Pripyat Amusement Park never fully opened to the public. It was just days away from its ribbon being cut on 1st May 1986, in time for May Day celebrations. Everything changed on 26th April, when the Chernobyl Disaster occurred just a few miles away. On 27th April, a 30km wide zone around the Chernobyl power plant was evacuated, including the whole of Pripyat and its iconic amusement park. The amusement park was located in the very centre of the town. It had four main attractions; Swing Boats, a Carrousel, Bumper Cars and the now-famous Ferris Wheel. Pripyat Amusement Park was constructed by the Soviet Union as a “Park of Culture and Rest.” These were typical in Soviet cities (many are still in existence today) and visiting was very affordable. Pripyat’s rides were manufactured by Аттракцион, whose successor is still building rides of a similar design today.
There is speculation that the park was opened early, as a “distraction” for residents, just before the evacuation order was given on 27th April. There are images of the park open with visitors, however others argue that these are simply from a test-day at the amusement park. Visitors are pictured wearing thick coats suggesting that the images were taken in the winter, rather than the end of April, and any concrete evidence that the park was opened as a distraction are impossible to come by. Similarly, as the severity of the Chernobyl disaster was initially covered up, the general mood was not of great concern in Pripyat. Even after the evacuation order was given people believed that they would return to their homes in a matter of days or weeks. This begs the question of whether authorities would have needed to use any form of distraction.
Today Pripyat Amusement Park is frozen in time, decaying as part of a post-apocalyptic landscape and being over-run with nature. It has become an icon of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, with its striking Ferris Wheel a haunting reminder of what was left behind after the nuclear disaster.
Last Updated on 17 February 2022 by Michael