Faded Dream: Once Famous Amusement Park Became Sleeping Beauty

Dreaming-land looming over in Sixties

There must be something means a lot to a person - it maybe a mug cup given by a friend, a musical box remembered a history or a place carried a memory. The Nara Dreamland is the dreaming place to explore for French photographer Romain Veillon who are known for his photographs in abandoned places.

After capturing timeless atmosphere in the world in memorable abandoned buildings' images, Romain Veillon eventually had a chance to head for Nara Dreamland - an old amusement park located in Nara, a suburb of Osaka, Japan. Born in 1961, the Nara Dreamland was the Japanese answer to California's legendary Disneyland. For 45 years, the Dreamland's features and themes pulled in the big crowds, and, it had to say, it was a huge success.

Sorry, Nara Dreamland is permanently closed

However, with the opening of the real Disneyland world in Tokyo and the Universal studios in Osaka, the lights on Nara Dreamland's Main Street flicked out for good in 2006 at an all-time low of about 400,000 visitors that year. Since then, the park was all but a ghost town; yet rather than selling off the rides, or looking at an alternative use for the land, or being demolished, it was just left abandoned.

Within few years, nature run rampant and reclaimed abandoned Nara Dreamland's main attraction - once majestic coasters were taken over by jungle overgrowth, dried up derelict water foundation lied down there, smiling characters had become creepily content in their shabby and weather-worn condition.

The park was a place that should be noisy and always in movement, but today an extreme quietness and uniqueness pervaded its atmosphere. Even though the park had become overrun with nature and rust, it remained largely intact. This once crowed and famous amusement park in Japan thus become another dream for explores and photographers.

Heading into abandoned park with a friend

According to Romain Veillon, the atmosphere was strange and sad but peaceful in this enormous amusement park with only a friend; nonetheless, it was an incredible feeling to be able to explore this place during an entire day and imagine how it was to be on the roller coaster or just to wander in the little streets of this paradise.

"I have already seen reports of this place but the vegetation really takes over the park now and makes it different place, and I was really lucky to explore the Nara Dreamland," said Romain Veillon. In fact, the park stays an incredible source of wonder, pushing photographer to try to imagine how it was and what stories happened when it was still active. "When you think about all the good memories that have been made there, you become nostalgic of the time when the park was full of joy and people. You want to hear kids screaming and having fun again there!"

However, based on photographer's first hand experience, it is not safe to be into this vast abandoned amusement park, especially walking around the roller coaster. Romain Veillon just had a little rope just in case and did not go on the part of the structure since he did not trust to be completely safe ......

At any rate, exploring in Japan and being able to immoralise this unique location was a fantastic opportunity for photographer, as it is not everyday that you can explore an abandoned theme park which tried to look like Disney world. "It is hard to say how our mood is while photographing is different," said photographer, "but there are so many objects, which are very rare in abandoned places, enabling us to shoot, and bright colors or ivy recovering attractions that you are running everywhere to discover all of them."

(All photos copyrighted Roman Veillon)





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Photo gallery: Faded Dream.

Photographer: Roman Veillon.

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Previous article: Ask the Dust: Photo Collection of Abandoned Places.

Book of "Ask the Dust" is available at Amzon.



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