No Crowds, No Cash: 7 Tourist Attractions That Went Bust

PHOTO: The Ozark Medieval Fortress, March 2011.
MRHSfan/Flickr

The notion that if you build it, they will come does not always ring true for all tourist attractions. What may seem like a novel idea -- like a Shania Twain museum or a biblically-inspired water park -- could quickly lose steam with customers or fail to meet projected profits.

What's more, legal or ownership battles over bankrupted lookouts or estates-turned-museums can be even more disastrous than building or running the places.

From a failed Arkansas castle-in-progress to a scandal-ridden, Catholic-inspired theme park, click through to see seven tourist attractions that went bust.

PHOTO: The Ozark Medieval Fortress, March 2011.
MRHSfan/Flickr
Ozark Medieval Fortress, Lead Hill, Ark.

This medieval tourist attraction was founded in 2010 by French backers with hopes of luring 13th century history lovers who longed to see a castle built before their eyes.

While investors anticipated the Ozark Medieval Fortress would bring in an estimated 150,000 tourists in its opening year, just 12,000 showed up, the New York Times reported. Further financial difficulties put the plans on hold, forcing investors who sunk $1.7 million into the project to put the fortress-in-progress up for sale in January 2012.

The interest in a partially-built citadel still remains to be seen. While positioned on 50-acres of land, with a gift shop, office, pottery shed, blacksmith and stonecutter's shops, garden space and pens for livestock on the property, it has remained on the market at an asking price of $400,000, according to Re/Max real estate agent Roger Turner, who has listed the property on his website.

Meanwhile, the attraction has closed its doors to visitors.

"Due to financial reasons, opening in 2013 is not forecasted," the fortress' website said.

PHOTO: In this, Nov. 12, 2010 photo, Wayne Newton's home is framed at the end of a tree-lined lane on a 52-acre estate in Las Vegas.
Julie Jacobson/AP Photo
Casa De Shenandoah, Las Vegas

While it appeared that famed Las Vegas strip singer Wayne Newton wanted to turn his 40-acre Casa de Shenandoah estate into a tourist attraction akin to Graceland, legal woes have stopped the home's conversion into a Vegas museum dead in its tracks.

The "Danke Schoen" singer sold his property to CSD Management for a cool $19.5 million in 2010 to begin the endeavor, but failed to cooperate with the developer's demands, which included moving out of the home to allow the transformation to take place.

As a result, Steven Kennedy, head of CSD Management, which purchased the land, filed a lawsuit against Newton in May 2012. Kennedy alleged Mr. Las Vegas "never intended to cooperate," despite the company's $50 million investment in the project.

The sprawling domain is up for auction on May 31 as part of a reorganization mandated in bankruptcy court, the Associated Press reported. But the Newtons may choose to stay, regardless of the outcome.

"We stay here until we choose to leave. We have that right," Newton's wife, Kathleen Newton, told the Associated Press. "Even if at some point the property gets sold, it gets sold with us here."

ABC News' Alan Farnham contributed to this report.

PHOTO: Visitors walk on the Skywalk at Grand Canyon West following the opening ceremony on the Hualapai Indian Reservation in Arizona, March 2007.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
Grand Canyon Skywalk, Mohave, Ariz.

The glass-bottomed walkway that juts out over the cavernous Grand Canyon may provide spectacular views, but it also is the subject of a spectacular battle between its tribal owners and the developers who invested $30 million to build the attraction, the Associated Press reported.

The Hualapai Tribe, which possesses the horseshoe-shaped lookout perched 4,000 feet above the Colorado River, declared bankruptcy in March after losing a court battle to Las Vegas developer David Jin, who was hired to construct and manage it in 2003, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Regardless of the ongoing legal and financial drama, the Skywalk itself doesn't seem to be lacking popularity. It brings in about 370,000 visitors each year, a tribe spokesman told the Wall Street Journal.

PHOTO: King's Castle, part of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's Heritage USA theme park,  March 18, 2013.
Emily Baron/Flickr
Heritage USA, Fort Mill, S.C.

The Christian theme park bankrolled by televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker proved to be a success when it opened in 1978.

The property featured a castle, a tower, a hotel, shops and rides, and brought in millions of visitors annually. But an extramarital scandal that soiled Bakker's reputation and forced him to leave his ministry was the catalyst in the park's demise in the late 1980s.

The theme park fell into disarray during its closure, and was scooped up by MorningStar Ministries for $1.6 million in 2008, the Charlotte Observer reported. In April, the King's Castle on the 2,000-acre property was finally bulldozed.

MorningStar Ministries' founder Rick Joyner said he hoped to turn the property into something "the whole community could use," the Charlotte Observer reported.

PHOTO:Canadian-born singer Shania Twain blows a kiss to the crowd as she leaves the  stage Nov. 2, 2004, following a ribbon cutting at the official opening of the Shania Twain Centre in her home town of Timmins, Ontario.  commitments.
J.P. Moczulski/Candian Press/AP Photo
Shania Twain Centre, Timmings, Ontario

The singer who got her start in the small town bars of Timmins, Ontario, before making it big as a country superstar was honored by her hometown with a museum featuring memorabilia from her career.

While the Shania Twain Centre was supposed to be an attraction that raked in thousands of visitors to help boost the area's economy, residents of Timmins instead spent approximately $10 million since its construction in 2000, the Canadian Press reported.

In February, the Centre officially shut its doors after it was sold to mining firm Goldcorp Inc. for $5 million, according to the Canadian Press. The mining corporation acquires the building in June and has plans to turn it into a more lucrative endeavor -- an open-pit gold mine.

PHOTO:The Great Platte River Road Archway, which spans Interstate 80 just east of Kearney, Neb. The operators of the Archway have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in order to reorganize its finances.
Nati Harnik/AP Photo
Great Platte River Road Archway, Kearney, Neb.

The bridge that traverses over 300 feet of the nation's first interstate has hit a financial snag in its quest to show visitors a sliver of America's pioneer history.

Since it opened in 2000, The Great Platte River Road Archway has failed to bring in the desired hundreds of thousands of projected visitors, bottoming out at just 72,000 in 2012, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

Filing for bankruptcy in March, the attraction owed $20 million to bond holders and more than $120,000 to the vendors who helped to support it. The Kearney Visitors Bureau has guaranteed the debt, which it has agreed to pay by January 2014, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.

PHOTO: Holy Land USA, January 2003.
HeatherRose/Flickr
Holy Land U.S.A., Waterbury, Conn.

The biblical-themed park may have closed its doors to the public more than 30 years ago, but the 17.7-acre Holy Land U.S.A. has remained unsold, even at the bargain price of $350,000.

While it once drew tourists from near and far with its religious statues, symbols, and replicas of biblical scenes, the park fell into disarray after nuns, who acquired the property from a prior owner who passed away, failed to perform the necessary renovations it needed to reopen.

In July 2010, the park was the site of the gruesome rape and murder of a 16-year-old, Chloe Ottman, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Holy Land was put up for sale in 2011 for $775,000, but the price has fallen in hopes of attracting an owner who will renovate the park to its former glory, according to the theme park's real estate listing.

"Whoever makes an offer on the property will be able to do with it what they will," Sister Betty Jean Takacs told the Associated Press. "Some have expressed an interest to revive it. It's their responsibility to do what they want."

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...