Catherine Hyland

A photographer captures this haunting modern relic, once planned to rival Disneyland

Of his most ambitious endeavor and what could be considered America's greatest utopian project of the twentieth century, Disneyland, Walt Disney observed, "clocks and watches will lose all meaning, for there is no present. There are only yesterday, tomorrow, and the timeless land of fantasy." What better words, then, to describe this abandoned theme park, located at the fringes of Beijing’s sprawl.

Construction on Wonderland began in 1998 with the intention of building the largest amusement park in Asia. The project was scrapped after funding was withdrawn and the developers and the local farmers could not come to terms over ownership of the land. This past year, UK-based photographer Catherine Hyland braved the harsh land to capture the crumbling park, which has been reclaimed by nearby villagers who regularly tend to the grounds.

Hyland’s images reveal a strange landscape of half-built structures amid corn fields and cracked pavement. The park is strewn with fragments of anachronistic landmarks, anchored by an unfinished fairytale castle whose inchoate construction dissolves into the smog. Had it all been completed, Wonderland may have rivaled Disneyland, with undoubtedly larger crowds and plenty of in the way of spectacle but few genuinely new experiences. In its ruinous state, however, it offers something much more rare but infinitely more interesting.

 

 

 

 

This article originally appeared at Architizer.com, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    What Emergency Child Care Looks Like During a Pandemic

    What's a parent to do when all of the schools and daycares suddenly close? For some workers in some places, options are starting to emerge.

  2. photo: South Korean soldiers attempt to disinfect the sidewalks of Seoul's Gagnam district in response to the spread of COVID-19.
    Coronavirus

    Pandemics Are Also an Urban Planning Problem

    Will COVID-19 change how cities are designed? Michele Acuto of the Connected Cities Lab talks about density, urbanization and pandemic preparation.  

  3. Illustration: two roommates share a couch with a Covid-19 virus.
    Coronavirus

    For Roommates Under Coronavirus Lockdown, There Are a Lot of New Rules

    Renters in apartments and houses share more than just germs with their roommates: Life under coronavirus lockdown means negotiating new social rules.

  4. photo: a For Rent sign in a window in San Francisco.
    Coronavirus

    Do Landlords Deserve a Coronavirus Bailout, Too?

    Some renters and homeowners are getting financial assistance during the economic disruption from the coronavirus pandemic. What about landlords?

  5. Equity

    We'll Need To Reopen Our Cities. But Not Without Making Changes First.

    We must prepare for a protracted battle with coronavirus. But there are changes we can make now to prepare locked-down cities for what’s next.

×