Splendid China…in Florida
I’m back from vacation! It was lovely to get away for a few days–actually, almost a whole week.
We were outside of Orlando, in Kissimmee. It was warm (relatively speaking) and sunny, and I loved it. Despite my ultra-pale complexion, I think I was born to be a warm-climate girl. I just feel better when the sun is shining and I’m not wearing 27 layers of clothes. Better still if I’m on a beach with a book! (Hmmm. I wonder if this comes from living in the Carolinas back when I was very, very young. Since then we’ve lived in the midwest, but I’ve never forgotten the smell of the ocean and how much I love it.)
No beach or ocean this time, but our rented house did have a heated pool, which was awesome. It was only in the mid-seventies last week, even in Florida, so swimming would not have been possible otherwise.
We did the Disney theme park thing on Monday (Animal Kingdom), Tuesday (Hollywood Studios/Downtown Disney), and Wednesday (Epcot). My favorite, I think, was the Animal Kingdom Safari ride. A rhino came right up to the side of the bus/tram thing. Very cool and a teensy bit scary. I also loved, as always, seeing the gorillas and the tigers. At Downtown Disney, we got to see Ben Folds perform at the House of Blues, and it was a great show! He was an incredible performer and really interacted with the crowd. Loved it! The opening act, Zack Williams, was fantastic as well.
Now…did I take lots pictures of that stuff, like a normal person might? Uh, no. Instead, I focused on one of my ultimate “that would be so cool” scenarios, which happened to be just up the street from our rental house.
And what might that be?
AN ABANDONED AMUSEMENT PARK!!!
How freaking cool is that? I don’t know why this idea fascinates me, but it does. I was talking to a friend and we think it might be because of the inherent stark contrast involved. A place formerly full of people and happiness, now completely empty, desolate and sad.
In any case, what happened was this:
We were approaching our rental house and a couple turns before ours, we noticed what we thought was the entrance to an abandoned subdivision.
But as we kept going, we saw these strange buildings up against the fence. House-like structures but not. And oddly enough, there were these little tiny buildings–like huge palaces but on a really small scale.
At first we thought it was an abandoned mini-golf place, which would have been cool, but not AS cool as an abandoned amusement park.
But then we met with some friends for dinner, who told us it was, in fact, an abandoned amusement park with a Chinese-culture theme. (The picture below is of the dragon symbol near the main gates.)
So, on Thursday, when my husband was preparing to go watch the NCAA games with a friend, we had this conversation:
Him: “Okay, I’m leaving to watch the games.”
Me: “Have fun! I’m going to read some, maybe take a walk…” (insert super casual pause, and then continue almost under breath) “…around the abandoned amusement park.”
Him: *stops dead with keys in hand, starts to say something, and then just shakes his head with a sigh* “Just be careful.”
That is how you know he’s used to being married to a writer. 🙂
I wouldn’t have said anything to him at all, but you know, in case I fell and broke my leg, got bitten by a snake, or was kidnapped by strange beings using the abandoned park as a portal to their world, I wanted him to know where I’d gone at least.
Here are (more) results of my afternoon adventure…
This is where the sign for the entrance used to be and is now home to graffiti. It was right near the dragon symbol up above:
This is one of my favorite shots…a close up of one of the mini buildings:
A weird rock formation that you can just barely make out beyond the bars of the fence:
Eerie abandoned buildings (which I love!):
And one of the back gates with yet MORE abandoned buildings:
Also, let me take this opportunity to point out that all my pictures were obtained legally from OUTSIDE the park gates. No trespassing occurred! A) Because this place has LOTS of security. B) I am way too chicken to go inside alone. C) It could have been legitimately dangerous on the inside because even though the park is technically gone, the structures are still there, which means people. Possibly scary people.
And here, if you’re really curious, is more info about the park, which was called Splendid China, and some videos of skateboarders who are braver than I am and actually went in. (Note: I do not endorse trespassing of any kind. Mainly because you never know when some whackjob with a gun is going to take his sign more seriously than you did. Also? Getting arrested sucks. Not that I know from experience, but it LOOKS like it sucks. And so does falling through rotten floor boards that *look* solid enough to walk on. Ouch.)
Alas, one thing was missing, though, from this particular park. No abandoned, hulking, rusting rides to creak eerily in the wind. 🙁 Maybe next time!