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As of recently, my exploring group and I embarked on a journey of epic proportions… this is the story I’ve been promising you. January 15th, after a long day of work, we gather our things and head out at approximately 8pm, only to enjoy a 17 hour drive ahead of us. Coming from northern Ohio, we make our way south while also making our abandoned explore pit stops in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. Finally, we arrive at our destination in beautiful New Orleans, Louisiana at roughly 11am on January 16th, where the weather was 20+ greater than our northern air… what a blessing! Due to Hurricane Katrina, the city of New Orleans became a playground for urban explorers such as ourselves, but we did NOT drive 17 hours just to explore water damaged houses and washed out businesses, our goal for this trip was to visit abandoned Six Flags, New Orleans (SFNO.) Upon our arrival, our tired eyes and shot nerves gain a boost of adrenaline as our car is smashed by a pick up truck, luckily our car was still driveable, we then set out to scout the park for POE’s. I swear we circled the park a dozen times before we came up with a plan (which I will take to my grave.)

3:30 in the morning, our phones are blaring trying to wake us before we lose our chance. Everything went so fast.. before we knew it, its 4:30 in the morning and we’re en-route to the park. After a cold and careful walk to our POE, there we were, standing inside of an abandoned roller-coaster. It all became surreal when our paths were paved with light from not only the stars but light from the film production on the other half of the park… our strategy had to be bullet-proof in order to pull this off. Swift and quiet, we maneuver around the park capturing our footage and photographs, trying to push our exploring boundaries a little further in order to capture things no other visitor was capable of. The sun rose, we got everything we needed and we were on our way out… we turn a corner and there lies a security truck in the distance. Totally unscathed, we make our way out side of the park and make our way to public property where all was well now. Walking back to our car, a security car spots us walking with tripods, stabilizers, flashlights, cameras, etc.. and they waste no time paging the rest of the security squad. By the time we make it back to the car, a security car is parked along side us and gets out swiftly upon our approach, greeting us with “I need to talk to you guys.” Our nerves tense a little at the thought of getting caught, however, we were now on public property so anything further would no longer apply to us. He proceeds to say, thinking that we turned around and never went in, “Im glad you guys turned back, not only would you be facing federal trespassing charges, and time in jail.. but we also have wild pigs, alligators and african bee’s in the park.” After explaining to us the dangers of the parks current tenants, he proceeds to go more in depth about the consequences by adding “37 people have been arrested in the last week” and that he “put 2 Canadians in jail” the prior day. Needless to say, this was by far the biggest accomplishment of my urban exploring career, by dodging physical harm and a plate full of legal troubles. DO NOT VISIT THIS PARK. YOU WILL GO TO JAIL.

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Originally opened as “Jazzland” on May 20th 2000, the park became beloved Six Flags on April 12th 2003. The park contained 20 rides, 4 roller-coasters, and 2 water rides, majority of which were severely damaged and ultimately removed. August 21st, 2005: New Orleans weather forecast is already preparing the city/state for what would be one of the most devastating occurrences in our time, SFNO decides to shut their gates and prepare for evacuation… not knowing this would be the time their gates close for good. August 26th, 2005 a category 5 hurricane Katrina would wipe out 1,800+ lives, more than $108 billion dollars in property, and submerge an entire city for weeks. Not only was the hurricane devastating enough, but on top of that.. drainage pumps all over the city stopped working, leaving the population helpless.

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2 weeks after Katrina, Six Flags was STILL submerged in 4-7 feet of water due to the flooding of Lake Pontchartrain, which the park sits so closely to. Little known fact: SFNO was in financial distress for its last few months of operation, so it was going under before it LITERALLY went under.

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Beginning their 75 year lease with the city in July 2006, the lease was “dropped” in 2009 after the assessment of damage Katrina caused came to light.

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Ray Nagin, mayor of New Orleans makes the executive decision to uphold the park to its lease and force re-development, which would force construction to keep SFNO in the same spot that it fell in. Overall value of destruction caused by the hurricane was added up to be around $32.5 million dollars, which left them $24.4 million to pull out of thin air, seeing as how the parks insurance would provide $11.5 million toward the rebuild. Although impossible to gain such wealth magically, park officials reveal their plan to sue insurance providers in 2007 for their remaining $175 million in coverage.

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Talks of redevelopment into a Nickelodeon theme park surface on August 18th, 2009, exactly one month later, the city of New Orleans fines Six Flags $3 million and forces them to vacate their lease. By April 11th, 2010, clean-ups are made to the park and it is now owned by the city… with no clear future in sight.

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2011, proposals to open the park up once more as “Jazzland” fall through once more, meanwhile disregarding proposals to turn the land into a power plant, theme park and/or outlet mall.

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Due to the distance between the land and the tourist attractions such as the French Quarters, Metairie and downtown NOLA, any hopes of re-opening a successful park of any kind were out of the question.

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As of February 6th, 2012, the only hope left for the land would be to build and establish an upscale outlet mall.

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March 6th, 2012, the city of New Orleans gave officials the green light to start construction for the birth of a beautifully designed upscale outlet mall, which would utilize still standing roller coasters by re-vamping them and incorporating them into the design.

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This project was set to cost upwards to $40 million for just the first phase of construction which was more than the $32.5 million needed to fix damage from the hurricane, which led to canceled plans by March of 2013.

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Meanwhile, during all of the debate on what the land should become, the park was being rented out by production companies for an extraordinary film set. From 2011- present, the park has been the host of 5 films including; Killer Joe, Stolen, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Jurassic World (which is what they were filming during our visit.)

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Many of the rides are still intact which makes it all the more eerie for visitors. Seeing how calm the air was while we were there was interesting, then to think it was all underwater a decade ago.

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Here I sit, bragging about my visit, but I am required to make it known that under no circumstances is it safe for anyone to visit illegally. I put my life on the line in order to provide this content for you.

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Lake Pontchartrain, which looks so peaceful, is home to 4 huge alligators. The land past the merry-go-round is brush filled with wild pigs, and if you didn’t know… pigs are ruthless. Finally, not to mention the African bees, being from northern Ohio, I had no clue what this creature was until the security guard explained to us that one sting would kill you. Fun stuff.

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I guess you’d call us professionals, so leave these dangers to us. Im always here to guide explorers in the right direction when it comes to safe places, but this is not one of them.

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Security heavily monitors this park and will not hesitate to stop you. I have a LOT of content for you from this trip that I’m having a hard time sifting through, so bare with me! Click to watch the Southern Saga as it unfolds in an 18 minute highlight video. Until next week, xoxo.