Pripyat Amusement Park: What Happened Here?

Pripyat Amusement Park
Photo by Niels van Brenk on Unsplash

In another life, Pripyat Amusement Park in Northern Ukraine is full of cheerful families making happy memories together. But after disaster struck, the park was deserted and left in ruins. Instead of the excited screams and laughter, the park remains silent. Signs of vandalism and deserted rides rusting away the only things left visible.

The abandoned Pripyat Amusement Park is one of the most haunting sites in the world. The owners scheduled the park to open on May 1st, 1986 for the May Day celebrations. However, the grand opening never came due to a nuclear disaster on the night of April 26th. The park’s rides have since become a symbol for creepy abandoned amusement parks worldwide.

Shockingly, the park opened its doors for a couple of hours on April 27th to distract those waiting for instructions to evacuate the city following the Chernobyl disaster when a nuclear reactor exploded just a few kilometres away from Pripyat.

The amusement park still contains high levels of radiation following the explosion with the mossy area underneath the Ferris wheel having some of the highest levels of radiation in the whole of Pripyat.  

The Tragic History Of Pripyat Amusement Park

Named after the nearby river, Pripyat was the ninth nuclear city in the Soviet Union. The city was founded on February 4th, 1970 to serve the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

Many Soviet cities had amusement parks known as Parks of Culture and Rest and some of these are still operating today following the official dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The catastrophic accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, then located in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union (USSR), is the only nuclear power plant accident to cause fatalities from radiation. It occurred due to the flawed design of the Soviet-era reactor combined with human-error.

An explosion and subsequent fire released radioactive particles 400 times that of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima into the atmosphere, which spread over much of the western USSR and European countries.

With no safety measures in place to prevent radiation from escaping, inadequately trained workers and no enacted safety procedures, the incident remains the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history in terms of cost and casualties.

The current levels of radiation in the abandoned theme park vary. The liquidators washed radiation into the soil after the helicopters carrying radioactive materials used Pripyat Amusement Park as a landing strip. The areas made of concrete are reasonably safe but areas with moss are extremely hazardous.

The amusement park is featured in numerous video games including Call of Duty; Modern Warfare and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. The park is the inspiration behind Atlantic Island Park in The Secret World and appears in the film Chernobyl Diaries. It also appeared in Suede’s music video clip, “Life Is Golden”.

Pripyat Amusement Park And Its Attractions   

Pripyat Amusement Park’s main attraction was a 26 metre Ferris wheel along with a swing ride, bumper cars and paratrooper ride.  The amusement park has remained empty ever since the nuclear meltdown. The attractions show many signs of abandonment and vandalism.

Most of the rides are now covered in rust and nature is beginning to take over the park with weeds growing up through cracks in the concrete and overgrown shrubbery sprouting from the once neatly maintained pathways.

Ferris Wheel

ferris wheel, pripyat amusement park
Jorge Franganillo / Flickr

Pripyat Amusement Park’s rusting Chernobyl Ferris wheel has become an icon of the misfortune of the nuclear disaster. Visitors frequently leave teddy bears on the seats as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the tragedy.

If not for the obvious rust on the main frame of the Ferris wheel and a damaged pod, the Chernobyl Ferris wheel appears to be in a surprisingly good condition despite the years of abandonment.

Bumper Cars

bumper cars, pripyat amusement park
Jorge Franganillo / Fickr

Out of all the rides at the park, the Bumper Cars show the most signs of abandonment. Weeds that have cracked the through the ground of the ride and have overgrown the surface. The bodies of the bumper cars have begun to rot through, having been exposed to the elements.

Swing Ride

The Chernobyl ghost town’s swing ride stands motionless in the abandoned park. The two-person boat ride has suffered from years of exposure to rain and snow. The ride’s frame has rusted with the supporting seat cables almost completely broken off. The swing rides seats themselves show signs of damage from both weather and vandalism.

Paratrooper Ride

pripyat amusement park, paratrooper
Eamonn Butler / Flickr

The Paratrooper ride’s seats have rotted through and the metal structure of the ride is covered in rust. The once fresh paint has completely peeled off revealing the exposed rusted frame.

Where Is Pripyat Amusement Park Located?

Jorge Franganillo / Flickr

Pripyat is located in northern Ukraine and sits close to the Belarus border. Pripyat Amusement Park can be found behind the Palace of Culture in the centre of Pripyat.

Most homes were abandoned immediately after the disaster, with residents leaving everything behind. However, in recent years, some people have returned and have restored their homes to live in the city once again.

People live a modest life in the area. But with a small community existing and social life slowly growing, the residents have hope for the future of Pripyat.

How Do I Visit Pripyat Amusement Park?

The amusement park is only accessible as part of a guided tour as it’s only 30 kilometres from the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

During the tour, you will get the opportunity to observe Pripyat and its abandoned amusement park. It is not recommended to stay in the area for too long or visit the exclusion zone. However, if you follow the directions of your guide, your visit will be safe and unforgettable.


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