Most Floridians have been to a few theme parks. There are parks based on beloved cartoon characters, animals, movies, and more, but did you know there was once an entire theme park in Central Florida devoted to celebrating the beauty and history of China? And it failed, miserably.
Splendid China During Operation:
It opened in 1993, cost 100 million dollars, and featured 75 acres of hand-painted miniature scenes, including a replica of the Great Wall made up of bricks which had been painted one by one. Talk about attention to detail!
You can bet they were more than a little disappointed when it was closed only ten years later and torn down a decade after that.
Though it was open pretty much the exact decade of my childhood, during which I went to many theme parks with school or family, I can honestly say I had never heard of it until recently. The park was controversial from the start because of its insensitivity toward Tibet and other regions, and it just couldn't compete with other local attractions.
Besides its impressive miniatures, Splendid China also featured shows and performances, acrobats, restaurants and gift shops -- but no rides, games, or basically anything a kid might find fun. Like Epcot on whatever the opposite of steroids is. Ultimately, it was just a giant snooze-fest that still managed to make a bunch of people angry.
It's probably fair to say Splendid China was a lot more interesting to people after it shut down and left us with a huge and unique miniature ghost town, full of pagodas and Buddhas and thousands of hours of painstaking artistry left to vandals and Mother Nature.
In a truly Floridian twist, the abandoned park was torn down in 2013 to make way for Margarita Village Resort, a Jimmy Buffet-themed development of condos, time shares, and resort homes. It's scheduled to open in 2017.
Hey, if it doesn't work out, maybe we'll get to see an entire Jimmy Buffet-themed post-apocalyptic paradise!
These days it's a construction site and very, very illegal to visit (and there's not much left to see anyway), but the photos and video below show the haunting dreamscape it once was before it was torn down.
Abandoned Splendid China:
What do you think of the photos of Splendid China? Are they cool or just creepy? Did you ever visit the park before or after it was closed? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!