When a film studio just won’t do, film crews head out into the big wide world to find the perfect spots to bring the story to life, often building huge sets for the weeks spent on-site.
But what happens when filming wraps up?
Usually sets are dismantled and taken back to the studio, but in some cases they’re left behind, fully intact. The good news for film buffs? You can go and visit them.
We’re talking some pretty big franchises too, from the desert village created to double up as Star Wars’ Tatooine, or Hobbiton which served as a location for both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.
They’re not always the easiest spots to reach – film crews like a remote location for convenience – but they are well worth having on your radar for future travel.
We take a look at seven abandoned film sets you can visit in real life…
1. Star Wars
Luke Skywalker’s desert planet home may be fictional, but the set where scenes were filmed is very real.
In fact, an entire village set was created specifically for the iconic franchise, in the desert near Tozeur, Tunisia. You’ll feel like you’ve really stepped into the films, thanks to highlights such as the Pod-racing arena, the Mos Espa streets, Watto’s shop and Sebulba’s Café.
Scenes in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith were filmed here, not to mention the nearby ‘Star Wars canyon’ also featured in the film.
The desert location means it’s not easy to find, but the good news is that there are heaps of guided tours and excursions you can take.
This quirky village in Malta was built as a set for the 1980 musical adaptation of Popeye, starring Robin Williams.
When filming was complete, the village was left standing complete with the wooden homes and architecture.
Nowadays it serves as a family-friendly theme park, complete with appearances from the famous sailor himself.
Oh, and the seafront location is a bonus too!
3. Lord of the Rings
Sir Peter Jackson’s team of scouts for Lord of the Rings discovered this location in the heart of Waikato on New Zealand’s North Island during an aerial search, and quickly set about transforming it into The Shire.
Hobbit homes were built into the landscape for the films, and when production was over, they were left hidden away in the rolling green hills.
Nowadays, the Hobbiton Movie Set is a famous tourist attraction and you can wander through Hobbiton, explore the Hobbit homes and take in the same views of the surrounding lush green countryside and nearby forest.
4. The Hills Have Eyes
One for horror film fans, there’s something suitably eerie about this abandoned gas station in Agadir, Morocco, which was built specifically for cult hit The Hills Have Eyes.
The station sits abandoned along a highway, complete with some abandoned cars. Inside, you’ll find dust-covered furniture, and heaps of ‘stocked’ shelves with the fake goods left behind after filming.
5. The Smurfs
Okay, this one technically wasn’t used as a film set – but it’s still pretty quirky and one for film buffs.
When the 2011 film The Smurfs was released, as a publicity stunt the entire village of Juzcar in Malaga was painted bright blue, complete with Smurf artwork, statues and more surprises.
Once the promotion was over, locals decided to keep the town in its new bright blue hues, and it’s a hit with visitors who explore and keep an eye out for iconic characters Papa Smurf and Smurfette.
6. Field of Dreams
A baseball field served as the setting for the 1980s hit starring Kevin Costner, but it wasn’t an existing sports spot that was used.
Instead, Universal Pictures built the set across two farms just outside of Dyersvilla in Iowa, USA. When filming wrapped up, the baseball diamond was left behind.
The farm owners have kept the site intact, and nowadays you can take guided tours of the spot and hear behind-the-scenes tidbits, and there’s even a themed gift shop.
7. The Hunger Games
The Henry River Mill Village was a ‘ghost town’ abandoned since the 1970s, until 2011 when it was transformed into District 12, the home of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.
Located in Burke County, North Carolina, you can visit the village and take guided tours of the area – and there have been reports of plans to transform it into a tourist site complete with a restaurant and holiday homes on-site.