In the mid-1990s there were no Hong Kong Disneyland or Universal Studios Singapore in South-East Asia: it was Brunei's well-manicured, billion-dollar Jerudong Park, with its Michael Jackson concerts and cutting-edge rides, that was the envy of the region.
Less than 20 years later, it's all ruins and decay. Despite still being open and having a few carousels and bumper cars operating, all the major rides (like a suspended roller coaster and a mountain log flume ride) have either been sold - some of them to Thailand - or totally abandoned. It's a haunting picture to see this sad remnant of a once-glorious theme park laying largely deserted, encompassed all about by its long, mighty fences carrying Jerudong's still-proud trademark horse head logo.
What do we learn from the fate of Jerudong Park? It is rather unsurprising: this massive amusement development wasn’t born out of supply and demand, it was passion and pride that brought it into being. The park, including its top-notch rides, didn't ask its visitors to pay entrance fees for years, which sounds fabulous. Yet, since there was no critical mass to support it, all that was needed to put it into such a pitiful state was the declining interest of its wealthy owners. Brunei has the funds to resurrect it at anytime, but to make it viable the Sultanate would have to become a major hub of tourism in South East Asia - which it isn’t, at least not today.
I can see a small-sized children’s amusement park breathing life here, though, and this is actually what’s being attempted at this stage.
A local magazine pitches Jerudong Park's alleged comeback
Jerudong Park Playground, Brunei
At the time of my visit the park was operating and had a few visitors
This appears to be a coaster loading station
An inverted coaster loading station
The coaster is gone, though
Remains from another ride
Another coaster that was
Loading station, coaster went missing
Inside the mountain
This used to be a flume ride
Leading into nowhere
Peter Pan looking down on the relics of Jerudong Park
Inside Jerudong Park
It's really a sad mess!
These former control rooms are accessible without trespassing
Abandoned bumper cars, boats and benches
Very abandoned Laser Game sign
Flying dinosaur carousel
The Go-Carts were operating
Jerudong Park Go-Cart
The children's train was also operating
No queue, though
Jerudong Park today is a shadow of its former self