Wonderland, On Ice
Tokyo Disneyland is a 115 acre amusement park located about fifteen miles outside of Toyko itself. The theme park welcomes roughly 14.5 million guests a year, making it the third most popular amusement park on the planet, after the Magic Kingdom (approximately 17 million visitors) and the original Disneyland in California (at nearly 16 million). With 35 million people in the Tokyo metropolitan area — the largest metro area in the world — it makes a lot of sense to put a theme park there.
China’s capital, Beijing, is only about 18 million people large. While only half that of the Tokyo metro area, it is still large enough to make the list of the world’s top 20 metro areas by population. And in the 1990s, a series of developers believed that it, too, could support a world-class theme park.
They were wrong.
In the 1990s, a group of developers purchased a 100 acre parcel of land 45 minutes outside of Beijing in hopes of turning it into the Happiest Place on Earth — or, a reasonably suitable facsimile thereof. They began construction on a theme park called Wonderland. Wonderland has a grand design replete with a Cinderella-esque castle (as seen above), a small town-like area likely meant for in-park commerce, a pavilion, and lot more. But when funding dried up in 1998, the park was left for dead. An effort was made in 2008 to revive the project but it, too, failed. What was left behind is the skeletal remains of the massive buildings, pathways, and parking lots now long abandoned.
Today, the area is an attraction for local explorers and children alike. Simultaneously, local farmers are trying to reclaim the land, planting corn throughout the 100 acre grounds. Unfortunately for both groups, use of the area is at one’s own risk. There are potential hazards from the structures themselves — which are obviously not being maintained whatsoever — and from the ground itself, which is potentially poisoned.
A gallery of photos from Wonderland, including the one above, can be seen at the Atlantic.
From the Archives: It’s a Small, Exclusive World After All: The real, not-abandoned Disneyland has a secret restaurant.
Related: Make your own abandoned theme park. Kind of.
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