Nara Dreamland is a now-abandoned and demolished theme park which was located in the Japanese city, Nara. It was a popular place for urban explorers, particularly those interested in abandoned places and ruined amusement parks. Nara Dreamland was heavily inspired by Disneyland in California. Disney was involved in the development of the park but pulled out during construction due to a license fee dispute.
It was an amazing feeling to be able to explore that Japanese theme park. We prepared 50 stunning photos of an abandoned Nara Dreamland Amusement Park before it was finally demolished in 2017.
The History of Nara Dreamland Amusement Park
In the late 1950s, Kunizo Matsuo, a Japanese businessman & president of the Matsuo Entertainment Company (MEC), visited the United States. As part of his trip, he visited the then-new Disneyland in Anaheim and was quite impressed, inspiring him to bring Disneyland to Japan. At the time, Japan was still recovering economically from World War II, so something of this nature was seen as a great way to boost tourism and revenue in the city.
Kunizo Matsuo’s next step was to speak to Walt Disney in order to get the go-ahead. As expected, Walt was bought into the idea as he himself wanted to expand the Disney brand into the Japanese market. The location for the amusement park was chosen to be Nara due to its rich history and culture. The design of the Park was meant to be a direct copy of Disneyland in California, except for Frontierland being replaced with an ancient Japan theme, later torn down and turned into a waterpark section.
However, during construction, some complications arose was caused due to a massive dispute over licensing fees for the Disney characters that would be on show at the park. Matsuo company MEC gave up on the idea of Nara Disneyland characters and created their own trademarks and mascots (Ran-chan and Dori-chan, two children dressed as bearskin guards). Nara Dreamland was built and finally opened its doors in 1961.
The park immediately became a highly visited Park, in fact, it became one of Japan’s top tourist attractions, seeing an average of 1.6 million guests annually.
The park would see changes and newer attractions over the years such as multiple roller coasters and vehicle rides adding new interest in the park with each new attraction. The park was so successful that a second Dreamland Park called “Yokohama Dreamland”, opened in Yokohama Japan, in 1964.
However, the opening of Tokyo Disneyland in 1983 and Universal Studios Japan in Osaka in 2001 meant severe competition for the park, leading to its decline and eventual closure.
The decline eventually led to Kunizo and his company Matsuo Entertainment Company opting to cut their losses and sell the park in 1993. The supermarket chain Daiei bought Nara Dreamland in 1993 but didn’t make any significant investments and visitor numbers at Nara Dreamland collapsed. With the opening of Tokyo Disneyland, Nara Dreamland seemed less impressive to most of the public.
In 2001, things got even worse for the park when Disney opened its second park, Tokyo DisneySea. The competition was starting to become too much to take and eventually attendance fell to about 400,000 guests per year. This is a decline of over 1 million guests per year when the park was at its peak. Nara Dreamland struggled on until August 31st 2006 before closing. It was in an extreme state of disrepair by the end.
The cost of maintaining these coasters was too high and the fate of the park remained uncertain.The Nara Dreamland doors were closed in 2014 after no bids were made for the old park and in 2015 the area was sold to SK Housing with the plans of constrution new facilities. Nara Dreamland abandoned attractions were left in place for over 10 years before the site was demolished in 2017.
The photos show old buildings overrun with rust and nature, dust-covered facilities and abandoned houses left behind. For the last few years the land of Nara Dreamland was a huge empty territory where you urban explorers could observe the outline of where the park once stood. The images of the abandoned Nara Dreamland Amusement Park were taken by urban explorers and travellers who were inspired to explore the ruins of the abandoned park in Japan. As of September 2021 new company didn’t start construction.
What attractions were in Nara Dreamland amusement park?
Nara Dreamland offered Kid’s coaster, a shooting dark ride Gallantry, Sleeping Beauty Castle, Submarine Voyage, Fantasy Coaster, Skyway, the pirate ship, double decker omnibusses. It also had a steel roller coaster Bobsleigh modeled after the Matterhorn Bobsleds and a wooden roller coaster called Aska based on The Cyclone at Coney Island. There was an Autopia type ride and Screw Coaster (a double-corkscrew steel roller coaster designed by Arrow Development).
Dreamland also offered a Mad Tea Party attraction, a Figure-8 monoral, a log flume ride, a corkscrew coaster, and a go Kart. Before its eventual closure, the park had 6 coasters in total. The few years following Nara Dreamland demolishment transformed the park into a location admired by explorers of abandoned places.
Photos of abandoned Nara Dreamland in Japan
If you would like to read or check about more abandoned amusement parks in Asia, then you may check our other articles about Koga Family Land: An abandoned amusement park in Japan and Abandoned Okpo Land Park in South Korea
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