Five Abandoned Comedy Landmarks

Inject a little humor into your summer travel plans
Five Abandoned Comedy Landmarks

Mainstream comedy fans take a picture in front of the Ghostbusters firehouse in New York City, or recreate scenes from The Hangover at Caesars Palace in Vegas. Comedy die-hards, however, risk getting arrested for exploring Roseanne’s abandoned Iowa mansion or getting tetanus from checking out the rusted-out trucks from the set of M*A*S*H

If you fall into the latter category — or if you’re just looking to inject a little humor into your summer travel plans — here are five abandoned comedy landmarks to put on your bucket list…

Rosanne Barr and Tom Arnold’s Unfinished Mansion in Eldon, Iowa

During the height of Roseanne’s fame in 1990, she married Tom Arnold, and the two began construction on a $16 million mansion in Arnold’s home state of Iowa. When they got divorced in 1994, however, construction on the mansion stopped, with only about half of it completed. Its abandoned remains are now mostly the purview of urban explorers.

The Remaining Sets and Military Trucks from ‘M*A*S*H’ in Malibu Creek State Park, California

When the M*A*S*H finale aired in 1983, it garnered the biggest audience ever — before or since — for the conclusion of a TV show. Yet the sets and prop vehicles from the series weren’t sent to the Smithsonian or even preserved in any way. Instead, most of them stayed exactly where they were: Malibu Creek State Park in Southern California. Today, 40 years since the conclusion of the series, several of the old Army trucks are still in the park free to be explored and photographed.

The Flintstones’ Bedrock City in Valle, Arizona

In 1972, a Flintstones-themed roadside attraction called Bedrock City opened along Arizona’s Route 64. It was both an RV park and a theme park with small rides and lots of houses that looked like they were straight out of the animated sitcom. It officially closed in 2019, and although Raptor Ranch conservation park opened on the site in 2022, it decided not to tear down the Flintstones structures. So you can still snap photos of yourself at Fred Flintstone’s house, just don’t expect a wooly mammoth to do your laundry or anything like that, as it’s pretty bare bones otherwise.

Abandoned Mansion from ‘Johnny English’ in Buckinghamshire, U.K.

While the Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire are probably more recognizable as Bruce Wayne’s mansion from Batman Begins, it was also used during the filming of the Rowan Atkinson spy parody Johnny English. Built in 1854 by the Rothschild family, the mansion is currently empty and considered “at risk” by the Historic England organization. It was sold in 2009, but it’s been left to the elements ever since. I would say rescuing the mansion is a job for Batman, but this is supposed to be a piece about comedy landmarks, so can Johnny English handle it instead? Maybe there’s a Johnny English signal of some kind that I’m unaware of.

Various Borscht Belt Resorts in the Catskills

Comedians like Don Rickles, Jack Benny, Mel Brooks, Jackie Mason, Joan Rivers and Carl Reiner all developed their comedic voices in the Borscht Belt, which was a series of resorts in the Catskill Mountains frequented by Jewish families from New York City who were looking for a vacation spot free from anti-Semitism. The entire area was a comedy mecca from the 1920s until the 1960s and 1970s. 

Many of these resorts have been demolished, but some of them still stand today, albeit in disrepair — e.g., the Pines Resort in Fallsburg, and the Friar Tuck Inn Resort and Spa in Catskill. Like the comedians who performed there, they continue to represent an important chapter in comedy history.

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