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We've written once before about make-believe fantasylands we thought existed solely in the minds of comic book writers and dead English professors, but that actually turned out to be real. Well, it looks like most of those "wondrously imaginative" settings were all just real places that the creators thought were neat, and subsequently, that most "wondrously imaginative" storytellers were just boring old tourists this whole time. Here are six more places you thought were fictional, when in fact you could totally roll up to them on a moped and take some obnoxious pictures in front of ...

6
The Ewok Village from Return of the Jedi

The Fictional Setting:

Via Starwars.wikia.com

Located in the Happy Grove section of the Forest Moon of Endor, Chief Chirpa's Bright Tree Village is the enormous toy commercial from the original Star Wars trilogy that gave us our first dark hint of Lucas' future works.

The Real Thing:

Via ABC News
"We're adults! Wheeeee!"

The general suckage of Ewoks aside, if we were to tell you that the Ewok tree village exists, right now, in Costa Rica, your only questions would be "What's the soonest flight to Costa Rica?" and "Oh God, where is my credit card? Where is it?! I swear to Christ I will burn this house down if only to better sift through the ashes!"

Finca Bellavista is an actual sky-high tree community of about two dozen luxurious tree houses joined by walkways and zip lines. It is, if anything, way cooler than its fictional counterpart, if only because you don't have to tolerate those precocious teddy bear bastards all up in your grill. As far as Ewok villages go, this is more Holiday Inn than "warlike tribal society," but still, we can't imagine you'd be the first to run down those catwalks in your birthday suit, hurling spears at the other terrified tourists ...

Via Fincabellavista.net
"OK, C-3PO, now that they believe you're their god, demand a blood sacrifice in our honor."

The people who run Finca Bellavista would not only be understanding of your pop-culture-addled, inappropriate and possibly dangerous behavior -- they'd encourage it. This isn't one of those stuffy "don't run by the pool" hotels. They actually let you travel from tree house to tree house by zip-lining about like some sort of fat, drunken, shaved Ewok.


"If you fall, aim for the large pile of past tourists."

5
The Hallelujah Mountains from Avatar

The Fictional Setting:

Those huge, floating mountains in Avatar made up the single most striking visual of the film (except for maybe that awkward tail-bang between the two giant blue leopard people).

The Real Thing:

Via Absolut-china.com
These trees. NO, wait. We see the mountains now. It's the mountains.

As it turns out, Avatar, the single highest-grossing film of all time, could just as easily have been shot using a camcorder and retitled Stuff James Cameron Saw While on Vacation to China. If you want to visit Pandora and climb the Hallelujah Mountains yourself, just grab your passport and fly over to China's Anhui Province. Even Cameron admits the inspiration: "All we had to do was simply recreate Huangshan Mountain in outer space."

Via Wikimedia Commons
"The blue people were a computer-generated representation of what I think the Chinese look like."

And if you get bored of the Mountains That Should Not Be, you can moped on over to China's Hunan Province and take a gander at Wulingyuan, which is actually more Pandora than Pandora, in parts:

Via Topchinatravel.com
Holy crap, you can just hear the cross-species sex scene echoing through the canyons.

We can only assume there are giant native birds on top of things for you to joyride about, thus showing the primitive natives that white people are way better at being their race than they are.

Via Qualityjunkyard.com
"Thank you for teaching us that simply by existing, we are wrong."

While Cameron claims to have gotten his idea from Huangshan Mountain, the Zhangjiajie government is so convinced that their mountains were the actual inspiration for Avatar that they officially changed the name of their majestic "South Sky Pillar" to "Avatar Hallelujah Mountain."

Via Daily Mail
It's about one mile north of the Ferris Bueller's Day Off river.

Right, because clearly an awe-inspiring name like "South Sky Pillar" just won't stand the test of time. It makes much more sense to retitle one of the most stunning landscapes on Earth some awkward string of Engrish that references an already stale 3-D action movie.

Continue Reading Below

4
Sea Labs

The Fictional Setting:

We've seen sea labs in countless movies and television shows over the years -- research facilities impossibly constructed that stretch to or sometimes dwell completely at the bottom of the ocean, because apparently everything has more science in it when you're underwater.

There's almost too many to list: That ridiculous shark corral from Deep Blue Sea, the facility from The Abyss, DeepStar Six, uh ... SeaQuest? That works, right? (Honestly, we were way too taken with Jonathan Brandis' dreamy smile to notice what type of lab was housing it at the time.)

The Real Thing:

Water aliens, explosions, mutant sharks and Brandis aside, the idea of an undersea research station is actually pretty feasible. Behold, the Aquarius Reef Base:


"This is just where we keep the beer. The real lab is over by the underwater football stadium."

That's right: There is a genuine, fully-functional sea lab beneath the ocean right now, just waiting for someone to go too far in the name of science and be hoisted by the petard of their own hubris.

Via Babelniche
That's the petard there, on the lower left.

The Aquarius Reef Base is owned by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and is located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It is maintained by the University of North Carolina Wilmington, whose students no doubt take this responsibility very seriously and in no way use the reflecting pool as a giant gravity bong.

Via Msnbc
"Dude, blow bubbles at the fish and get them all fucked up."

Now regularly used by NASA to train astronauts, the Aquarius remains a glorious testament to human ingenuity and a permanent reminder that the best research is always done while totally isolated in an ominous-looking facility immersed in a crushingly lethal environment.

Murder-Sharks optional (but heartily recommended).

3
The Flintstones House

The Fictional Setting:

Prehistoric middle-class housing was never more appealing than on The Flintstones. The titular family's stone-walled home had dirt floors, holes for windows and was probably located on a hotbed of Australopithecal malaria, but Wilma made that thing a home, dammit.

The Real Thing:

Via Designconceptideas.com
Because sometimes insanity produces some cool shit.

This $3.5 million Flintstones-inspired Stone Age bungalow in Malibu, California was once owned by none other than Dick Clark himself, proving that he must have either had a sense of humor about his seemingly preternatural aging, or else actually was the Highlander and only faked his own death because too many people were catching on. According to Clark, it was built to "take the whole idea of buildings back to their primeval roots," and the result really goes to show why you don't use the backgrounds of old cartoons as historical gospel:

Via Komonews.com

Look at that primeval recessed lighting.

Via Komonews.com

That downright savage dishwasher.

Via Komonews.com

That, uh ... that barbaric entertainment center.

OK, so maybe it's not a historically accurate portrayal of caveman life, but if you have the coin and the weird fetish, there's a real place on Earth just waiting for you come on over and bone a fur-clad redhead while a world-weary stork/garbage-can watches and makes dismal quips about his job.

Continue Reading Below

2
The Hall of Justice from Super Friends

The Fictional Setting:

The formidable headquarters for the single greatest superhero team of all time, the Hall of Justice was the home of the Super Friends for 10 poorly animated seasons, has since been incorporated into official DC Comics canon and probably still smells like Gleek ass no matter how much Febreze you lay down.

The Real Thing:

Via Wikimedia Commons
No goddamn way Superman isn't in there right now.

Apparently the Super Friends have been meeting at the Cincinnati Union Terminal this whole time, and only a liberal use of Tasers and some clever camera work kept all the public transportation hobos from crowding the shots.

Cincinnati has a long cultural and artistic history, which ended up working to the advantage of Hanna-Barbera, as they could basically steal their beautiful landmarks with impunity, since everything in Cincinnati is ignored by everything else in the world. That's why, when Super Friends background supervisor Al Gmuer submitted his initial design for the Hall of Justice, Joe Barbera crumpled it up, threw it in the garbage can and just drew a cartoon of the local train station/rapist campground instead.

Via Acincinnatihistory
If it had been done today, it would have just been a Super Walmart.

1
The Lars Homestead from Star Wars

The Fictional Setting:

That Shire-esque Tatooine hovel farthest from the bright center of the universe is where Luke Skywalker was first discovered, trained for like 20 minutes in order to master the secret forces of the very cosmos itself and then used those powers to shoot missiles at active construction sites.

The Real Thing:

If you were to mosey over to Tunisia this summer, you could actually find Tataouine on the map:

Via Mccullagh.org
Look, it's even written in space language!

If some of the local houses and business look familiar, it's because they were used for all of the exterior locations of Tatooine throughout the Star Wars series:

Via Wikimedia Commons
All that's missing is a kid with a backpack full of terrible acting.

And if, by some miracle, you get bored of running in and out people's homes hollering about sand people and making light saber noises while their children cower in fear and confusion, just head on over to the Hotel Sidi Driss in Matmata, Tunisia.

Via Wikimedia Commons
Just keep an eye on your droids. People hate droids in Tataouine.

There, you can not only see the set piece for Luke's Tatooine farmstead, but actually sleep in his room (it is a hotel, after all) ...

Via Atlasobscura.com
"Welcome! Would you like a glass of weird-looking blue shit?"

Steal a hotel bathrobe and wistfully stare at the sunset while pondering the ever-shifting sands of fate ...


And then run away. Run far, far away.

Or just drop to your knees and dramatically holler over a pair of burned corpses. (You might have to supply those yourself, but who knows? Maybe the concierge is really bomb at his job.)


"Your corpses, sir. I've taken the liberty of preburning them for you. Would you like to wail now, or would you prefer your familial tragedy taken to your room?"

Jacopo would like to thank @Elizabeth_sk, @NRice77, @CAC_Fu, @IanCraker and everyone else for following him on Twitter. Also, he would like to thank Mel Gibson and James Cameron for not following him.

For more reasons why reality always trumps fiction, check out 5 Real-World Criminals Who Were Certified Supervillains and 5 Real-World Mechs Straight Out of Science Fiction.

Still jonesing for more? Then check out The Sneaky Lie Your Apple Devices Are Telling You.

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