After spending a whole night at Nara Dreamland it dawned at around 5.30am, so Mike and I went straight to the entrance area near the Dreamstation to begin our second round through the park. The atmosphere at Dreamland early in the morning is almost creepier than it is at night. The light was kind of blue-ish, the sky slowly turned to overcast and we could finally have a closer look at the state of this huge abandoned amusement park – it looks horrible! The main street is so fake it would make an Ed Wood movie look cheap(er) and the amount of vandalism and decay is almost shocking considering the place was closed down for good only four years ago. If you want to see pictures of an undamaged Dreamland you’ll have to find some that are at least one or two years old. Pretty much all the windows in the park are smashed in, most of them just for the sake of destroying them – and that’s why places like Doggy Land or the Doctor’s Shack don’t get published with their real names or hints on how to find them… Too late for Dreamland though, the damage is done and I think it will get worse every month. And I totally understand now why the security guard was quite aggressive when he caught me taking pictures in February since it’s impossible to know who’s a vandal and who’s a harmless urban explorer. It would seriously piss me off and I guess even scare me when I’d come to work in the morning only to see doors and windows smashed in!
Mike and I, of course, just minded our own business and took a few pictures here and there – but to be fully honest, I was a little bit disappointed. Maybe it was because at that point we already spent four and a half hours there and of course we were tired and worried that security will show up at any minute, but Nara Dreamland (at daylight) is just a miserable place to be. It’s widespread, it’s run-down, it’s ugly and it’s full of weird items. Like the statue of Abraham Lincoln in front of the castle, that doesn’t make sense at all. (Maybe it does – if you know an explanation please drop me a line!) The really shocking part about it is that the place most likely felt weird even when it was still open. I can see the Aska rollercoaster being fun, maybe the water park with the pools and slides, too. But the rest looks like a real embarrassment for everybody involved. Again, love and hate at the same time: It’s a huge amusement park with all the attractions still standing – but at the same time it feels like one of the cheap weird reality shows on TV you don’t really want to watch, but you do it anyways and feel a bit guilty for doing so. So I guess it was no surprise that Mike left after about an hour to wait for me outside and I followed maybe ten minutes later. For some reason the daytime version of Nara Dreamland wasn’t nearly as captivating as I hoped it would be – I defeated my haikyo nemesis, but it was a bitter-sweet victory to find out that “the enemy” didn’t live up to the expectations…
Overall my (most likely) last visit to Nara Dreamland was an ambiguous experience. It was great to hang out with Mike and being at an abandoned amusement park at night is an awesome experience – it just wasn’t nearly as fulfilling as my explorations of other places like the Taga Mine, the Takada Ranch Ruin or the mostly demolished Expoland.
And don’t even get me started on the Zone of Alienation, including Chernobyl and Pripyat! Oh… well… now that I think about it: Maybe it’s time to write up a couple of stories about radioactivity, gas masks and some of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to!
(For all your Nara Dreamland needs please have a look at the Nara Dreamland Special. For a look at the area around Nara Dreamland on GoogleMaps, including some fancy icons linking to articles on Abandoned Kansai and videos on YouTube, please *click here*. And since this article is quite popular: You can *follow Abandoned Kansai on Twitter* and *like this blog on Facebook* – and of course there is the *video channel on Youtube*…)