I Went to the Amusement Parks ISIS Built

Amusement parks are the best. I love them even more than a cold glass of wine first thing in the morning.

So when we learned that ISIS had established two amusement parks situated in Fallujah and Raqqa to mark the celebration Eid, I knew I had to get smuggled into the hottest war zone on Earth to see what they were all about.


Aside from the fact that I felt I could be killed at any minute by Russian airstrike, American drone strike or beheading, I must admit, the amusement parks ISIS built are pretty nice. Say what you will about Mr. Al-Baghdadi & co. and their interpretation of scripture, but you’ll be hard pressed to find fault in their ability to create a memorable and pleasant amusement park experience.

For rides, they went with the classics. Ferris wheels, teacups, miniature trains, etc. In an age where amusement parks’ sole focus is trying to cajole adrenaline jockeys into season passes so they can ride the Annihilator all summer long, ISIS’s understated yet classic ride curation meshes well with the barren, war-ridden desert atmosphere.

And here we get to the heart of the issue with ISIS-built amusement parks. They aren’t, by definition, amusement parks. It would be more appropriate to call them theme parks because the atmosphere they’ve created tells the story of the establishment of a Salafi Caliphate rather than focus on thrilling rides.

However, ISIS’ parks do simultaneously qualify themselves as amusement parks because, while the rides aren’t the most exciting ever built, merely being there is a thrill more intense than any Six Flags rollercoaster. The deftness required to create not one but two parks that straddle the line between theme and amusement really speaks to ISIS’s ability to build a quality park.

I will say that the carnival games are not for the faint of heart as they all involve mutilating a prisoner in some capacity. You may think that’s inhuman but the allure of the prizes–mysterious brief cases that must opened in important historical landmarks around the region–will prove to be too intriguing to respect conventional Western morals. I know I couldn’t resist.

Alas, there is but one fatal flaw between these magnificent parks. And unfortunately, it’s a doozy. Location. A park in Fallujah, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria? That’s not going to draw a big number of crowds. No matter how amazing the experience the ISIS parks can create for patrons, the logistics of getting there alone will prove to be too much a deterrent for people. 

And for that reason alone, I cannot recommend any of you attend any of these parks. Save yourself the trouble of getting into Syria and Iraq and instead try a Michigan’s Adventure. It’s an amusement park and a water park!

Fun, right?!

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