Exploring Neverland: A Night Inside Michael Jackson’s Abandoned Fun Park

ADVERTISEMENT


Image: Scott Haefner

Michael Jackson’s Universe: The Sea Dragon Ride surrounded by stars

“It seemed as if a switch could be flipped and the park would come alive again. It never did, and all of the rides were removed only a few months before he died.”

Few places are as eerie or as melancholy as an abandoned theme park. The laughter and screams of delight that we imagine once echoed around the rides and other amusements have gone, leaving a strange silence that seems all the more heavy in contrast with the joyful cacophony it has replaced. Add a full moon and a back-story replete with scandal and tragedy, and you have an intensely atmospheric subject for a photographic series.

Michael Jackson’s Neverland was once a children’s fantasy made real. Then came the infamous child abuse allegations. In 2005, Jackson declared that he would never return to Neverland because he felt violated by the police searches that took place there, which he claimed were conducted without a warrant.


Image: Scott Haefner

Behind the Curtain: Entrance to the bumper car tent

With Jackson’s privacy invaded, an intended dreamland had turned into a place of nightmares for the late entertainer. In 2008, he went on to sell the property, and its many rides and attractions were also sold off one by one. Fortunately, not before these photographs were taken.

ADVERTISEMENT


Image: Scott Haefner

Peter Pan: A Neverland statue of the character Michael Jackson saw himself as

After the property had been placed in foreclosure, intrepid photographer Scott Haefner and his friend Jonathan Haeber decided to make a clandestine visit to Neverland. Haebner had discovered the site while driving back from San Francisco. After a solo tour of the property he called Haefner. The pair then hatched plans to visit the park together and capture it on camera in its abandoned state “before it was too late.”

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT