6 Places Where You Can Visit the Post-Apocalypse (Today)
If you're anything like us, you've got what your mother might call a "disturbing" obsession with the world that comes after the inevitable meteor, plague, robot uprising, or birdpocalypse. Well, good news! There's no need to sit around twiddling your thumbs while waiting to see what post-apocalyptic Earth might look like -- not when there currently exist places such as ...
The Ruins of the Future That Never Was
Expo '92 in Seville was one of the 20th century's final world's fairs, so Spain wanted to do that biz up right. The theme of the expo was "The Age of Discoveries," and Seville certainly lived up to it: They spent over five years and $2 billion to construct a 500-plus-acre utopian city of the future. You know, sort of like Epcot, only ... well no, it was exactly like Epcot.
As residents of The Future, we're a little disappointed there aren't as many giant, pointless balls as promised.
The expo was a smash hit, attracting more than 16 million visitors during its short six-month run. But the extravaganza was over as quickly as it began, and while the organizers had high hopes that it would spark a rebirth of tourism to the region, it just ... didn't. Thus, much of the site has since been abandoned to the elements. The rocket ship on the horizon is forever lashed to the Earth by decidedly low-tech vines; the monorails are up on blocks and wouldn't look a bit out of place in the backyard of some sci-fi redneck.
"One day I'm gonna drop a warp hemi in that sucker."
The high-speed railway station and its barren tracks leading away to nowhere would make a perfect backdrop for exploding a few supermutants to harvest their minigun ammo, or perhaps just a good place to catch the last train to Thunderdome.
Two trains enter, one train leaves.
Abandoned World War II Fortifications
Even wars of the less-than-apocalyptic variety can leave our beaches littered with discarded wartime leftovers that look like something Charlton Heston would tear his shirt open over. Case in point: the sprawling concrete behemoth that is the World War II bunker at Cape May Point in New Jersey.
Even today, you can't be too safe from Nazi invasion.
The bunker was constructed in 1942 as part of the Harbor Defense Project, and back then it was located underground ... and 900 feet inland. Today, its hilly disguise has long since worn away, and it basks in all its bunkery majesty right there on the beach. At low tide, you can even see the gun turrets aimed out to sea.
Abandoned bunkers are pretty uncommon in the States, but photographer Jonathan Andrew captured a few more modern megaliths crouching upon the shores of France:
Ah, the refined beauty of French architecture.
While many of the bunkers are clearly showing the effects of time and slowly crumbling into unrecognizable rubble, others still look much as they must have during the war, remaining ever vigilant in their watch over the pounding waves, like something yanked straight out of some futuristic surf-themed dystopia.
Bunkers are the heavy-metal-album-coverest of all buildings.
The Abandoned Walt Disney World Water Park
With 30 million visitors a year, it's difficult to imagine what a Walt Disney World theme park would look like if all the people just up and vanished. There is literally no point in the day at which a Disney theme park is devoid of fat tourists in mouse hats jamming up your teacup time. But if you want a sneak peek at the world after Disney, just look a little bit to the right: There's an abandoned and unkempt water park right within eyeshot of both Disney's Contemporary Resort and the Space Mountain roller coaster.
The Tetanus Splash ride remains largely unaffected by time.
Opened in 1976, River Country was Walt Disney World's very first water park. For over 25 years, the park titillated throngs of hot, wet visitors with its massive Whoop-N'-Holler Hollow (that's the name of a water slide. Get your mind out of the gutter). However, over the years, River Country gradually lost its thunder to Disney's newer water parks, and in late 2001 they washed their hands of the whole venture. We'd apologize for the terrible pun, but it would be insincere.
In just one short decade, Mother Nature took back what was rightfully hers, covering walkways once frequented by thousands of dripping tourist feet with thick vegetation ...
... blocking the water slides with fallen trees ...
Nothing spices up a water slide like brambles at 30 miles an hour.
... and overtaking the signs with creepy Evil Dead-style vines:
We imagine adding "Malaria" and "Alligators" might be a relevant update.
Now we here at Cracked know our readers, so we're well aware that approximately every last one of you is at this very moment planning to ninja your way into the ruins of River Country during your next visit to Walt Disney World. We'd strongly advise against that. Disney is notoriously strict with noncompliance. The last guy who tried it is probably shackled up in some dark corner of the Utilidors with seven stocky guys in dwarf costumes taking turns giving him the ol' "Heigh-Ho" right now.
It's a common trope in zombie fiction, from 28 Days Later to The Walking Dead : The lone survivor wakes up in an abandoned hospital to discover that the world has succumbed to zombification and overwrought interpersonal drama. If you've always wanted to wander through the apocalypse in a buttless gown, you can take yourself a nice nap in Forest Park Hospital in St. Louis, which was abandoned in 2011. According to Nick Zulauf, who's explored and photographed the interior, "It's a little creepy because there are still things on. Things are buzzing, things are beeping. The water still runs."
"The blood still drips from the ceiling, but only on Thursdays."
And sure, that's unnerving and all, but if creepy hospitals are your thing, what you really want to do is find one that's been steeping a bit longer. Quick, let's play a round of "Abandoned Croatian Examination Room or Serial Killer Lair?"
Trick question -- they're the same thing!
To get to the really good stuff, however, what you've got to do is find yourself a hospital with some combination of the words "lunatic" and "asylum" in its name, like the New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum:
AKA, the most festive place on earth for shambling nightmares from beyond the veil of sanity.
The nation's changing viewpoint on mental disorders (i.e., actually treating the patients instead of locking them up in a dilapidated brick building to die so that future teenagers might bone on top of their ghosts) left us with an abundance of abandoned facilities, like the DeJarnette State Sanatorium in Virginia:
Built in 1932 and ultimately abandoned for good in 1996, DeJarnette Sanatorium served as a magnet for vandals and squatters, whose influence somehow only served to make its rooms even more disturbing. Or at least we hope vandals did all that, otherwise there were some seriously lax building codes back in the '30s.
Can't tell if it's a real building or a still from Silent Hill? Neither can anybody.
You look tense, apocalypse-obsessed friend. Perhaps it's all the stress and worry about the end of days. Well, maybe you need a short vacation -- some time to relax and get away from it all. And we've got the perfect holiday hotspot for the man or woman who just can't wait for the world to die:
There's no going back to the days of man's dominance over nature. Also, there's no diving.
In the '50s and '60s, the Catskills of southeastern New York were famous for a collection of resorts colloquially known as the Borscht Belt, luxurious retreats that served as a remote getaway from busy New York City life. Suburban growth rendered many of the famed Borscht Belt properties moot, and they eventually barred their doors, giving that infamous moocher, Blight, tacit permission to crash for a few decades. Maybe invite its good friends Dereliction and Dilapidation over for a kegger.
Hey! Free haunted beds!
Mountains not doing it for you? OK then, let's hop over to the opposite side of the country, near Palm Springs, California. There we find the Salton Sea, an area that, during its heyday, was described as the American Riviera. The Salton Sea was formed by complete accident in 1905 when engineers messed up while rerouting the Colorado River and transformed 376 square miles of desert into a body of water. So what do you do when you've just created California's largest lake, accidental or otherwise? Desperately try to fix the disaster?
Nope: You cash the hell in, buddy!
Opportunistic resort entrepreneurs flocked to set up shop. Just one problem: The lake had no means of drainage, and its main source of new water just so happened to be agricultural runoff.
"Our seafood selection is ... abundant!"
You know what they say: You can lead fish to water, but if it's 50 percent saltier than the Pacific Ocean, they will die horribly and en masse. (It's not a very well-known maxim.) Add in the fact that all those agricultural fertilizers resulted in water teeming with a type of algae that farts out appalling rotten-egg gas, and America's Riviera suddenly didn't seem quite so sexy anymore.
Entire Abandoned Towns
On June 10, 1944, Nazis stormed the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane and ... well, let's just say they did how Nazis do. After the unjustified massacre that ensued, the village was preserved in its post-attack condition. Which is to say, poorly:
"I told you we shouldn't have left the car parked in this neighborhood."
And then there's the Salisbury Plain village of Imber.
Great. Nazis and vampires.
In December of 1943, the entire population of Imber was told to leave so that American troops could use the area to prepare for the inevitable invasion of Europe. The villagers were never allowed to return, and today the buildings stand as skeletal reminders of the civilian costs of war.
Monopoly: Impermanence of Mankind Edition had the weirdest hotel tokens.
Also, the area is apparently rife with toe-stubbing hazards, thanks to the military leaving all their ordnance just lying about like Satan's carpet LEGOs:
Dozens have died trying to ride the gun like a horsey.
Meanwhile, over on the Isle of Purbeck, the residents of Tyneham found themselves in a similar position: Having the gross misfortune of being situated right next to a military firing range, each of the village's residents received a letter from the War Office in late 1943 ordering them to "temporarily" abandon their homes. Like Imber, no one ever returned. Today, the town stands empty, attracting curious urban explorers and Time Lords alike.
Jason is a freelance editor for this fine website, Cracked.com. Like him on Facebook and maybe he'll let you tour his backyard zombie apocalypse shelter.
Related Reading: The apocalypse is more accessible than you'd think- click here to see why the recent horse meat scandal proves a zombie apocalypse could happen. And did you know Pixar movies secretly take place after a horrible apocalypse? Believe it. And then get to work on your End-of-Days to-do list.