Back in 2005, as Hurricane Katrina made its way to the Gulf Coast, no one could have prepared enough for its impending destruction. The people of New Orleans were hit hardest by the storm, as the city flooded beyond comprehension. Now known as one of the deadliest hurricanes in US history, the effects of its devastation are still seen and felt by the citizens of the vivacious city.
For the last 15 years later, one casualty of the storm that has built immense intrigue is the now-defunct theme park Six Flags New Orleans. Located on the East side of the city, the park first opened in 2000 as Jazzland, bringing in a new form of entertainment for families that the city of New Orleans had never had. After being bought out by Six Flags in 2002, the park received a massive overhaul before closing in August of 2005 in preparation from the oncoming storm. However, the park would never open for operation again.
If you’re like me, you have a fascination with abandoned places, particularly theme parks. There is something eerie about a once joyous place being left to rot into a decayed nightmare-ish state. That’s how I first came across Bright Sun Films, a YouTube channel created by Jake Williams. For the last seven years, he’s been creating short documentary-style videos on the platform, catching my eye with his Abandoned series. Now he’s releasing his most ambitious project yet, a fully produced documentary on the shuttered theme park titled Closed For Storm – The Story of Six Flags New Orleans.
The documentary gives insight into the park’s history, from development to its current form, with interviews of past employees and park enthusiasts. You can find some urban exploration videos floating around the internet, but nothing provides such an in-depth look from the perspective of people who were part of its glory days. As an outsider, I’ve only ever known the park in its current state, so I truly enjoyed seeing some of its happier memories.
While the majority of the film focuses on the business side of things, and hopes for a brighter future, the piece that struck me most was the portion that looked into how the rotting park has affected the community that surrounds it.
When you hear about Six Flags New Orleans, it’s mostly regarding its haunting appearance that entertains those of us on the internet. Though we often don’t hear about the neighboring homes. Speaking with a resident, the filmmakers expose how the city’s inaction has not only provided them a huge eyesore, but a financial burden as well, in terms of property value. It speaks to a grander concern that as the vast land goes ignored by most New Orleanians, so do the people who it impacts.
Closed For The Storm is a great film for those keen on urban exploration and abandoned places, but want a deeper dive into the backstory with a more informative experience. It’s clearly made by people who are passionate about the history of modern ruins and the nostalgia it serves.
With the impact of current events, the documentary doesn’t have a solid release plan as of now, but I certainly hope it winds up somewhere soon. You can visit its official site ClosedForTheStorm.com to stay up to date. Until then, take a peek at the trailer below.
UPDATE 3/2021: The film will be released on VOD in July 2021