BY: JESSICA BEUKER
Welcome to Dreamland. The paint is chipped, the buildings partially gutted and the faces of once smiling characters are now cracked and haunting. Weeds creep in from all directions, wrapping around steel, while their roots sprout new life between cracks in the pavement. It’s been a decade since the spinning teacups churned out the last boisterous laugh of a young child. Now, the park is silent and empty – the only visitors being Mother Nature and the few urban explorers who wish to capture the remains of the once magical place.
Dreamland opened its doors for the first time in 1961. Heavily inspired by the popular theme park in California, Dreamland was supposed to be Japan’s own Disneyland. Japanese businessman, and president of the Matsuo Entertainment Company, Kunizu Matsuo had met with Walt Disney about bringing Disneyland to Nara, Japan – and so began the creation of the theme park. Unfortunately, towards the end of construction, Matsuo and Disney had disagreements on licensing fees for the Disney characters, and Matsuo’s company created their own mascots and trademarks – and ‘Disney’ was replaced with ‘Dream’.
A little over two decades later, Tokyo Disneyland opened, bringing a lot of Dreamland’s visitors with it. Attendance at Dreamland suffered and 45 years after its initial opening, on August 21, 2006, it closed its doors for good.
The rides were never dismantled, the buildings never demolished and the land never reused. For just over a decade Dreamland sat decrepit and alone, with occasional visitors who wished to see and feel the eeriness of the park for themselves.
On October 10, 2016, demolition works began – with the work scheduled to take 14 months. After that the only remains of Dreamland will be the memories of adults who attended the park during their childhood, and the images caught on film by a few brave explorers.