Abandoned Japanese Disney

Nara Dreamland theme park

The sweets in the vending machines are no longer safe to eat and the heart-pounding rides are now as still as the fibreglass mascots which haunt the landscape – inside the theme park left abandoned for nearly a decade.

Photographer and travel writer Michael Turtle, 34, journeyed to the Nara Dreamland Theme Park, which closed in 2006, and photographed the abandoned attractions.

Nara Dreamland was built in 1961 as Japan’s answer to Disneyland, which had opened in California the previous decade.

Towards the end of its life the park struggled with low visitor numbers and was eventually forced to close.

Amazingly the land was not reused and the rides never dismantled, leaving the park, in the Nara Prefecture, in a state of suspended animation.

Mr Turtle, of London, photographed a wide variety of abandoned attractions, including a giant fibreglass witch, a severed robot’s head, a rusted carousel and a large pink castle which shares certain design elements with the iconic Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at the heart of Disneyland.

Mr Turtle said: “It’s not hard to imagine some disaster in the area which forced everyone to leave suddenly.”

Mr Turtle researched the park’s layout using Google Earth to assess the safest point of entry.

Mr Turtle said: “I probably prepared for a little longer than I would have if this was a typical tourist attraction.

“The two things which concerned me were whether it would physically be possible to get inside, and how safe it would be.”

Mr Turtle decided he would make his attempt at six in the morning to assure he would catch the park at sunrise.

He said: “The photo I feel is the most haunting is one where you can see the spirals of an old rollercoaster silhouetted against the sun with weeds growing all around it.

“The sun is rising in the photo but it could just as easily be setting. The light adds to the eeriness of the location.”

During his time in Nara Dreamland Mr Turtle took more 150 photos, and even walked along the tracks of an abandoned wooden rollercoaster.

Mr Turtle said: “Because the old wooden rollercoasters are rotting slightly you have to be very careful about where you step.

“Oddly, I would even look behind me sometimes to make sure there were no carriages coming.”

Over the last three years Mr Turtle has photographed sights in over 40 countries but concedes none are quite as eerie as those he found in Nara Dreamland.

Mr Turtle travelled to Nara Dreamland in the spring of 2013.

To see more of Michaels travel photos visit: http://www.timetravelturtle.com/2013/04/nara-dreamland-abandoned-japan/

More high resolution pictures are available on request. To discuss rates for using pictures and copy, contact news editor Tom Knight on 07815 004413 or tom@medavia.co.uk.

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