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 ...
6The Ewok Village from Return of the Jedi
The Fictional Setting:
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 ...
"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."
5The 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:
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:
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.
"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.