Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Closed For Storm: Six Flags New Orleans

Finally!  I have been wanting to explore this place for loooong time...seething with jealously any time I saw new pictures of the place.  I wish I would have gotten here sooner- a lot of the cool clowns and figures and statues have been completely destroyed or taken.  The weather was pretty terrible as well, but it did add to the mood of the place.  

I was amazed at the lack of any security or even so much as a fence to keep us out.  We literally drove right up to the ticket booths.  The acres of abandoned parking lot alone were creepy as hell.  As we walked through the main gates we were greeted by the sound of shattering glass and voices.  Just a tad bit unsettling.  It turned out to be a pack of 17 hippies- the homeless variety that would call an abandoned place like Six Flags home.  Not really sure if they would welcome us or stab us with a used syringe, we cautiously waved and made sure that they knew we were there.  

They turned out to be really cool...thank goodness.  We talked for a bit and they even asked me to take their picture, which I did.  The worst part about the whole experience was their stench, but I'm not complaining- they didn't kill us and they left my car alone.

The rest of the park was eerily fascinating. The wind whipping through the buildings and rides made all kinds of stange sounds (very reminiscent of the old Are You Afriad of the Dark intro).  Old rides squeaking from years without oil, loose canvases and swings banging in the wind...  It literally sounded like a ghost town.  It only added to the experience.  

The entire park was wide open.  You can go and do and climb on whatever you want.  It is as close to a doomsday environment as you can get.  I have been in a number of abandoned buildings and hospitals and churches and schools, but this place takes the cake for the most post-apocalyptic zombie like setting.

I found this video on YouTube and it's a must watch.  It beautifully illustrates what I've just described and gives you a sense of what it was like to actually be there.  Watch it now (and watch it full screen):

No one really knows what is going to happen to the park.  The city of New Orleans owns the land and is currently in talks with a number of developers who want to make it everything from a power plant to a strip mall to another theme park and movie studio.  I can't imagine the rides ever re-opening.  Six plus years of abandonment have taken their toll.

It's not everyday you get to explore such a surreal setting, and we are (lucky?) to have it in our own backyard.  (It's definitely a top 10 site for urban exploration in the U.S., and people come from all over to check it out.)  The whole place is just haunting- there's no better word.  It was hard to imagine this place once teeming with life, but I do remember my one and only visit when it was Jazzland.  Good memories.  For now it seems that it will continue to just rot away and be a haven for explorers and up-and-coming graffiti artist.  But who knows- with a whole lot of lovin' this place may be something cool in the future.  

I will be back, either way.

[I've included some photos I've found from the park before to give you an idea of how happy this place used to look.  Check out the whole collection here.]


The entrance...before.  September 2004.

"Where do theme parks go when they die?"

Said hippies...or ghosts!  (...the only picture to come out blurry.)  

The main fountain, on a happier day.  September 2004.

Glory days.  September 2004.

No lines...

Notice the water line.

Jurassic Park, anyone?

View from the top.

About 10 floors up...

...it ends too soon.

The Arcade.  September 2004.

"Will you really ever know what's on the other side?"

Crouching Tiger.

Stands for the water show...

What's left of Batman: The Ride- the only roller coaster that was saved and moved to another park.

Batman is dead.

The Muskrat Scrambler.  September 2004.


Frozen in time.

So long Six Flags...I'll be back!