while not an abandoned theme park in the sense of the famed Nara Dreamland, Jungle Habitat located in the far north reaches of New Jersey technically is one. from what i can tell, it operated in the 1970s and was basically a park with wild (exotic?) animals that roamed around while you drove around. i found a great youtube video of a digitized super 8 home movie.
after laying dormant for a long time, it is now an off-road trail park with open access to those who want to walk/hike/mountain bike/dirt bike, or like me, see what’s left of the place. i didn’t really explore much other than the roads leading up to the main parking lots, the lots themselves, and an area near the lot. if you are so inclined, though, and have the equipment, it seems like a really cool place to go off-roading.
for the explorer, though, i’d heard that not much was left of the park itself (though you can’t miss the entrance), but since i was in the (extended) neighborhood at the abandoned summer camp, i figured i’d be remiss if i didn’t check this place out. full set of pictures on flickr. you will likely discover more if you head out on the trails, but i was perfectly content with the vast abandonment of the parking lots (see panoramas below).
sidebar: getting there if your GPS doesn’t have Jungle Habitat as a point of interest, just head towards the Greenwood Lake Airport — it’s a general aviation airport located right next to the park. if you look on google maps you’ll see the enormous Jungle Habitat parking lot (which you’ll have to walk to) right below the airport itself, and you definitely won’t miss the entrance to the park. the gate may look closed, but it’s actually open on the left-hand side. oh, and i don’t know if there are such things as general aviation planespotters, but if you are one, there’s a great rock outcropping from where you have a great view of the runway; see a panorama below. p.s. visit the Constellation (Air France’s first, according to wiki), at the airport!
walking back to the car, though was when it all started to hit me, why i love abandonment — there’s something about being in a post-human landscape. it’s not just being alone in a vast expanse of nature that does it (though i do enjoy that, of course), but mix in nature reclaiming her place in the world and a realization that you are somewhere that once teemed with human activity and yet you’re the only person there at the moment…absolutely magical and dare i say, mystical.
the parking lot panos
standing in the middle of the roads and parking lots totally reminded me of my first time on the abandoned turnpike — there’s something about being alone on an overgrown road to make you feel small and insignificant, and part of something larger that’s beyond your immediate power. that’s probably the closest to religion as i’ll ever get, and while i can’t explain why i love it, i do.
oh, and a video of me out in the woods:
and finally, a panorama of the view of the airport. it’s a bit hard to see here, but trust me, you can see the piano keys and runway pretty easily in real life.