What with Pleasure Island
closing this weekend, I've been getting nostalgic for some of the other attractions that Central Florida lost over the years. With perhaps the most bizarre being Splendid China
I don't know how many of you ever got the chance to visit this 76-acre theme park during the 10 years that it was in operation. But Splendid China Florida truly was something worth seeing. This $100 million attraction featured 60 recreations of famous Chinese landmarks, among the Great Wall of China
It took two years to build this theme park, with 120 artisans laboring to make sure that Splendid China Florida was authentic in every way. Which -- in the case of the park's quarter mile long replica of the Great Wall -- meant that 6.5 million miniature bricks that were used to build this Wall had to be laid by hand.
Splendid China Florida opened with great fanfare in December of 1993. And given how close their theme park was to World Drive (i.e. Walt Disney World
's main entrance road), SCF investors thought that Orlando's newest attraction was sure to be a hit with both tourists & locals.
Alas it wasn't meant to be. Though the people who did visit Splendid China Florida marveled at the obvious care & craft that had gone into the creation of the place, they also puzzled by this theme park's lack of traditional rides, shows and attraction. And once word got out that SCF was beautiful but boring ... That's pretty much all she wrote.
Splendid China Florida limped along for ten years before its owners finally threw in the towel in December of 2003. The contests of this theme park were auctioned off in back December of 2004. And since that time, the property has basically been abandoned.
But ever since then, I've heard stories from friends who have actually visited what's left of Splendid China Florida. And from what they told me, there was a surprising amount of stuff still standing within the walls of that park.
So one recent Saturday, I decided to go see for myself. I drove over to Splendid China Florida and -- at the entrance of this now-defunct theme park -- I encountered a very sympathetic security guard. Who -- after hearing my extended explanation about how I just wanted to experience Splendid China one more time, and how I promised not to disturb anything -- let me into the park. But only after saying "Okay. But I didn't see you and you didn't see me."
And once I got inside the gates ... I have to admit that I was stunned by what I saw. Nature is rapidly reclaiming the land that Splendid China Florida was built on. So there were weeds everywhere. But if you can look past all of this overgrowth, you can see that a lot of this theme park is still intact.
Oh, sure. A good portion of the park's miniature recreations of famous Chinese landmarks were sold off at auction. But the truly huge pieces -- the ones that were too heavy to carry -- are still here. The Stone Forest
, for example ...
... was still intact. As was that not-so-miniature recreation of Potala Place
But -- that said -- it was still rather depressing to see this theme park's elaborate recreations of famous Chinese landmarks (Like SCF's beautiful miniature version of the Forbidden City
... reduced to rubble and strewn with trash.
But then again, nothing lasts forever. Even the real Great Wall of China is in need of repair
these days. Which is why it (sort of) seemed okay to stroll the length of the miniature recreation of this Wonder of the World
the day that I visited Splendid China.
Now remember, folks. This Central Florida theme park is no longer open to the public.
I only got to tour Splendid China Florida because I was in the right place at the right time.
Given the general conditions of the grounds ...
... I can understand why Security shooes most visitors away.
But given that so many JHM readers seem to be concerned about what's happening to Pleasure Island this week, I thought that it was important to remind you guys that WDW's nighttime entertainment district isn't only thing that we've lost over the past few years. That not that long ago, there was this neat little place in Kissimmee called Splendid China. http://jimhillmedia.com/blogs/eric_m...a-florida.aspx