Japan Used To Have A Real Westworld Park

Western Village screenshot

The park engineered for Westworld always felt like a futuristic place during Season 1, with androids reaching various levels of self-awareness and an intense technological structure in place to keep guests from being harmed while also keeping the androids in the park (at least before shit hit the fan). However, in real life, a park in Japan was engineered to be like Westworld, complete with park robots and more. Western Village has now closed, lending an eeriness to the concept.

Back in 1973--around the time the original Westworld movie came out--Japanese entrepreneur Ominami-san opened a park that mimicked the Wild West. The park was originally a ranch but in 1975 was expanded from fishing and lassoing lessons to areas with facades for saloons and more. The park was renamed Western Village and enjoyed success over the next several decades. There were live gun battles and animatronics, including an animatronic version of John Wayne.

john wayne western village screenshot

The park stayed open until 2007, after which it closed, eerily, with much of the original characters, animatronics and other props still left on the property. A stream through the property, known as "The Rio Grande" still separates the Wild West side from the Mexican Barrens side. Walking through it, you can still see a slew of the original buildings, which look like a cartoon-ish version of what HBO subscribers saw during the first season of the new science fiction drama Westworld. There's even a huge model of Mount Rushmore still standing as a focal point in the now-abandoned park.

western village mount rushmore

Per urban explorer Michael John Grist's blog, the park took on a ton of debt after the Mount Rushmore expansion. It was closed for refurbishment in 2007, but never opened its doors--or at least its giant wooden fence--again. You can take a deeper look at the park, below.

Abandoned theme parks have always been popular for urban explorers. However, this one is particularly startling and fascinating, considering the popularity of the new TV series that is airing on HBO. Westworld has already been renewed for Season 2, and when you get tired of looking at images of the abandoned park, you can learn about the new episodes with our what we know guide.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.