- 20th Century Fox and lermont51/Shutterstock
- Movie and TV sets can be extremely elaborate – if they’re done right, they can transport viewers to an entirely new world.
- Some sets are so elaborate that they are deemed too expensive to deconstruct once filming has wrapped.
- When this happens, the structures are abandoned and left to rot, whether it’s an American-style gas station off a highway in Morocco, or the remains of a faux bus/train crash in the Smoky Mountains.
- Some have been turned into tourist attractions.
Everything you see on a screen, whether it’s fantastical new planet or a dystopian future on our very own Earth, has roots that exist in the real world.
But what happens to these specially constructed sets once filming wraps? Sometimes, they’re torn down as soon as cameras stop rolling – but other times, they’re simply left to their own devices while the cast and crew move on.
From “Star Wars” to “The Hills Have Eyes,” here are seven iconic sets that were abandoned as soon as the cameras stopped rolling.
The home of “The Hunger Games'” Katniss Everdeen was known as District 12, a small mining community.
- Lionsgate Films
“The Hunger Games” series takes place in a dystopian future in which the country of Panem has been split into 12 districts. The series’ heroine, Katniss Everdeen, lives in District 12, the poorest of all the districts.
It’s thought that District 12 is located in the Appalachian Mountains.
The real District 12 is located at the abandoned Henry River Mill Village in North Carolina.
According to Atlas Obscura, the Henry River Mill Village is one of the few ghost towns that exists on the East Coast, on the outskirts of the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. It was fully abandoned in 1987, and didn’t see much action until “The Hunger Games” was filmed there in 2012.
Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine in the “Star Wars” films has become iconic in the 40+ years since its first appearance.
- 20th Century Fox
Tatooine is a desert planet with two suns. Both Luke and his father, Anakin Skywalker, called the desolate planet their home in the original and prequel trilogies of “Star Wars,” and it is mentioned in the most recent trilogy and the Han Solo spin-off.
Fans of the series can visit the real Tatooine in the African country Tunisia. Many of the structures are still up, including Luke’s home.
Luke’s home, Mos Espa (a settlement on the planet), and more Tatooine locations are dispersed in and around the city of Tozeur in southwestern Tunisia, Africa.
Luke’s original home was destroyed after the first trilogy, but was rebuilt in the ’90s for the prequels, and still stands to this day.
One of the settings in 2005 film “Big Fish” is the secret town of Spectre, Alabama.
- Columbia Pictures
“Big Fish” is told from the point of view of an elderly man explaining his life story to his son, who doesn’t believe all the fantastical elements of his father’s stories.
One of the stops along his journey is the secret town of Spectre, Alabama, which can only be accessed by a path through a swamp.
The town of Spectre was built for the movie on Jackson Lake Island, Alabama. The set is still there, but has become overgrown in the 15 years since the movie came out.
- YouTube/Exploring with Josh
All the structures for Spectre were built for the movie, and left as they were by the film’s producers after the movie wrapped.
The island is co-owned by Bobby Bright and his wife, Lynn. All you need to do to visit the island is call up Bright for the gate code, and leave $3 in a donation box, according to the Huffington Post.
In crime thriller “The Fugitive,” one of the most intense action scenes takes place when a bus transporting criminals on death row gets hit by a train.
- Warner Bros.
In 1993’s “The Fugitive,” Dr. Richard Kimble (played by Harrison Ford) is wrongly convicted of murdering his wife, and is sentenced to death.
In the beginning of the film, Kimble and his fellow prisoners are being transported to death row via bus and attempt to escape – but the riot that ensues causes the bus to fall down a ravine and into the path of an oncoming train. Kimble escapes and becomes the titular fugitive, setting the plot in motion.
The post-collision bus and train are still located in the Smoky Mountains outside of Sylva, North Carolina,
According to movie lore, the scene cost $1 million to film: a real bus and train were used and it was all filmed in one take.
The two ruined vehicles were left behind in the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, and have become somewhat of a tourist attraction. A few of the routes taken by the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad make sure to pass by the site, so fans of the movie can see.
It’s also visible driving down Haywood Road in Sylva, North Carolina.
In “Westworld,” a few characters are forced to explore the old, abandoned lobby of the original Westworld theme park.
- Warner Bros. Television Distribution
During the first season of the HBO hit “Westworld,” a few employees of the company that owns Westworld – a theme park set in the western US during the 1800s populated by artificially intelligent robots – are forced to enter the park’s since-abandoned former lobby.
This lobby was one of the first clues that – spoiler alert- the show’s first season took place within two timelines. The abandoned lobby is later shown in its former glory in a later episode, tipping people off to a time jump.
The lobby is actually located within the abandoned Hawthorne Plaza Mall in California.
- Trent Alexander Maxwell/Shutterstock
The mall originally opened in 1977, and shuttered its doors permanently in 1999. After that, it found a second life as a popular filming location, having been used in movies and TV shows like “Gone Girl,” “Teen Wolf,” and “Minority Report.”
The city of Hawthorne has been trying to get the mall demolished and replaced with something new for years, but plans were again stalled in May 2018, when the owner and developer of the land was arrested for allegedly bribing officials, according to the Daily Breeze.
In the gory horror film “The Hills Have Eyes,” the doomed Carter family stops off at a gas station in the middle of nowhere to ask for directions.
- Fox Searchlight Pictures
The 2006 remake of the 1977 Wes Craven classic “The Hills Have Eyes” follows the original film’s plot pretty closely, right down to the gas station in the middle of the desert.
However, in the newer version, the gas station attendant sends the Carters to their doom, and directs them towards a “shortcut” that will actually put them in contact with a group of cannibals living in the mountains.
The gas station still stands on the side of a highway in Ouarzazate, Morocco, which is known as the “door to the desert” due to its proximity to the Sahara desert.
Even though it doesn’t really make sense for a vintage American gas station to have cropped up on the side of a Moroccan highway, people mistake it for a working station all the time, according to Atlas Obscura.
While you can’t enter the “diner,” you can peek through the window and see props left over from the 13-year-old film.
“Jurassic World” had scenes set in both the newly revamped Jurassic World and the derelict Jurassic Park from the first movies.
- Universal Pictures
“Jurassic World,” the fourth installment in the “Jurassic Park” franchise, was released in 2015, and is set years after the original trilogy ended in 2001.
The movie includes a new dinosaur-filled theme park, called Jurassic World, which is located next to the abandoned original Jurassic Park, which was ditched after the mayhem of “Jurassic Park” on the fictional island of Isla Nubar.
A bulk of “Jurassic World” was filmed in New Orleans at a permanently closed Six Flags.
Six Flags New Orleans closed after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and hasn’t re-opened since. In the decade-plus since the storm ravaged the park, it has become a popular filming location. The park can be seen in “Jurassic World” and “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.”
Films also use the gigantic parking lot, due to its isolated location and its immense size. The disaster film “Deepwater Horizon” used the parking lot to build an almost-full-size oil rig.
Although many urban explorers visit the park, it’s strongly discouraged – alligators and other wildlife have begun to call the park home.