ever since i began researching my first trip to southeast asia back in 1998, i was entranced by one oddity in the always-short section on brunei in my guidebook.
the sultan of brunei had built an amusement park for his subjects as a gift, called jerudong park playground
. when i first read about it, the park was brand new, and it was considered a major attraction in brunei. although i never ended up making that trip to southeast asia or brunei, the image of jerudong park continued to stick in my head, and i kept my eye out for it when reading anything about brunei.
over time, i would find references to jerudong park playground in different guidebooks and travelogues. mentions appeared abouy the addition of an entry fee, and then comments about some rides being closed. when i visited the park's website, and found that a lot of the rides are being offered for sale
, i had a feeling that i would not be seeing another Disneyland.
when i finally completed that long-delayed goal and visited the park this evening, i was struck by the cultural differences going on with the "playground". half of it was dedicated to children's rides (everything from a merry-go-round to simple swingsets and slides), and was very popular with families, even at 10pm on a saturday night. the other half of the park, dedicated to more thrilling rides, was over 70% non-operational
, with unmonitored areas left dark. i've never seen roller coasters just left out to rust like that. if i hadn't been in a safe country like brunei, i would have been watching my back a lot more. as it was, i can't believe local teenagers weren't using the dark corners
to get up to some sort of teenaged trouble.
i went on two of the thrill rides (there were only three open anyways): the "log flume", basically like splash mountain but without any sort of scenery inside (it's a big empty mountain with a few spotlights), bumpier (instead of gentle bumps, your ride vehicle gets some solid whacks as it moves along), and very splashier (with some very
dicey-looking water), and some sort of flying-jurassic-raptors-with-lasers-in-their-mouths ride. i have to confess that i found the amount of rust on the bolts in the ride
to be pretty alarming. i made a short video about the park and the raptor ride
to give you a feel for them, and taken photos of the park
needless to say, there weren't a lot of visitors in the thrill rides section of the park, even with the entrance fees being very cheap (about BND $5, which is about USD $2). the amount of broken tiles and abandoned sections of the park, combined with the fact that they're selling lots of the rides off, means that this park will probably get overhauled within the next 5 years.
if you like exploring abandoned places
(and semi-abandoned ones) as much i do, i recommend stopping by jerduong park playground while you can. it's one of the most surreal amusement parks in the world.