Holy Land, U.S.A is an Abandoned Christian Theme Park With A Dark Past
The theme park included a Garden of Eden, life-sized scenes from the Bible and statues of Jesus.
The feeling of "kenopsia," according to The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, is the "eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that's usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet — a school hallway in the evening, an unlit office on a weekend, vacant fairgrounds..." There might be no feeling more fitting for Holy Land, U.S.A. It's a former Christian theme park that has since been abandoned, leaving behind decomposing relics of the happy place it once was — and since a terrible crime was committed on its empty grounds, it's only gotten creepier.
A Place That Evokes "Kenopsia"
Designed to look like a small-scale version of Biblical Bethlehem, the roadside theme park in Waterbury, Connecticut had more than 50,000 visitors every year during the 1960s. It was open the decade prior by John Baptist Greco, a Catholic attorney with a name to match. Attractions included the Garden of Eden, life-sized scenes from the Bible, and statues of Jesus. You could even find a little inn with a "no vacancy" sign right near Nativity Square.
In 1984, Greco shut the place down to expand it and attract more people, but that never happened — he died two years later. The park was bequeathed to a group of nuns, who kept it clean and maintained but never allowed admittance. However, a "closed" sign on something this spooky at night never stopped teenagers before, and didn't stop them then. They broke in and vandalized the place, leaving behind headless statues, a destroyed "Last Supper" wall, broken bottles, and other evidence of rebellious behavior.
Nuns of Our Business
Even worse, in 2010 a teenage girl was murdered in the abandoned park. With that tragedy and the subsequent selling of the land by the nuns to new owners who may not be as forgiving of trespassers, the fascination of this ghostly attraction of yesteryear is all but left to internet searches and short YouTube documentaries. If you're driving through Waterbury, though, you can't miss it: there's a Hollywood-style sign and a giant cross marking the spot. We wouldn't recommend the visit, though. The surrounding area is covered in "no trespassing" signs, which are a lot less endearing than "no vacancy."
This article first appeared on Curiosity.com.