Suppose you have ever visited a movie or TV. In that case, you have a good idea of its bustling atmosphere with the cameras rolling and the actors deeply involved with memorizing their lines and getting into their characters. You will find the props guys busily setting things up, directors mouthing out instructions, stunts people trying dangerous moves, costume and makeup experts releasing their creativity, all in an activity-packed location. But what happens when the camera stops rolling and the location is abandoned? What does the place look like after several years?
Believe it or not, abandoned movie and tv sets or locations offer some of the most intriguing travel destinations worth experiencing, especially sets that have created some of the best tv magic. You may have a list of the best filming locations you’d love to visit. But have you considered wandering off to those abandoned and even creepy sets to ignite some thrills and satisfy your curiosity? Here are a few options you might want to check out.
The gas station set in the “The Hills Have Eyes” movie
In the gruesome horror movie “The Hills Have Eyes,” the Carter family made a stop at an isolated gas station in the middle of the desert to ask for directions. Unknown to them, their fate had been sealed as a group of cannibals waited to hunt them down in the nearby mountains.
The cannibals have probably moved out of town, but the eerie-looking gas station still stands isolated beside the road. Want to know where? Specifically, you’ll find this gas station on the side of a highway in Morocco – Ouarzazate. The area is also known as the “door to the desert” as it ushers you to the Sahara desert.
One pretty amusing thing about this movie set is that some motorists mistake it to be an actual gas station, even though it makes little sense for a vintage US-style gas station to be standing by the side of a highway in Morocco.
Unfortunately, you cannot go inside the gas station, but you sure can peek through its eerie windows to see some of the original props left behind years after the director closed the curtains on the shooting of this movie. But the view it offers (as little as it seems) is always worth the drive down that road should you happen to be in the “door to the desert.”
The Cisco Kid films set – Pioneertown, California, USA
If you loved any of the Cisco Kid films, then you will enjoy a visit to Pioneertown. Located in California, this movie set was designed to look like a typical setting of the late 18s. Besides the Cisco Kid films, the location has been used for other movies like Silver Canyon.
Although the movie set experienced its glory days in the 1940s and 50s, the location still stands enchantingly captivating despite not being used for several years now. During your visit, the first thing you’ll realize is that this is unlike other movie sets designed to look like a neighborhood. Pioneertown movie set was built as a place you can live. Its Mane street, stretching four blocks long, also features the Pioneertown Motel, where you can join other tourists to spend the night during your visit. However, don’t expect anything fancy besides a rustic-looking room still enjoyable in unique ways. You will also find the Pioneertown Film museum and Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, where you can enjoy some meals.
Mos Espa set from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Located in Tunisia, this set was used as the setting for Tatooine’s desert and alien world. Sitting close to the Sahara desert, the location hosted scenes that involved Anakin Skywalker’s home planet. Unfortunately, the producers and directors decided to opt for more computer-generated locations with the prequel trilogy, leaving the Mos Espa with sights of the movie’s embers and forgotten sounds wafting in the air. Thanks to the intervention of the Tunisian government at the time, 20 original set buildings remain with their set-pieces.
Today, you can join hundreds of other Star Wars fans who still visit this abandoned movie set to experience a bit of movie history. Part of the location’s top attractions is the sun-baked huts used as the childhood setting of a certain Jedi who rose to become Darth Vader.
Oh, and don’t be surprised to find one or two Star Wars-themed weddings during your visit.
Pirates Of The Caribbean’s Port Royale
Shortly after Hector Barbossa’s mutiny on the Black Pearl, Jack Sparrow headed to Port Royal, where he managed to find some treasure and steal some gold from a graveyard with the help of the tavern keeper. He used newly acquired wealth to secure a sloop and keep his love for piracy going.
Today, Jack Sparrow has long left Port Royale, but you will still find the movie set from this scene remaining. Located at the mouth of the Kingston Harbour in southeastern Jamaica, some buildings and props used in the movie still stand and are ready to take you on a time-travel experience. The sad news is that the dock already succumbed to the test of time and yielded into despair. But don’t let that discourage you. If you’re a fan of the Pirates Of The Caribbean movie, this is a travel destination spot worth checking anytime you find yourself in Jamaica.
The secret town of Spectre in the “Big Fish” movie
Lovers of the Big Fish movie will consider this a perfect travel destination, as one of the settings used in the movie still stands, albeit abandoned. Alabama welcomes you to this ‘secrete town’ with the only access route available through a swamp – but that shouldn’t be enough to deter you. This fantastic movie set still manages to hold on to pieces of the fantasy it promises in the movie, although the location has pretty much overgrown in the past several years. But strangely, even that adds a touch of creepiness to this abandoned movie set, and therefore, a place worth checking out.
Today, the location is private-owned, and with not more than $15, you can even pitch camp there for a night if you’re adventurous enough (or you don’t mind having free-ranging sheep and goats around).
Hobbiton movie set in New Zealand
Located at the heart of Waikato on New Zealand’s North Island, location scouts for the Lord Of The Rings movie identified this place as the perfect location. The moviemakers set up what has become one of the most iconic sets in movie history, with the ever-popular circular door of the Shire standing out.
A quick visit to this destination should reveal the amount of work that built the Hobbit homes into the landscape. Today, this famous movie set has become one of the most popular tourist destinations, especially for The Lord Of The Rings movie fans. What’s more, you can wander freely through this abandoned location and enjoy the beautiful views that punctuate the nearby forest and truly lush green countryside.
The Hunger Games’ Henry River Mill Village
If you love The Hunger Games, then you better start heading to North Carolina to witness what’s left of the movie set. You may not be able to imagine what it will be like to find yourself needing to take part in annual battles just because you are from a poverty-stricken district, but you sure can visit the set of those who brought life (sort of) to that imagination.
The Henry River Mill village used to be a cotton mill farm and later became the movie’s famous District 12 – the hometown of the movie’s heroine, Katniss Everdeen.
Today, the location is listed as a heritage site, and the old movie set still stands. You can even choose to spend a night or two there in a modest two-bedroom cabin if you want. But one thing is for sure; you won’t leave this location with any regrets.
The Ghostbusters firehouse and apartment building in New York
Okay, maybe this one does not technically qualify to be called an abandoned movie set just yet. But if you are in New York or anywhere close to Times Square, visiting this movie set is a must – unless you’re not a fan of the movie (in which case you should be asked why).
The location offers a wonderfully exhilarating experience where you get the chance to suit up, strap on a gun packed with protons and hunt down ghosts in the apartment building. Even if you are not a fan of the Ghostbusters movie, you cannot deny how exciting this experience sounds.
But of course, there are no ghosts! The experience combines real-time interactive effects and virtual reality with a physical setup. If you decide to spend the night (or several nights) in New York City, then you’ll find a drive to the best midtown east hotels more than worth it. Here, you will treat yourself to the stay of a lifetime, with beautiful rooms and suites, tasty delights, and eye-catching views.