Fun Faired Badly

ap18There is nothing sadder than the sight of happiness gone wrong…but by now I’m sure you know that I enjoy my melancholy haunts.

I think I have perhaps found the ultimate playground for such thoughts.

Since gliding through these featured photos which I came across at flavorwire.com I have become slightly obsessed with dilapidated and abandoned theme parks.

When the silence falls how mournful and piteous these crumbling places must seem.  Naturally I would love to walk the once thronged avenues of these ghostly, skeletal structure infested waste grounds and take in the feelings of memories shared and gone, discarded like the remains of a hot dog before the next ride.

Reading books set in amusement parks at night are always ominous but there is always that feeling of excitement, of life merely put on hold until the morning.  That feeling of the echoing laughter that fades will be renewed in the morning.  This seems more….terminal.

I suppose it is a variation on what the priests of the ancient world would have felt in relation to the sun but now click1we have the terrible evidence of what happens when the Gods of Fun are unhappy with us…okay I romanticise but does capitalism have to get its claws into everything?

The theme park in that classic 80’s film Supergirl gave me the creeps and was there one in a Batman film?  I forget now, I’m sure there are numerous others that have slipped my mind but they remain an effective tool in the armoury of writers and directors.

There is something about the emptiness, the loneliness, the coldness of the place…perhaps it is the slight spookiness these places of colour and light hold during the opening times that are even more terrifying when the idea of their being no tomorrow is put squarely in the forefront of our minds.  There is something to be said for a reprieve of noise but it is an entirely different carousel when there is no tomorrow and no more life.

Perhaps I should say that it is not just the parks with rides that I mourn the loss of, it is also the older fun fairs and carnival style places.  It feels like a bit of history dies when some of these older parks go down and we are left with the bigger and therefore more blander theme parks of the modern era.

Perhaps it’s a debilitating seasonal shutting down of my happy circuits, bring back summer and all that!  Or maybe it’s an underlying affliction that a lick of paint over the rust just can’t hide…the human soul is much like a theme park, it’s a fascinating beast and usually unreadable (unrideable) to other people no matter what they will have you believe.

Perhaps it is mortality that is at the crux of it, like so much in life or perhaps I just analyse things way to much…

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47 Replies to “Fun Faired Badly”

  1. Really fine post. Enjoyed the writing, the pix, and the link to flavorwire. Many years ago I had a dream about an abandoned coaster that is pretty much the image of your headline pic; eery. —Chagall

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    1. I love it, the whole setting is something surreal and faintly absurd, so classic dream fodder. Glad you liked it, I shall endeavour to seek out some equally interesting places to post upon soon.

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  2. You have encapsulated the very essence of places like this…so very succinctly. You posses a magical and unique take on a myriad of things…but this…this gave me an entire kaleidoscope of thoughts/emotions of both amusement parks…and life itself. You unceasingly add enlightenment and a fresh look at things I probably wouldn’t have thought of in the first place. Most definitely a standout piece…also…one to think on…ponder…for some time to come…xxxxxx

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    1. This pleases me! Pondering, musing and gaining varied perspectives are what I have come to learn are key for an interesting life. The little things are as fascinating as the big…I love the subtlety that life brings. I always thought everyone thought like me so it is great to know that I can throw a few curve ball thoughts for people to consider. Makes for great dreams too, when I remember them. xxxxxx

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  3. This reminds me of the accordion music I would always hear outside my flat in Paris. It always felt so sad and cheerless to me; memories of cheerfulness forgotten.

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    1. Conversely I think there is a certain charm about the rotting carcasses of fun fairs…perhaps i am just a bit grim like that though. Next time I do a similar piece I will get some suitable accordion music just for you!

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  4. This post has given me a wealth of ideas. 🙂

    I know what you mean about the mournfulness of the theme park. Near me (okay about 30 miles away) there is a run down theme park – Dreamland (Margate, Kent, UK for anyone not of UK who decides to read this comment) and it was shut down about a decade or so ago. The owner, Jimmy Godden, wanted to tear the whole place down and build flats there. When he was refused permission, there was a sudden and unexplained fire that started to take the worlds oldest roller coaster, the fire was put out and then he was ordered to have it rebuilt. He died an unhappy man as he was used to getting his own way by skirting the laws.

    I think the theme park was in the 1970s batman and then there may have been one in Batman and Robin. I only suspect that though because of the Riddler.

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    1. I am glad to pass on the ideas, it’s a contagious business this idea giving!

      I love those roller coaster POV’s, you have to be pretty ruthless to destriy some proper heritage like that, what a shameful story. There are way to many new builds on places like Dreamland and green belt land…why does no one knck down the dangerous abandoned buildings in our towns and build on those, making the place safer.

      I do recall a fun fair as well in batman and Robin but I am not sure if that is only because you mentioned it. Still any excuse to watch every Batman film, because to watch just one would be unfair to all the rest.

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      1. Very true. I have been debating buying the anthology for a while. I have also been thinking about buying the Superman anthology as well, I just can’t convince myself it is a good idea yet.

        I did find a POV video of the roller coaster I went on in Blackpool. That was the last time I went … well .. to Blackpool. The first part and the drop is breathtaking. As in .. it takes your breath. You can either scream to expel the force or grit your teeth and snarl LOL

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        1. I like watching the POV’s of the biggest in the world as that is enough for me, although I was proud to go on the Nemesis at Alton Towers once. I haven’t been on the one at Blackpool although I did look at it and decided I was adventurous to do that.

          Some dodgy films in both the box sets, I think I would definitely do Batman for pure variation. Superman just seems a little less thrilling these days. The originals were good 80’s films though…of which more soon!

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          1. Reminds me of a book that I think you would enjoy. I read it a while ago and did a piece on it. It is a quick book that you can pick up and put down with no loss of plot as there isn’t one. It is just letters from an accident prone man. I reviewed it in July last year 🙂

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  5. Great, atmospheric photos. Have you ever read Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes”? It’s an eerie story about the carnival coming to a Midwestern town.

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    1. I haven’t but I do own it…I think. I will have a look see in all the boxes I have stored away. I will check it out though and question why I haven’t before….

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  6. That last picture is a ripper! There’s that lovely abandoned amusement park machinery in Chernobyl too. Somehow I don’t think it’s going to rise from the ashes anytime soon. Now, on a tangent, from my perch on the shelf I was able to peruse with a growing sense of unease as my flesh owners were sucked into Australia’s inaugural series of “The Bachelor”. On one of his “one-on-one” dates, do you know where he took his lucky chosen lady? To an empty fun fair. At night. I can just imagine the pre-planning – we’ll hold hands, entering the hall of mirrors, then become separated, at which point I will daze and confuse her with multiples of my warped reflections before slicing her into bits.

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    1. On reflection that last photo reminds me of classic 80’s cartoon Dungeons and Dragons. Chernobyl is a bit of a grim one, I can always follow up post on that if I can find any photos with two headed donkeys on the pirate ship…The Batchelor eh? Nice to see you have found your level, ha! I enjoyed your sinister story and think that it would be a winner in a certain genre of books….

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      1. Hmmm. That might be difficult. I think the two-headed donkeys were the first to evacuate – with their increased brain capacity, they knew what was coming long before the human population did….the animals are somehow always the first to know….

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        1. why do I feel like it was a missed opportunity for a Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor film…maybe it can be salvaged with Robin Williams and Sting…maybe.

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  7. Abandoned theme parks do have a creeptacular feel to them I think I kinda’ like it. At the same time though…kinda’ sad.
    Around Halloween time – the amusement park by us gets a Halloween make-over, spooky decorations, characters in costumes & make-up, eerie music…
    We try to catch the Fright Fest at least one time each season.

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    1. That sounds awesome, a few years ago I went to Alton Towers, a mahoosive theme park and that had a lot of stuff going on. Queueing up for rides at night there were people(?) skulking around in the shadows and haunting melodies as well. That’s when my suggestion to play Scooby-Doo fell on deliberately deaf ears. It is a good sad feeling…I love to wallow in it.

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        1. Camp cartoon, that made me lol…literally I said ‘lol’. I would love a man in a fez to be present…because he always did it.

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    1. The soviets, they knew how to build imposing monuments…that is possibly the best and toughest choice I have ever come across.

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  8. Well old pal, this is by far one of your best post ever. 🙂
    The way you write, I can almost touch the rawness of your emotions and it’s so true. There’s something sad and final about abandoned theme parks and I quote you, ‘Or maybe it’s an underlying affliction that a lick of paint over the rust just can’t hide…the human soul is much like a theme park, it’s a fascinating beast and usually unreadable (unrideable) to other people no matter what they will have you believe.’ I reckon I don’t need to add more.

    I love reading this… however, I’m absolutely petrified of abandoned theme parks!

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    1. Sometimes my self examination in the context of something else pushes me to write well, I don’t do many of these so I am glad you like them…despite my macho exterior I have a feeling or two rolling around in me.

      I would love to potter around an eerie theme park…I think it would be somewhat cathartic.

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    1. We love our accuracy around here (so much so it took me ages to spell it right), I appreciate your continued support and your fashion sense.

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  9. This was so well written Ste J, so thought provoking! I believe it may be one of your best posts yet! Once again you have delved into a subject that most would not give a passing thought, bringing forth so much emotion. I am finding it difficult to express just how much I enjoyed this! 🙂

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    1. Every so often, I notice these sorts of things and get temporarily enamoured by them, well I say temporarily! I am training myself to try and see all the things that usually go a bit unnoticed as that’s where the fascinating stuff is…I think that’s why I don’t review half as many new bestsellers as other blogs do. I was looking at my feet earlier but decided not to do a post on those.

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  10. This was so well said, I’m stuck reading it over and over:
    ” Or maybe it’s an underlying affliction that a lick of paint over the rust just can’t hide…the human soul is much like a theme park, it’s a fascinating beast and usually unreadable (unrideable) to other people no matter what they will have you believe.”
    Yes! I’ve often felt that way and almost to the point of feeling lost. I can try and hide it or just say the hell with it and in the starkness of the loneliness I find myself new again. In weakness, there’s still hope, and in dying we all hope to live again in peace. Or I just think too much! Anyway, abandoned anythings conjure up that feeling of creepy-meets-cool. The beach during the winter feels so desolate, but hope springs anew come late spring.

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    1. Thinking to much is good, my introspective side came out with this one and I did muse on the more metaphorical aspects of how theme parks make me feel. It’s good to exercise the mind, no matter where one’s thoughts may take us.

      The beach is another good musing venue, the total opposite of the theme park in that it is all open and windswept but I think it can lay thoughts of a more ancestral nature about the mind…interesting, next time I’m a the beach, I will do that…

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      1. I often see the loneliness of the empty beach, and in my mind and through my core I can almost feel the memories left behind by centuries of beach goers. It’s good to get carried away in thoughts. It renders me nostalgic, even if only imaginatively so.

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    1. I’m well miffed that I forgot about Spirited Away, that would have been a great bit to add in some Eastern culture…fantastic photos…my urge for happy melancholy is satiated….for now.

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  11. A beautiful post Steven. Some gorgeous imagery there, and that photograph is stunning. There’s something quite disturbing about something well-known for bringing happiness and pleasure, associated with joy and fun, that is now desolate and empty. Like a child’s doll found abandoned on a damp pavement.

    Absolutely sublime. More, more!

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        1. I have never heard of Joe Hill although checking him out he seems prolific. I may have to pick that book up when it does come out though it sounds great.

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  12. Great post that I had missed, glad you included a link to it. I, too, share your fascination with these places (when abandoned – so eerie) which is why I enjoyed Joyland by Stephen King – such a shame the amusement parks have gone the way of the dodo to give way to bland Disneyland.

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    1. Joyland inspired this post, it really made me appreciate it and also to lament that there are so few around. I don’t see the attraction of Disneyland, way to corporate and sanitised for my tastes.

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