Journal

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.
former-entrance-to-sc

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.
miniature-building-in-sc

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.
another-mini-building-in-sc

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.)
dragon-symbol-near-front-gates-of-sc

SCORE!

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. πŸ™‚

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:
former-main-entrance-sign

This is one of my favorite shots…a close up of one of the mini buildings:
closer-up-picture-of-mini-building

A weird rock formation that you can just barely make out beyond the bars of the fence:
weird-rock-formation-thingy

Eerie abandoned buildings (which I love!):
abandoned-building-1

abandoned-building-2

And one of the back gates with yet MORE abandoned buildings:
gate-4-and-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. πŸ™ Maybe next time!


9 comments to “Splendid China…in Florida”

  1. Hannah S
    Comment
    1
    · March 27th, 2010 at 12:41 am · Link

    Wow, that is just way cool… and way creepy!
    Love, Hannah S.



    • Stacey Kade
      Comment
      1.1
      · April 1st, 2010 at 5:45 pm · Link

      I know, right? It’s the combo that appeals to me, the cool and the creepy! πŸ™‚ Also, after having watched Life After People way too much, I now desperately want to visit all the abandoned places they keep showing!

      I think this is, like, a thing for me. LOL



  2. Lucile
    Comment
    2
    · March 30th, 2010 at 4:40 pm · Link

    I think I saw whatever show that was with the skaters there (was it on MTV?)… But now I want to go there, of course without the whole getting arrested bit.

    And Florida is having the strangest weather, lately…I feel bad for everyone here for Spring Break because it hasn’t been very warm.

    But Disney, the ocean and heated pools area ll pretty amazing, so.. πŸ˜€



    • Stacey Kade
      Comment
      2.1
      · April 1st, 2010 at 5:47 pm · Link

      It was pretty decent when we were there, weather-wise, considering what it was like here in Illinois at the time. Rainy, cool, blah.

      Of course, now it’s like 80 and sunny here at home. Which I LOVE. πŸ™‚

      Still, I’d definitely do the Florida thing again, and there’s still plenty of things to see/do in the Orlando area for sure. Plus, my mentor lives in Naples and I love visiting her!



  3. Sharon
    Comment
    3
    · June 26th, 2010 at 9:51 am · Link

    Thank you so much for being one of the law abiding citizens to visit this property…Yes, it WAS a very COOL place. But due to young adults that would rather destroy than enjoy there is Law enforcement security 24 hours a day…Most all of the buildings(which are being torn down) that are left and very few statues(because of paint and breaking)dont hold the beauty they once did..There is a $10,000 fine if caught on property.(It is considered a construction area).You can view it on google earth.(tho this is old footage.3 to 4 years old. THanks to terrorist that would use it to harm).Enjoy and thank you for being honest..and not entering the property. I hold an interest in the security of this property..



  4. Jennifer Beasley
    Comment
    4
    · March 25th, 2011 at 9:02 pm · Link

    WOW! How exciting. I am doing an International Marketing assignment on Florida Splendid China, so when I googled “the fall of Florida Splendid China” I stumbled upon your article. I loved the pictures you took, they are priceless. I practice Buddhism, so this particular venue/park is of great interest to me, now that I’m aware of its existence. I hope to see it before they tear it completely down. Thanks again for sharing the photos and for your article.



  5. Luz
    Comment
    5
    · May 24th, 2011 at 8:43 pm · Link

    πŸ™ This was a great park and im extremely upset that it closed down, I went there in 2002 and had no idea it was closed, I live in tx and was pretty excited to take my baby and husband to see this place as we are on our way to orlando, im so sad that this park is closed for those of you who didnt visit when it was open it was such a terrific place, thanks for respecting what is left of it, your pics were heart breaking!!



  6. Laurie Sykes
    Comment
    6
    · September 25th, 2012 at 6:50 pm · Link

    i was in the orlando area last month looking for a condo. One of the complexes i looked at bordered on this old overgrown parking lot and there were odd buildings in the distance. I had no idea what it was. Upon returning home, I went on google earth to try to see what it could be and discovered it was an abandoned theme park. That did it for me, I had to buy the condo! I was just there this weekend and my first stop was the Splendid China entrance… I hope they never tear it down…completely fascinated with it! Thanks for the warning regarding the hefty fine for trespassing- I’ll just peek throughout the fence!



    • Stacey Kade
      Comment
      6.1
      · September 25th, 2012 at 6:59 pm · Link

      Oooh, Laurie, that’s awesome! Congratulations on your condo purchase! And I’m totally jealous. It would be so cool to have that right in your backyard! πŸ˜€




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