In the outskirts of Nara, the last bits of spirit is leaving of Nara Dreamland, an abandoned amusement park. It closed in 2006, after its number of visitors dropped dramatically in the opening of the new Tokyo Disneyland, as well as the more recent arrival of Osaka Universal Studio. The Nara government is demolishing Nara Dreamland very soon, to get some more space for parkings and such. So I went to pay my visit as soon as possible.
[bs_notification type=”info”]I have been visiting Nara Dreamland many times since I have written this article. Check the end of this article for more. It was actually not demolished until 6 years later ;)[/quote]
Knowing that the official entrance being completely blocked, I had to find another way. Therefore the night before, I went around the abandoned amusement park to find a possible entrance. While driving extremely slowly around the park, a loud voice from a speaker took me by surprise. It was a message in Japanese. Scary! I could not understand a thing, but since it was a recorded message there is nothing to worry… isn’t it !? Later, I actually learned that this message is asking people not to dump garbage around here… Alright! 🙂
Then in the following morning, I still ended-up jumping crazily over the fence, as there seemed no any other way.I have to get in! After all I did not came all the way for nothing! After a short walk though the bushes, I arrived at Nara Dreamland’s official entrance.
Welcome to Nara Dreamland
Welcome to the wonderland! I can already fell that this is going to be an extremely good one, even though I was a bit worried. Some kind of security is supposed to be working here, and urban explorers have been caught many times in this place. Most people came here by night, but I really want my daylight pictures, so… that’s it.
Dreamland was build in 1961, six years after the original Disneyland. The inspiration for this park actually came entirely from Disneyland, they even have exactly the same layout! Let’s visit it.
Main Street USA
The main avenue really looks like Disneyland, with the Cinderella castle at the end. All the shops and restaurants are empty, but there are still tables and chairs inside. A real ghost town, to start with. Mmm, it seems there was also a Ghibli shop, called “My Neighbor Totoro”.
Wait! There’s a map of Nara Dreamland on the floor. Here it is!
I’m going to the center of the park now, in front of the castle of Cinderella. There was no Mickey around, but there were two original characters whom can be found everywhere in the park. A sign told me that they were called Ran-chan and Dori-chan.
This is actually the access gate to Fantasyland. But first, let’s go on the left, to Adventure Land !
A wave pool and many standard water attractions can be found here. Information board said the park was looking for summer time staff, with a salary of 900 yen per hour, just to watch some Japanese girls wearing bikini.
From the top of this attraction, we could get a magnificent view of the entire park with the roller-coaster in the back. At the same time, it was really easy to be spotted from here. Better to go down quick.
Then, not far from them, the Screw Coaster. It is probably the second best attraction of the park, certainly one of the best subject to take pictures of.
This is the part behind the castle, and it is attractions for the family. The common magic cups…
A closer look…
And the agonizing-looking horses in there…
The Swan Cycle, some kind of flying little boats, and there are so many more attractions in there 🙂
And don’t miss the haunted house!
Tomorrowland is the modern section of the park; with video-games, attractions accompanied by loud music in the background.
A little look inside it…
The noisy but very fun Flash Dance.
And more interestingly, its woody roller coaster! Here is Aska, the most famous attraction of Nara Dreamland.
Its name comes from Aska, a neighbor city of Nara which was a former capital of Japan more than 1500 years ago.
The praises of this roller coaster are common and recurrent on the Internet. Thus it is amazing to see it being left behind, slowly taken over by the plants.
The woody rollers-coasters have an advantage over the ones made of steel: they shake more. Also, they make sound like a big monster which makes it even more interesting and impressive.
I would have loved to try this one! They are getting rare so the cost of maintenance must be very high.
That’s it for now. The sun is too high, so it is better to leave now. But actually it was way more difficult to get out than to get in. There were too many people around the park, plus the guard must be high on coffee and vitamins with his eyes wide opened now. I therefore jumped and run very quickly ouf of the park, never looked back, jumped into my car and drove away. That ended my aventure at the city of Nara.
Update: I lived in Nara for one year, went back to Nara Dreamland 20-30x more, so I have two articles more about it. The Abandoned Roller-coasters of Nara Dreamland and Nara Dreamland: The End of a Dream.