8 Popular Tourist Spots That Closed In 2022 (And 2 That Got Reprieves)

by SharonKurheg

With Covid less of an issue, more and more people are traveling. However, as travelers travel, they’re discovering changes:

  • Attractions that couldn’t survive closing up shop for extended periods of time closed their doors permanently (these are most, if not all of the NYC hotels that closed due to Covid)
  • Tourist destinations that temporarily closed and tried to reopen discovered higher prices, difficulty with complying with local restrictions, etc.
  • Extended closures of tourist attractions gave those in charge time to think things through. That led to decisions of rehabilitation, relocation, etc.

Here are some formerly popular destinations that closed in 2022:

9/11 Tribute Museum

The 9/11 Tribute Museum was the original museum dedicated to the Twin Towers disaster. It opened in 2006, 8 years before the National September 11 Memorial Museum (which Joe visited several years back – here’s his experience) by the friends and family of those who perished in the attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993 and 2001. The museum had personal items donated by survivors and victims’ families, and was seen as a gathering place for those who had been affected by the tragedies.

The 9/11 Tribute Museum closed its doors in the summer of 2022 due to the loss of finances during the pandemic.

Edo-Tokyo Museum (Tokyo, Japan)

The Edo-Tokyo Museum is one of the most popular history museums in Tokyo. Opened in 1993 though, the near 30-year-old building was long overdue for a renovation. It closed in April, 2022 and will remain as such until 2025 or early 2026. The extensive 3-year renovation will include the entire facility – displays, equipment, etc.

Jumbo Kingdom Floating Restaurant (Hong Kong)

Touting a menu that included Cantonese, dim sum and Western fare, Jumbo Kingdom was open for 44 years. Considered one of the world’s largest floating restaurants, and featured in dozens on movies and TV shows, it had been visited by the likes of Queen Elizabeth, Jimmy Carter and Tom Cruise, to name a few.

Jumbo Kingdom has had its ups and downs over the decades, with more downs in recent years. According to the restaurant’s parent company, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises, Jumbo Kingdom had not pulled a profit since 2013 and, in fact, was bleeding money on an annual basis. After closing due to Covid in March, 2020, plans evolved to try to sell the restaurant. While being towed to a shipyard in 2022, the floating building hit bad weather in the South China Sea and capsized. No crew members were injured.

Neon Museum of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA)

There’s a Neon Museum in Las Vegas that Joe and I visited in 2017. Here’s what we experienced there. However another Neon Museum, over a decade older than the one in Las Vegas, was in the City of Brotherly Love. I say that in the past tense, because the Neon Museum of Philadelphia just closed its doors permanently in December, 2022.

The Neon Museum of Philadelphia focused on preserving vintage neon signs, as well as designing and creating new neon signs and art. The museum included its permanent neon collections, art exhibitions, tours, demonstrations and classes, as well as video and multimedia resources.

Trader Vic’s (London, England)

An iconic Tiki bar and restaurant for just shy 60 years, Trader Vic’s in London – the oldest version of the franchise that was still open, and the first one that ever opened in Europe – will close its doors after December 31, 2022. Here’s more about that.

Train Street (Hanoi, Vietnam)

Tourists being able to eat and drink just inches from the train track on Train Street was the main draw of Train Street. Always willing to make a profit, cafes were all up and down the tracks, as trains whooshed past those sitting at the outdoor tables, their whistles blowing. Unfortunately, some tourists thought that posing for pictures ON THE TRACK, while trains were approaching, would be cool. Instead of waiting for some Instagram blockhead to get themselves run over, all the cafes were told by the government to close in September 2022.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

Splash Mountain (Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, FL)

In June 2020, The Walt Disney Company announced that the Splash Mountain attraction at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland would be re-themed to reflect the story of the 2009 Disney animated feature, The Princess And The Frog.

The new theme would replace the one of Song of the South, a 1940s era Disney movie that focused on the Reconstruction-era American south. “The new concept is inclusive – one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by, and it speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year,” the company said in a statement in 2020.

Two and a half years later, those wheels will begin turning at Walt Disney World – Splash Mountain will close permanently in January 2023, so it can be reimagined into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, which is currently scheduled to open in late 2024.

No word yet on when Disneyland’s version of the attraction will be closed for the changeover.

There are currently no plans to change the theming of Tokyo Disneyland’s Splash Mountain.

Universal Studio Orlando’s KidZone (Orlando, FL)

The children’s play area at Universal Studios Orlando has been long due for a refresh. A Day in the Park With Barney, a stage show, officially closed in February 2021. However it was announced in November, 2022 that a good portion of the rest of the kids’ area, would close in January 2023. From Universal Studios:

…Fievel’s Playland, Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster, Curious George Goes to Town, DreamWorks Destination and Shrek and Donkey’s Meet & Greet will close on January 16 (the last day of operation will be January 15 2023).

The E.T. Adventure, Animal Actors on Location!, SpongeBob StorePants – including meet and greets with SpongeBob SquarePants and friends – and KidZone Pizza Company will remain open for guests to enjoy.

Stay tuned – more details about the new experiences coming to Universal Studios Florida will be revealed in the months ahead.

The two attractions that got a reprieve

The Mirage Volcano (Las Vegas, NV)

In November, 2021, MGM Resorts announced its plan to sell the Mirage hotel-casino in Las Vegas. A month later, Hard Rock announced they were buying the property for $1.075 billion in cash.

The Mirage includes an iconic volcano that puts on a show with fire, water and music nightly at 8pm, 9pm, 10pm and 11pm. It’s been running for three decades and is very popular. And as Hard Rock announced its intention to demolish the entire front of the Mirage property, including the 30-year-old volcano, to make way for a gigantic guitar-shaped hotel, fans were horrified.

A petition was started soon after the announcement, and currently has over 10,000 signatures.

Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently wrote, “”Hard Rock International plans to close the Mirage, gut the entire three-wing hotel and casino, and spend billions to expand and upgrade the property beginning in late 2023 or 2024,” the newspaper reported.

That means the Mirage volcano probably has another year, maybe more, to continue its free show on the streets of Las Vegas.

Waipio Valley Road (Island of Hawai’i, HI)

Waipio Valley Road had been the one and only way for tourists to get to a beautiful Hawaiian beach spot that’s been described as place of dramatic tropical beauty.

The Hawaii County Mayor closed Waipio Valley Road back in February, 2022. It was done as an emergency ruling due to hazardous conditions on the steep road. From that point forward, tourists were banned from the road. The only people who could travel on it were valley residents, farmers and property owners.

However in October, Hawaii County announced its multi-year plans to repair Waipio Valley’s lone roadway. The repairs are mainly for the safety of locals. Officials are still not sure how or if tourists will have access.

“There’s a lot of conversations around who can access and when they can access and how they can access,” said Hawaii County public information officer Cyrus Johnasen. “That’s not a conversation that the county is leading. That’s a conversation the county is a part of, but for us right now, it’s creating a safe access for those who do need to get down there.”

But at least we’re no longer looking at 100% no chance of tourists having access to the road.

Maybe you can visit in 2023, maybe not

Meanwhile, as we enter 2023, there are still a handful of countries and territories that remain closed to foreign travelers:

  • China
  • Kiribati
  • Libya
  • Marshall Islands
  • Mayotte
  • Montserrat
  • Nauru
  • North Korea
  • Turkmenistan
  • Tuvalu
  • Wallis and Futana
  • Western Sahara
  • Yemen

Feature Photo: Pexels

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