CREEPIEST ABANDONED PLACES

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Haunted houses are so overrated. Here are six double-dare-worthy destinations that stupid people in horror films would probably love. Pack a dry pair of undies.

Centralia, Pennsylvania, USA

This mining town was abandoned after an inextinguishable underground fire in 1962. According to Joan Quigley’s The Day the Earth Caved In, excess trash was set ablaze in an abandoned mine, hitting a vein of extremely flammable coal. With its steam pits, cracked-open roads and carbon monoxide vents, these blokes probably unlocked the gates of hell. The fire still burns today.

Pripyat, Ukraine

Pripyat has been a ghost city since the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Disaster in 1986. The exclusion zone will be uninhabitable by humans for at least another 20,000 years, as even the slightest unearthing of soil could lead to radiation poisoning. Although humans are well aware of the deadly radiation levels, local animals aren’t as skilled with a Geiger counter and have reclaimed the wasteland. Ironically, one of mankind’s worst stuff-ups could now become Europe’s largest wildlife sanctuary.

Nara Dreamland, Japan

This abandoned theme park is the closest you’ll get to Spirited Away without crossing dimensions into the Hayao Miyazaki film itself. Although Nara Dreamland only closed in 2006, the kitschy buildings and rides have already succumbed to a layer of eerie overgrowth. Come nightfall and you can easily imagine an array of animated ghouls emerging from the deserted storefronts.

Sanzhi UFO Houses, Taiwan

These futuristic pod-like buildings were constructed as a vacation resort in the late ‘70s, but promptly abandoned in 1980. Why waste this architectural oddity so soon after its completion? There were numerous car accident deaths and suicides during construction, which superstitious locals blamed on the destruction of a nearby Chinese dragon sculpture. Don’t bother adding Sanzhi to your urban explorer bucket list though – the site was cleared for a commercial seaside resort and waterpark in 2010. 

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, West Virginia, USA

The term ‘lunatic asylum’ strikes fear in those with even the steeliest of balls. So why this one in particular? Constructed in the mid-1800s, this colossal building housed over 2,000 patients (including serial killer Charles Manson) who were subject to icepick lobotomies, shock therapy and torture. They even found a nurse’s body in a stairwell two months after her disappearance. Reasons for admission included ‘asthma’, ‘greediness’, ‘laziness’ and ‘novel-reading’. Glad we dodged that one.

Winchester Mystery House, California, USA

This Victorian-style mansion was built in 1884 by gun magnate widow Sarah Winchester, under the instructions of a medium (a licensed architect may have been a better choice). Apparently, to appease the ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles, Sarah had to build a house for herself and never stop. What resulted was a labyrinth of stairs leading nowhere, windows leading into rooms and doors leading into nothing. Basically, a frustrating video game.