PHILIPPINES. Fantasy World, when theme parks go wrong
Fantasy World was supposed to be the Philippines' answer to Disney World. A fairytale castle, 500 room hotel and thrilling rides. But what it became was a ghost town.
The true story behind what happened to Fantasy World is as illusive as ever. Its colourful remains have decayed in the hills near Tagaytay since the early 2000's, and there is little information on why it was never completed and opened. However, what is generally believed is the developer got sick and ran out of money, so nothing particularly exciting. But that same developer was no stranger to controversy - a condominium building he developed in Manila became home to a man who murdered five people on site. Many believe this happened as a result of lax security at the building, which fell way short of legal requirements in place at the time.
Now Fantasy World is a popular stop on the "abandoned places" tourist radar. This, of course, meant it was no longer abandoned but the people did nothing to dull the sense of desolation and plain weirdness of finding a multicoloured Bavarian fairytale castle with peeling paint work, graffiti and rusting balconies surrounded by dense jungle.
It costs just 100 pesos to enter and you get free reign of the whole site. There are castles, towers, medieval walls and post apocalyptic rides to explore, plus a rope bridge strung between two towers with excellent views over the surrounding countryside. The old, overgrown maze in the garden is particularly atmospheric, as are the blocked up windows on rooms which have never been entered.
Fantasy World was a disaster in many ways, but wandering around its peaceful dereliction beats a theme park any day.