Times change, they say, and it’s true. As the years go by, places that once existed have disappeared. War, climate change, and over-population have caused iconic destinations that our grandparents once visited to disappear.
At one time, these places held special meaning. Now, they’re gone forever. You’ll have to ask your grandparents to show you their photo albums of these once highly sought-after vacation destinations because you’ll never get a chance to see them in this lifetime.
Disney’s Discovery Island Is Abandoned
Disney’s Discovery Island theme park opened in 1974, where families could visit and see a variety of species of birds and animals. Disney originally named the park Treasure Island but changed it.
For over 25 years, it was a popular attraction in Bay Lake, where the rest of Disney World is also located. But in 1999, Disney made the decision to transfer the animals over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and shut down the park. It now sits abandoned and has suffered damage from hurricanes and natural decay.
The Royal Opera House of Valletta Was Destroyed Twice
Located in Valletta, Malta, the Royal Opera House once stood as one of the most iconic structures in the city. Sadly, in 1866, just six years after it opened, the opera house was damaged by a fire. Efforts were made to restore the Royal Opera House, but it didn’t last.
In 1942, the Royal Opera House was once again hit, this time with an aerial bomb. After that, the once-impressive structure couldn’t be properly revived to its former glory. It’s now used as the Pjazza Teatru Rjal, opened in 2013, but it’s not the same.
The Islamic State Destroyed Jonah’s Tomb
The Mosque of the Prophet Jonah was built to replace an Assyrian Church that was believed to be the burial place of Jonah. Known as “Jonah’s Tomb” the site was one of the two most prominent mounds of Nineveh’s ruins, and one of the few historic mosques in the east side of the city.
Then, tragedy struck. On July 24, 2014, the Islamic State blew up the historical site. In March 2017, ISIS was driven out of the area, and a system of tunnels below the mosque was discovered. All of the items within the mosque had been removed.
The World’s Largest Dam Killed Guaira Falls
One of the most powerful waterfalls on planet earth used to sit on the border of Paraguay and Brazil. The roaring water from Guaira Falls could be heard as far as 20 miles away, a truly impressive site to behold, and vacation destination for many. That all ended in 1982.
After the Itaipu Dam reservoir was built, Guaira Falls was destroyed. The 470,000 cubic feet of water that used to fall each second went bone dry after the world’s largest hydroelectric project was completed.
A Volcano Changed The Pink and White Terraces of New Zealand
Located in New Zealand, the incredible Pink and White Terraces were once one of the greatest natural wonders of the world. It was the location of the largest silica sinter deposits ever found on earth, formed by the upwelling of geothermal springs. Today, the gorgeous site is not what it used to be
In 1886, Mount Tarawera erupted, changing the landscape of the region. The Pink and White Terraces aren’t the same, and many thought the springs were entirely lost. Tourists now make the trek to Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley, where they can see the effects of the eruption and the thermal activity in a nearby area.
San Francisco’s Sutro Baths Burned Down In 1966
Adolph Sutro was a wealthy businessman who loved to give back to the City of San Francisco. At one point, the philanthropist was also the major of the city. In 1896, he opened the doors to Sutro Baths, which for decades was a popular spot for locals and visitors to enjoy the pools.
The facility had a freshwater pool, as well as saltwater pools that drew in water from the nearby Pacific Ocean. Although the massive costs to operate Sutro Pools made it difficult to keep the doors open. The indoor swimming pools were converted into an ice skating rank, before an intentional fire set by arsons in 1966 burned it down. The ruins from the building still remain in the Lands End area of the Outer Richmond District.
Waimangu Geyser Was A Spectacle Until It Stopped
Visitors first saw the Waimangu Geyser erupt in late 1990, located outside of Rotorua, New Zealand. For years, the geyser would regularly erupt, putting on a show for tourists for 5-6 hours, every 36 hours.
Created by the 1886 Mount Tarawera eruption, the attraction brought thousands of tourists to Waimangu Valley. Just a few years later, however, the geyser would go dormant. Eruptions were slower and weaker by the end of 1904, and by 1908, the geyser was extinct.
Vidampark Was One Of The World’s First Public Parks
Located in Hungary, Vidampark was the place to go if you were visiting Budapest. The large public park spanned 302 acres and housed swimming pools, a castle, a museum of fine arts, an amusement park and more. In the late 19th century, it was a major tourist attraction and one of the first public parks in the world.
Over the decades, park attendance slowed, before the park eventually shut down in 2013. It hasn’t been utilized in decades, with the last noted event involving motorsports in the 1950s.
You Can’t Experience Lady Liberty As You Used To
The iconic Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous landmarks in not only New York but in America. Dedicated on October 28, 1886, Lady Liberty welcomed immigrants arriving to the U.S. from overseas. While you can still visit the statue, it’s not what it used to be.
In 1916, vandals damaged Lady Liberty’s arm and torch, making it unsafe for visitors to enter that part of the statue. Repairs took place in 1984 but the arm and torch have been closed for over 100 years.
The New York Hippodrome Was Once The Largest Theater In The World
Located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan’s Theater District was the New York Hippodrome. Named the world’s largest theater, the venue had 5,300 seats where New Yorkers could experience films, circuses, and magic shows.
The Hippodrome was immensely popular in the 1910s until the theater’s running costs became a problem. By 1939 it was officially a money pit, and the building was torn down. Today, an office building sits in its place, named “The Hippodrome Center” as a nod to the theater that stood in its place before it.
Heritage USA is an interesting piece of Americana. It was a Christian-themed attraction and water park located in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Founded by televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker under the PTL Club banner (which stands for, we kid you not, “Praise The Lord”), the park closed in 1989 after Jim Bakker had a highly-publicized affair and lost all of his tax-free millions.
Today, the site is popular with adventure-seekers who like to explore abandoned places.
The Original Penn Station
We’re not talking about the new, fancy Penn Station in New York City. We mean the original, historic site considered a masterpiece and modern wonder by architecture nerds the world over. Built in 1910, the original Penn Station flourished as a hub of activity until the decline of the rail industry in the 1950s.
The entire facility was torn down in 1963. Since 1969, Madison Square Garden has stood on its ruins.
The Azure Window Is Gone
Located in Malta, the Azure Window was a natural spectacle. The incredible arch shaped by the water created a beautiful landscape over the bright blue water on Gozo Island, in Dwejra Bay.
Its unique beauty brought visitors from all over the world and was one of the island nation’s most popular attractions. However, in March 2017, the arch collapsed. If you remember, the location was briefly featured on the popular HBO series Game of Thrones.
We don’t know whose idea of a vacation East Berlin would have been during the 1960s and 70s, but it’s still a thing tourists traveled to visit and it doesn’t exist anymore. Separating democratic Germans from communists for decades after WWII, the wall finally came down in the early 90s and millions of people were reunited with relatives and friends they had not seen in years.
Today, history buffs can visit pieces of the wall which are located in museums around the world.
Lascaux Cave Paintings
The Lascaux Cave Paintings are famous for a couple of reasons. One, they were discovered in France by a group of teenagers in 1940. Two, they comprise hundreds of paintings and thousands of engravings by people who lived over 17,000 years ago.
They held up pretty well over the last 17,000 years until tourists were allowed in around 1948. By 1963, officials decided the attraction was too dangerous to remain open. The caves were closed to the public and have not reopened.
The glacier at Mount Humboldt, located in the Northern Andes, used to be another awesome spot to go skiing. It is Venezuela’s second highest peak, situated in the Sierra Nevada de Merida.
Thanks to climate change, the ice has all but melted and hasn’t been able to support the skiing industry for decades. Scientists say that even by the most positive projections, the mountain cap will be bare in just a decade or so.
Disney’s River Country Was a Happening Waterpark
Walt Disney World opened its first waterpark, Disney’s River Country, in Bay Lake, Florida in 1976. Themed as a rustic swimming hole, the park featured two pool, five water slides, and two children’s areas. By the 1990s, it was falling apart, and in 2002, a spokesman announced the waterpark would be closing.
Although rare for Disney to close a park, the 330,000-gallon pool was drained and the rest of the swimming hole was fenced off from the public. It was the second of only two Disney parks in the company’s history to permanently close.
The Chacaltaya Glacier Used To Be An Epic Ski Resort
Bolivia’s only ski resort is now gone. The glacier on Cacaltaya was the highest ski resort in the world at the time and was the first resort in South America to utilize the rope tow to take skiers to the top. But, now the 18,000-year-old glacier is gone.
Skiiers visited the famed resort in droves in the 60s and 70s, but then in 1980, a major meltdown occurred. Scientists estimated that the glacier would disappear in 2015, but after El Niño 2009, the glacier was entirely gone.
Yosemite’s Firefalls Stopped After They Were Too Popular
For almost a century, park visitors gathered around Glacier Point in Yosemite to watch the incredible Yosemite Firefall. The even ran through the summer, in which hot embers were poured into the waterfall from the top, creating an incredible display of a “firefall”.
Glacier Point Hotel staff conducted the events, but they became so popular that the park was overwhelmed with all of the tourists it would attract. The last Yosemite Firefall occurred in 1968.
Can We, Or Can’t We Go To Cuba?
If you have the opportunity to go to Cuba, you should probably take it. The country has bounced back and forth from being accessible to Americans, back to being closed, for U.S. citizens, by order of the U.S. government.
When President Obama was in office in 2014, talks between Cuban and American officials made the country safe for Americans to travel to, for the first time in decades. However, that changed when Donald Trump took office, pulling back the visa process for many Cubans and making travel trivial again.
The Love Locks on Pont Des Arts Bridge Were Removed
Completed in 1804, the Pont Des Arts was built for pedestrians to cross the River Seine in Paris. Beginning in 2008, lovers began attacking locks to the railings of the bridge, with their names written on the lock as a sign of their love and commitment to one another.
The fad became so popular that more than 700,000 “love locks” amassed on the bridge. It was estimated that the locks added an incredible 45 tons of weight to the old bridge, and some worried that it wouldn’t be able to hold up. In 2012, the railings were replaced by plexiglass so visitors wouldn’t be able to continue the “love lock” trend.
Wedding Cake Rock In Australia Will Likely Collapse
Located in Australia, Wedding Cake Rock was a gorgeous tourist destination for years. The incredible stacked white rock alongside the blue water earned the location it’s name, attracting around 2,000 visitors each year.
However, when daredevils began documenting their trips to Wedding Cake Rock, around 10,000 visitors poured into the area to see it for themselves. That’s when things got dangerous. The government installed a fence to keep visitors off the rock, warning that it will likely collapse within the next 10 years.
The Red Arches at Legzira Beach Collapsed
The beautiful twin red sand arches of Legzira Beach, Morocco are gone. Once a gorgeous natural wonder, the arches finally succumbed to the weight of the massive cliff above it, and collapsed.
The iconic landscape was a favorite for visitors to view the sunset, as the stunning red rock reflects the color from the sky and water. While the beach is still a popular attraction for beach-goers, it no longer looks as impressive as it once did.
The Jeffery Pine At Yosemite National Park
A lone Jeffrey Pine, sitting atop Yosemite’s Sentinel Dome was launched into fame after Ansel Adams’s photo of it cemented the tree in history. Adams took the photograph during his travels to Yosemite in the mid-1920s, and the tree was famous ever since.
Once a beautiful tree full of expression due to the wind’s shaping of it, the Jeffrey Pine had died. Finally, in 2003, beaten and battered by the elements, the tree collapsed.
A Volcano Took Out the Black Sands Of Kaimu Beach
When they erupt, volcanos both create and destroy the land, and that’s what happened when lava flowing from the Kilauea Volcano destroyed the village of Kalapana in the early 1990s. Nearly 150 homes were taken out by the lava, along with the world-renowned Kaimu black sand beach.
Although Kaimu Beach no longer exists, the lava has created more than 500 new acres of land on the Big Island of Hawai’i, and Kilauea Volcano continues to erupt today.
The Sequoia Tunnel Toppled In California
Ok, this one is a true shame. The “Pioneer Cabin Tree” in Sequoia National Park, California toppled after 1,000 years. The tunnel through the old tree was created by park staff, hoping to inspire people to visit the parks in the 19th century. And it worked.
The tunnel tree was iconic, as people traveled to walk through it, ride horses, and even drive their cars through the tree. Its legacy ended after a huge storm took down the Pioneer Cabin Tree in early January 2017.
Walt Disney World Killed The Aquatarium
Located on 17-acres in St. Peterburg, Florida overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, the Aquatarium was a place for tourists to explore sea life. The incredible aquarium opened in 1964 and housed sea lions, porpoises, and pilot whales. The success of the Aquatarium didn’t last long, however.
In 1971, Walt Disney World opened its gates in nearby Orlando and attendance at the Aquatarium plummeted. When Steven Spielberg’s Jaws hit theatres, the aquarium added sharks to their exhibits, hoping to increase interest. It didn’t work, and the Aquatarium closed in 1977.
Jantzen Beach Was The Biggest Amusement Park in the U.S.
Jantzen Beach was the biggest amusement park in the country when it opened in Portland, Oregon in 1928. The park sat on 123-acres on Hayden Island in the middle of the Columbia River. It had plenty to offer: a large merry-go-around from the 1904 World’s Fair, swimming pools, a train, a “Big Dipper” wooden roller coast, and a funhouse. At the time it opened, it cost patrons $0.10 for entry.
From 1928 until 1970, 30 million people visited Jantzen Beach. Attendance declined in the 50s, however, and the park closed in 1970. A mall sits in its place on Hayden Island.
Palisades Amusement Park Was a Large Attraction Near NYC
Palisades Amusement Park opened in 1898 in Bergen County, New Jersey, just across the Hudson River from New York City. In its heydey, the park was a vacation destination that included the largest saltwater pool in the world, and one of the world’s largest roller coasters, the Cyclone.
However, in the late ’60s, traffic jams, problems with parking, and park visitors being injured were just a few reasons attendance began to decline. When Jack Rosenthal, one of the owners, passed away in 1967, it was getting near time to call it a day. The park permanently shut down on September 12, 1971.
Tourists Ruined The White Sand Beaches Of Thailand
The beautiful country of Thailand has many islands that people from all over the world travel to visit. Gorgeous sea, white sand beaches, and incredible snorkeling brought tourists in droves- so many, that they were destroying the very natural beauty that they had traveled there to experience.
While the white sand beaches were able to accommodate 70 people at a time, each day, 1,000 tourists showed up. Thailand officials knew that they needed to put a stop to it. So they decided that it was in the best interest of preserving natural resources to close the islands several islands to visitors, including Koh Khai Nok, Koh Khai Nui, and Koh Khai Nai.
The Vance Creek Bridge Was Shut Down Because of Social Media
People love to capture incredible images to share on social media, and that includes photos where they might even be in danger. After users shared images of them standing on the edge of the Vance Creek Bridge in Washington State, more people flocked to the bridge to take their own thrill-seeking photo.
The bridge was built by Simpson logging company in the 1950s and was since abandoned and not in-use. Located on private property, it was the second tallest railway trestle bridge in America. With so many people putting themselves at risk, the bridge was shut down entirely in late 2014.
The Great Wall Is Deteriorating
While there is plenty of the Great Wall of China still standing (it spans 5,000 miles) nearly two-thirds of it has been destroyed. Taking a beating from the wind and other elements, as well as damage from tourists and vandals, have caused the Great Wall to deteriorate.
China is also allowing some of the Great Wall to be torn down, to accommodate new development. The government also doesn’t have the funds to take care of the Great Wall in its entirety, so it will continue to deteriorate as the years go by.
The Galapagos Islands Are Still Standing But Highly Restricted
Another beautiful destination that is being negatively impacted by tourists is the iconic Galapagos Islands. The threat shouldn’t be taken lightly. The first protective legislation for the islands was put into place in 1936, but it wasn’t until nearly two decades later that researchers saw how bad the damage actually was.
In 2007, UNESCO placed the Galapagos Islands on its endangered list. If the rate of tourism continues as it has, the ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands doesn’t stand a chance.
The Great Barrier Reef Isn’t What It Used To Be
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. However, it’s also in bad shape. The world’s largest coral reef system is being increasingly threatened by harmful coral bleaching that is even more widespread than previously thought.
A 2016 study found that upwards of 93% of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has been affected by some level of bleaching, harming the environment and the marine life that depends on it. While steps are being taken to restore the Great Barrier Reef, an incredible amount of damage has already been done. Less than 1% of the Northern sector has been left untouched and only 25% of the Southern sector is still in good condition.
A Cruise Ship Damaged The “Underwater Amazon” of Indonesia
The coral reef is a delicate part of our world’s ecosystem, and it must be protected from harm in order to survive. The coral reefs of Indonesia, located in Raja Ampat, are known as “the underwater Amazon”. A square mile of the coral was lost when a cruise ship with hundreds of passengers on board crashed into the reefs.
The island chain suffered a major loss in coral reefs that will take an estimated 100 years to repair itself. That is if we protect the area enough as to not damage it further.
Officials Filled The Boeung Kak Lake In Cambodia With Sand
Located in Cambodia, the Boeung Kak Lake is one of the largest and the most important wetlands in the world. Wetlands are vital to bird populations and are often underestimated in their importance to the ecosystem. Oftentimes, this means they aren’t as well taken care of as they should be.
Officials filled the wetlands with sand for the tourists to enjoy, leading to the wetlands of the Boeung Kak Lake experiencing a 90% deterioration rate, shrinking to the side of what some call nothing more than “a puddle”.
The Tree of Ténéré Was Once a Sign of Hope
The Tree of Ténéré was once a landmark for nomads who were traveling 250 miles in the blistering heat through the Sahar Desert. It meant that they were on the right path, and gave them a brief moment of shade.
The iconic tree was destroyed in 1973. A drunk man driving through the desert slammed his truck into the Tree of Ténéré, killing it. It was the only structure within a 200-mile radius, and now it’s gone.
An Earthquake Destroyed The Landmarks Of Nepal
Sadly, in April 2015, a large earthquake destroyed historical structures that were at least 1,700 years old. The strong 7.8 magnitude earthquake rattled Kathmandu and Nepal, completely destroying world-renowned landmarks.
One of the fallen structures was the 203-foot tall Dharahara Tower, built in 1832. It was disintegrated into a 30-foot pile of jagged bricks. Sadly, sixty people were found dead in the collapsed structure. An earlier earthquake in 1934 had destroyed the first tower.
The Mayan Pyramid of Nohmul Destroyed by a Construction Crew
While a construction company was attempting to extract crushed rock in Belize, they accidentally destroyed a 2,300-year-old Mayan pyramid in the process. In 2013, the crew was extracting rock around the ancient site in northern Belize that held much historical significance.
Because of their careless actions, the Nohmul pyramid was completely destroyed, with nothing left but a pile of rubble. They used the rock to build roads nearby in northern Belize.
The Nazca Lines in Peru Are More Than 2,500 Years Old
In Peru, about 250 miles south of Lima are the Nazca Lines. The beautiful design in the Nazca Desert sat mostly undisturbed for over 2,500 years. The incredible landmark spans more than 600 feet long, with more than 100 drawings etched into the desert ground.
The drawings include flowers, whales, and llamas. However, it doesn’t look like the Nazca Lines will be preserved for much longer, as mining and pipes for running water are threatening the historic landmark.