Although Japan is a place of widespread religious ambiguity, there is an underlying belief in a place between the land of the living and the world of the dead. It’s an entirely different world in itself, a temporal zone where you can’t be sure what exists and what doesn’t.
This place is Wonderland amusement park in Fukui Prefecture. The park boasts four remaining attractions that haven’t been closed down due to safety reasons and a distinct lack of guests. Nevertheless, Wonderland assures you they are open… especially if you want to buy the place.
If you were to visit the Wonderland website you’d be treated to a very well maintained page complete with smartphone version, embedded Google Maps, and flash animations. It’s actually quite good for a lower-mid-sized amusement park.
On the top page you are treated to a video of people enjoying the many thrills and amusements Wonderland has to offer like a spook-house and bungee jumping. However, just beneath is a list of attractions currently in operation.
- Racing karts
- Ground Golf
Comparing this list to the videos and interactive map on the website, it would seem that every attraction involving water or a structure has been closed down. The water rides were likely shut down due to the costs, and the word online is all the other attractions in the park that require physical structures had failed to meet building regulations – in spectacular fashion as we’ll read later.
So, visitors are left with two types of go-karts and “ground golf” which is neither regular golf, nor mini-putt. Basically, it’s a putting green without holes or obstacles wherein you must hit the ball into a frying pan region around a flag – actually make that 48 flags when you play at Wonderland!
Oh, and in all the excitement I almost forgot the Segways.
One person who visited Wonderland confirmed via Twitter that these attractions were really in service along with their prices such as 500 yen (US$4.60) for five minutes on a Segway.
▼ Tweet: “Fukui Wonderland is seriously screwed. Almost all of the rides can’t be ridden because of building code violations and no one else is here. It’s totally deserted. It’s like this place is becoming a legitimate ruin.”
Sure maintaining an entire park is hard work but they really should start by replacing that sign with something that doesn’t look like it was smeared with the blood of innocents. The Twitter user uploaded some other shots of this park as it stands its final death throes. They’re pretty morose, not quite as bad as seeing a child’s teddy bear discarded in a filthy gutter, but close.
By now you must be thinking to yourself, “I’d sure like to buy a place like that.” Well, you’re in luck! According to the website Wonderland is currently pursuing new ownership in a brief but direct appeal to the public placed appropriately next to a picture of someone taking a huge leap of faith.
▼ “Wonderland is currently looking for operators!! Why don’t you run the leisure zone of Fukui, Wonderland? It’s conveniently located near Ashihara hot spring and other facilities.”
What the ad fails to mention is that Wonderland has been the site of four accidents involving young children in 1997, 2002, 2007, and 2013 on the same roller coaster. In last year’s accident a nine-year-old boy fell about four meters breaking his ribs and damaging his liver. A subsequent investigation found that both the safety belts were not adequate and the attendants were letting children ride who were under the height requirement.
As a result the roller coaster and most other rides were shut down, and the park seemed to have taken on urban legend status with rumors swirling online of other accidents involving the bungee jump and car accidents in the parking lot leaving visitors dead. With all the chatter over the internet, no actual reports of deaths in Wonderland could be found.
▼ “Ah! I remember! There was an accident on the reverse bungee jump… cough cough. Ashihara, eh? Nearby you say? Wow, even though I’m from there I can’t believe I forgot. Certainly they must be giving that place away for free, right? lol I love Fukui and this is shameful.”
Meanwhile, for all you urban explorers, abandoned amusement parks are played out. If you want a truly new experience head on down to Wonderland located in that fleeting realm between life and death just off highway 7 in Sakai City. It’s like Bruce Willis in the 6th Sense – a ghost but it just doesn’t know it yet. Sorry if I gave away the ending, but it’s been 15 years. You really should have seen that movie by now.