Discovery Island – Walt Disney World

Discovery Island is located at Orlando’s Walt Disney World and has been closed and abandoned since 1999. It used to house wildlife and operated as a tourist attraction yet faced controversy over animal cruelty during its 25 year operation. Following its abandonment it has become a hotspot for YouTube explorers.

The summit of Chichen Itza – Mexico

In 2022, tourist Abigail Villalobos caused a stir by defying regulations that prohibited visitors from climbing the 98-foot Mayan Temple of Chichen Itza. This iconic structure earned recognition as one of UNESCO’s New 7 Wonders of the World in 2007. Following her ascent, Villalobos faced local backlash and authorities intervened to remove her from the scene.

Area 51 – Nevada, USA

Credit: David James Henry via Wikimedia Commons

Two Dutch tourists, Ties Granzier and Govert Charles Wilhelmus Jacob Sweep, were charged with trespassing after being caught inside the infamous Area 51 in 2019. Police were summoned to the Nevada National Security Site and upon arriving, they discovered a parked car positioned three miles within the boundary. A drone inside the car even contained facility footage.

The Great Pyramid of Giza – Egypt

Credit: Andrej Ciesielski via Facebook

In an audacious act that could have seen the teenager faced with three years in jail, 18 year old German tourist Andrej Cieselski scaled the giant blocks of the Great Pyramid of Giza in 2016. Cieselski was detained by police upon his descent and fooled the authorities into believing he had deleted any footage. He was banned from entering Egypt ever again.

Maya Bay – Thailand

Credit: Mike Clegg via Wikimedia Commons

Made famous by the 2000 Leo DiCaprio movie The Beach, Maya Bay in Thailand were forced into banning tourists on several occasions following the movie’s success. Overcrowding and impacts on the local eco system forced authorities to completely close the beach to visitors in 2018 and is only available to visit today under strict guidelines.

The grounds of Buckingham Palace – London, UK

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

On December 10 2021, Joseph Huang Kang scaled the walls of Buckingham Palace, gaining entry to the Royal Mews, an area within the palace grounds dedicated to the royal horses. When staff detected his presence, the 24-year-old fled but was eventually located in the restroom.

Exclusion Zone – Chernobyl

The city of Chernobyl has been mostly abandoned since the horrific nuclear accident in 1986. These days, an official Chernobyl guide is a requirement for accessing the Exclusion Zone and entrants are subjected to radiation level scans both upon entry and exit. Despite these stringent controls, certain YouTube explorers choose to defy the rules, venturing into off-limits zones within the area.

Snake Island – Brazil

While not on any official banned lists (although the Brazilian authorities do prohibit it) Snake Island in Brazil is off limits for two main reasons – there’s no transportation to get you there and, more importantly, it’s chock full of venomous snakes. Adventurous explorers do make the trek though and who knows how many come back.

North Brother Island – New York

Credit: H.L.I.T. via Wikimedia Commons

Nestled between Bronx and Riker’s Island in New York City’s East River, North Brother Island hosted a hospital for contagious diseases, famously accommodating the country’s initial documented typhoid carrier, Mary ‘Typhoid Mary’ Mallon. With over 50 infections attributed to her, three fatally, it now lies deserted, housing a bird sanctuary and inaccessible to the public although intrepid explorers still do.

Craco – Italy

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Perched atop a hill in southern Italy, Craco’s ghost town sits abandoned due to catastrophic landslides in the 1960s, attributed to inadequate plumbing upkeep. Online urban explorers venture here and walk its vacant streets and deteriorating structures, where they encounter an eerie stillness and panoramic vistas.