abandoned amusement park

10

Dogpatch USA
Abandoned Amusement Park
Marble Falls, Arkansas

“Dogpatch USA was profitable in its first few years, and Odom expanded the park’s amenities. By the 1970 opening day, a motel consisting of 60 mobile-home units had been completed, and a funicular to carry guests from the parking lot to the park entrance was a few weeks away from completion. In 1971, Odom, who foresaw unlimited potential for the park, bought out most of the remaining investors for $700,000 and became, essentially, the owner. Several new attractions were added in time for the 1972 season opening, including an “Animal World” section with a sea lion exhibit and an aviary with exotic birds, a children’s water ride, and, as stated by the Harrison Daily Times, a “unique boat train ride.

Success seemed to be on the horizon for Odom and Dogpatch USA, but the many unforeseen events of the 1970s cast a dark shadow on Odom’s dreams. Attendance figures throughout that decade were woefully short of expectations. In 1973, interest rates began to skyrocket, and a nationwide energy crisis kept many tourists home. In a bout of cancellations nicknamed the Rural purge, American television networks eliminated many shows with country themes, and the popularity of hillbillies waned. The Li'l Abner restaurant chain was never built. The proposed Li'l Abner TV series was never made; a pilot was produced and premiered as a television special on ABC-TV, but it received poor reviews and no network purchased the series.”

Places where reality is a bit altered:

• any target
• churches in texas
• abandoned 7/11’s
• your bedroom at 5 am
• hospitals at midnight
• warehouses that smell like dust
• lighthouses with lights that don’t work anymore
• empty parking lots
• ponds and lakes in suburban neighborhoods
• rooftops in the early morning
• inside a dark cabinet

• playgrounds at night
• rest stops on highways
• deep in the mountains

• early in the morning wherever it’s just snowed
• trails by the highway just out of earshot of traffic
• schools during breaks
• those little beaches right next to ferry docks
• bowling alleys

• unfamiliar McDonalds’s on long road trips
• your friends living room once everybody but you is asleep
• laundromats at midnight

• galeries in art museums that are empty except for you
• the lighting section of home depot
• stairwells
• hospital waiting rooms
• airports from midnight to 7am
• bathrooms in small concert venues

• cemeteries
• abandoned penitentiaries
• hilltops at night in full moonlight
• most of Japan
• empty barns
• marshes
• really anywhere quiet at midnight, the air vibrates
• old stones and henge
• the ocean when it’s still quiet with fog over it
• train tracks that go through the middle of the woods
• bridges
• ancient places
• stands of old growth forest
• the Eastern Sierras/high desert

• rabbit paths off hiking tails
• trails between the main ski hills
• winter twilight
• back allies between houses
• logging roads
• dirt roads on fall evenings with leaves falling off the trees
• libraries before closing
• anyplace where it’s snowing before sunrise
• the woods during a rainstorm

• roads covered with snow with trees on the sideways while snowflakes are falling out of the sky
• train stations after 10 PM
• outside, right before a massive storm
• the woods just after twilight
• the beach in winter
• the bottom of swimming pools
• empty beaches when its snowing

• back part of a library
• late night empty streets
• highways late at night
• windy roads
• windy roads at night when you can only see the immediate road
• abandoned parking lots (office buildings, homes)
• anywhere immediately after a really bad fight
• little towns late at night when no ones awake and the only lights on are the street posts

• empty buses before sunrise/after sunset
• being the only one outside in the early morning when its almost dark and you feel alone on earth
• mountains with a big forest close to it
• being alone in a spot in ikea
• the lakeside anytime between 2 and 6 am
• firework shows when you’re sitting on the grass
• staring up at very tall buildings
• the tram at a big airport
• abandoned house by a lake

• being the only one downstairs on christmas  
• stepping outside in the early morning when it has just snowed
• when its dark and you see snowflakes falling down in the light of a lamppost on the lonely road
• that one clear spot in the forest with trees surrounding it
• a parked car in a snow/thunderstorm
• corn fields with the wind blowing over them
• malls when they’re about to close for the night
• woods at twilight/dawn
• being on a train after midnight
• theme parks at night

• winding back roads with rolling fog
• seeing “open” signs when its really foggy and cloudy
• being in a train that was crowded when you got in and now its quiet, looking at the seats knowing that there were people sitting there moments ago and now they’re gone
• hiking trails that have nobody on them
• being alone in an elevator for a few minutes
• looking down at the forest when you’re standing somewhere high and seeing the top of the trees with fog lingering over them
• the ferry about to take off in the middle of the night
• tree houses
• empty seats on the late night train
• 4-6 am on a winter morning

• the clouds/damp coming out of your mouth when its really cold in the morning
• stepping out on an unfamiliar metro/train stop
• greenhouses that have been left to grow alone
• cemeteries in the middle of fields
• biking/walking on the main road when its dark without cars
• swamps with fog
• hotel corridors in the middle of the night
• anywhere where you can hear a train whistle in the distance but you can’t see it or know just how far away it is
• foggy mornings in a meadow
• that flickering streetlight
• working offices at midnight

• abandoned amusement parks
• mirrors in an airplane bathroom
• being alone in a church
• empty hotel lobbies
• hearing trains off in the distance especially at night
• snow falling down in general
• being in a place thats supposed to have a lot of people but it doesn’t
• long, dark hallways
• the middle of a park when its snowing
• playgrounds at night
• work/school when you’re snowed in
• caves
• a field of power lines
• being in a forest where there are train tracks not knowing if the train may even ever approach
• bonfires

• being in a different room than everyone else at a party
• the woods on a night with a full moon
• empty stables
• empty metro stations that are usually crowded
• gas stations on long mountain roads
• the old part of a city when you’re the only one in the street
• stadiums when a game or concert is over
• entering a building with a really high ceiling
• moonlight, anywhere

• empty tennis or baseball courts with limited lightning
• times when you are transitioning from one phase to another
• lodges in the snow
• frozen water in the winter
• a little lake in the middle of the forest
• campus during summer
• family gatherings
• construction site after works have gone home
• leaving a tent at midnight
• lonely swings
• overgrown fields
• from twilight to dusk
• farmland thats covered in the morning fog
• suburban neighborhoods filled with tension and wind before a large summer thunderstorm
• being at an abandoned place knowing that years ago at that exact same moment there were people
• the feeling of being chased by someone/something
• knowing you’re not alone in a certain place like a forest

this feeling is scary as FUCK it dawns upon you that something is so quiet or abandoned or empty and vacant that its like the universe forgot to make something happen in the one spotlike you found a glitch in real life like everything seems fake and unreal and real and not fake all at one and youre so confused

the signs as abandoned places

ARIES Abandoned gas stations, beholders of tumbleweeds and roadside tales, filled with dead fuel yet frozen in time, eyes on the passengers with their hands and hair out the window, haunted by old desert songs and engines revving behind it.

TAURUS: Abandoned bars, stools turned over, a ripped flyer shouting BABES BABES BABES hanging off the bulletin board, a lost motorcycle tire, glass shattered, and the spirit of hell still living somewhere inside.

GEMINI Ghost towns, at the base of old mountains, houses with shutters like eyes and doors like mouths, swallowing stories whole, convenience stores still stocked with stale bread, cabins and headstones still peeking out from behind fairy wood brambles, nature stretching into steel, ready to come alive with a shift of the wind.

CANCER: Abandoned motels, empty pools filled with deflated flamingos, the sign out front screaming VACANCY forever, each room a different anthology of guest book tales, smashed television monitors and a love note ( or goodbye note ) caught up in the rust of the honeymoon suite.

LEO: Abandoned theaters, stages dented with the ghosts of performances past, torn scripts scattered across floorboards in a mess of Playbills and shattered eyeglasses, broken lights and tattered dress hems, mannequins poised at an eternal act one.

VIRGO Abandoned train stations, cars sprayed in a kaleidoscope of graffiti, drifters still starting fires in some of the shells, grass growing over old gears, ghost conductors with no destination, rails intersecting at odd angles like flowers and bones.

LIBRA Abandoned campgrounds, rattlesnakes and desert blues, dead hot and forgotten, a shelled-out RV and the dry lake where the kids used to play, swallowing up broken toys and flat tents, showers crawling with critters, vintage t-shirts printed with campground bears promising that it’s still “the happiest place on earth.”

SCORPIO Abandoned amusement parks, soggy coaster cars paused mid-ascension, cheap thrills and screams still stagnant in the air, ferris wheels trembling in the wind, clown faces distorted and torn down the middle, a mascot head smiling out from the overgrowth.

SAGITTARIUS Abandoned renaissance fairs, an acre out of time, fake pirate ships swinging, fairy wings trying to fly, dead flower crowns tangled with bright ribbons and peasant blouses shed by the lake, empty squares and old stage buildings, Arthur’s sword caught at the entry, still waiting to be pulled.

CAPRICORN Abandoned toy stores, broken pinball machines, ghost clowns, and popped balloons, playing cards stuck to the floor, a crooked house of childhood horrors, teddy bears bleeding stuffing, and a funhouse mirror distorting the distorted. 

AQUARIUS: Abandoned piers, driftwood split down the middle, coastline the last alive thing, neon lights still calling Gatsby home from the horizon, but promising only the ghosts of mermaids washed ashore, tires and bottles filled with sand, dead trees spouting from old rocks, branches a wind chime of ripped dresses, forks, and seashells on strings.

PISCES: Abandoned waterparks, slides overlooking entire old cities, perfect for climbing, hoses and pools now scrawled over and used as skateboard ramps, kids climbing over the old towers and ladders in their bathing suits when it rains, pure want as their tickets in, yelling, “We’re still here, we’re still here, we’re still here!”

7

Lake Shawnee Amusement Park (Princeton, West Virginia) 

ADDRESS: 4213 Beckley Road, Princeton, West Virginia 24740 USA

COORDINATES: 37.406050, -81.142372

Lake Shawnee Amusement Park was established around 1920 by Conley T. Snidow. The amusement park was abandoned in 1966.

This amusement park is called “The Cursed Park”, and for good reason. On the amusement park grounds, archaeologists discovered a massive Native American grave complete with several artifacts. Thirteen bodies were discovered on the property, though archaeologists believe the number could be upwards of 3,000. Many people attribute a curse to the mass grave, which could explain the six deaths that occurred in the amusement park during its years of operation, including a six-year-old girl being hit by a truck on the swingsets in the last photo. 

The current owner, Gaylord White II, says even he’s experienced strange unexplainable sights, feelings, and especially sounds. In 2005 while filming the popular ABC show Scariest Places on Earth, the entire crew, including one psychic, refused to set foot on the grounds at night, saying that the “spiritual energy [was] too strong,” and claiming to have heard drums and chanting.

WDW TBT - River Country in Florida

February 5, 2015

Today’s Throw-Back-Thursday is for a now abandoned water park here in Central Florida.  River Country at Walt Disney World was a seasonal park located near the Fort Wilderness Lodge. This first water park at WDW opened on June 20, 1976 and ceased operations on November 2, 2001. Four years later, Disney announced it would stay closed permanently. With Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon now open (they both opened in the ‘80’s), one more water park, especially a very old and small one, just isn’t necessary. In the almost 15 years since Its closure, the park is decrepit and falling apart; an epitome of a ghost park.

(Above: River Country when open)

Surprisingly, while I was raised here in Central Florida and went to WDW a lot, often camping in Ft. Wilderness, I never went to River Country. The water park looked like it was designed as some kind of cross between Tom Sawyer and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad; “an old-fashioned swimming hole” was Its theme; right down to the tire swings and rope bridges. Of course, back when it was created, the Imagineers didn’t understand the possible repercussions of some of their design choices. Such as, damming Bay Lake and using untreated, though filtered, fresh water for the park. This resulted in a water-born disease (with a 95% fatality rate) that killed at least one child.

(Above: Goofy was the official River Country Mascot)

(Below: The same slide today)

The park continued struggling on, barely making a profit with the competition of the two, newer water parks. Then, citing declining tourism rates everywhere after 9/11, the decision was to close the park, with a possibility of reopening at some point. However, that idea was abandoned in 2005 when Disney announced it would not reopen. It may also have had to do with “a change in Florida laws, which prohibited unchlorinated natural water bodies from being used for water park attractions”. [Wikipedia] It would have taken major overhauling to accomplish this change, and it just wasn’t worth it.

(Above: Main swimming hole then, a fresh-water lake… Below: and today)

Want to hear something REALLY creepy? The park has been closed 14 years. Occasionally, people sneak in to the park, taking pictures or video. Let’s face it…who ISN’T intrigued by abandoned amusement parks? I’ve got a whole board on my Pinterest page dedicated to just that subject! ( www.pinterest.com/guinnesswench )More than one person reports that path lights, water fountains, and plumbing still work and the park’s banjo MUSIC IS STILL PLAYING. Here’s a video of two guys who snuck in at twilight. Eerie. 

(listen for the music about 3 minutes into the clip)

I haven’t been able to find any reason why the park was simply abandoned instead of being demolished. Most of the park was left in place, even towel boxes, rafts, etc., as if it fully planned to reopen for business. You would think that demolishing it would be preferable both for a liability issue (you just know at some point, some idiot is going to sneak in and get killed) and an environmental one. I can tell you, it doesn’t take long for things that are left neglected in Florida to be reclaimed by swamp. I just can’t believe the deterioration doesn’t hurt the environment. And why not use the land to create something useful?

(Water slides and pool then and now)

At any rate, if you never made it to River Country, it has to go on the “Things you’ll never see again at Disney” list. Then head over to Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon for a bigger and better water park.

(Above: What remains of River Country)