Defunctland – Do You Know your Theme Park?
Finding joy in the history of parks and rides
Do you remember the first time you went to an amusement park? I have a vague memory of it, I was young enough that the adventure was magical, yet terrifying. Magical because of the colorful rides, the thrills and the cotton candy, and terrifying because I got lost inside a giant inflatable caterpillar tunnel, (a story for another time.)
I always thought of theme parks as “in the moment”. You go there for a day, have fun and then you never think about it again until the next time you go, or until you come across some pictures. All of this changed when I came across the Defunctland YouTube channel.
Defunctland is a series focusing on the history of theme parks and rides, specifically attractions that are no longer in use today. The series is created by Kevin Perjurer, YouTuber and theme park enthusiast. Each episode is a 10-20 minute long, well researched and produced trip to the past. We learn about how the idea of a certain ride was born and how it was constructed, coupled with concept art, interviews, commercials and other promotional materials that depict this entire process. We often learn about how the ride was perceived by the public at the time of its creation, how it performed and any other notable events leading up to its closure.
I never thought about amusement parks having a history, or that people might be interested in learning about it. The more videos I watched the more fascinated I became with the topic, and it wasn’t long before I watched hours upon hours of content. The experience is a charming, but almost sad nostalgia, as at the end of each episode the conclusion that “none of this exists anymore” hits you. One episode that made me feel like I really missed out on something special was titled Defunctland: The History of Journey into Imagination.
DefunctTV has the same idea as Defunctland, but instead of extinct parks and rides, it focuses on the history of bygone TV shows. The first one of these episodes is titled DefunctTV: The History of Bear in the Big Blue House. The most recent videos on the channel are part of a six-part documentary series about the life and work of Jim Henson, American puppeteer, creator of the Muppets. I highly recommend watching them, and I can’t wait to watch the rest of the series.
VR Park and Podcast
In between regular episodes there is the Defunctalnd Podcast. These episodes are usually between 40 to 60 minute long and feature a guest host such as: former attraction employees, imagineers, fellow YouTubers and other celebrities. Each guest brings their unique experience and perspective to the discussion as they delve deeper into everything theme park related.
Besides the podcast and the show, however there is one more unique and ambitious project that makes this channel stand out, and that is the VR Park. Since the channel is centered around retired rides, there was this concept ever since the beginning to bring all of these extinct attractions into a VR environment where they can live and be remembered forever. The first such parts to be released will be called “The Dark Zone”. According to the website“It will feature a full land to roam, including four attraction and one restaurant exterior, and two attraction demos.”
Concept art from defunctland.com
I hope that I peeked your interest enough, so that you will dig deeper into the lore of all things defunct. It’s a fun educational resource and an awesome channel that deserves more attention.