"Bizarro: The World's Most Hauntingly Beautiful Abandoned Theme Parks" by Seph Lawless explores fantasy worlds left behind across the globe. (Source: Seph Lawless)
The yellow brick road leads up to the gates of Oz at the Land of Oz, an abandoned theme park in Beech Mountain, NC. The image is included in the book "Bizarro," which explores amusement parks left behind. (Source: Seph Lawless)
Emerald City's castle is decaying in the abandoned Land of Oz in Beech Mountain, NC. (Source: Seph Lawless)
The yellow brick road in the Land of Oz offers a stunning view of the North Carolina mountains - and tree creatures with no one left to scare. (Source: Seph Lawless).
(RNN) - Candy-colored ticket offices stand in shambles, sprayed with graffiti. Once cheery pathways are covered in debris and overgrowth, and tall curves of roller coasters erupt from the sky, immobile and rusting in silence for years.
These are some of the images included in the book, Bizarro: The World's Most Hauntingly Abandoned Theme Parks by photographer Seph Lawless.
Lawless shows readers the decaying remains of 10 places around the world - some you may never have heard of, some you may have visited as a child - that were once vacation destinations, acreages of escape from the everyday filled with imaginative rides and structures, even roaming costumed characters.
Lawless, who belongs to the burgeoning "urban explorer" category of photographers, chronicled the downfall of a crumbling America's once thriving centers of industry and commerce - including dying or dead malls - in his first book, Autopsy of America: The Journal Entries of Seph Lawless.
The amusement park images - recently creating a flurry on Facebook - are indeed "creepy," as Lawless describes them. These vast plots of land sat lifeless and largely unnoticed, many of them for years.
"The attention I've been getting for my work has been great, and sharing my images is part of what I do," Lawless said. "I want to raise awareness of these abandoned parts of my country. My art isn't complete until it is shared, and this isn't social media. It's a social movement."
Some commenters seeing the images online for the first time were taken aback, tagging others including siblings, relatives, childhood friends - and asking questions like, "Didn't Grandpa take us here when we were very young?" or "Does this seem familiar to you?"
One of the parks featured in the book, the Land of Oz, seems to be gaining the most attention.
Set atop a hill in Beech Mountain, NC, the Land of Oz recreated scenes from the classic film The Wizard of Oz, complete with a winding yellow brick road. The park staged musical numbers performed by Dorothy and the rest of the characters, offered a "tornado experience" attraction and a simulated balloon ride. It operated from 1970 to 1980, when its operators succumbed to economic woes and closed it down - though it is open to visitors for one week every October, and for special occasions.
Among the other photos in the collection are images of a devastated Six Flags New Orleans, which opened only two years before Hurricane Katrina brought widespread destruction to the city in 2005.
Lawless said he will follow this surreal look at fantasy parks with another book, due in 2016, that centers on harsh reality. He said it is his most powerful project to date.
"It will document the rise and fall of an American city," said Lawless, who hails from Cleveland, OH. "The same thing that built the city would ultimately destroy it. Now the city is an eerie ghost town after residents were forced to leave by the U.S. government because of healthy hazards. The evacuation was mandatory, and the images are haunting, chilling and a somber reminder of what they apocalypse might very well look like one day."
For some spine tingling - or just nostalgic - you can take glimpse of some of the long-gone theme parks some of the Bizarro photos , including Land of Oz, or check out Lawless's official Facebook page to keep up with his strange explorations.
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