Happy memories are made in theme parks. The life-sized tea cups, thrilling rollercoasters, and fairy tale structures do not disappoint kids as well as the grown-ups. When Disneyland Park opened in Anaheim, California in 1955, many theme parks opened up around the world capitalizing on this dreamlike adventure. While others had a strong visitor turnout, others had a short-lived run. Nara Dreamland in Japan opened its doors in 1961 but closed in 2006. At its prime, Nara Dreamland had bubble-gum coloured merry-go-rounds, souvenir shops, and just about every ride available at that time. Instead of demolishing the theme park, Dreamland has been left abandoned and closed off to the public. The location is patrolled to avoid people jumping the fence and vandalizing this once happy place. Still, photographer Romain Veillon took a risk and trespassed to catch a glimpse of what the park looks like now.
Businessman Kunizu Matsuo visited Disneyland in the 1950’s. He was so impressed with what he saw, he wanted to bring that type of family fun to Japan.
Initially, Disneyland was involved in the concept of having their theme park in Japan. Talks failed when the two parties could not agree on the licensing fees to use the famous Disney characters
Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983, this is when Nara Dreamland number of visitors began to decline.
When Universal Studios Japan opened 40 kilometres away from Nara Dreamland, it sealed the theme park’s fate.
Romain Veillon is an expert in photographing old, abandoned buildings, churches, and state homes.
The Parisian has travelled the world to capture the eerie and fascinating state things are left in.
The 32-year-old used to play as a child in abandoned buildings close to his grandparents’ home.
Veillon does not like to give off the address of the locations he photographs as he wants to avoid any type of vandalizing.
The shutterbug admitted he didn’t have to jump a fence, he went in through the front gate.
He included the Dreamland photos in his book, Ask the Dust.
It may appear scary that the structures seem to be reclaimed by nature, Veillon finds the experience quite peaceful.
These teacups are surrounded by ivy adds to the magical feel.
“When you think about all the good memories that were made there, you get nostalgic about the time when the park was full of joy and people,” says Veillon.
The wooden roller coaster Aska, was the main attraction. It is believed the Cyclone roller coaster in New York’s Coney Island served as the inspiration.
A metal roller coaster was also installed in the theme park.
The park feels like it was left behind in an apocalyptic event.
Some say the theme park is haunted. Trespassers say they can hear noises of gates being opened.
There are two theories for the unexplained noises. One is that it is a nearby running water pump and the second is the American bullfrogs.
Last year the municipality sold Dreamland to a real estate company. There has not been any movement of crew workers or demolition machines as of yet.