Nara Dreamland (Japanese: 奈良ドリームランド, Hepburn: Nara Dorīmurando), or just simply Dreamland, was a theme park near Nara, Japan, heavily inspired by Disneyland in California. It opened in 1961 and was in continuous operation until its permanent closure in 2006 as a result of falling attendance. The park was left abandoned until it was demolished between October 2016 and December 2017.[1]

Nara Dreamland
The castle, modeled after Sleeping Beauty Castle, at Nara Dreamland, less than a year before the park’s closure
Location2 Chōme-1 Hōrensahoyama-chō, Nara, Nara Prefecture, Japan
Coordinates34°41′58″N 135°49′21″E / 34.699444°N 135.8225°E / 34.699444; 135.8225
OpenedJuly 1, 1961 (1961-07-01)
ClosedAugust 31, 2006 (2006-08-31)
OwnerDaiei (former Nippon Dream Kanko)
Operated byDreampark
General managerKunizo Matsuo
Roller coasters6
Water rides1
Nara Dreamland in September 2005, less than a year before its closure

History edit

Beginnings edit

When Disneyland opened in Anaheim in 1955, Japanese businessman Kunizo Matsuo visited the park, and was so impressed with what Walt Disney made, that he envisioned something like it to be perfect in Japan. He then got into talks with Walt to franchise a Disney park in Japan, and it seemed well, as Disney then supposedly had Imagineers create concepts for the park, but the deal fell through, likely due to licensing issues. Still wanting to open a Disney-like park, Matsuo decided to move forward with the plans, whilst removing any Disney intellectual properties.

On July 1, 1961, Nara Dreamland was opened to the public. The entrance to the park was designed to look almost identical to Disneyland, including its own versions of the Train Depot, Main Street, U.S.A., and the familiar Sleeping Beauty Castle at the hub. It also had a Matterhorn-type mountain (with a Matterhorn Bobsleds-type ride, called Bobsleigh) with a Skyway running through it, as well as an Autopia-type ride and a monorail.

The park also had its own mascots, Ran-chan and Dori-chan, two children dressed as bearskin guards.

The park was initially popular due to its similarities to Disneyland, which did not have a location in Japan at the time. At its peak, the park had 1.7 million visitors a year.

Decline edit

In 1979, The Oriental Land Company made contact with The Walt Disney Company to create a Disney theme park in Tokyo.

After Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983, the number of visitors to Nara Dreamland slowly began to decrease, as more people were interested in going to the said Disney park. This marked the beginning of the downfall for Dreamland, with attendance numbers dropping to around a million visitors a year.[2] MEC, including Nara Dreamland, was bought by the supermarket chain Daiei in 1993.

In 2001, Tokyo DisneySea opened next to Tokyo Disneyland, and Universal Studios Japan opened as well in Osaka, the latter of which is about 40 kilometers away from Nara Dreamland. After those two parks opened, Dreamland's attendance numbers worsened, plummeting to 400,000 visitors a year.[2]

In 2004, the park began to decline in quality; some stores closed down, some attractions began to rust, and service trucks would be left abandoned with no one using them.

On August 31, 2006, the park permanently closed. It was left abandoned for 10 years before its demolition in October 2016.[3]

Sale and demolition edit

Nara City's government gained ownership of the park after the park's owner fell behind in property taxes.[4][5] In 2013, the city put the site up for auction but the auction received no bids.[4] In 2015 the city put the property up for auction again. This time, an Osaka-based real estate company named SK Housing won the bid, paying 730 million Yen (or $6 million in USD).[4][5]

In October 2016, a Japanese newspaper reported that SK Housing had started the demolition process.[5] On October 14, 2016, an urban explorer visited Nara Dreamland and reported seeing demolition vehicles tearing down the Main Street area.[6][7] It was later confirmed online by regular visitors that the demolition process was officially underway as of October 10, 2016 and that it was due to take 14 months.[1] Demolition of the park started in October 2016 and was completed on December 21, 2017. The plans to develop the land for commercial resort and water park.

Attractions edit

The park contained several rides prior to closing, including:

Other rides included a carousel, a Mad Tea Party-styled ride, a haunted maze, a small powered coaster, a Jungle Cruise-styled ride, and a log flume.[8]

Popularity with urban explorers edit

Nara Dreamland was a popular destination for haikyoists, or urban explorers.[9]

Additionally, many have reported hearing strange noises near the park's boats. Some speculate that it may have been caused by a running water pump or a type of bull frog.[10][better source needed]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Nara Dreamland is being demolished". 2016-10-20. Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  2. ^ a b "Abandoned Nara Dreamland: Japan's Almost-Disney".
  3. ^ "Nara Dreamland – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)". Abandoned Kansai. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  4. ^ a b c "Nara Dreamland sold to Osaka real estate company". Retrieved 2016-11-15.
  5. ^ a b c "奈良ドリームランド解体開始 /奈良". The Mainichi. Retrieved 2016-11-15.
  6. ^ "Bad news, guys. I was at abandoned Japanese theme park Nara Dreamland today (2016/10/14) and it looks like the demolition of the main entrance street has begun. (3352x2356) • /r/AbandonedPorn". reddit. Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  7. ^ "Guide: How to get in Nara Dreamland". 2016-03-23. Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  8. ^ "Nara Dreamland: Japan's last abandoned theme park | Michael John Grist | Michael John Grist". Retrieved 2016-08-10.
  9. ^ "Travel | Nara Dreamland". Metropolis. 2012-06-28. Archived from the original on 2016-06-16. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  10. ^ "Abandoned Disneyland Knock-Off - Nara Dreamland Theme Park Exploration". YouTube. 2016-06-30. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2016-09-18.

Sources edit

External links edit

34°42′00″N 135°49′27″E / 34.70000°N 135.82417°E / 34.70000; 135.82417