These abandoned theme parks are super creepy

Whether you see them as poignant relics of the past, or simply as urban playgrounds for the daring, abandoned theme parks have an unmistakably macabre draw to them, like a childhood long forgotten. You can almost hear the ghostly laughter of the past echoing through the dark corridors and twisted steel skeletons on an errant breeze. But look beyond the creepy photos and eerily creaking Ferris wheels, and you'll find that many of these abandoned theme parks hide chilling secrets more spine-tingling than a sweater full of spiders.

Gulliver's Kingdom

At the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan, there is a 145-foot-tall man tied to the ground, and that's probably the most mundane part of Gulliver's Kingdom, a sprawling amusement park modeled after Jonathan Swift's novel, Gulliver's Travels. In its heyday, the park drew in tourists who came for the picturesque views of Mt. Fuji, but bankruptcy forced Gulliver's Kingdom to close in 2001. It featured a quaint village, the aforementioned massive concrete statue of Gulliver himself, and a bobsled track (because why not?).

More than anything, the park's unfortunate location caused visitation numbers to dwindle. For one, the park was built on the edge of Japan's infamous Aokigahara Forest, more popularly known as the Suicide Forest. (In 2003 alone, 105 bodies were found in the nearby woods.) Unfortunately for Ol' Gully, the region also has another deathly legacy — it was the base of operations for the Japanese terror cult Aum Shinrikyo. Allegedly, their headquarters there was where they produced the Sarin gas used in the 1995 Tokyo subway attacks.

Disney's River Country

In the late '70s, Disney was the hot kid on the block. Following the blistering success of Disney World, the Imagineers set their sights on a different sort of attraction: a backwoods river getaway in the Florida swampland. Built in 1976, the park actually did pretty well. It rolled along until 2005, then closed its doors suddenly and without explanation. Rumors about the sudden closing abounded. At least two children drowned in the park, but the most common explanation was that the park's water facilities had become infected with Naegleria fowleria, an amoeba that swims up through a person's nose and eats away pieces of their brain until they die.

For whatever reason, Disney shut the park down, then seemingly forgot about it. It's now become an overgrown jungle where dingy water slides still wind through the encroaching trees, and the pools lay dormant, filled with murky green water that definitely, most likely, probably, maybe hides some kind of human-murdering Black Lagoon monster.

Spreepark

Germany's Spreepark was built in former East Berlin, just after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Today, it's a gutted, rusting remnant of the post-unification economic splurge. A Ferris wheel looms over the trees, beached pirate ships are slowly disappearing under creeping vines, and a lone roller coaster track runs into the gaping mouth of a graffiti-covered monster.

In 1989, a carnival worker named Norbert Witte was given the contract to build the park. It was a popular attraction until the mid-'90s, then slowly sank into a sea of insolvency. It closed in 2001, and in 2003, Witte was arrested when police found a reported 167 kilograms of Peruvian cocaine inside the mast of one of the rides, the Flying Carpet. He was given eight years in prison, then moved back onto the Spreepark grounds when he was released.

Spreepark is supposed to be a good spot for urban exploration … if you're willing to risk running into an ex-drug-runner carnie who lives alone inside a dead theme park, that is. And if you are, you're probably a Great Dane in a tie-dyed van. Ruh-roh.

Holy Land USA

Holy Land USA, located in Waterbury, Connecticut, is a weird place. It was weird even before it was abandoned, but more of a religious-fervor weird than the creepy, satanic weird it showcases now.

The park was built in 1957 by a man named John Greco, then closed for good when Greco died in 1987. Being the work of one man, the park is sprawling, confusing, and erratic. Greco pieced the whole thing together with parts he scavenged at junkyards, and over time, the Bible-themed attraction sprang to unholy life over a whopping 170 acres. The ruins included a whole Hebrew village, hollow churches, Jesus in the act of dying, and random signs printed with rusted scriptures throughout the park. And in 2010, a 16-year-old girl was stabbed to death under a giant neon cross. Maybe it's better for everyone that these spooky ruins were finally purchased in 2013 with plans to renovate the land, although as of this writing, the old buildings are still standing.

Kejonuma Leisure Land

At its peak in the '80s, more than 200,000 tourists flocked to Kejonuma Leisure Land each year. Located in central Japan, Leisure Land boasted a small-but-impressive collection of fairground rides that kept the park humming for over 20 years, until it finally shut down in 2000. Now, it's been reclaimed by nature. Most of the rides are still standing, although they've been crippled by rust and choking weeds in the intervening years. Visit it at night, and it's easily one of the eeriest abandoned parks in the world, but there's another reason locals prefer not to visit the ruins: a supposed ancient curse on the land.

As the legend goes, there's a small pond just outside the theme park that holds the tormented soul of a young mother. She lived near the pond, and one day found that she was pregnant. Instead of a child, though, she gave birth to a snake, which slithered into the pond and called out to her. Driven insane by her snake-child's cries, the woman dove into the pond and committed suicide. Even the name of the region itself, Kejonuma, translates to "pond of the ghost woman."

Blub Water Park

You wouldn't guess it from the name, but Blub was once one of Germany's most popular water parks. It ran for two decades before an unlikely invader forced the owner to drain the pools and lock everyone out. Sometime in the late '90s, Blub was overrun by rats. The park fought the vermin back and managed to shamble along for another few years, but it was a losing battle, especially once the public realized what was happening. When little Gunter swims out of Splash Castle with a tiny rat-turd stuck to his cheek, it's time to take your family elsewhere.

And that's what everyone did. In 2002, Blub declared bankruptcy and abandoned the massive facility to the rats living in its walls. Now, it has all the eerie charm you'd expect from a derelict water park … huge in-ground pools, empty swimming grottoes, and dried-up water slides that end in a long drop to unforgiving tile.

Dadipark

Dadipark, in the West Flanders region of Belgium, was never huge. Life for the park began in 1950, and over the course of the next half-century, amidst a flurry of ownership changes, attendance steadily declined. The park managed to stay afloat until 2000, when one of the rides ripped off a boy's arm. That tragic accident was the straw that broke Dadipark's back, and two more years of falling attendance forced the park to shut down forever.

It was originally supposed to be a temporary closure, for the park to reassess itself, but since 2002, it's been totally empty except for photographers and urban explorers. Most of the attractions were still standing when Dadipark was finally slated for demolition in 2012.

Expoland

In 2007, Japan's Expoland was the pinnacle of modern thrills, a thriving amusement park on par with the likes of Six Flags and Busch Gardens. For more than 30 years it had drawn visitors from all over Japan, and then tragedy struck in the most horrifying possible way. On May 5, the leading car of the Fujin Raijin II roller coaster flew off the rails. The accident killed a 19-year-old girl and injured nearly 20 other people, and the park never recovered.

Slowly but surely, people stopped coming, and in 2009 Expoland closed its doors for good. The park still looks much as it did when it closed — it's just … empty. Forlorn and haunting, a visit to the amusement park is like strolling into Disneyland the day after the end of the world.

Chippewa Lake Park

If you approached Chippewa Lake Park before 2010, the first thing you would have seen was a ancient roller coaster rail peeking over the tops of the trees, like the hand of a giant beckoning you closer. By then, the park had been derelict for over three decades, after being abandoned in 1978. For years, the old roller coasters, Ferris wheel, and buildings slid beneath the choking underbrush, and then a spat of arson in the early 2000s burned most of the larger structures to the ground.

In 2010, the property was sold, and partially demolished, before everything came to a halt over a lawsuit. The rest of the former amusement park now sits in the twilight of death, waiting for someone to finish putting it out of its misery. And speaking of death, there's supposedly an unmarked grave hiding somewhere amid the towering, skeletal structures of Chippewa Lake Park, like an Easter Egg from Hell. The park's final owner, Parker Beach, allegedly requested to be buried in the park he'd loved so much. Whether or not it ever happened is up for debate, but it's definitely not something you want to think about as you poke through the overgrown ruins, in the final moments of daylight.

Lake Shawnee Amusement Park

Located in the dismal, drab mountains of West Virginia, Lake Shawnee Amusement Park is a shell of its former self. Bare iron framework rises out of the tall weeds, thick woodland edges closer every day, and the gray, uniform peaks of distant mountains watch over the whole thing from afar, like disapproving grandparents rethinking their will.

And that's all before you get to the ghost stories. Consistently rated one of the most terrifying places on Earth, legend holds that Lake Shawnee Amusement Park was built on the same land where a farmer's three young children were murdered by Shawnee warriors. Enraged, the farmer murdered a few of them back, and their bodies all wound up buried on the farm. A century and a half later, the land was re-purposed into an amusement park, and that's when more children started dying. The first was a little girl, killed in a freak accident when a truck backed into a ride while she was on it. The second was a boy who walked into Lake Shawnee and drowned himself.

These days, ghost hunters claim that you can still hear the children's ghosts laughing, and the current owner said that he's seen the little girl wandering the abandoned park at night, blood pouring down her pink dress. Freaky.