There are many places in this world that look completely different than they did just a few decades ago because of people moving in and out for various reasons. The hectic cities that we know of today weren’t always so busy and crowded. Locations with millions of inhabitants now were at some point in history much smaller towns that looked very different than they do currently.
On the other hand, there are places around the world that were once bustling towns or tourist attractions that now lay desolate and forgotten by most. Various reasons account for the sudden or slow trickle of people out of a certain place. Most amusement parks are never even finished due to financial reasons but their skeletons remain for anyone brave enough to seek them out and imagine what could have been. Other times, towns that once had a lot of promise and were densely populated were hit with overwhelming natural disasters- or even man made disasters like nuclear radiation.
In the list below, we take a look at some of the places on this earth that were neglected and mostly forgotten by people- and some locations that seem to have more people than it can fit.
25 Gulliver’s Travels Park, Kawaguchi, Japan
One of the many theme parks on this list, Gulliver’s Travel Park in Kawaguchi, Japan was opened in 1997 and built at the foot of Mount Fuji; a well-known destination for millions of tourists that the theme park undoubtedly hoped to attract due to its proximity (urbanghostmedia). Unfortunately due to low attendance, the park closed in 2001. In addition to its location in the middle of nowhere, the theme park only had one bobsled track and a luge course as the few forms of interactive entertainment available. The main attraction seemed to be the huge and disconcerting structure of Gulliver himself sprawled out and gazing blankly out into the sky.
24 Pripyat, Ukraine
In the 1980’s the town of Pripyat in the Ukraine was a thriving community that was described by its former inhabitants as a beautiful luxury city in the Soviet Union. The town was built to house workers from the nearby town of Chernobyl and consisted of typical establishments like amusement parks, a large hospital complex, stores, gyms, parks, factories, and more. Unfortunately, the proximity to a nuclear reactor caused the entire town of 49,000 inhabitants to flee in just three hours when the No. 4 reactor of Chernobyl Nuclear Station exploded and caused a fire that led to significant damage and a dangerous amount of radioactive chemicals to be released in the air. Because it is still contaminated, Pripyat looks like it is standing still in time (atlasobscura).
23 Red Sands Sea Forts, Sealand, United Kingdom
Built during WWII to minimize attacks from the sky, British engineer Guy Maunsell created the Red Sands Sea Forts in Sealand, United Kingdom to take down enemy aircraft by cannon before they could make their way further inland (gizmodo). The heavy concrete structures had to be built on land before they were floated out to their current location in the water. When they were being utilized for their intended purpose, the structures were connected by walkways in order to expedite communication from tower to tower. After being decommissioned in the late 1950’s the forts were left to rust but still stand tall.
22 Land of Oz - Beech Mountain, NC
Unlike the other theme parks on this list, The Land of Oz in Beech Mountain, North Carolina was finished and opened to a very successful first season in 1970. That first year welcomed over 400,000 visitors (charlotteobserver) and things seemed to bode well for the future of the theme park. Unfortunately, several factors contributed to the park closing its doors for over 35 years now. Due to a national gas shortage in the mid-1970s, attendance went down considerably and it quickly cut into the profits of the park. In 1975, there was a fire that destroyed the amphitheater and surrounding shops and the park closed officially in the 1980s although there are still a small number of tours offered sporadically.
21 Sanzhi UFO Houses, San Zhi, Taiwan
The Sanzhi UFO Houses in San Zhi, Taiwan are exactly what they sound like: a futuristic portrayal of what people believe flying saucers from outer space might look like. The colorful and oddly shaped houses were meant to appeal to U.S. military officers who were stationed in East Asia as vacation homes. Although it certainly takes a lot of imagination to even conceive of such unusual architecture, the project was started in 1978 but abandoned just two years later in 1980 due to a lack of funding and several fatal car accidents that took place during its short lived construction (failedarchitecture).
20 Wonderland Amusement Park, Beijing, China
Like many of the unfinished and forgotten theme parks on this list, the main reason the Wonderland Amusement Park in Beijing, China was abandoned was primarily due to financial reasons (businessinsider). When the project lost its funding in 1998 amidst land disputes over land prices with the local government and farmers, construction was abandoned. All that remained were the skeletal remains of a castle that sits in the middle of a 100-acre plot of land near the city limits of Beijing. The land has not been abandoned completely however, workers have demolished many parts of the unfinished theme park and nearby farmers still use parts of the land for agricultural purposes.
19 Orpheum Auditorium, New Bedford, Massachusetts
Sharing the dubious honor of opening its doors on April 15, 1912, the same day the well-known Titanic ship sank, the Orpheum Theatre was much more than just a place to watch a show. The original theatre also included a ballroom, a shooting range, a gymnasium, a retail space, and several office and meeting spaces (afterthefinalcurtain). The official name of the building is the French Sharpshooters Hall due to it being built by a French-Canadian group known as The French Sharpshooters Club in 1910. The theatre has seen many different variations since its opening and has been used as a supermarket and a warehouse used by a tobacco company but now stands empty as the owners attempt to restore the building and use it as a community space.
18 El Hotel del Salto in Colombia
First built as a residential mansion for a well known architect, El Hotel del Salto in Colombia now looks like the set of a haunted house in a horror movie. Because of its proximity to Tequendama Falls, a well-known waterfall within viewing distance from many of the hotel windows, the entire area seems to be covered in a fine mist that almost looks like it was created by a fog machine. The hotel operated successfully for over 60 years starting in the late 1920s, but pollution from the Bogota River caused tourists to lose interest and the hotel closed in the early 1990s without ever being renovated as was originally planned (thevintagenews).
17 Chateau Miranda, Celles, Belgium
Once the beautiful country home of the wealthy Liedekerke-De Beaufort family in the hills of the Belgium countryside, construction for castle Chateau Miranda began in 1866 and was still under construction in 1907 when a tall clock tower was completed (science-rumors). The castle has seen a lot of different inhabitants since the Liedekerke-De Beaufort family left as a result of German forces taking over and using the land as a battleground in WWII. Starting in the 1950s and until the 1970s, the castle was used as an orphanage and holiday camp for children who were very ill. Because of fires, storms, and a lack of finances to make renovations, the castle fell into disrepair and has now been abandoned for over two decades.
16 Rhyolite, Nevada
The ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada is a prime example of how quickly and suddenly towns can spring up and falter. In the timespan of just 12 years, the town of Rhyolite in the middle of the desert on the edge of Death Valley had attracted many residents who thought they would strike gold during the Gold Rush Era (atlasobscura). The town was founded in 1904, but as soon as 1907 came around, the state of the US financial market caused many banks, businesses, and mines to close and Rhyolite closed their mine in 1911. Because the town popped up specifically during the gold rush, once the mine was closed it was only a matter of time before it was abandoned completely in 1916.
15 Eilean Donan, Loch Duich, Scotland
Like many castles in history, Eilean Donan Castle has many stories to tell. The castle is one of the most photographed castles in Scotland due to its picturesque location in the small island of Donan on the bank of Loch Duich surrounded by beautiful hills. Because of its location, the castle was involved in numerous raids and sieges and many parts of it were destroyed before being reconstructed as authentically as possible in the 1900’s (britainexpress). Although no one has lived in the castle for centuries, there are some rooms that have been restored to the point where it is safe for tourists to appreciate the medieval architecture.
14 Disney’s Discovery Island, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Discovery Island (once known as Raz Island after the family that lived there for 20 years) is located in the middle of Bay Lake in Florida and was bought by Disney in 1965 in the hopes of adding to their successful franchise of amusement park fixtures (abandonedfl). First renamed Blackbeard Island, then Treasure Island, and then finally Discovery Island, the small piece of land was dominated by dozens of animal exhibits to attract visitors. Because of it’s inaccessibility by anything other than a boat and the opening of Disney’s much more accessible Animal Kingdom, Discovery Island closed and remains one of the most hidden of Disney’s abandoned ventures.
13 Hashima Island, Japan
It is one thing when a building, an amusement park, or even a town has been abandoned. But an abandoned island is truly a place that is completely desolate because of its location in the middle of the water. Once known as prime location for undersea mining, Hashima island is also known as Battleship Island because the shape resembles a Japanese battleship. The island functioned as a coal facility for almost 100 years from 1887 to 1974 (allthatsinteresting). As is common in places that have only one primary source of income for their residents, once the coal reserves started to get depleted people left and the island lay forgotten for many decades.
12 Kennecott, Alaska
Like many other abandoned towns on this list, Kennecott, Alaska was once a bustling town filled with miners and their families. At its peak, the town operated 5 copper mines which were in high demand because of the usefulness of copper for new inventions such as the telephone and automobiles (alaska.org). The town was established in 1903 and boasted a giant red mill that still stands today. Once the surrounding areas had been mined out however, people quickly left and by 1938, the once-bustling mine town of Kennecott was completely abandoned and left mostly undisturbed to mark a very specific point in time in Alaskan history.
11 Dadipark, Dadizel, Belgium
Known as Belgium’s first private amusement park, Dadipark was originally built in the 1950s as a church playground for the children of pilgrims visiting the nearby Basilica of Our Lady of Dadizele, the park was upgraded in a big way in the 1980s to include amusement park rides that was open to many different kinds of visitors (atlasobscura). The renovated amusement park enjoyed success during its 20 years of operation, but the rundown rides started to create problems and hazardous conditions for the many visitors. When a boy got injured on a ride in 2000, the park closed its doors for renovations that never took place.
10 Too many people: São Paulo, Brazil
Known as a vibrant financial center full of history and culture, the city of São Paulo is one of the world’s most populous cities and boasts iconic architecture that brings in millions of tourists a year. São Paulo is both the name of a state and a city in the country of Brazil, and the city itself has a population of almost 12 million as of 2016. About 18,690 people per square mile live within the city which is known to locals as “Sampa" or “Cidade da Garoa” which means city of drizzle due to the light rain that is common during certain times of the year (worldpopulationreview)
9 Too many people: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Bordered by four different countries (Burma, India, Nepal, and Bhutan), Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated areas in South Asia. In 2018, the estimated population of the country was 166.37 million people which makes Bangladesh one of the most populous in the world. Dhaka, with a density of over 22,000 people per square kilometer, is a diverse city located along the Buriganga River in central Bangladesh. In addition to being the capital, it is also the largest and most populated city in the country with over 18 million permanent residents in the Greater Dhaka Area and 8.5 million living within the city’s limits (citypopulation).
8 Too many people: Manila, Philippines
As of 2015, the number of people living in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, totaled almost 2 million which makes it the second-largest city in the country. Although 1.78 million may not seem like a lot of people compared to the other places on this list, because of the country’s relatively small size (approximately 300,000 square kilometers) it is one of the world’s most densely populated cities with about 111,102 people living in just one square mile. During the daytime because of the businesses around the area, the crowds swell to large numbers and huge crowds are the norm as people go about their daily activities (worldpopulationreview)
7 Too many people: Shanghai, China
Located on China’s central coast, Shanghai is the country’s biggest city and is known worldwide for being a well-established financial hub (theguardian). As is common in many cities that offer a high number of employment opportunities, Shanghai has seen large population growths that don’t seem as if they are going to decrease on their own anytime soon. As of 2017 the city’s population was over 24 million and the city government has plans to limit the amount of land available for construction in order to try and manage the shortage of services that are already an issue for the city.
6 Too many people: Paris, France
Well known for its historical landmarks and rich culture, Paris, France is also home to numerous government buildings and businesses that make it one of the more bustling cities in Europe. Although the city itself is home to 2.2 million permanent residents, the famous Eiffel Tower itself draws in more than 7 million visitors a year (worldpopulationreview). Most of the permanent residents live in the nearby surrounding suburbs which bring up the total population of the area to approximately 10.5 million which makes it the most populous urban area in the European Union. The city attracts many young people to the area because it offers higher wages than most other areas in the country which is a huge draw.