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12 Abandoned Movie Sets You Can Actually Visit

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Although movie productions often film scenes on location, sometimes a real-life location doesn’t offer all of the right places that are called for in the script. So they build it! But taking that set back down isn’t always a top priority. Whether it’s because the property owner wants to keep the space intact for tourism purposes or because it’s simply cheaper to leave the set behind instead of cleaning it up, there are pieces of cinematic history in every corner of the world. Here are 12 of them.

1. THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951)

Although the cargo ship, originally named “The Livingston,” was built in 1912 for the East Africa British Railways company, director John Huston spotted the vessel on the Ruki River in the Democratic Republic of Congo and wanted to give it the titular role in his Oscar-winning film, The African Queen. After the film grew in popularity, a San Francisco businessman bought the ship—now renamed after the movie—and transported it to the United States to attract tourists and movie fans. Throughout the decades, the steamboat changed hands a few times before finding its way to an attorney based in Florida in 1982, who owned (and sailed) it until his death in 2001.

In 2012, Suzanne and Lance Holmquist leased “The African Queen” and completely restored it with a new interior steel-hull frame and replacement boiler, but kept its rustic and worn-out charm. The ship now offers daily tours and dinner cruises on the Port Largo Canal.

2. A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964)

Located in the middle of the Tabernas Desert in Almeria, Spain, you’ll find a large abandoned Western frontier that was the shooting location for Sergio Leone’s The Man With No Name Trilogy: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; A Fistful of Dollars; and Once Upon A Time in the West. The movie set featured Old Mexico-style churches, a saloon, and a hangman’s noose in its public square, and was used for many other Spaghetti westerns in the 1960s and ’70s. Since the genre’s decline in popularity, the movie set has since been abandoned, but fans still flock to what has become known as Fort Bravo/Texas Hollywood.

3. POPEYE (1980) 

In 1979, Paramount Pictures and Disney co-produced Popeye with Robin Williams as the titular sailor man and Shelley Duvall as his main squeeze Olive Oyl. The live-action musical was filmed in Malta, where director Robert Altman and his crew spent seven months building a full-scale Sweethaven on the island’s coast, then another seven months shooting the film. When production wrapped, the Sweethaven set remained in Malta and was converted into Popeye Village, which is now a family resort.

4. FULL METAL JACKET (1987)

Stanley Kubrick hated to travel, even if a film’s script dictated it. Which meant he had to get extra creative on occasion. Case in point: Full Metal Jacket, which required the director to transform the East London borough of Newham into Vietnam. Thousands of palm trees and plastic tropical plants were imported from Spain and Hong Kong to re-dress the abandoned Beckton Gas Works manufacturing plant in London into the bombed out movie set of the ruins of Huế in Vietnam. Beckton Gas Works is still standing and a popular tourist attraction with Stanley Kubrick fans.

5. SCHINDLER’S LIST (1993)

While a majority of Schindler’s List was filmed at the true story’s actual locations in Poland, a replica of Kraków-Płaszów was the only movie set built, which is located in Liban Quarry, about four miles away from Kraków. The film’s production team built barracks, watchtowers, and a road leading into the Nazi labor and concentration camp from the original blueprints and plans. A replica of Amon Goeth’s (Ralph Fiennes) villa was also built above the labor camp site.

6. THE FUGITIVE (1993)

At the beginning of The Fugitive, Dr. Richard Kimble narrowly escapes from a prison transport bus that collides with a speeding freight train. The debris from the iconic scene is still located near the Smoky Mountain Railroad in Dillsboro, North Carolina. The collision scene alone cost a whopping $1.5 million and was filmed in only one take. The remains of the bus and train were abandoned after production wrapped because it was cheaper to simply leave them behind rather than clean it up. Today, it’s one of the many points of interest on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s Tuckasegee River Excursion.

7. THE LORD OF THE RINGS (2001-2003) AND THE HOBBIT (2012-2014)

Located in Matamata, New Zealand, Peter Jackson picked an area of farmland as the filmsite for Hobbiton and The Shire for his The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Construction on building Hobbit Holes, gardens, a double arch bridge, and a small mill began in early 1999 before shooting started at the end of the year. When the first film in the trilogy became a runaway success, tourists and J.R.R. Tolkien fans began to flock to the movie set, despite it being abandoned after production wrapped a year earlier.

When Warner Bros. announced that Peter Jackson would make a film adaptation of The Hobbit, a permanent and operational Hobbiton was rebuilt at the same location in Matamata for production in 2011. Once filming wrapped, the Hobbiton set was turned over to the farmland’s owners, who included a detailed replica of the interiors of the movie sets that were filmed at Wellington Stone Street Studios. Additionally, The Shires Rest Cafe and The Green Dragon Inn bar are included as part of the two-hour guided tours of the movie set.

8. BIG FISH (2003)

The fictional town of Spectre, Alabama in Tim Burton’s Big Fish was an elaborate movie set built on the Alabama River near the city of Montgomery. During the course of Big Fish, the town of Spectre increasingly gets more rundown with wear and tear through the decades, as the character of Edward Bloom (played by both Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney) returns to it throughout his life. Some of the set’s buildings and storefronts have now collapsed from decay, exposing Styrofoam trees and moss. The movie set is located on private property, but $3 can get you access inside.

9. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL (2003)

Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was mainly filmed on location at Wallilabou Anchorage on the main island of St. Vincent on the Caribbean Sea. Disney built elaborate pirate ships, replica cannons, and authentic period docks and marketplaces for the 2003 sequel. Production abandoned a majority of the movie sets on Wallilabou Anchorage, turning it into a very popular tourist attraction.

10. THE HILLS HAVE EYES (2006)

Director Alexandre Aja’s 2006 remake of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes was filmed on location in Morocco. Gas Haven, a 1950s-style gas station, was built specifically for the horror movie, but was abandoned once production wrapped. It remains in the province of Souss-Massa-Draa, about 20 minutes outside of Ouarzazate, so feel free to visit the deserted movie set (but watch out for crazy mutants).

11. THE HUNGER GAMES (2012)

While The Hunger Games takes place in a post-apocalyptic America, Henry River Mill Village in Burke County, North Carolina was used to film the very poor District 12. The small village was home to North Carolina’s once-thriving textile industry during the early 20th century, but has since become a ghost town due to the sharp decline in manufacturing in the state. It found new life as District 12 in 2011, as The Hunger Games production team re-fashioned Henry River Mill Village’s buildings, storefronts, and abandoned homes to match the film’s tone. Henry River Mill Village is located on private property, but there are tours and photo opportunities available.

12. ZERO DARK THIRTY (2012)

The war-torn backdrop featured in Zero Dark Thirty was not entirely filmed on location in Afghanistan; some of it was shot at the Blue Cloud Movie Ranch in Santa Clarita Valley, California. The movie set remains unused, but the film’s props—such as a downed helicopter—are still scattered around. The owners of the ranch call it, “an Afghanistan-town set that is so real the U.S. military uses it for training purposes.”

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8 of the Weirdest Gallup Polls
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Born in Jefferson, Iowa on November 18, 1901, George Gallup studied journalism and psychology, focusing on how to measure readers’ interest in newspaper and magazine content. In 1935, he founded the American Institute of Public Opinion to scientifically measure public opinions on topics such as government spending, criminal justice, and presidential candidates. Although he died in 1984, The Gallup Poll continues his legacy of trying to determine and report the will of the people in an unbiased, independent way. To celebrate his day of birth, we compiled a list of some of the weirdest, funniest Gallup polls over the years.

1. THREE IN FOUR AMERICANS BELIEVE IN THE PARANORMAL (2005)

According to this Gallup poll, 75 percent of Americans have at least one paranormal belief. Specifically, 41 percent believe in extrasensory perception (ESP), 37 percent believe in haunted houses, and 21 percent believe in witches. What about channeling spirits, you might ask? Only 9 percent of Americans believe that it’s possible to channel a spirit so that it takes temporary control of one's body. Interestingly, believing in paranormal phenomena was relatively similar across people of different genders, races, ages, and education levels.

2. ONE IN FIVE AMERICANS THINK THE SUN REVOLVES AROUND THE EARTH (1999)

In this poll, Gallup tried to determine the popularity of heliocentric versus geocentric views. While 79 percent of Americans correctly stated that the Earth revolves around the sun, 18 percent think the sun revolves around the Earth. Three percent chose to remain indifferent, saying they had no opinion either way.

3. 22 PERCENT OF AMERICANS ARE HESITANT TO SUPPORT A MORMON (2011)

Gallup first measured anti-Mormon sentiment back in 1967, and it was still an issue in 2011, a year before Mormon Mitt Romney ran for president. Approximately 22 percent of Americans said they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, even if that candidate belonged to their preferred political party. Strangely, Americans’ bias against Mormons has remained stable since the 1960s, despite decreasing bias against African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and women.

4. MISSISSIPPIANS GO TO CHURCH THE MOST; VERMONTERS THE LEAST (2010)

This 2010 poll amusingly confirms the stereotype that southerners are more religious than the rest of the country. Although 42 percent of all Americans attend church regularly (which Gallup defines as weekly or almost weekly), there are large variations based on geography. For example, 63 percent of people in Mississippi attend church regularly, followed by 58 percent in Alabama and 56 percent in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Utah. Rounding out the lowest levels of church attendance, on the other hand, were Vermont, where 23 percent of residents attend church regularly, New Hampshire, at 26 percent, and Maine at 27 percent.

5. ONE IN FOUR AMERICANS DON’T KNOW WHICH COUNTRY AMERICA GAINED INDEPENDENCE FROM (1999)

Although 76 percent of Americans knew that the United States gained independence from Great Britain as a result of the Revolutionary War, 24 percent weren’t so sure. Two percent thought the correct answer was France, 3 percent said a different country (such as Mexico, China, or Russia), and 19 percent had no opinion. Certain groups of people who consider themselves patriotic, including men, older people, and white people (according to Gallup polls), were more likely to know that America gained its independence from Great Britain.

6. ONE THIRD OF AMERICANS BELIEVE IN GHOSTS (2000)

This Halloween-themed Gallup poll asked Americans about their habits and behavior on the last day of October. Predictably, two-thirds of Americans reported that someone in their house planned to give candy to trick-or-treaters and more than three-quarters of parents with kids reported that their kids would wear a costume. More surprisingly, 31 percent of American adults claimed to believe in ghosts, an increase from 1978, when only 11 percent of American adults admitted to a belief in ghosts.

7. 5 PERCENT OF WORKING MILLENNIALS THRIVE IN ALL FIVE ELEMENTS OF WELL-BEING (2016)

This recent Gallup poll is funny in a sad way, as it sheds light on the tragicomic life of a millennial. In this poll, well-being is defined as having purpose, social support, manageable finances, a strong community, and good physical health. Sadly, only 5 percent of working millennials—defined as people born between 1980 and 1996—were thriving in these five indicators of well-being. To counter this lack of well-being, Gallup’s report recommends that managers promote work-life balance and improve their communication with millennial employees.

8. THE WORLD IS BECOMING SLIGHTLY MORE NEGATIVE (2014)

If you seem to feel more stress, sadness, anxiety, and pain than ever before, Gallup has the proof that it’s not all in your head. According to the company’s worldwide negative experience index, negative feelings such as stress, sadness, and anger have increased since 2007. Unsurprisingly, people living in war-torn, dangerous parts of the word—Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, and Sierra Leone—reported the highest levels of negative emotions.

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11 Times Mickey Mouse Was Banned
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Despite being one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved characters, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Mickey Mouse, who turns 89 years old today. A number of countries—and even U.S. states—have banned the cartoon rodent at one time or another for reasons both big and small.

1. In 1930, Ohio banned a cartoon called “The Shindig” because Clarabelle Cow was shown reading Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn, the premier romance novelist of the time. Check it out (1:05) and let us know if you’re scandalized:

2. With movies on 10-foot screen being a relatively new thing in Romania in 1935, the government decided to ban Mickey Mouse, concerned that children would be terrified of a monstrous rodent.

3. In 1929, a German censor banned a Mickey Mouse short called “The Barnyard Battle.” The reason? An army of cats wearing pickelhauben, the pointed helmets worn by German military in the 19th and 20th centuries: "The wearing of German military helmets by an army of cats which oppose a militia of mice is offensive to national dignity. Permission to exhibit this production in Germany is refused.”

4. The German dislike for Mickey Mouse continued into the mid-'30s, with one German newspaper wondering why such a small and dirty animal would be idolized by children across the world: "Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed ... Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal.” Mickey was originally banned from Nazi Germany, but eventually the mouse's popularity won out.

5. In 2014, Iran's Organization for Supporting Manufacturers and Consumers announced a ban on school supplies and stationery products featuring “demoralizing images,” including that of Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty, and characters from Toy Story.

6. In 1954, East Germany banned Mickey Mouse comics, claiming that Mickey was an “anti-Red rebel.”

7. In 1937, a Mickey Mouse adventure was so similar to real events in Yugoslavia that the comic strip was banned. State police say the comic strip depicted a “Puritan-like revolt” that was a danger to the “Boy King,” Peter II of Yugoslavia, who was just 14 at the time. A journalist who wrote about the ban was consequently escorted out of the country.

8. Though Mussolini banned many cartoons and American influences from Italy in 1938, Mickey Mouse flew under the radar. It’s been said that Mussolini’s children were such Mickey Mouse fans that they were able to convince him to keep the rodent around.

9. Mickey and his friends were banned from the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a roundabout way. As they do with many major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Disney had contacted American favorites to win in each event to ask them to say the famous “I’m going to Disneyland!” line if they won. When American swimmer Matt Biondi won the 100-meter freestyle, he dutifully complied with the request. After a complaint from the East Germans, the tape was pulled and given to the International Olympic Committee.

10. In 1993, Mickey was banned from a place he shouldn't have been in the first place: Seattle liquor stores. As a wonderful opening sentence from the Associated Press explained, "Mickey Mouse, the Easter Bunny and teddy bears have no business selling booze, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has decided." A handful of stores had painted Mickey and other characters as part of a promotion. A Disney VP said Mickey was "a nondrinker."

11. Let's end with another strike against The Shindig (see #1) and Clarabelle’s bulging udder. Less than a year after the Shindig ban, the Motion Picture Producers and Directors of America announced that they had received a massive number of complaints about the engorged cow udders in various Mickey Mouse cartoons.

From then on, according to a 1931 article in Time magazine, “Cows in Mickey Mouse ... pictures in the future will have small or invisible udders quite unlike the gargantuan organ whose antics of late have shocked some and convulsed others. In a recent picture the udder, besides flying violently to left and right or stretching far out behind when the cow was in motion, heaved with its panting with the cow stood still.”

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