Haunting photos show a Six Flags in New Orleans that has been abandoned for almost 2 decades

abandoned six flags
The swings at Six Flags New Orleans.KEG-KEG/Shutterstock
  • During Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, Six Flags New Orleans was completely flooded.

  • Since then, the park has stood abandoned, save for visits from urban explorers and alligators.

  • A lease was signed in October 2023 to begin redeveloping the land, but work has not started yet.

Before Hurricane Katrina hammered the Gulf Coast in 2005, killing almost 1,400 people and destroying millions of dollars worth of property, there was a Six Flags just outside New Orleans.

After the storm, the park was flooded. Once the waters finally receded, the question became: What should we do with this park?

Almost two decades later, Six Flags New Orleans still sits abandoned, now a time capsule of life before Katrina. However, as of August 2023, plans for a $500 million development are moving ahead, reported Axios New Orleans. A lease was signed two months later in October. But no ground has been broken, meaning, for now, it's still sitting silently.

Here's what it looks like now, how it's been used since the storm, and what the city has decided to do with the park.

The Six Flags was left submerged in floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

six flags new orleans
The flooded park.David J. Phillip/AP

After the floodwaters receded, what was left of the amusement park was a wasteland.

The park, which spans 140 acres, has been abandoned since the hurricane.

six flags new orleans sign
The sign.Gerald Herbert/AP

The sign still reads "Closed for Storm."

The park opened in 2000. Originally called Jazzland, it was acquired by Six Flags in 2003 and renamed Six Flags New Orleans (SFNO).

entrance sign six flags new orleans
Shattered glass is the norm.KEG-KEG/Shutterstock

Its location in a low-income neighborhood (New Orleans East) that's far away from other classic New Orleans tourist attractions, like the French Quarter, was not ideal.

The park was one of the least profitable parks in the Six Flags family.

six flags new orleans
New Orleans East is around 14 miles away from Bourbon Street.KEG-KEG/Shutterstock

The financial issues continued even after Jazzland turned into a Six Flags.

SFNO took its inspiration from the city, including areas based on the famous architecture of the French Quarter.

six flags new orleans

The real French Quarter is home to hundreds of years of history.

After the storm, the park was left standing in 4 to 7 feet of water, and it had extensive wind and flood damage.

abandoned six flags
A ride.KEG-KEG/Shutterstock

Almost all of the "flat rides" were submerged, according to Modern Day Ruins.

The severity of the damage caused the park to close indefinitely.

six flags new orleans
The locked gates.Gerald Herbert/AP

The gates remain locked.

In 2006, Six Flags declared the park a "total loss" and reportedly tried to get out of its 75-year lease.

six flags new orleans abandoned
There's trash everywhere.KEG-KEG/Shutterstock

The city of New Orleans took over in 2009, according to Abandoned America.

There have been numerous attempts to reopen or revamp the park.


According to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, Southern Star Amusement announced its plans to completely refurbish and even expand the park in 2008. However, these plans were canceled in 2009.

Later, in 2009, Nickelodeon announced its own plan to turn the park into a Nickelodeon-themed attraction.

looney tunes six flags new orleans
The Looney Tunes air on Nickelodeon.Bill Haber/AP

These plans were also scrapped, reported NOLA.com.

By 2011, the city of New Orleans had approved plans to construct a shopping center called Jazzland Outlet Mall in its place.

abandoned six flags
It's Mardi Gras season.KEG-KEG/Shutterstock

But, as The New Orleans Advocate reported, just two years later, this idea was called off, too.

Another proposed idea in 2011 was reopening the park under its original name, Jazzland.

six flags new orleans
2012 ended up being a bust for the park.Stanislavskyi/Shutterstock

While the Industrial Development Board of New Orleans originally went with the outlet mall plan, Jazzland continued pursuing its idea and maintained its interest in purchasing the land in 2017, according to NOLA.com.

The Industrial Development Board turned over decision-making power to the mayor in May 2017.

six flags new orleans
Stop.Gerald Herbert/AP

Mitch Landrieu was the Mayor of New Orleans from 2010 to 2018 — his term ended in May that year. It became his decision in 2017.

When another company made its interest in the land known, pitching the "Dreamlanding Festival Park," Mayor Landrieu didn't approve.

six flags new olreans
The park is essentially bayou-adjacent.Kristina Rogers/Shutterstock

NOLA.com reported in 2018 that current mayor LaToya Cantrell also passed on Dreamlanding Festival Park.

In 2019, new mayor LaToya Cantrell announced she was "running numbers for demolition" on the park, but ultimately, it stayed standing.

six flags new orleans
An aerial shot.AP

According to NOLA.com, the demolition was predicted to cost $1.3 million. Instead, Mayor Cantrell has since decided on a different route.

In October 2021, Bayou Phoenix was chosen as the redeveloper of the park.

six flags new orleans
Do not enter.Gerald Herbert/AP

Bayou Phoenix's plan includes "a sports complex, an indoor/outdoor waterpark and hotel, a logistics center, a mega travel center, and the redevelopment of the Eastover Country Club, Golf Course and Residences."

The choice was made official in October 2021.

Even after the redeveloper was selected, the park still stands as a marker of the devastation that the storm caused almost 20 years ago.

six flags new orleans
This area has held up surprisingly well.KEG-KEG/Shutterstock

There are also parts of New Orleans proper that haven't recovered.

But the land hasn't been completely ignored over the years. Many movies have been shot at the park, like "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters," which transformed it into Circeland.

The sign welcoming Percy and his friends to the fictional Circeland.20th Century Fox

"A reported 100 alligators were removed from the site as it was being prepared for the crew to take over," according to NOLA.com.

Blockbusters that have taken advantage of the decidedly creepy atmosphere are "Jurassic World" and "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes."

abandoned six flags
Post-Katrina tax credits made it cheap for movies and TV shows to film in Louisiana.KEG-KEG/Shutterstock

According to Wired, the "Jurassic World" crew filmed at the park for nine weeks.

The last film shot at Six Flags New Orleans was "The Park," released in 2023.

parking lot
The parking lot.Stanislavskyi/Shutterstock

As NOLA.com reported, in addition to "The Park," other movies filmed at SFNO include "Deepwater Horizon," "Reminiscence," "Project Power," and "Stolen."

TV shows have also used the site. Freeform's "Cloak & Dagger" had an episode focused on the park in 2018.

cloak and dagger
"Cloak & Dagger."Walt Disney Television

"Cloak & Dagger," one of the TV shows that's part of the larger extended Marvel universe, took place in New Orleans — so of course, the characters had to visit the landmark in an episode fittingly titled "Funhouse Mirrors."

A documentary, "Closed for Storm," was released in November 2020. It's about the rise and fall of the park.

cracked tv six flags new orleans
Inside the park.KEG-KEG/Shutterstock

YouTube documentarian Jake Williams told NOLA.com it took five months to get permission from the city of New Orleans to film inside the park. Speaking of abandoned places, "They're like museums," he told the site, "like walking through a period of time."

The film is now streaming on Tubi, as well as VOD.

Watch the trailer here.

But besides filming, the park has stood empty, making it a popular attraction for urban explorers.

six flags new orleans
People have even climbed the rides.Stanislavskyi/Shutterstock

There are plenty of YouTube videos.

Much of the park is still intact. Visitors have said it looks like the site of a "Leftovers"-esque disappearance as if all of the park's visitors magically vanished.

six flags new orleans
The plan was to re-open the week after the storm.KEG-KEG/Shutterstock

"Walking into the abandoned amusement park 10 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated it was an eerie experience. Gone was the scent of cotton candy and the sounds of laughter as I walked into the abandoned Six Flags Amusement Park. It was like the whole world had died, and I was the only one left. It wasn't just surreal. It was apocalyptic," photographer Seph Lawless told the New York Daily News in 2015.

Visitors should know there are dangers at SFNO, including alligators that live in the park's waterways.

six flags new orleans
Slowly but surely, the swamp is absorbing the park's structures.Romy Oomen/Shutterstock

You can see them in this YouTube video, for one.

A deal was finally reached in March 2023 to begin developing. In October, a lease was signed.

abandoned six flags
"Roach City."KEG-KEG/Shutterstock

"I applaud NORA (New Orleans Redevelopment Authority) and Bayou Phoenix on reaching this critical milestone toward the redevelopment of the blighted former Six Flags site," Cantrell said, according to 4WWL.

In May 2023, NORA said Bayou Phoenix's 700-page plan still had holes and most likely needed to be redone, according to NOLA.com.

By October, Bayou Phoenix finally signed a lease for the land. As Biz New Orleans reported, the next step is raising $500 million to begin construction, and signing tenants. According to the report, the site could contain "a water park, a youth sports facility, two hotels, an 8.5-acre man-made lake, a movie studio, an amphitheater, and retail outlets."

But that hasn't happened yet.

So, for now, the park stands as a testament to the long-lasting and apocalyptic impact of Hurricane Katrina on the city of New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast.

Read the original article on Business Insider