Travelers Beware: 9 Famous Tourist Destinations With A Dark Past

Iconic places like The Golden Gate Bridge are notorious for having a darker side behind the family friendly facade. Commenters recently shared the macabre side of other tourist destinations around the world. I took a look at some of these morbid claims and the true history behind them.

1. There Are Human Bones On Display At Disneyland In The Pirates Of The Caribbean Ride

“There are still some human bones on display in Disneyland as part of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. From what I’ve read, there used to be entire skeletons that were placed there for realism, but were later taken down. However, there is still a skull and cross bones above the bed with the fake skeleton.” 2much_information 

Alleged real skull above bed.

Truth To The Story:  Many sources report what is being taken as fact: that when “The Pirates of The Caribbean” ride was built in 1967, the Disney “Imagineers” wanted to use real human bones seeing as how the fake bone props of the time just weren’t authentic looking enough for Disneyland standards.  As the technology became better, when the ride was renovated over the years the human bones were eventually replaced with fake ones. However, the questionable part is then if any of the original, real human bones remain in the ride today. Allegedly three of the skulls are still real:

“After an investigation, Jason Petros of the EarzUp Podcast concluded that there are exactly three denizens of Pirate Town that were previously living—two skulls on a small island right after the second waterfall, and a whole torso trapped under a beam in a burning jailhouse.”

2.  The Blarney Stone in Ireland Which Tourists Line Up To Kiss, Is Used As A Toilet

The Blarney Stone in Ireland. The locals piss on it.” Therealeggplant

A tourist kissing the spot where people pee.

Truth To The Story:  A block of limestone built into Blarney Castle will supposedly give anyone who kisses it “the gift of flattery and eloquence.” So starting sometime in the 1700’s people from around the world line up at the old castle to kiss this stone.  While today there have of course been iron rails installed to protect people from falling to their deaths, the thing most tourists might be in danger of is ingesting urine. A new legend for the Blarney Stone states that locals sometimes piss onto the spot that millions of visitors kiss, all for a good laugh at the expense of tourists. An actual Irish person on Reddit agreed with this evaluation:

Also this old review from Trip Advisor also gives an account of an encounter of a local who admitted to peeing on the stone.

3. Hundreds Of People Have Committed Suicide At The Eiffel Tower

“349 people have committed suicide using the Eiffel Tower, Including Jumping off AND hanging.” TrumpsWig

Truth To The Story:  While many find the iconic tower in Paris to be a romantic spot to propose marriage, others sadly have found it to be the perfect spot to end it all. The Eiffel Tower has been called one of the most popular suicide spots in Europe, so the number 349 might actually be a little low. Closer to 400 people are estimated to have killed themselves on “The Iron Lady.” The first suicide on the tower took place in 1898 when a man hung himself from a beam. Today there are lots of security barriers installed which have cut back on deaths. Two people have reportedly survived their Eifel Tower suicide attempts including a woman who landed on the roof of a car and later married the car’s owner. See, it is romantic!

4. Popular Washington Square In Philadelphia Is Built Over A Mass Grave

“Washington Square in Philadelphia is one of the nice parks in downtown Philadelphia but most people walking through it don’t know underneath is a mass grave from the Revolutionary war as well. Edit: Also victims of yellow fever were buried there and a bunch of other dead people.” RedditBot5000

Truth To The Story: This beautiful and popular park is indeed the site of a mass grave. One of the original parks designated in the city of Philadelphia, the site was previously known as Potter’s Field. In 1776 John Adams himself wrote of the carnage he saw during the Revolutionary War where thousands of soldiers were buried;

“I have spent an hour this morning in the Congregation of the dead. I took a walk into the ‘Potter’s Field,’ a burying ground between the new stone prison and the hospital, and I never in my whole life was affected with so much melancholy.”

After the war even more people were buried in the mass grave in Potter’s Field during yellow fever epidemics in the city. Today a monument to the Revolutionary War commemorates the bodies buried there with the inscription; “In unmarked graves within this square lie thousands of unknown soldiers of Washington’s Army who died of wounds and sickness during the Revolutionary War.”

5. Violent Shake Downs At The Pyramids

“Camel rides at the pyramids in Giza/Cairo: The drivers will take you out into the desert past the pyramids for the “best pictures”. Then shake you down for extra money or threaten to leave you out there. Or worse: there are reports of women being raped with the same scenario.” sittingonthepot

Truth To The Story: Sadly this seems to be true. While The Pyramids Of Giza in Egypt are one of the places most people dream of visiting when they first learn about them in school, it is also one of those places where tourists become targets. One experienced traveler on Trip Advisor gives some good advice to avoid threats of physical violence:

6. In Saudi Arabia Homeless Children Are Amputated Or Mutilated So Tourists Will Be More Likely To Give Them Money

“In Saudi Arabia they intentionally cut children’s arms off so they can make more money. I remember when I was a kid and armless beggars would be running around with their floppy remaining arm. It scared the shit out of me.” Thefriendlypsycho

Truth To The Story:  Sadly, the practice of criminal gangs amputating and disfiguring young children in order to increase sympathy from tourists toward these street beggars seems to be a common practice in major tourist areas in Saudi Arabia. Often the victims of human trafficking these kids are kept by gangs where they are put on the street to gather money. According to Slate:

 “Since disabled child beggars get more money than healthy ones, criminal groups often increase their profits by cutting out a child’s eyes or amputating a limb.”

7.  Santa Anita Racetrack Was A Japanese Internment Camp Assembly Center

“Santa Anita racetrack was one of a few internment camps around Los Angeles. Blew my mind, I always figured it was something that happened far away, off in the middle of nowhere.” bringbackthemachine

A horse betting window was used as a library.

Truth To The Story:  The Santa Anita Racetrack near Los Angeles, CA is an iconic and prestigious horse racing track that has hosted the Breeders’ Cup and is the track where champion horse Seabiscuit won its last race. Even in the off season, visitors come to the track and surrounding park to enjoy its beauty. However during World War II the track was part of a darker piece of American history.  From March until October of 1942 it was used not as an internment camp as the user says, but rather a temporary assembly center to gather and send Japanese Americans, to more permanent internment camps where the US citizens who had committed no crime would be detained. An estimated 19,000 Americans of Japanese descent were moved through the Santa Anita Race Track to facilities around the country where they stayed until the end of the war.

8. The Nuuanu Pali Lookout in Honolulu, Hawaii Where Hawaiian Warriors Fell To Their Deaths

“The Nuuanu Pali Lookout in Honolulu, Hawaii. Breathtaking views, powerful wind gusts and it attracts tourists every day of the year. It was the site of a terrible battle where ancient Hawaiian warriors were forced to the very edge of the Pali and many fell to their deaths thousands of feet below.” Executor21

Truth To The Story:  This is one of the more “hardcore” stories we have come across for such a beautiful tourist attraction. While the user describes them as “ancient warriors” the battle actually happened in 1795,what is considered modern times in a historical context. According to Wikipedia:

“Kamehameha I sailed from his home island of Hawaii with an army of 10,000 warriors, including a handful of non-Hawaiian foreigners. After conquering the islands of Maui and Molokai, he moved on to O?ahu. The pivotal battle for the island occurred in Nuuanu Valley, where the defenders of O?ahu, led by Kalanikupule, were driven back up into the valley where they were trapped above the cliff. More than 400 of Kalanikupule’s soldiers were driven off the edge of the 1,000-foot cliff to their deaths.”

9. People Have Sex On The Four Corners State Monument

“I heard that tourists keep having sex on the Four Corners state monument between Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado late at night!” thezomborg

Truth To The Story: While the new reboot of the film Vacation depicts couples waiting in line to get down in four states at the same time, there is no real evidence that this is something that actually happens regularly.  

Follow Phil Haney on Twitter @PhilHaney

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