While spending my week in Orlando/Kissimmee, I got out for a lot of runs. Surprise, I know. One night run brought me past a piece of property surrounded by a large wall with very overgrown foliage, and lots of faded signs. Along the walls, there was a bunch of wooded area. I darted off into the woods, and made my way to a fence, which, over the years, has had many holes cut into it. Looking around into the moonlit area, I turned on my Black Diamond Storm headlamp to the red lights, and faded them way down. I ducked through the fence, and was in.
(all pics in this post are from the NEXT day- I went back during the day so both my camera and I could actually see things)
After a bit of research, I found out the place was called Splendid China. It was an amusement park back in its day, and closed in 2003. As story has it, it was a $100M facility owned in part by the Chinese government, and closed after extensive protesting by locals. Early last year, demolition started and much of the beautiful architecture has since been torn down. I was able to see a few standing buildings, as noted below.
I started down what was left of the footpath, making light, quick steps. I kept my ears open for anything “human”, unsure of any security I may have to run from. I came to the first building after a couple of minutes. It was one with fluted roofs, built on the side of (what is now) a swamp. If it ever had an interior, it was gone. Regardless, the building was beautiful, and I’m sure was quite a sight back in the day.
My next stop was the Great Wall of China, almost literally. It was a replica of the wall, about 3-4 feet tall. From what I have researched, it used to stretch extensively throughout the park, though, now, only a small section remains. Again, I’m sure that back in the day this thing looked amazing. It still was very cool, though much of it has cracked or fallen apart over time. The tall grass did a good job at hiding some of it as well.
Another area I stumbed upon was the remnants of what was a very large building, with large pillars. The pillars were all that was left of it, some still standing. It reminded me of the Garden of the Gods in Colorado for some reason haha.
There used to be a trolley or train in the park, if I am guessing right. I saw some concrete tracks in some of the tall grass. Anything that was metal in here has since been removed, so no actual tracks remained. I think these buidlings, scattered sporadically through the park, were where people would wait for the train.
The next part, easily the coolest and scariest, I found on complete accident. While running through the grass, I almost fell off a small cliff (I’m in Florida for crying out loud- where did this come from?!?). I was running across the top of a man-made cave. I found my way down easily and turned on my bright whites to illuminate the passage. I was sweating adrenaline my this time. All I could think of was the movie I Am Legend where Will Smith walks around a corner in an abandoned building to find his flashlight illuminate a mob of zombies. I thought my heart was going to pop out of my chest. I came around the corner and there was a person spray painted on the wall, and at that same time I stepped on glass which was the loudest “quiet” thing I have ever heard. I about jumped out of my skin. Collecting myself, I continued on. The cave, in my guessing, used to be a theater. There were seats poured into the ground, and a little bit of room for performing or speaking in the front. There was a little room in back, for utilities or whatever. If I haven’t mentioned yet, the entire park was almost completely free of graffiti or vandalism. Even the cave had nothing on the ground (minus that random piece of glass) and looked to be almost how it was left, as were the buildings. (again, minus the interiors and metal)
The last two places I stopped were, again, guessing, a restaurant and the bathrooms. The restaurant had a straw roof and a few different rooms for eating. I am guessing it was open air seating as well. The bathrooms were nothing special. I didnt even bother stepping all the way in due to the molding and hanging ceilings and the amount of glass and broken porcelain. Again, the I Am Legend scene hit my mind…
Out front of this building used to be a fountain and man made pond, I’m supposing with Koi or some kind of fish in it based on the pipe and filtration system that remains.
I made it out by just hopping a wall and landing at the sidewalk that is along the road out front. No cars were in sight so I just ran along as normal. It was a great time! Nothing taken but pictures, nothing left but footprints.