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Nightmare Fuel / Theme Parks

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Now who doesn't love theme parks? They're some of the best places to go to for escapism, excitement, and fun.

... except when there's something in the park that will scare your pants off. And it's made worse because of the fact that here, you're not watching something scary on a TV screen as usual. Here, you're right in the middle of it.

Whether it be some ride about ghosts or the undead, Halloween park events, stuff that wasn't meant to be creepy but ended up being anyway, or even entire parks that have been left abandoned and are now rotting away, you will find all sorts of examples here. Solo-attractions that aren't at any theme parks, especially including haunted house attractions, will also be covered here.


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    Fort Edmonton Park's Halloween Spooktacular 
Fort Edmonton Park. Ah, that little old folksy historic museum park in Edmonton, Canada. It's always a fun and happy go lucky place, right? Except for Halloween season, when for two nights near the end of the month of October, a collective of ghouls ranging from student-age to adults decide to turn the place into a spooky good times then it's downright terrifying. The show has always been aimed at people aged 16 and over, though in recent times they have made it a bit more kid-friendly (the 2014 season, however, will be making it a bit Darker and Edgier).

  • 2010 was focused entirely on zombies, with the whole park being turned into a battlegrounds against the dead. Tons of gore and grotesque makeup was to be seen, and a once-awesome zombie fighter with a battling gun.
  • 2011's season was undoubtedly the scariest yet. The theme was the Carnival of Lost Souls. Two houses in particular stand out:
    • The Clown Asylum, where the asylum was overrun with crazy clowns, and then you got to the very end... A Joker-esque clown with an extremely grotesque smile and a chainsaw appears and chases you out while laughing hysterically.
    • The puppet house was extremely grotesque and morbid, with the concept of people being turned into puppets and involving tons of brutal torture- the female actress' screams were realistic and scary enough to cause people to walk out of the house.
  • And then there was 2013... which featured:
    • "The Haunt", which was a Paranormal Activity style tour that relied heavily on Nothing Is Scarier in all three examples and actually worked. The entire 1885 Street area was used for it, and drifting from one building to another was nothing short of uncomfortable when it was that dark out. The story concerned a woman who had been abused by the whole town and committed suicide, and the hosts brought you to where she frequented. At one point you were brought to a bridge where the ghost of said woman appeared behind you and screamed at you... and as a nice Surprise Ending, you were brought back to Egge's, where you were trapped in a house full of screaming children and strobe lights.
    • The Dollhouse on 1905 also relied on Nothing Is Scarier and achieved it to a chilling effect. An old woman lives in a house full of dolls, some of which are actually living humans. Before you enter, you are asked if you've seen two girls and are shown a photo of them. The woman's daughter makes her entrance by shouting, "MOMMEEEEE!!! I DON'T LIKE THIS DOLLY ANYMORE, HE IS UGLY! I WANT A TALL ONE!". You are then brought to the kitchen, where said two girls are sitting at the table, and one utters, at one point, "help me...". The little girl soon grabs a syringe, and goes for you... before the lights turn out and you hear a scream. There's also a surprise ending here too; a SWAT team bursts in to seize the premises, which happens so quickly it caused some people to doubt it actually happened.
    • The rovers on 1905 street were worth a mention too; one being an adolescent boy who was a zombie and would literally charge after some people down the whole street, and a burn victim who spoke in a Walter White voice and threatening tone, while limping in a menacing manner.

     Other Theme Parks 
  • The infamous Action Park that operated from 1978 to 1996 in Vernon Township, New Jersey, known for being a real life Amusement Park of Doom. One of the nation's first water parks, it was known for having inattentive, underage employees and poorly designed, unsafe rides, including a looping water slide. By the time it was closed, six people were documented to have died directly or indirectly from rides in the park, in such brutal ways as ride cars coming off the tracks and colliding with rocks, drowning, a heart attack caused by too-cold water, and electrocution.
  • Adventureland in Long Island, New York once had a haunted house ride called 1313 Cemetery Way. Sitting over its exit was the iconic animatronic Haunted Tree with an owl on top. After the owl said, "I wouldn't go in there if I were you!", the tree would taunt guests by waving its limbs and replying, "Why not? What's wrong with a little fun in the dark at Adventureland?" Later on in the ride's life, a chainsaw-wielding mannequin was placed in one of the windows and the tree would say, "Chainsaw? I don't like chainsaws, I once had a close shave with one and by the way if I get my limbs on you!" Sweet dreams.
  • The Atlantis Aquarium and Water Park in Mexico City used to have a motion simulator built like a bathysphere, which would seat a small group and take its passengers on a short, "underwater" adventure. But during the journey, the submarine encounters difficulties, smashes into the ocean floor, and springs several leaks (tiny amounts of pressurized water were released from the bulkhead.) Worst of all, the dorsal hatch breaks open, and an animatronic white shark pops its head in to menace the audience while the ride operator (the "captain") struggles to push it back outside. Combine the dark, cramped, and claustrophobic environment with the all-too-realistic leaks, and then add a huge chomping shark right above your head, and it's no wonder that this ride freaked some people out.
  • Chessington World of Adventures has a few examples:
    • The park's Transylvania area, which has a floorless, inverted rollercoaster called Vampire with a very creepy station queue line, that includes an animatronic organist on the pipes. In addition, the ride music happens to have the sounds of screams mixed in with crashes of lightning and thunder in the background.
    • Professor Burp's Bubbleworks is very much nightmare fuel. Especially the evil bubble with feet in its mouth and the terrifying "Pressure Room". Not to mention the creepy-looking animatronic figure of Professor Burp at the start and the end of the ride.
    • Terror Tomb counts for this as well, for there are many animatronic mummies, silhouettes of flying axes, the like and a skeleton playing a rock tune whilst the antagonist protagonist Abdab is murdered.
  • Kennywood Park used to have a dark ride called The Gold Rusher — that, among its many scenes, included one of a Giant Spider menacing a Damsel in Distress, with there being another large spider that would drop down from the ceiling right above the riders. Was certainly not a recommended experience for arachnophobes.
    • Kenywood Park's Noah Ark used to present you a scary and more realistic take on the Noah's Ark story after simulating an elevator crash. You walk through a cave full of skeletons of those who did not make it, then were teased with an outdoor portion which is pretty much the attraction telling you "Do you want out? Well too bad!". Then you walk into the Ark itself and walk past Noah and his animals. You walk downstairs into a dark hallway and a glowing monkey face starts flashing right in front of you to make you jump. You walk over shaking floorboards, cross a bridge through a tilting room, and a snake tries to break out of the glass its in to make you jump one more time. You enter a waiting room full of Hall of Mirrors style mirrors and then the door opens to let you in the last room which is a water chamber. A voice tells you that you will be brought back to safety and will be able to exit back into Kennywood Park. Then pipe starts to leak and a mechanic's voice starts denying the leak and freaking out as the leak starts flooding the room. Then the door opens up and lets you exit the ride. Alot of kids that went on this thought that the ark actually was sinking and that they were going to be stuck there forever. In 2016, it was renovated to be more like a traditional fun house with a whale's mouth being the entrance replacing the elevator.
  • In Linnanmäki, a Finnish amusement park, there was once a ride called Fairy Tale Castle, which involved dolls dancing and waving along a children's song. Unfortunately, after a few years of use, the dolls started to break down. It was probably quite traumatic for children to witness dolls lacking body parts such as eyes, legs, arms and even heads jerk in a very creepy way with the already distorted music. For obvious reasons, the ride is no longer in use.
  • The entrance to both Luna Park Sydney and Melbourne have guests walking through the mouth of a giant, grinning clown face.
  • The Transdémonium ride at Parc Asterix is quite scary despite its low budget effects. One memorable part involves car stopping for about 5 seconds (so one is fooled into thinking it's broken down) next to a merry go round/carousel made entirely out of bones, including the horses and riders.
  • Rock City — a nice, peaceful park dedicated to nature's beauty, right? Right. Until you try to get out. For decades the only exit was through a cave whimsically named Fairyland Caverns, in which young impressionable minds will be treated to creepy dioramas of the various fairy tales, lit with dark lights and eerie glowing paint and eternally trapped behind rusting bars.
  • Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri is a mostly harmless amusement park based around pioneer life in the Ozark region. The Fire in the Hole ride, however, has become rather infamous among parkgoers. Based around the story of Marmaros (now Marvel Lake) in the Ozark mountains, the ride is a mix between a dark ride and roller coaster showing off stories about the town's creation and history. The problem is that the ride's content was never updated in the original version's 51-year run, and it definitely showed. The jerky, corpse-like animatronics (including a downright horrifying one of a Baldknobber - a vigilante group from the town's infancy that wore terrifying costumes - firing a cannon at the train cars) combined with the rather bizarre stories surrounding Marmaros made for a truly unnerving experience. It's become something of a cult favorite with older patrons, but probably isn't the best ride for younger kids.
  • Thorpe Park's Saw: The Ride, which is themed to the Saw franchise of horror movies and was even marketed as the world's first horror-movie themed rollercoaster. The theming, while nowhere near as gory as the traps in the actual films, is nevertheless suggestive enough that it was rumored during construction that the ride would have a minimum age of 15 to ride in addition to the 1.4 meter height restriction, but this turned out to be false.
    • The actual coaster itself is pretty intense too. The indoor section has a barrel roll and a surprise near-vertical drop of about 30 feet while the first drop of the ride is a "beyond vertical" drop at 100 degrees that passes underneath some spinning saw blades.
  • The German theme park Phantasialand had the Hollywood Tour ride, which had a section based on Jaws, which involved a fisherman in a dingy sinking into the dark water, followed by a few sharks, whose rotten, poorly maintained appearance arguably made them more creepy. Not soon after, a Giant Spider animatronic appeared, which your ride vehicles actually passed under. Heck, the whole ride could be considered creepy, due to the dark atmosphere (including films that really shouldn't be dark, such as The Wizard of Oz) and the Unintentional Uncanny Valley of the busted up animatronics.
  • Justice League: Battle for Metropolis in Six Flags: Great Adventure, among other parks, while also extremely cool, has several extremely creepy moments. To start, before you even get on the ride, Joker and Lex Luthor reveal that they have already captured Supergirl, Green Lantern, the Flash and now Wonder Woman, leaving only Cyborg, who acts as Mission Control, Batman and Superman left. Once you are actually on the ride, things start simple, with the riders blasting Mooks and Lexbots, until you run into Joker, who proceeds to blast you with Joker Venom, while your cart speeds up and sends you past flaming barrels and toxic ones that nearly tip onto the riders!

     Abandoned Theme Parks 
  • This Katrina-ravaged Six Flags in New Orleans. The fact that the soundtrack is Godspeed You! Black Emperor just enhances it.
  • Here's American Adventure Park in 1987 and here is what's left of it now.
  • Abandoned amusement parks in Asia.
  • There's also Nara Dreamland, a Disneyland knock-off that went out of business in 2006 and was left abandoned and desolate for about ten years.
  • The amusement park in Pripyat, now a ghost town due to being close to Chernobyl.
  • The former Geauga Lake amusement park in Aurora, Ohio. It closed very suddenly at the end of the season in 2007 and every ride was promptly torn down and moved to other amusement parks owned by the same company, along with every building being torn down. Seeing footage of the park in the present-day is haunting. Every sidewalk and path inside the park still exists, twisting past hollow foundations where buildings used to live, and concrete footers where rides used to stand, but the only living thing running the paths is the grass and other foliage gradually overtaking it. The paths even still have their old themes such as Snoopy Town. The only things still standing are the half-demolished main entrance, across a desolate parking lot, and a historic roller coaster called the Big Dipper, standing but not used since the park closed and also overgrown with weeds and run down. To top it off, until fall 2016 it was right across a lake of the same name from a bustling water park named Wildwater Kingdom owned by the same company as Geauga Lake in its final years and opened in 2005. The eerie empty amusement park with the Big Dipper was visible from inside the water park over the lake, until the water park closed for good as well in fall 2016, allowing the entire park to be redeveloped into something new at last.
    • The ruined park is (or was) not only even more horrifying, but also quite tragic for those familiar with Geauga Lake. The park was once the single largest amusement park to date, and was brought to national attention after Six Flags acquired the park (or rather, its owners at the time, Premier Parks, acquired Six Flags and rebranded itself as that entity) and the adjacent SeaWorld Ohio (which itself was the second SeaWorld park, and had co-existed peacefully with Geauga Lake before the Six Flags transformation sent it struggling). Sadly, combining the two parks, while making it unique, brought many problems (detailed on the Troubled Production page) that lead to it eventually being sold to Cedar Fair, who tried to scale the park back down to its more family-oriented roots, but that company's own decisions cost them too, leading to them closing Geauga Lake days after the end of the 2007 season without warning, leaving many parkgoers unable to have a proper final trip the the once-beloved family destination. As far as abandoned parks go, another haunting example of Geauga Lake ruins, the aquarium the park inherited from the SeaWorld purchase, was abandoned before the park even closed, as Cedar Fair controversially closed the marine portion of the park when they acquired it in 2004, and turned it into a generic waterpark (the above-mentioned Wildwater Kingdom) a year later. The remains of the aquarium were still standing as of early 2021! The decorative rocks that made the artificial reefs and waterfalls were still intact inside the aquarium, but without any water, or lights.
  • Funtown Mountain in Barren County, Kentucky. Originally a Wild West type theme park tucked away in the mountains, it was later bought in 2015 by a local businessman named Will Russell, who modeled it on his obsession with popular culture. Only days after its opening, Russell was arrested on drug charges. Then things really got weird. Russell hit serious financial problems, and started coming to the park at random intervals to throw paint on attractions and shops, scream at employees, and break stuff. Employees started quitting by the dozen, and city inspectors were called in, deeming the park unsafe. Russell began living in the park, by himself, going on social media to encourage looters to come up the mountain and steal property. Russell was finally arrested and forcibly removed from the area, but the testament to his insanity still stands - broken windows, shredded animatronics, and bottles of alcohol litter the premises. Paint still coats many of the buildings. The rotting attractions still stand, gathering dust. The electricity was cut eons ago, but there's still melting ice cream in the freezers. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on who you ask), the land was bought in April of 2016, and has since been reverted back to its original Guntown Mountain name and has been undergoing an extensive restoration.

    Haunted House Attractions 
  • Two words: McKamey Manor, located in San Diego. It's not your traditional haunted house, as going through it has been described as "living a horror movie". To go through it, you have to be 21 years of age and have to sign a very long waiver that ensures that you are of sound physical and mental condition. From there, the "tour" of the manor has its guests being sent through all kinds of torment that includes being bound and gagged, getting dunked into toilet bowls, being forced to eat rotten food and live worms, getting covered in fake blood, and much, much more. The experience is completely interactive and is basically as close to actual torture you can get without breaking any laws. It's literally designed to make you feel like you're going to die. Did we mention that the entire experience is four to six hours long? And you can only bring one other person with you. On top of all that, once you're in the manor, there's no getting out until the "tour" is over. No matter how much you cry, beg or scream, you'll be forced to endure the entire experience until the very end. And if you try to escape? They'll stop you. The experience will only be stopped if the person completely gives out mentally and/or physically. It's worth noting that one ex-Marine that did the experience mentioned that it's worse than boot camp. Just the promo videos for it alone are maximum nightmare fuel. Viewer discretion is heavily advised.
    • It's so haunting and extreme to the point that the only thing keeping the place from downright getting a lawsuit is pure luck on the owner's part.
  • The London Dungeons, located near the London Bridge in the UK. A haunted house with the theme of London's horrific history. Sections include a description of the Great London Fire, a barber shop where you get worked on by Sweeney Todd, a burning at the stake with audience participation, and, for the finale, a drop tower meant to simulate being hanged.
    • Heck, the Dungeons series of haunted houses is an entire chain of Nightmare Fuel.
  • The Haunted Mansion in Kensington, Prince Edward Island, while somewhat humorous, is chock-full of jumpscares. Featuring a severed vampire head, a shaking floor in one area, and a Jack the Ripper-era area with a fake menu featuring disgusting dishes, one of which contains POODLES. In the bedroom area, while the werewolf under the bed is rather cutesy-looking, it can count as a jumpscare for those who don’t expect it. Also, the “time portal” can make a few people dizzy.
    • Let’s not forget the exit, which features a rather happy garden (which features small carnival rides as of 2010). At least it seems happy, until you hear a gunshot-like noise at the garden’s entrance, meaning that you have been killed and the garden is heaven.
      • As of 2009, the skeeball machine in the gift shop is out of order, making the already eerie store have a more unsettling feeling.

    Other Non-Theme Park Attractions 
  • The Drive-In Wheel. It's a Ferris wheel that has platforms you park your cars on and ride while in your car. Not recommended for anyone with a fear of heights.
  • The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago has an exhibit called Underground Adventure themed to shrinking down and exploring the soil biosphere... and the bugs within it. Entomophobes (and even those who aren't) are not going to enjoy it, thanks to models of mites and pseudoscorpions the size of fists or heads covering the walls, or much larger animatronics. The crowning examples have to be an earwig that flings its tail at visitors, and a wolf spider eating prey. The fact that the latter isn't entirely visible does not help at all.
  • Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas has the Shark Reef Aquarium, an attraction that is not too unlike something you would find at SeaWorld or a big aquarium. The final room, containing the large tank the adult sharks hang out in, resembles the innards of a sunken ship. There's a plexiglass floor in the middle of the room for those who enjoy tempting fate, with a fake skeleton swimming with the sharks down there. But, perhaps you're too chicken to stand on that acrylic panel and head for the exit? Well, guess what the short path to the exit is made out of? That’s right, more glass!