When I heard that there was an abandoned theme park near Gombak, just north of Kuala Lumpur, I immediately thought of Spirited Away, the wonderful film from Studio Ghibli, makers of the Japanese animated classic Totoro.
In case you haven’t seen it, Spirited Away is about a family who accidently stumble across a defunct theme park which was built during Japan’s bubble economy of the 1970s and later abandoned. After sunset the 10 year old heroine, Chihiro, finds that the park gets taken over by spirits and monsters and her parents are turned into pigs. Chihiro has to work in a spirit-world bath-house in order to secure freedom for her parents.
I had read that Mimaland opened in 1975 and was a popular water park until it closed down in 1993. This predecessor of Sunway Lagoon used to have water slides, boating and fishing ponds, a dinosaur attraction, chalets and other facilities. Nowadays it is almost forgotten and overgrown and there is even talk of tiger sightings in the area.
With this in mind I set off to locate Mimaland which I knew was just off the old Bentong Road not far from the Orang Asli Museum. I had to stop a couple of times to ask locals for directions but eventually found the turn off which passed under a wooden gateway which had weeds growing out of the roof.
The road was badly rutted and potholed so I parked my car on the roadside and continued up a steep slope on foot.
After fifteen minutes or so I arrived at a tall metal fence blocking the road marked with warnings not to trespass any further.
Through a gap in the fence I was able to photograph the park’s dilapidated entrance gate. There was a small hut there with a motorbike parked outside, presumably belonging to a security guard although there was nobody around. It was clear that the jungle was reclaiming this park and visitors were no longer welcome.
I took a side trail to see if there was any vantage point to get a view of whatever still lies inside but the tall metal fence continued to block access. Clouds of mosquitoes buzzed around my skinny white legs in search of a meal but fortunately I do not seem to have been bitten. Either my blood was not to their taste or the Carrefour repellant wipes did their job.
I did not really expect to see any ghosts or stink spirits at Mimaland but I wouldn’t wish to go there after dark – just in case!