Show Mobile Navigation
Travel |

10 Fascinating Proposed Tourist Traps

by Zachery Brasier
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Tourism is a great source of income for every developed country. While we know all about the many tourist traps that ended up being built, most people haven’t heard of these crazy proposals.

10Michael Jackson’s Laser Robot

In the mid-2000s, Michael Jackson was planning on a huge comeback by securing a residency in Las Vegas. Jackson and his crew developed a variety of ideas for arenas, costumes, and shows but needed a huge advertising statement. Many ideas hit the drawing board before Jackson settled on his favorite: a 15-meter (50 ft) walking robot that would circle Las Vegas shooting laser beams.

Robot Michael Jackson was going to be fully mobile. It would stalk the desert around Las Vegas, focusing on being under the flight paths for airlines flying into McCarran Airport. (Nobody knows for sure if the robot would just walk or do Michael Jackson’s trademark moonwalk.) To complete the idea, robo-Jackson was going to have laser beams shooting from its eyes that could be seen from all parts of Las Vegas. It is unknown whether those would have been just laser lights or real, damaging laser beams. Unfortunately for Jackson, it was impossible to get any of the real estate moguls to invest in the design (possibly as a result of Jackson’s sex scandals), and the team had to drop their idea.

Instead of the giant robot, Jackson’s team decided on a “scaled down” plan to make a Michael Jackson–themed hotel and casino. They also refused to give up their dreams of robotic entertainment and planned to have Jackson’s shows involve a “giant audience-interactive video game with human cyborgs.”

All of these ideas never took off. Jackson did not have enough money and eventually decided against a Las Vegas residency. The city was spared from being stalked by a giant, laser-shooting Michael Jackson robot.

9Miami’s Artificial Sun

9_visiondivision_miami dusk lumion72dpi

Photo credit: Visiondivision

Miami is well known as a popular tourist area due to its perpetually warm weather and wonderful beaches. A pair of Swedish architects hope to capitalize on the sun-drenched city by erecting exactly what Miami needs: another Sun. Creatively named “Miami Sun,” the building is intended to be a 150-meter-tall (500 ft) half-orb with a hotel and casino. The exterior of the building is designed with screens that allow it to replicate the most vibrant sunsets during the day and to look like the Moon during the night.

If the architects get their way, Miami residents can look forward to a huge, otherworldly Sun-Moon combo right on the bay. As terrifying as that might sound, the Swedish architects have some practical reasoning behind their idea. The Miami Sun will be big enough to block out the real Sun during key summer months for people right near it. By doing this, tourists can have the joy of experiencing a sunny day without risking damage from dangerous UV rays. Fortunately for Miami residents, the city is extremely skeptical about the design, and it does not look like Miami will be building the artificial Sun anytime soon.

8Life-Size USS Enterprise


In 1992, the mayor of Las Vegas announced a project to redevelop downtown Vegas to pull some tourist money away from the big casinos on the strip. Countless project proposals were submitted, but the most interesting of all was the plan by the Goddard Group to build a life-size replica of the USS Enterprise from Star Trek.

The plan was an enormous undertaking. The Goddard Group proposed to build the Enterprise exactly to scale, making it a 300-meter-long (1,000 ft), 70-meter-tall (230 ft) attraction. Fittingly, the attraction would need new engineering techniques to keep the pylon and saucer held up without any external support. Instead of fitting the Enterprise with a hotel and casino as is standard for Vegas development projects, the ship was mainly geared toward shows, restaurants, rides, and other fan attractions.

Unfortunately, Paramount did not give the go-ahead for the licensing. Stanley Jaffe, CEO of Paramount, thought that the project would flop. Jaffe told the Goddard Group: “In the movie business, when we produce a big movie and it’s a flop—we take some bad press for a few weeks or a few months, but then it goes away. The next movie comes out and everyone forgets. But this—this is different. If this doesn’t work—if this is not a success—it’s there, forever . . . ”

Without the support of Paramount, the project stopped, and Las Vegas decided to go ahead with the Fremont Street Experience light show instead. Although a full-size Enterprise never came to fruition, the Goddard Group later built Star Trek: The Experience in the Las Vegas Hilton. This gave Star Trek fans the attraction they had waited for, until the Hilton tore it down in 2008.

7Valravn Roller Coaster

Valravn – Official POV

Unlike the other entries on this list, the Valravn roller coaster is one that you may actually be able to experience in your lifetime. It is currently under construction at Cedar Point in Ohio. When completed, the Valravn will break 10 world records, including one for the biggest dive roller coaster. Other roller coasters may have drops that seem vertical, but a dive roller coaster puts the riders through a long, 90-degree vertical drop. When the drop occurs, the riders are in complete free fall; the only thing keeping them in their seats are the restraints.

The Valravn has a 68-meter (223 ft) drop, ensuring that the riders get a few terrifying seconds where they are just falling. Because the drop is so long, the Valravn will also break the record for the fastest dive roller coaster at an insane 120 kilometers per hour (75 mph). Utilizing that fast speed and energy, the Valravn will put the riders through three inversions throughout the ride, once again breaking a world record while doing so. It is slated for completion in spring 2016, so brave riders can get ready to experience the feeling of complete free fall.

6Aeroscraft Flying Hotel

Dragon Dream airship first flight

Large airships lost favor with the public after the Hindenburg explosion and due to the slow speed of airships. Since passengers wanted to get where they were going quickly, the idea of flying on a slow airship was uninviting, especially in the era of fast jet airliners. In recent years, many investors and designers have proposed bringing back the airship, but the most spectacular of them all is Igor Pasternak, who wants to build huge flying hotels that lumber across the world.

Named Aeroscraft, these airships will be the largest in the world at nearly 200 meters (650 ft) long and 50 meters (160 ft) tall. Aeroscraft will travel at a slow speed of 280 kilometers per hour (175 mph), which will allow it to cross the United States in 18 hours. That might seem like a long time, but riding in an Aeroscraft is not about the arrival at the destination but the experience of getting there. Aeroscraft will carry 250 passengers in utmost style. Interior amenities will include full staterooms, bars, lounges, casinos, conference rooms, and anything else a person may need on their flight. For transatlantic flights, Aeroscraft will basically be a flying hotel.

This may seem far-fetched, but Pasternak has already begun development on the project. Various investors have given him money, including the United States Department of Defense. Not only will Pasternak’s airships be good for passenger travel, they also have uses for freight lifting and defense. A half-scale airship called Dragon Dream took to the air in 2013, making the flying hotel seem like a future inevitability.

5Port Disney


Photo credit: David Jones

Currently, DisneySea is the name of an aquatic theme park in Japan, but most people do not know that it’s based on an insane and complicated Disney park planned for California. Plans started in the late 1980s, when Disney began buying up real estate in Long Beach with plans to make Port Disney, a huge resort area on the California coast.

As Disney was buying land, it also made two other purchases, the RMS Queen Mary and the “Spruce Goose” airplane, which were key parts of the Port Disney plans. Disney planned to convert the Queen Mary into one of Port Disney’s five hotels. Plans for the port also included a huge marina that would serve as home for Disney cruise ships. The centerpiece of this oceanic property was a new Disney theme park, DisneySea.

The theme park would have been a huge architectural undertaking. Initial plans show that it had five huge domes, each one focusing on a different part of marine life and offering different attractions. Among these attractions were huge aquariums, natural history museums, a few rides, and—most surprisingly—an attraction where guests sat in steel cages in shark tanks so they could experience swimming with the sharks. DisneySea would also offer research opportunities to biologists studying marine life.

Even though the plans seemed impressive, residents of Long Beach opposed the project, and costs skyrocketed, becoming too high even for Disney. Instead of opening Port Disney, the company decided to develop the much more conventional California Adventure park next to Disneyland. Years later, architects used the DisneySea plans for a Tokyo theme park, which gave tourists a glimpse of what could have been.

4ACME United Nations Memorial Space


Photo credit: ACME

UN memorials are not usually big tourist attractions, but the United Nations Memorial Space in Chungju, South Korea will attract tourists from around the world. Chungju is the birthplace of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. The Memorial Space will be the focal point of a large UN Peace Park. The ACME proposal did not win the design competition, but it is certainly an interesting building.

ACME designed its building as a series of cells that resemble a honeycomb. To determine the cell arrangement, ACME used a Voronoi diagram. This is a mathematical diagram that partitions a plane based on a series of predetermined variables. By using Voronoi diagrams to decide on the design of its structure, ACME gave the Memorial Space building a fascinating and seemingly random facade quite unlike other buildings. This odd structure symbolized the UN’s unity—all countries coming together for a single purpose.

The inside of the Memorial Space building houses a 1,500-seat assembly hall, conference rooms, theaters, and exhibition areas. Due to the cellular design, each area can be easily reconfigured for different purposes without affecting the structure of the building. To top it off, ACME placed a garden area on the roof for delegates and tourists to experience fresh air. ACME architects also made the center of the building hollow to allow for natural light to illuminate the corridors. Oddly, the UN has not released the second place and winning designs. With ACME’s spectacular building taking third, the winning design is probably breathtaking.

3Russian Commercial Space Station

Russians unveil space hotel

Space tourism is all the rage now, with companies across the world gearing up to offer tourists a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a price. Not to be outdone by American space companies, the Russians are getting into the game. Aerospace company Orbital Technologies made plans for the first ever commercial hotel space station. Designed to be serviced by Soyuz and Progress capsules, the Russian space hotel was intended to launch by 2016, but setbacks in the program have pushed the date closer to 2020.

When completed, the yet-unnamed space station will be the first hotel in space. The design is big enough to hold seven people and can host research projects, if other countries prefer to use it instead of the larger International Space Station. But the science part is secondary. Orbital Technologies is looking to rake in tourist money from wealthy vacationers. A short stay at the station will cost around $1 million.

Orbital Technologies also expects to use the space station to host media productions and large parties. The firm has attempted to gain US support by stating that ISS astronauts could use the station as a backup if they need to evacuate. Investors have put some money into the project, and Orbital Technologies is confident that it will succeed.

2The Berg: Artificial Mountain


Photo credit: The Berg

Everybody loves mountains. They are beautiful, scenic, and provide a variety of wonderful, touristy things to do, like skiing. Unfortunately, not everybody has easy access to mountains. Most people have to travel to visit them, and many might not have the time or money to make such a trip. The city of Berlin, Germany is bereft of tall mountains. Architect Jakob Tigges wants to change that by building a huge artificial mountain in the middle of Berlin.

In 2008, Berlin demolished the historic Tempelhof airport, clearing a huge swath of land in the city. German politicians do not know what to do with the land. Into the vacuum jumped Tigges, who believed that an artificial mountain called “The Berg” could invigorate the country. Chief among his proposal was the chance to ski right in the city without taking a trip to the Alps. With beautiful slopes and alpine features, The Berg would attract tourists from around the world while being a cutting-edge architectural project.

Tigges is not clear on exactly how to construct The Berg, but he is still working on getting approval for the project. In the late 2000s, support for the project was rapidly developing, with people around the world expressing interest in The Berg. However, development has stalled, and it seems that any chance that The Berg had has now evaporated. Still, it remains on the table as an odd way to reinvigorate Berlin.

1Hilton Hotel On The Moon

room with open door

In an episode of AMC’s hit series Mad Men, hotel mogul Conrad Hilton asks protagonist Don Draper to work on an ad campaign. The subject? A forthcoming Hilton hotel on the Moon. The show portrayed it as a quirk of Hilton’s character, but the Hilton Moon hotel was a real project and one of the earliest attempts at outer space tourism.

Plans for the Lunar Hilton began to really take shape in 1967 and gained the public’s interest after the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey introduced people to the idea of commercial space travel. Nobody knows if the plans were sincere or just a way to get more people interested in the Hilton company. Whatever the case, by the end of the 1960s, everybody was talking about the Lunar Hilton. The company even started to sell souvenirs and reservation cards for the eventual opening of the hotel. Designs showed a fairly conventional hotel, with the biggest selling point being the view. Nothing could compare to waking up to a view of the Earth. With the lunar landings in 1969, the Hilton project remained in the public eye.

As time went on, excitement over the project waned. Lunar Hilton dropped out of the public eye, turning into a mere curiosity of the early space program. But the Lunar Hilton rarely stays dead. Talks about the project began again in the 1990s. This time, Hilton discussed building two hotels: one in orbit around the Earth and another on the Moon. These plans are shelved for now, but when it becomes possible, Hilton will create one of the most interesting tourist traps in the solar system.

Zachery Brasier is a physics student who likes to write on the side.

fact checked by Jamie Frater