In the year 1961, a theme park was built in Nara as a response to the popular California Disneyland, and it was called Nara Dreamland. The park looked almost identical to Disneyland: its entrance looked the same, and there is a fairy tale castle. However, due to the declining number of visitors every year, the park had to be closed for good in 2006. The once happy place looked like an abandoned ghost town, like something out of a haunted nightmare.
Nara Dreamland was built as a pay-as-you-go park. The popular rides included the following: Aska, Screw Coaster, Bobsleigh, Fantasy Coaster, Kid’s Coaster, and a Figure-8 monorail. Other smaller rides include a carousel, a small coaster, a log flume (a ride with a water flume and hollow logs or boats) and a Jungle-Cruise style ride (a riverboat ride down several rivers). There even was a Sleeping Beauty Castle which was structured around the center of the park, just like in Disneyland. It tried to and succeeded in replicating the ‘Disneyland feel’.
Another attraction were its mascots named Ran-chan and Dori-chan, who portrayed child-like characters. They were dressed up like British Royal guards and were fondly adored by the many children visiting the place.
Due to the permanently low number of visitors yearly, the theme park closed on August 31, 2006. After it was abandoned, everything quickly turned to rust. Some claimed that several booths were still standing, as well as food machines and chairs. The land wasn’t sold or renovated in any way, and you were able to see the carriages of the roller coaster sitting on their tracks. This gave visitors an eerie feeling that urban explorers (also called ‘haikyoists’) who try to venture the place will experience. In 2016 it was torn down completely, and now there is nothing left to see.
Nara Dreamland, once a happy place, will never be forgotten. As there are no plans yet for the future, it will remain one of the decaying visions of misplaced dreams.
If you want to read about the experience of an urban adventurer that went to the park after it closed (which is not legal by the way), you can click here.