A theme park dedicated to the Bible may seem like a scary place for atheists and non-believers. When it comes to the now-defunct Holy Land USA amusement park, however, even the most devout visitors can agree that it is an eerie place - at least from these photos discovered from a Flickr account. Construction on the Waterbury, Connecticut theme park began in 1955 when a religious local lawyer named John Greco who created the 19-acre park as a place for pilgrimages and an entertaining way for interested visitors to learn about the Bible.
The abandoned Holy Land amusement park leaves a plethora of strange and peculiar artifacts
Construction on the park began in 1955 and it became very popular in the 1960s and 1970s but it shuttered in 1984, initially with plans for it to be re-done
Visible to all: The 56-foot cross in Holy Land USA theme park could be seen by drivers on a nearby highway in Waterbury, Connecticut and not just the thousands of visitors who went to the park in it's heyday
Setting the scene: The 19-acre theme park was filled with recreated scenes, religious statues and dioramas
Along with sculptures and massive displays of Bible verses, it had dioramas depicting various passages and a recreation of the Garden of Eden.
Visitors were not the only ones who experienced the light of the park, as a 56-foot cross stood shining brightly and was visible from the nearby highway. It has since been dismantled.
Neglected for nearly three decades, Holy Land more resembles a haunted mansion
Ancient influences: The connection between Judaism and Christianity was explained in one of the displays
The park was officially closed in 1984, despite receiving nearly 100,000 visitors annually
In its peak during the 1960s and 1970s, the crowds topped 40,000 annually, but that didn't stop it from closing in 1984.
Even though it was placed in the care of a group of nuns, it fell into serious disrepair and remains abandoned today.
This text from the gospel of Matthew still stands intact in the abandoned park
Pivotal spot: This shows a model of the inn in Bethlehem that was involved in the story of Jesus' birth
Eerie even then: The tombs display may have spooked some of the 40,000 annual visitors even when it was up to the highest condition but now they are even scarier
Messages: A display of the crucifixion is now covered in chicken wire (left) and the Jerusalem area is pictured here before it was vandalized (right)
While the park was open an incidence of rape was reported
Back in the day: A visitor is pictured in front of one of the displays in 1974 when it was in its heyday
The large cross stands a reminder that this site was supposed to be a site for worshiping Christians
Lost: The Yellow Brick Road weaves through the abandoned theme park, which has been the victim of fire and theft since closing
Eerie: Props can be found in the deserted houses and characters carved into trees when the park opened in 1970 appear ghoulish in the deserted park
In its heyday the Land of Oz could attract 20,000 visitors a day
The park opened on June 15, 1970 by Debbie Reynolds, accompanied by her then little-known daughter, Carrie Fisher. In its first summer 400,000 visitors came to the Land of Oz
The park was designed originally to walk tourists through the story, starting with the farmhouse, where Aunt Em could be found in the kitchen
Using local craftsmen and entertainers, Robbins and designer Jack Pentes built their grand interpretation of the popular 1939 film over 450 acres.
The Yellow Brick Road wound its way through the park, leading tourists to a replica Emerald City. Dorothy's house, the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West and the Munchkin village were all faithfully recreated.
The men behind the project even set up a balloon ride made out of a ski lift, so that visitors would get a winged-monkey's eye view of the park nestled in the mountains before they were whisked back to the real world.
The park opened on June 15, 1970 by Debbie Reynolds, accompanied by her then little-known daughter, Carrie Fisher. In its first summer 400,000 visitors came to the Land of Oz, according to Watauga Lake Magazine.
Sadly, however, Robbins never lived to see his masterpiece, dying at the age of 50 of bone cancer only six months before the park opened in 1970.
More tragedy was to beset the park, when a fire destroyed Emerald City and part of the museum collection, including dresses worn by Judy Garland in the movie.
Visitor numbers started to dwindle and finally, ten years after its opening day brought in 20,000 visitors, the Land of Oz closed its gates.
As the sound effects of a tornado began, tourists would be ushered into to the storm shelter with one of several Dorothys who worked at the park
Weeds have been cleared from the Yellow Brick Road, the fountain and waterfall have been repaired and, proving that there really is no place like home
Keep out: The gates to Oz, which attracted 400,000 visitors in its first summer, closed ten years after the park started
Theatrical: Local entertainers would play the parts of characters in the beloved film, greeting families as they explored the mountain resort theme park
Abandoned and forgotten, the park became a target for vandals and thieves, who destroyed or stole props in the park, including entire houses.
The park was designed originally to walk tourists through the story, starting with the farmhouse, where Aunt Em could be found in the kitchen. As the sound effects of a tornado began, tourists would be ushered into to the storm shelter with one of several Dorothys who worked at the park.
A door in the cellar would then open on to a tilted version of the farmhouse, to recreate the storm damage, and a pair of striped stockings and ruby red slippers of the Wicked Witch of the East, would greet the visitors as they left the house.
However, characters carved into the trees lining the now uneven Yellow Brick Road and stone characters scattered throughout the Munchkin village appear ghoulish in the abandoned park, and the witch's castle looms eerily in the mountain mist.
All hope is not lost for the Land of Oz though. In the 1990s project Emerald Mountain was started by a group of kind-hearted volunteers who, with a little bit of the Cowardly Lion's courage and the Scarecrow's brains, have slowly restored the park.
Popular: Judy Garland as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, released in 1939. One of her dresses and props from the film were in a museum at the park
Lost in time: The Land of Oz was once filled with families exploring the mountain park, but its exhibits, like the Munchkin village, right, are now eerily deserted
Weeds have been cleared from the Yellow Brick Road, the fountain and waterfall have been repaired and, proving that there really is no place like home, Dorothy's house has been converted into a cosy cottage, which can be rented to holiday-makers.
'Each summer we add something back to OZ. Sometimes it is original items returned to us from caring friends. One of my proudest moments was hauling back to OZ what I believe to be the very last balloon in existence,' Cynthia Keller, who helps look after the park, said.
Tourists are still welcome at the Land of Oz where they have the option of hiring a costume and going in search of the Emerald City. The park also holds a two-day festival each year, with a guided tour through the park, a picnic at the Kansas farmhouse and, for an additional $100, a whirlwind visit from Dorothy herself.