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Abandoned Amusement Parks with Even Creepier Backstories

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

Every year people travel from far and wide to spend time at their favorite amusement park. But you, dear traveler, are not so cliché. You don’t seek thrill rides. You seek a more spine-tingling thrill. Your instagram won’t be just another grid of mouse ears, kitschy snacks, and rollercoaster pics. No, no– you are looking for a more refined amusement park experience.

From the eerie to the downright terrifying, nothing says creepy like an abandoned amusement park. The juxtaposition of a former fun-for-the-whole-family attraction and the remnants of what’s left behind give “haunting” a whole new meaning. Ruins that are overtaken by nature are like decaying memories of what used to be, and amusement parks without patrons can be intriguing, and in some cases, nightmare-inducing. You can find a startling number of abandoned parks around the world, and some are creepier than others simply because of how they met their demise. Dig into our round up of abandoned amusement parks and start planning your next thrilling visit.

Pripyat Amusement Park, Ukraine

The Pripyat Fun Fair met its untimely end before the locals even got a chance to enjoy a single spin on the Ferris wheel, bumper cars and swing boats. Opening day was set for May 1, 1986, but the Chernobyl disaster struck less than a week before.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

It’s been rumored that the owners opened it up for one day on April 27 in an attempt to distract people from the terrifying situation, but an order to evacuate forced everyone out of the area. Pictures have turned up of people enjoying the site prior to its completion. You can visit, and people do still tour the site today, but with questionable radiation levels, it’s a dangerous game.

Castle d’Oultremont, Land van Ooit, Netherlands

The fairytale appearance of the Castle d’Oultremont is like something out of a Grimm’s story. When it opened in 1989, Land van Ooit was meant to be a perfect children’s play place. With people and props all playing a part in the magical stories made for the park, the children were the kings of the castle.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

They entertained visitors with their pretend knight fights, but a tragic death during one of the routine duels turned the whimsical tale into a real-life nightmare. The park recovered but shut down in 2007 due to bad finances. The pink castle has since been repurposed by the local government and turned into a public park. You’re welcome and encouraged to visit and reflect on all that is, and all that was.

Hồ Thuỷ Tiên (Thuy Tien Lake), Vietnam

This three million dollar water park opened in 2004 before it finished construction. The main draw was a giant dragon aquarium that stood three stories tall and housed manta rays, sharks and an assortment of live fish in its ribcage stairway and lower body.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

Although the park closed due to financial constraints, its existence now is what makes it so interesting. It seems to be lost between two worlds, and travelers are more likely to find the location through word of mouth. Among the decaying remnants of the park, some of the crocodiles survived its closure.

Disney’s River Country, USA

As the first water park built by Walt Disney Company, River Country had a lot of promise. Its close proximity to Discovery Island and Fort Wilderness Campgrounds provided easy access for tourists wanting to enjoy an adventure through the Floridian wilds.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

After its closure in 2002, rumors began to swirl. Some said that it closed because of financial cutbacks, but another rumor was far more menacing. A child died in 1980 after swimming at River Country. Doctors discovered that he died from amoebic meningoencephalitis after an amoeba that lives in the nearby waters got into his body and attacked his nervous system.

The front half of the park is still open to visitors. Walk past the abandoned ticket gates as far as you can, and you’re likely to find some small places to peer through the fencing and gaze at what is left of this abandoned park, imagining what could have been.

Jungle Habitat, New Jersey

Warner Brothers opened Jungle Habitat in 1972 with the promise of giving tourists a safari-like experience with more than 1,500 wild animals. It didn’t offer rides, but glimpses of exotic wildlife were enough to get patrons excited about the opening.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

The open-concept zoo didn’t last long. A man and a woman were attacked, animals escaped into the nearby town of West Milford and a tuberculosis outbreak forced the park to euthanize several of its main attractions. Warner Brothers hoped to expand to include amusement rides, but the good folks of West Milford, New Jersey, put a stop to that idea. Today the remains of Jungle Habitat serve as a public park, and visitors can wander the grounds hoping for a rogue kangaroo sighting .

Lake Shawnee, USA

Lake Shawnee is perhaps one of the most infamous abandoned amusement parks, thanks to its bloody history. Not only was the amusement park built on an ancient Native American burial ground, but it was also the site of a tragic massacre that claimed the lives of three children.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

That might explain the trail of death that Lake Shawnee left in its wake. Two children died in park accidents before it finally closed in 1966. All that’s left are the remnants of what used to be — a field of rides covered in vines and growing grasses.

Enchanted Forest Theme Park, USA

Leaping straight out of a fairytale, the Enchanted Forest Theme Park in Maryland was supposed to be an imaginary world of whimsical storied times for children to enjoy after WWII. After its opening in 1955, it welcomed more than 300,000 visitors each year.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

By the time the ’80s rolled around, the park began to lose its fanbase and slowly became obsolete in a world filled with video games and arcades. By the ’90s, the park closed, and the Cinderella castle and attractions deteriorated rapidly. The contents of the park were moved to a nearby farm, and people can visit to see the remaining buildings from April to November each year.

Spreepark, Berlin

This creepy park was built in East Berlin by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) government in 1969 and welcomed more than a million visitors each year until closing 20 years later. It was reopened in 1991 by Norbert Witte, who renovated it with new rides and a more scenic landscape.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

Witte’s ownership only lasted until 2002 when police discovered he used ride parts from Peru to smuggle cocaine. He was arrested for drug smuggling, and the park was abandoned to be consumed by nature. It was used in the film Hanna before falling victim to arson in 2014. All that remains are a few rides and a restaurant.

Holy Land, USA

The derelict Christian attraction that is Holy Land USA has been closed since 1984. The owner of the park closed it for renovations in an attempt to attract more visitors. Before it reopened, he passed away, leaving the religion-themed park to a group of nuns.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

It was designed to be a smaller version of Biblical Bethlehem, but the park was vandalized after its closure, and the nuns couldn’t maintain it. In 2010, a teenage girl was murdered on the grounds, and the park was sold. A cross is still visible from the roadside, enticing visitors to check out the ruins to this day.

Kejonuma Leisure Land, Japan

Kejonuma Leisure Land was home to all the typical amusement park rides, but it also housed something darker. Japanese legend says that a woman gave birth to a snake on the grounds. The snake-baby then escaped into the water, constantly crying for her mother and slowly driving her mad.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

The woman committed suicide by drowning herself in the lake. Some explorers say their cries can be heard when visiting the park grounds at night. Visitation remained high until 2000, and the park finally closed. Tourists can now wander the grounds and watch nature consume the slowly rusting ferris wheel and other attractions.

Joyland Amusement Park, USA

Joyland has been plagued with death and destruction ever since it opened in 1942. A series of ride-related deaths damaged the reputation of what was once the biggest amusement park in the Southwest. It continued to grow over the years, but the vicious murder of a park employee in 1982 paused the expansion.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

Once the dust settled, the park was getting back to normal when another employee was hit by a roller coaster and killed, and a young patron died after falling off the Ferris wheel. These events brought on significant financial hardship for the park and led to its inevitable closure. Now it serves the purpose of creeping out the visitors who dare to wander its grounds.

Rocky Point Amusement Park, USA

Generations of Rhode Islanders have precious memories of visiting Rocky Point Amusement Park. It opened in the 19th century and had more than 25 attractions, including the famous Shore Dinner Hall.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

Shortly after the opening of the park, a 5-year-old-girl was murdered by her father after they finished their meal at the dining hall. He took her to the edge of the water and bludgeoned her to death with a rock. The gruesome murder didn’t mar the park’s reputation, however, and it stayed open for more than 150 years. The park finally closed in 1995 due to financial issues, but you can still go explore the grounds.

Six Flags – New Orleans, USA

In 2002, Six Flags purchased the failing Jazzland Theme Park in New Orleans in an attempt to open another amusement destination in the U.S. The new park had six different areas for visitors to explore. The popular theme park closed for the season in 2005 because of the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

The park was flooded and didn’t drain for more than a month, which ultimately led to its permanent closure. After a lengthy battle with the city — who insisted Six Flags honor its lease and reopen — the company decided to remove the rides that could be saved. What was left behind was a forlorn skeleton.

In 2021 a developer was identified by the city to revitalize the decrepit park. Let’s hope that third time’s the charm.

Land of Oz, USA

Even the Wonderful Wizard of Oz couldn’t have saved Land of Oz from its inevitable failure. The park opened in the ’70s, but shortly before the official launch, the owner lost his battle with cancer before things even got off the ground.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

The park was destined for closure after a mysterious fire destroyed Emerald City and some buildings that housed props from the original 1939 film. A decade after it opened, the doors closed until the ’90s, when it was reopened as a cabin rental hot-spot. Many of the park’s rides and attractions are still on the site today.

Western Village, Japan

The Western Village was an ode to all things Wild West America. The weird thing, though, was that it was located in the heart of Japan, about 70 miles north of Tokyo. The weirdly-specific theme park opened in 1970 with attractions like a haunted house, a Wild West Show and a scaled-down Mount Rushmore.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

After its closure in 2007 due to some much-needed maintenance that was never completed, the remnants of the park remained. Visitors of the park today can find decaying pictures of the old Wild West and even some creepy statues of Clint Eastwood and John Wayne.

Expoland, Japan

Expoland wasn’t ever meant to enjoy a long-lasting life. It was supposed to be an add-on for Expo ’70 and nothing else, but after the popularity of the park skyrocketed, the owners reopened in a more permanent way. The park had tons of attractions and rides, including roller coasters, a water park and a Ferris wheel.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

In May 2007, the Fujin Raijin II roller coaster came off the tracks, killing one woman and injuring more than 70 others. After that tragedy, the park was never the same, and attendance became so abysmal that they closed up shop in December of that same year. The park was reportedly renovated into a much smaller park called Farm Expo.

Loudoun Castle Theme Park, Scotland

The Loudoun Castle Theme Park was built around the ruins. What was left of the area surrounding Loudoun Castle became part of the quaint theme park, giving it an eerie sense of urban decay, even while people still rode the roller coasters and ate the cotton candy. The park was left abandoned after the owner couldn’t keep up with financial payments.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

Today, many of the rides and attractions still stand on the site, completely abandoned and taken over by the natural surroundings. It now blends in with the ruins it was built upon, upping the creepy factor ever so slightly.

Chippewa Lake Park, USA

This century-old park opened in 1878 and was a popular attraction for generations of families. It ended up closing its doors in 1978 due to poor attendance. After it closed, several buildings and structures were destroyed or damaged in fires.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

Because of the haunting relics of amusement park history left behind, horror films often use the derelict conditions to create backdrops for their scary stories, such as the 2008 film Closed for the Season . The Ferris Wheel, the Little Dipper and some remnants of the burned structures still remain. In 2020, the Medina County Park District agreed to buy the property and restore it to a nature park, with the intent to leave some of the relics of its former days intact.

Takakanonuma Greenland, Japan … Part 1

The Takakanonuma Greenland Park is so shrouded in mystery that some believe the park itself never existed. It was real and opened in 1973. Shortly after, ride-related deaths occurred, and locals thought the park was cursed. Almost two years after its opening, the park closed to investigate the number of ride-related deaths. A lengthy 10 years later, it was determined the park staff were to blame.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

The Japanese government closed the park 12 years after it opened, denying access to anyone who wants to visit it. The only known records of the park’s location are coordinates that can be found online.

Takakanonuma Greenland, Japan … Part 2

In 2007, an urban explorer by the name of Bill Edwards found the park and uploaded a picture to prove it. Some people claimed to spot a young girl wearing all white in the picture, but that’s just another myth. The validity of his creepy find couldn’t be further investigated because Edwards himself seemed to vanish shortly after his picture surfaced.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

The photo was scrutinized and found to be an undoctored photo proving the park’s existence, but it still wasn’t enough. The myth of Takakanonuma is now all that’s left unless a brave explorer manages to find it again — and prove it.

Umoja Children’s Park, Zanzibar

The mystery behind Umoja Children’s Park has gone unsolved for years. The history of when it opened or closed is nowhere to be found online, and all that remains are the remnants of a carnival-like amusement park. It could have been a wondrous place, but no one really knows for sure what happened there.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

The eerie photographs that circulate online show a park in disarray, with a run-down Ferris wheel, a merry-go-round taken over nature and a rusted-over children’s train. The details of the park exist now only in the macabre scenery that is Umoja Children’s Park.


old haunted amusement park in west virginia

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

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The Haunted History of Lake Shawnee Amusement Park

Lake Shawnee haunted and abandoned amusement park in West Virginia

It might have been the creepy clown that towered over me, its mouth wide enough to swallow me whole, that sent shivers down my spine. It might have been the chill in the December air that clung to my skin. It might also have been one of the many spirits who call the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park home arriving to welcome me to their final resting spot. Looking around at the other wide-eyed guests joining us on our Saturday afternoon tour, I knew that whatever it was, I wasn’t alone.

The reason Adam and I sought out abandoned Lake Shawnee as a daytrip destination is that we’re not alone in our fascination with its remarkable history. Dozens of TV shows have filmed segments on the grounds, and thousands of guests stop by to explore each year. In the past, our interest in eerie and deserted places has taken us to plenty of abandoned spots as far away as Bulgaria’s Buzludzha and as close to home as Pennsylvania’s Centralia , and we’re no strangers to haunted locations like the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum or the Whaley House in San Diego . With our world still very much in the midst of a pandemic, though, we decided to close out 2020 with a bit of a Nightmare Before Christmas experience; after all, most spirits are natural social distancers, and an outdoor history lesson sounded like a wonderful way to spend a day.

History reigns supreme at Lake Shawnee, where a small team shares a powerful mission to educate the world about their small corner of West Virginia. Whether you are planning a trip of your own or are wondering what you might get from the experience, one thing is for certain: a day at Lake Shawnee will create some incredible, lasting memories.

Lake Shawnee Amusement Park: a Brief History

Technically, Lake Shawnee Amusement Park’s history dates back to 1926, when the park first opened its doors to visitors. More specifically, though, Lake Shawnee has roots that stretch hundreds of years into the past—but it took more current events to uncover some of the area’s incredible history.

Lake Shawnee in the 1980s

Tragedy began to grip Lake Shawnee Amusement Park in the 1950s, when several deaths shocked locals. A young girl’s life ended on the swing ride when a delivery truck backed into her seat, killing her in place. Another young boy lost his life when the drowned in the swimming pool after his arm got stuck in a drain pipe. By 1966, Lake Shawnee Amusement Park closed its doors to the public, and the land sat dormant for decades.

In the 1980s, the park again welcomed visitors when Gaylord White acquired the land and set out to restore it to its former glory. In addition to purchasing a Ferris wheel, he found a swing ride that seemed to be just like the swings that once thrilled guests. When they installed the swings on the property, they realized the serial number matched that of the swings that were on the property from the 1920s until the park closed in 1966. It was a serendipitous homecoming that made the grand opening even more poignant.

Lake Shawnee Amusement Park welcomed tens of thousands of visitors during its second run, which ran for just three years in the 1980s. Unfortunately, high insurance prices forced the White family to close their doors for the second and final time after a few short seasons, forcing them to pivot to other activities to keep the land active. They hosted fishing tournaments in what used to be the swimming lake, and they planned to create a space on the property for mud bogging, a motor sport the family knew would draw crowds to watch. While excavating a mud bogging track, though, the White family made a series of surprising discoveries that added depth to the property’s already rich history.

Lake Shawnee excavation discovery. Photo courtesy of WVlakeshawnee.com

In the 1770s, Mitchell Clay, his wife Phoebe, and their children became the county’s first English settlers. Sorrow did not spare them in their new home; in 1783, members of the Shawnee tribe murdered two of their children, Tabitha and Bartley, on the property. Mitchell tracked the tribe members into Ohio, where he found a third child, his son Ezekiel, burned at the stake. All three children were buried on the property, and a monument now stands on the location of their tragic death as a memorial to them. While it may have been the first violent tragedy to take place on the property, it certainly was not the last, especially with regard to children. And it started to make people wonder: is Lake Shawnee Amusement Park haunted?

Is Lake Shawnee Amusement Park Haunted?

As Gaylord White’s son Chris would ask, what’s your definition of haunted? Many visitors to Lake Shawnee Amusement Park have stories that suggest there are some spirits at play.

Many people report interactions with the little girl who died on the swings. Because the White family acquired the original swing set when they reopened the park in the 1980s, it seems possible—likely, even—that the girl’s spirit might spend time near the spot where she took her final breath. Sure enough, some eerie interactions have taken place near the swing. Her swing is marked by a red ribbon , although she seems to prefer an adjacent swing where an owl ornament hangs down. On a still day, the owl seems to dance in a breeze only it can feel; we watched it shake and spin on an otherwise still day, when not even the leaves in the trees above seemed to move. Curiously, the owl will often stop in its tracks, falling limp as if someone hit a switch—or as if a child dropped it as she moved on to other toys.

Lake Shawnee West Virginia

Is Lake Shawnee Amusement Park haunted? While it may be impossible to separate the suspicious from the supernatural, one thing is for sure: there doesn’t seem to be any evil spirits on the property. Despite the Shawnee burial grounds just across the field and the resting place for the Clay children who perished in a violent attack, there are only stories about playful ghosts who only seem interested in human connection. Your visit might connect you to your own ghost stories, but they are more likely to bring a smile to your face than fear.

Visiting Lake Shawnee Amusement Park

Lake Shawnee Amusement Park is most popular in the fall, especially close to Halloween, but it’s a great place to visit any time of year.

These days, the park itself is quiet; you can’t ride the rides or swim in the lake. We met Chris, our guide for the day, who escorted us along the property first by car and then by foot. He starts with the oldest stories the property has to share, those of the Shawnee, and gave us some time to explore the excavation area before taking us into the park. Visitors are encouraged to leave an offering as a sign of respect to the Shawnee, and many people do just that. I intended to leave a small metal keyring that has brought joy to me since I acquired it in college, and although I held onto it for the rest of the tour, I told Adam I planned to leave it on our way out of the park before heading home.

Site of the Native American burial ground at Lake Shawnee.

Chris does a masterful job of bringing Lake Shawnee’s history to life. Through expert storytelling that combines his knowledge with his passion for preserving the property, he makes it easy to imagine thousands of guests in wool bathing suits sauntering about almost a century ago. We were captivated by the tales he told of summer vacations spent in the sun, unexpected tragedy, rebuilding, and even pivoting when protecting the land required reinventing how it was used. In fact, Lake Shawnee is staffed entirely by people with strong connections to its former glory, including several people who worked there in their younger years. It’s one of the aspects of the experience that makes a visit to the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park special: the park was always about making people happy, and today that tradition is continued by those positioned to do it best.

Lake Shawnee: What to Know Before You Visit

► tickets are required.

There are three primary ways to visit Lake Shawnee Amusement Park: a daytime tour, a nighttime experience, or a trip to the Dark Carnival. The daytime tour is a guided opportunity to learn about the history through storytelling before taking some time for independent exploration, which was our preference during our visit. If you’re hoping for a ghost encounter, you may enjoy the overnight experience, when guests have a chance to sleep in the park—if you dare. Lake Shawnee Amusement Park really shines during the Halloween season when it transforms into the Dark Carnival, which draws thousands of visitors for activities ranging from fortune telling to a haunted house that may truly be haunted. Purchase tickets for any event in advance to ensure your spot is saved.

► Bring your camera

Lake Shawnee

► Dress for the weather

The entire park experience takes place outside, so be sure to dress for the weather—you’ll want layers for cold weather and plenty of sunscreen during warmer months.

Where is Lake Shawnee Amusement Park?

Lake Shawnee Amusement Park is close to Princeton, West Virginia. It is located on private property, and Chris, Roger, and their team provide plenty of help when you’re en route, including pictures of what to look for and where to go when you arrive. Most visitors seem to drive by the location because it is almost hidden in plain sight, so build in some extra time to ensure you arrive on time—or even a few minutes early.

Visit their official website for more information or to book your tour.

More Information: WVlakeshawnee.com

Where to Stay Near Lake Shawnee Amusement Park

The closest town to Lake Shawnee Amusement Park is Princeton, where you’ll find several hotels if you’re not planning on an overnight stay in the park. We love to find hotels using Booking.com, which helps us to select properties that meet exactly what we want from each stay (free breakfast and wifi are a must for us!). Take a look at Booking.com to see if there is a hotel that will be the right fit for your trip as well.

Enjoy Lake Shawnee Amusement Park!

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

What I do know is that Lake Shawnee Amusement Park is a fascinating place to visit. If you love local history and a good ghost story or two, you’ll enjoy every moment of your visit just like we did. But don’t be surprised if you find your world colliding with a world inhabited by the spirits of those who enjoyed it decades ago—they may be the best part of the experience!

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

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Lake Shawnee Abandoned and Haunted Amusement Park in West Virginia

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old haunted amusement park in west virginia

Lake Shawnee Abandoned Amusement Park


There’s something unnatural about this Mercer County attraction.

A Native American burial ground. Violent deaths. Freak accidents. Who knew a simple amusement park could have such a dark past?

Explore this creepy (maybe cursed?) land — ”one of the world’s most haunted places.” Arrange a private tour, join paranormal investigators to ghost hunt or brave the “Dark Carnival” in October.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

If You Like Lake Shawnee Abandoned Amusement Park, You Will Love These Places Too

old haunted amusement park in west virginia


Lake Shawnee Amusement Park  was crippled long before local entrepreneur Conley Snidow broke ground for the circular swing— at least, that’s what most locals think. Ask anyone familiar with the area, and they’ll tell you no one should have turned the grassy field into a carnival.

But most things seem obvious in retrospect.

When Snidow purchased the property during the 1920s, he had no idea it had witnessed decades of bloody unrest.


Lake Shawnee’s restless past originates in the 18th century. During the late 1700s, Mitchell Clay brought his young family out west. They established an 800-acre farm and raised 14 children.

Tragedy struck the Clays in 1783. A Native American tribe slew 2 of the children while Mitchell was out hunting. They kidnapped one of the boys, Ezekiel — only to burn him at the stake.

Clay retaliated. With the help of other settlers, he tracked down several Native Americans and killed them. The scarred homestead was never the same.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

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old haunted amusement park in west virginia


The Clay property didn’t attract much notice until the 1920s. That’s when Snidow appeared with his rides and attractions: circular swings, a water slide, a dance hall, a speakeasy. He also added a pond and swimming hole, complete with canoes.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia


At some point, things started to go wrong. Lake Shawnee fans know the facts intimately: a little girl died on the swings and a boy drowned in the pond. All told, roughly 6 visitors died during the amusement park’s brief history.

In 1966, the attraction was abandoned. The cheerful turquoise, red and green rides slowly faded and flaked. Before too long, their rusty skeletons surrendered to the restless undergrowth.


After 20 years, another businessman approached Lake Shawnee. Gaylord White thought the sleepy meadows seemed ideal for future neighborhoods. But, as construction crews tore into grass and soil, they unearthed bones and Native American artifacts.

It turned out the amusement park sat atop an ancient burial ground. And most of the skeletons belonged to children. Archaeologists believe the remains had been there long before settlers moved west. Was the Clay family cursed, too?

old haunted amusement park in west virginia


The White family decided not to challenge fate. Instead of developing community lots, they left the burial ground and rides intact. That means Lake Shawnee will continue to stand as a true Mercer County highlight .

But don’t just take our word for it. The abandoned amusement park has attracted ghost hunters and paranormal experts for years. In fact, Lake Shawnee ranks as one of the Travel Channel’s “Most Terrifying Places in America.” ABC goes even further. Their experts declared the property one of the “10 Most Haunted Places in the World.”

Visitors have heard footsteps, mysterious chants and children. Sometimes, one of the swings will move on its own. At one point, someone got locked in a shabby ticket booth— even though the doors don’t lock.

So, is Lake Shawnee really haunted? Decide for yourself .

Although the amusement park is private property, there are regular paranormal tours throughout the year. The owners can usually make a private arrangement for you, too. Just call them before heading out for a visit.

Or, visit in October for the  Dark Carnival.  You arrive at dusk, just as the bony trees and creaky rides turn into silhouettes. People who visited the park when it was open or had their own strange encounters tell Lake Shawnee stories, give tours and light a bonfire. There’s also a haunted trail through a corn maze, complete with creepy clowns. You can even camp out— if you dare.

old haunted amusement park in west virginia

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Abandoned west virginia amusement park has a bloody history.

Gaylord White strolls past a swing ride at the old Lake Shawnee Amusement Park. Once a popular summertime retreat for thousands of coalfield families, the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park is now better known as a purported gathering place for the spirits of the many long-dead souls who once spent their earthly time on this patch of bottomland along the Bluestone River.

It has been decades since the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park buzzed with the laughter of children.

But according to local legend, the park is still a playground for ghosts.

The southern West Virginia park was abandoned in 1966, after the accidental deaths of two of its young patrons. But it seems Lake Shawnee’s haunted history reaches much farther back.

Lake Shawnee Amusement Park in West Virginia, which was shut down in 1966 and belived to be cursed, will open for one week only from October 25th through October 31st.

Mercer County was home to a Native American tribe until 1783, when a European family’s attempt to settle the land sparked a violent turf war. The patriarch of the family was a farmer named Mitchell Clay, according to the Wyoming County Report . While he was out hunting, a band of Native Americans reportedly killed his youngest son, Bartley Clay. A daughter, Tabitha, was knifed to death in the struggle. Eldest son Ezekial was kidnapped and burned at the stake. Mitchell Clay enlisted the help of other white settlers to seek vengeance for his family. After burying his children, he murdered several of the Native Americans.

Centuries later, in the 1920s, a businessman named Conley T. Snidow purchased the site of the Clay farm and developed it into an amusement park. He built a swing set, a ferris wheel, and opened up the pond for swimming.

A little girl was reportedly killed while riding this circling swing set.

But death still hung over that cursed parcel of land.

A little girl in a pink ruffled dress met her end after climbing into the circling swing set. She was killed after a truck backed into the path of the swing. Another little one, this time a boy, drowned in the amusement park’s swimming pond.

The Lake Shawnee Amusement Park was abandoned in 1966. But it may still have visitors--just not the kind that you can see.

According to Visit West Virginia , the park’s rides were responsible for a total of six deaths.

The park eventually shut down, but its structures were left to rot and rust.

The park was purchased by Gaylord White in 1985.

The park’s new owner, Gaylord White, says he can hear the wooden swings creak, though it may not be the wind that pushes them.

“Sometimes the seat will start to move underneath your hand until you feel cold air blowing through the seat,” Gaylord White II told the Travel Channel . “And when you get to the middle you feel something warm. And we believe that’s her spirit.”

The park's rides haven't been used for decades.

The younger White said he’s even seen the little girl, with her dress covered in blood.

“She looked at me and as long as she looked at me, I couldn’t move,” he said.

An abandoned ticket booth at the former Lake Shawnee Amusement Park.

Paranormal investigators now frequent the site. It has also been featured on the Discovery Channel’s “GhostLab” and the Travel Channel’s “The Most Terrifying Places in America.”

Lake Shawnee has now opened up for daring visitors who want to see the place for themselves. Tours last from Oct. 25 to Oct. 31.

Flashlights are mandatory, though you may not like what you see.

Several pictures courtesy of Dean Jeffrey .

On a mobile device? Click here to view the video.

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abandoned amusement park rock virginia

This Rock, West Virginia fun-fair is one of the most ghost-ridden places in the United States, according to one recent visitor. 

According to a 23-year-old urban explorer who goes by Kalani, the deserted pleasure ground is full of swing sets that “move on their own,” disembodied screams, chants, mysterious footsteps and plenty of other paranormal activity. 

“It ranks as one of the ‘most terrifying places in America’,” Kalani said following a recent visit which he documented and uploaded to his TikTok, where it has garnered over eight million views. “

The amusement park opened in 1962 and included water slides, a dancehall, a speakeasy and more but shuttered in 1966 following a series of unfortunate events, according to Kalani.

“At some point things started to go bad after a little girl died on the swings and a young boy drowned in the pond. I think six visitors died during the park’s short history and it was left abandoned,” he said, Jam Press reported. 

abandoned amusement park rock virginia

The 800-acre tract of theme park was subsequently purchased by a construction company with plans to build on the plot — but the company abandoned the idea after learning the space had formerly been a Native American burial ground. 

“During the 1700s, the Clay family moved out [to the area] and established [a] farm. Tragedy struck the family in 1783, after a Native American tribe allegedly killed two children and burned one at the stake,” Kalani detailed. “Their father decided to retaliate with help from other nearby settlers and soon the property traded hands.”

During his visit, nature was visibly reclaiming the park, the only remaining rides in which are a ferris wheel and swings. “There were no signs of damage, as the property is still managed by the family [who last purchased it],” he added.

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old haunted amusement park in west virginia

Abandoned West Virginia Amusement Park Has Dark History

by Tammy Rose | Sep 24, 2018 | History and Culture , Places to see and people to meet | 0 comments

old haunted amusement park in west virginia


  1. West Virginia's Creepy Abandoned Amusement Park

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  2. Famous Haunted Places: The Lake Shawnee Amusement Park, West Virginia

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  3. The Haunted and Abandoned Lake Shawnee Amusement Park in West Virginia

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  4. The Haunted and Abandoned Lake Shawnee Amusement Park in West Virginia

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  5. The Haunted and Abandoned Lake Shawnee Amusement Park in West Virginia

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  6. Abandoned West Virginia amusement park has a bloody history

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