No Lines for Dead Rides

No Lines for Dead Rides

Photographers document abandoned theme park




Chains of amusement parks make a good demonstration of gleeful American excess. We build entire towns, in essence, dedicated purely to pleasure, to purchasing corporate fun. We pay fifty dollars to enter them, and even more for overpriced in-park goods. We wait in line, inching forward in the hot sun for hours, just to get the chance to have our bodies thrown around by a machine. We do all this for the chemical rush it releases in our brains. It seems like quite the display of hedonism, but when you're a kid, a space dedicated purely to fun can allow for some of the fondest childhood memories to form. 

But the world takes back what we've built, even the innocent places. Sometimes it does so quite suddenly. Six Flags New Orleans was full of people one day and full of water the next. Now it lies vacant, save for the occasional brave trespasser. 

What inspires people to push past the law and seek out decay? Some are attracted to the spectacle of decay. Some leave marks behind, finally able to modify a formerly regulated space with their own impulses. Spray paint scrawls tattoo the flaking walls. Some imbue the dead buildings with a black humor: the words "male roaches" now hang outside the men's restroom, "female roaches" outside the women's. "This Place Sucks" appears in orange on a board outside a children's play place. Some tags are just that--names of their makers strewn over a structure. Most seem to be nonsense. And yet some are hopeful: "NOLA rising" next to a peace sign. Explorers of the ruins engage in silent, time-lapsed conversation embedded in the space itself. 

And still others arrive solely to document that conversation. The result of their trespassing is some truly gorgeous decay photography. Despite having been soaked in hurricane waters, the colors of the park still shine bright in the Louisiana sun. Purple and orange bumper cars lie still atop a littered floor. The curls of coaster rails remain intact. After all, this was a sudden abandonment, and a recent one at that. Unlike the mental hospitals and factories that normally dominate decay photography, Six Flags NOLA shots allow for a glimpse at a recently ruined institution, flushed of its essence but still standing. 

Even looking through the photos, one feels like the sole survivor of a worldwide apocalyptic event. The destruction of just one location, if it's complete enough, can make a viewer feel as though the whole world has fallen victim to the storm. The tension between the playful, childlike imagery and the torn edges of the empty park creates an odd sense of nostalgic doom. There are few structures more iconic of childhood than the ferris wheel, and to see one forever abandoned and on its way to ruin strikes an uncomfortable chord. 

The folks over at Love These Pics have assembled 75 of the most emotive shots of the NOLA Six Flags. All come from the photostreams of different photographers broadcasting their work on Flickr. If you love decay photography, it doesn't get much better than this. Hop on over to view the full set