe Park and Chessington were the go to, with a special once-every-couple-of-years visit to Alton Towers thrown in to shake things up. But we were aware of the 'other' parks too - frequenting Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Camelot, Drayton Manor, Frontierland and Blackgang Chine to name but a few. But one eluded me - the now legendary American Adventure! And so I guess this one is a bit of nostalgia-envy. 

Whenever the discussion of defunct UK theme parks comes up you can guarantee some love will be shown to American Adventure. People will indulge in reminiscing about glorious days wandering around the lake, enjoying the various 'Western' themed lands and taking on iconic British rides like the terrifying sounding Nightmare Niagara (once the tallest log flume in the UK!), and the gut-wrenching Missile, surely the most daunting ride at the park to any 90s kid! Basically, everybody seems to have really lovely, fond memories of this place and I'm jealous I never got to experience it for myself as we chose to go to Drayton Manor that year instead. 

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Listen, let me go on the record as saying this place sounded absolutely horrendous and it's incredibly sad to hear about those whose lives were affected by injuries sustained at Action Park. But, putting the 2021 hindsight aside, Action Park is absolutely legendary and in an ideal world where nobody was really hurt it's somewhere I would have loved to have visited myself. Whenever I read about it or watch documentaries about the place it reminds me so much of the kind of thing I would try and build in my back garden out of slides, trampolines and paddling pools in the summer, but on a larger scale. Everything about it is just absolutely wild, and I would have loved the chance to take on the Tarzan swing or the slides that dump you over the cliff edge into a pool. 

And of course, I would definitely have taken a chance on the iconic Alpine Slide. One of the things I get most frustrated about on alpine coasters is they almost feel a little too restrained, and I'd hazard a guess that Action Park's Alpine Slide would have absolutely none of that. But most of all it's just the vibe, the atmosphere of the place looked absolutely amazing - like the stuff of 90s teen movies, the great American summer that only existed on the big screen, except here it was actually real. Something like that is almost impossible to capture and it's for that reason I'm quite so obsessed with it. 

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OK so yes there is a Luna Park still operating in this location in Brooklyn but I'm specifically referring to the location's heyday in the early 1900s. And my god it sounded gloriously chaotic. In my brain the whole place plays out like a Baz Luhrmann movie - everyone moving around like an old-timey flickery movie with fast edits and crazy music. But in all seriousness, the EXCESS of this place is what draws me to it - at it's peak the place attracted millions of visitors a year and actually consisted of several independently operated amusement park type attractions - imagine Orlando but with more debauchery and chaos. And a brothel housed inside a giant elephant. 

And the array of attractions - dark rides, illusions, freak shows, animals, ghost trains, and of course roller coasters! Honestly it just sounds like the most fun I'll ever have that I'll never actually get to have. From the photos it all looks so decadent and grand. I'm fully aware that if those pictures were taken in HD we'd be able to see that it was probably quite rough around the edges but I'm choosing to disregard reality to indulge my fantasy for a moment. The fact we'll likely never seen anything like this again makes me so sad. Any excellent mini-documentary on this place can be watched here. 

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If you're any kind of Disney Parks fan then you've surely heard of Nara Dreamland - the strange Disney 'rip-off' theme park in Japan that seems as close to an imitation of Disneyland as one could get without being sued. This place had a Main Street USA, fairytale castle, Matterhorn mountain coaster with skyway going through the centre, a monorail and a Disneyland style railroad. But it's all kind of..crusty and weird. It's like if Disneyland were in the Upside Down. Strangest part is it actually started life as a kind of 'franchised' Disneyland, working in collaboration with the Disney company proper before communications fell through. 

Truly though, as much as the morbid side of me wanted to go and see the weirdness firsthand, this place did boast a few great looking rides, namely the massive Intamin wooden coaster Aska (which was certainly NOT inspired by the original Disneyland!) This thing genuinely looked fantastic and I remember reading a Theme Park Review trip report of the place that confirmed thus. 

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But, sadly, these place exist now only as a memory and an itch that can never be scratched. But hey, such is life and honestly I'm grateful for all the parks I have been able to visit! Doesn't mean I can't indulge in some wishful thinking every now and then though. 

So tell me, did you visit any of these parks? What were they like? And what now-defunct park do you wish you could have visited? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to have a chat!

Talk later xoxo,

1 comments

  1. I wish I could've gone to Hard Rock Park, Freedomland, Six Flags Astroworld, Opryland, and Riverview Park Chicago

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