Who doesn’t love the feeling of stepping into another world? And even better is when it’s a place you’ve glimpsed on the big screen and felt its magic, right?
There are plenty of real life film locations that you can visit, but not many that sit abandoned and look exactly as they did when the stars and crew wandered the set. It’s a whole other experience, and one that – if you’re a Hollywood fan – you won’t want to miss.
#6. The African Queen
The cargo ship featured in the film was originally christened “The Livingston,” and was built in East Africa in 1912. Director John Huston stumbled on it in the Congo and bought it for the film.
Afterward, a San Francisco businessman bought the ship and re-christened it “The African Queen.” He moved it to the USA to attract fans of the movie, and though the steamboat has changed hands over the years, its renewed purpose has not.
It is currently owned by Suzanne and Lance Holmquist, who restored the interior but left the rustic exterior charm, and offer daily tours and dinner cruises on the Port Largo Canal.
#5. Zero Dark Thirty
You might be surprised (or not) to learn that Zero Dark Thirty was not filmed entirely on location – some of the war-torn Afghanistan backdrop was actually shot at the Blue Cloud Movie Ranch in Santa Clarita, California.
The set has fallen into disuse, leaving some of the film’s props – like the downed helicopter – scattered around like carrion. Apparently, the set decorators did a heck of a job, though, because the U.S. military uses it for training purposes.
#4. The Hunger Games
The town of Henry River Mill Village in North Carolina was already abandoned when the production team from The Hunger Games decided it would make a perfect District 12 – and also, it’s rumored to be haunted. It’s located on private property, but the owner offers tours and photo opportunities.
#3. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
The original Pirates movie was filmed on location in Wallilabou Anchorage, a village on the island of St. Vincent, but the sets were abandoned when Disney built new ones for the sequels. The sets on Wallilabou Anchorage are still there, and they attract tons of tourists every year.
#2. Big Fish
You won’t find a more fanciful or gorgeously imagined movie than Big Fish, so it’s pretty cool that the abandoned fictional town of Spectre, Alabama exists for people to explore.
The elaborate set was built on the Alabama River and is settling into various stages of decay, but hey, they only charge you $3 to get inside.
#1. The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit
I mean, it’s not as if you need any additional incentive to visit New Zealand, but if you’re a fan of the LotR books or movies, the fact that you can stroll through the Shire has to be extra motivation for the long flight.
The area of farmland used as Hobbiton and the Shire is located in Matamata, and features Hobbit holes, gardens, and quaint double-arch bridges. Everything was rebuilt for the filming of The Hobbit, and locals now run guided tours of the sets. They even include stops at The Shires Rest Cafe and The Green Dragon Inn bar, so saddle up and ride!
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