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Everything posted by printersdevil78

  1. Agreed! I was excited for the "Ghostbusters" and "Hotel Transylvania" rides, nostalgic for "Smurfs" and curious about the "Zombieland" area (even though I don't do multi-story drop towers); beyond that, I had either only a passing knowledge or none at all about the rest of the IP. But there wasn't a single attraction I didn't thoroughly enjoy. The theming was great, and the park had a good mix of rides, not just coasters, off-the-shelf flats and screen-based attractions that dominate so many corporate parks right now. As I mentioned, I'm a big fan of dark rides; Motiongate probably has the largest collection of them outside of Disney. Thanks to everyone else for the positive comments, as well. I'm glad I could provide a detailed look at a seldom-seen park and happy to be back!
  2. The one attraction I kind of would have liked to have experienced that I didn't get a chance to was the "Santa's Sweet Surprise" show. I'm a fan of theme park stage shows, and I think it would have been interesting to see one in Dubai. Alas, I was busy with other things during the two showtimes that day, so it wasn't meant to be. Being there shortly after Christmas, though, it was cool to see some of the park's holiday decorations still around. Pretty in pink... ...green with envy! I don't know if this was just a decorative sign or if movie nights really are a thing at Motiongate, but it would be a cool venue to see an outdoor film. Good night, Grand Hotel! I enjoyed the window dressing along the "Main Street" area on the way out. Finally, we end up right back where we started. See you later, giant film reel! (But probably not.) From the outside looking in.... Bollywood Park was right next door! If I'd had an extra day to spend in Dubai, I might have checked this place out, even though I know nothing of Bollywood. (I could have sworn I also took a picture of the entrance to Legoland Dubai, the third park in this three-park complex, but I can't find it now, so apparently I didn't.) Riverland is the "Downtown Disney"-style shopping and dining district that ties the three parks together. You have to walk through at least part of it to get to any of them. I can't imagine how it got its name! That's the fanciest-looking Olive Garden I've ever seen! (There was a Famous Dave's, too, but it appeared to have been out of business, or at least closed for COVID, along with some other Riverland storefronts.) And, of course, every authentic faux European village in the Middle East needs a McDonald's! So long, Riverland! We enjoyed your quaint charm and golden arches!
  3. Welcome to "Lionsgate," the final section of Motiongate. Featuring attractions based on such thrilling films as... well, I bet you can't name a single Lionsgate film, can you? That's OK. 90% of all attractions at Universal theme parks aren't based on Universal properties, and they seem to be doing OK. No one cares which studio is putting out this crap. Fun fact: "The Hunger Games" is a Lionsgate film. It's also the only "land" in the Lionsgate section that was open the day I visited (more on that later). I think we all know what "The Hunger Games" is, correct? I'd seen the first film in the series and had a passing knowledge of the rest, so I sort of got it. In the year fifty-two-bajillionty-eight, a communist government has united the North American countries into a single landmass called "Panem" and divided the area into 12 industry-related districts where the Panemian people more or less do as they're told or else. In District 6, for example, everyone's job is to chant, "Please stand clear of the doors. Por favor Mantenganse alejado de las puertas." Just kidding! District 6 is the Transportation District! Its people build and operate such incredible, mind-blowing, far-off future vehicles as trains. Because when I think of the 38th century or whenever this is supposed to be, I think "trains"! Also, the Transportation District is centered around the Detroit area because everything in Panem is based on what industries existed where in the 20th century. The future! The people of District 12 are charged with mining coal. Because nothing says "the future" like the continued reliance on the dirtiest, deadliest, most difficult-to-extract fossil fuel. After all, something's got to power those future-trains! (Also, District 12 is based around West Virginia and not Wyoming... which makes absolutely no sense if you know anything at all about U.S. coal reserves!) If my iPhone was better at capturing JumboTron images, you'd see that the Hunger Games are currently in session! Instead, you're seeing what it would look like if the Predator were watching the Hunger Games. Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice.... Oooh! Panem Aerial Tour! This could never go badly! I had to Google the significance of these white roses. (Actually, they look yellow to me... but white roses apparently are significant in the franchise, so I assume that's what these are supposed to be.) Wait a minute... we're just one triangle away from turning the Hunger Games into the Squid Game! So regal! So intimidating! So... empty! Wouldn't it make more sense for the aerial tour to depart from the Transportation District? Or even the Capitol (which most of the ride is set, anyway)? WTF wants a tour of the most depressed district in Panem? If you had wings... had wings... had wings.... District 3 is the Technology District, centered around current-day San Francisco. Check out that high-tech pencil and clipboard! Also, everyone there wears Steve Jobs turtlenecks. That's how you know it's the future! District 10 (basically Texas, all of Mexico and what's left of Central America) is the Livestock district. Don't even ask what's in the pipe! Even children mine coal in District 12! Let's see a 5-year-old assemble a microchip over in District 3. Go ahead. We'll wait. Notice that in the future, Florida is underwater and New England is a wasteland where all the nation's trash is sent. There's a joke about Boston in there somewhere.... The future! Our pilot today will be Luke Skywalker. In District 1 (the Luxury District), people make fine perfumes and jewelry. In soviet Russia, fine perfumes and jewelry make people! "Help us, Obi Wan. You're our only hope." The concept is that we are the lucky winners of a free aerial tour of Panem. (Second place is TWO aerial tours of Panem!) Around the time we get to the Capital, rebel interceptors hijack the view screens to inform us that we've fallen for a trap, and they've come to rescue us. In the end, we're saved and receive an invitation to join the resistance. Then the pilot promises us that he'll do better next time and offers some lame excuse about how he's still getting used to his programming. Fin. Once again, no photos or video allowed in the simulator, so enjoy this sneak peek at the safety video instead. (Edited to add: For those who want to see the ride, there are a couple videos from others on YouTube... but I wasn't going to risk a date with the Dubai judicial system for your amusement!) Here we go.... The other "Hunger Games" ride is the "Capitol Bullet Train." Fun fact: It's a Mack coaster! (Coal powered, I assume.) All that tyranny got you down? Why not stop for a bite at Peeta's Bakery? Peeta's -- for the best cuppa coffee in beautiful downtown District 12? I mentioned earlier that "Hunger Games" was the only "land" open in "Lionsgate" during my visit. That's because the park's two newest coasters, "Now You See Me: High Roller" (land entrance pictured) and "John Wick: Open Contract" (seen in the distance behind the Lionsgate gate at the beginning of this post) weren't open quite yet during my visit. I'm guessing this is why the park was so quiet during my visit -- everyone was waiting for the big new rides to open. Regardless, this was the only day I had available in my schedule for Motiongate, so I was thankful for the thin crowds that allowed me to experience most everything else multiple times! Up next: The grand finale, with a dusk-time pass through Studio Central and a look at Riverland after dark.
  4. This was the "entrance" to "How to Train Your Dragon"-land from the DreamWorks hub with the fountain... but how do you get in? I assumed this land was a "future attraction" or closed for renovations during my first pass through the park. On my second rotation, I discovered this entrance in the back of the "Kung Fu Panda" section. Most of the "lands" connected to each other in this way, but this one was the only one without its own separate entrance from the hub. Weird! "I'm craaaazy Viking statue! Give me your candy!" Oh... so it's THAT kind of party! I don't think Viking ships are supposed to move that way.... Hobbit hole! Much of "How to Train Your Dragon"-land consisted of Camp Viking, a sprawling play space that was... open! Indoors! In Motiongate! During COVID! What!? "I know! I can't believe it, either!" OK, so this ride, right here. This is the reason you need to visit Motiongate. Seriously, this instantly became one of my top five dark rides of all time. The ride system reminded me of "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey"... if the ending of "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" consisted of the ride's bursting right out of Hogwarts Castle and taking you on a high-speed aerial tour of the entirety of Hogsmeade! Enter the Viking Circle! Because that's totally a thing. Dare you pass through the Door of Dragons? Because that's totally a thing, too. Welcome to Viking House! Where the questions are made up and the points don't matter! Unfortunately, right after this room, we were made to surrender all our worldly possessions (because otherwise stuff WILL fall out of your pockets on this ride). So no pictures of the ride itself. But take my word for it -- it was a thing of beauty! Exit through the gift shop! Er... workshop! "Hey! Dig my sexy tattoo!" Panda Jack Black says, "So long, DreamWorks visitors! Please spend more money next time!" Up next: a look at Motiongate's final section, Lionsgate.
  5. Who's ready to enter the world of "Kung Fu Panda"? I know I am! What up, turtle dude? Lots of lanterns! Zero people. Just the way I like it! Scary dragon! Scary... Yoda wannabe? Based on what context I was able to draw from this "land," I assume this is Mr. Ping. Only because he has a noodle on his nose. At least... I hope that's a noodle! "Hiya, kids!" Of all the DreamWorks "lands," this one had the most laid-back ambiance. Not what I'd expect from a Jack Black movie. Behold! The mythical bench! These character lanterns were super cool! "Kung Fu Panda Academy" = closed for COVID Hey there, Panda Jack Black! This "land"'s flat ride was teacups! Er... sorry. Noodle bowls! But "Unstoppable Awesomeness" is what we're really here for! Follow me down the ancient kung fu hallway! Please wait for the attendant at the mythical dragon tunnel. No pictures allowed inside the simulator, so this is the best you'll get today! Exit through the shrine and gift shop! Faux-jade Panda Jack Black says, "Hey you! Buy a tiger!" Not only does Mr. Ping have his own ride; he's also the proprietor of the restaurant in "Kung Fu Panda"-land. Coming up: Our visit to the DreamWorks section of Motiongate culminates with "How to Train Your Dragon"-land!
  6. So, "Madagascar" is a movie I haven't seen (Spoiler alert: The only movie in the DreamWorks section of the park I actually have seen is "Shrek"), but I know it has something to do with animals trying to escape the circus and return to Africa. Then I looked it up and saw it co-starred Chris Rock and Jada Pinkett Smith (among others). The whole thing smacks of coincidence.... All the ambiance of a circus with none of the smells! So, I guess one of the animals is musically talented or something? Fun house mirror! Evil kitty cat train! Or something. "I'm big, evil kitty cat train! Feed me people!" Such careful brush strokes. The artist really brought out his armpit hair! So, I'm guessing from the wear and tear on this poster and the general malaise on the characters' faces that these are the bad guys who used to be the most popular acts at the circus until those young upstarts started getting all the attention. So they convince the other animals they'd be better escaping captivity. And then once the others flee to Africa, these two can reclaim the center ring. Am I close? Most of the DreamWorks "lands" had one signature attraction, one flat ride, a gift shop and a restaurant. "Madagascar" broke the mold with two flat rides, including "Penguin Air." Pure craziness! This penguin approves! The other flat ride in "Madagascar" is the "Melman Go-Round." I prefer to call it the "Merry-Go-Ross." I have no idea who any of these characters are! We see you, Zebra Chris Rock! Personally, I thought the tiger jumping through the ring of fire was the coolest design on this carousel. I also thought it was cool that the carousel was "sunken" so the ride platform was flush with the floor; that would be a great ADA feature to bring to U.S. parks when feasible. But the main attraction here is "Madagascar Mad Pursuit!" Lots of space under this big top! The queue included a full-sized circus train car! Let's look inside! Are these contented horses characters in the movie, too? Or are they just part of the paint job? I want to say this framed test pattern probably is where the safety video appeared, but I was the only person in line, so I just zipped right by it. Oh, did I mention that "Madagascar Mad Pursuit!" is an indoor Gerstlauer launched coaster? NBD. Also, I read online that this is themed after "Madagascar 3." They made three of them!? Exit through the gift shop! "Hi! I'm Lion Ben Stiller! Wouldn't you like to sleep on my face?" Hey look! An open restaurant! I didn't know they did that kind of thing at Motiongate anymore! Lion guy and lemur guy were happy to see me! (Or anyone, for that matter.) Thus brings us to the conclusion of Madagascarland. But not to fret; we'll be back soon with a look in front of the scenes at "Kung Fu Panda"-land! Stay tuned!
  7. Time to lower your Shrek-spectations! Ha! Get it? Because it's "Shrek"? Fun fact: I got to ride inside this, virtually, at Universal Studios. Bet no one else here can say that! "They make me stand here all day to guard the Baskin-Robbins." Be sure to social distance as you take the stairs! The Candy Apple, like from "Snow White"... but in a tower, like from "Rapunzel." I'm so confused! I'm not sure, but I think this area is for birthday parties or something? Or maybe a stage show? Character meet-and-greets? Regardless, it wasn't being used during my visit. Nope! Still not being used! I had to look this up becauseI had no idea what it was. Apparently it's the home of a character named Dama Fortuna, whose only screen appearance is in an alternate opening to the original "Shrek" that was never fully animated? Some of the details at Motiongate bordered on obsessive... and this is coming from someone who obsesses about details! The Swamp Celebration ride is tied to the birthday scene in "Shrek Forever After." Its a highly themed Zamperla Rockin' Tug, for the uninitiated. The highlight of this "land," though, is "Shrek's Merry Fairy Tale Journey," a dark ride that follows the narrative of the first "Shrek" film in puppet form. The queue is extremely detailed, starting with Shrek's house. Here's the prelude.... Well that's not very nice! Hello, Mr. Spooky Tree! Ha! They amended the sign! Geppetto's workshop The projection window allowed various "scenes" to take place outside. I would imagine it's a fun distraction when the line is long and slow (but not today). Pinocchio wants our money! Onward to the swampmobiles! (I have no idea if that's what these vehicles are really called.) Oh, I love a good puppet show! Here's the audience! Fiona and Shrek are the puppeteers! And now we've been shrunk down to the size of puppets for a unique POV of the show! "This is Farquard's forest now, holmes!" "Wipe your... face! Duloc is a perfect place!" Poor Mama Bear Well isn't that special? "I spy with my little eye...." It's like they're married already! Every dragon likes a little Farquard inside her! It's like Smash Mouth in puppet form! And they lived happily ever after... with some strings attached. Exit through the gift shop! "Buy my crap!" Gift shop theming! You also exit the entire "land" through a gift shop! But it's canon, so we'll allow it. Next stop: "Madagascar"!
  8. Did you ever stop to think that the kid on the moon in the Dreamworks logo is actually fishing for humans on Earth? No, you didn't. Because you only ever think about yourself. "Welcome to DreamWorks! I'm a Scottish ogre for some reason!" "And I'm a martial arts panda with a camera!" "And I make more money for Ben Stiller than 'Zoolander'!" "And I'm a dragon behind a 'Please do not touch' fence. I'm so lonely!" No souvenir purchases from the DreamWorks Mobile today #sad This magnificent fountain greets guests inside the building in an area that serves as a "hub" for most of the "lands" in the enclosed structure. "Motiongate is grr-eat!" "They wouldn't let me do this at Epcot!" Even the ceiling is themed (though the Sistine Chapel it ain't). Come along as we explore each of DreamWorks' "lands" one by one!
  9. The time has come to move on from Columbia Pictures. Where to next, signpost? Excellent idea! No Gargamels allowed! It must be a sign! I had dreams like this in grade school.... Vanity? Is that you? Playspace = closed for COVID. Smurfs Shop = closed for attendance. But the outdoor playspace is open! If there were any children in this park at all today, you can bet some of them would be here, maybe! I spy a twisty slide! All aboard! Hey! It's Conductor Smurf! (Joke's on you... there is no Conductor Smurf!) It looks like a train station... ...but that doesn't look like a normal train! Hey, wait a minute! It's a roller coaster! Going up! Oh no! Not the Howlibird! Yep! The Howlibird has been here, all right! Let's move on to a less violent ride! The premise is that the Smurfs have opened a movie studio. But since there are only 100 or so Smurfs, the cast, crew and audience essentially are all the same. Lame! Cultural appropriation! Not cool, Smurfs. Not cool. Believe it or not, there really was an episode of "The Smurfs" in which nearly all the Smurfs turned into zombies who could only say "Gnap." Look it up! Fun fact: "Panic Undersmurf" was the first film with an S-13 rating. It's not quite the GlamorTram, but it'll do. We're on the list! "Welcome to my studio!" Of course Painter Smurf is in charge of the paint department! This ride actually incorporated some characters I didn't expect, including Wild Smurf and Baby Smurf. No Grandpa Smurf, Grandma Smurf or Smurflings, though. And forget about Johan and Peewit. Of course Handy Smurf is in charge of set construction! It's worth noting that, despite some static displays, there was enough limited motion throughout this ride that they weren't as noticeably static as the ones in "Hotel Transylvania." Such a diva! Oh no! It's Gargamel and Azrael! They're sneaking on set to cause expensive production delays and put Smurf Studios out of business for good! (No, really. That's the plot.) Look! It's Indiana Smurf in "Smurfers of the Lost Smurf!" "Huh? What's a 'pork sword'? Who writes this stuff?" Pivotal scene from "The Day the Smurf Stood Smurf." Time for the finale: "A Salute to All Imaginary Blue Creatures But Mostly Smurfs." "Ready for my close-up, D.B." Little did they know about Gargamel's paint fetish.... "Autographs! Just $50! Add a photo for only $100 more!" They apparently ran out of budget at the very end of the ride, so we get a "Monstars of Smurf" finish. Exit through the gift shop! Wait... the gift shop is so large that it has TWO exits! Does anyone know where I can buy a plush Smurf? If anyone sees any plush Smurfs for sale anywhere, please let me know, OK? Today's show: "Closed for COVID" starring Invisible Smurf! Am I the only one who finds the Smurf version of the "Thalia and Melpomene" masks more than a little disturbing? Time for a very Smurfy lunch! Just like the gift shop, the Smurfs Village restaurant is so large, it has two entrances/exits at opposite ends of the building. Let's take a look at today's Smurfy specials! Gargamel Burger FTW! #TheMoreYouSmurf Be sure to safe room for Smurf cream... er, ice Smurf... er, maybe we should just skip dessert. Smurf Snacks? More like Smurf NOT Snacks! Farewell, Smurfs Village. Legend tells that we'll never be able to find you again. But that's OK because next, we're going to find the DreamWorks section of Motiongate!
  10. Last of the scary stuff! Such a beautiful view! Hmm... I wonder what that tower with the big "Z" on top could be. Wow, the years have really taken their toll on Pacific Playland! Wait... that's not Pacific Playland! It's "Zombieland: Blast-Off!" No scream shields in Dubai! There are no restaurants in the park's small "Zombieland" section. Instead, there is a "midway" of games themed after Columbus' rules of Zombieland. Nothing says "family friendly" like a midway game with a chainsaw on the sign! "Braaaaiiiinnnns!" About half the rules are just blunt objects you can use to kill zombies. (Because "zombies" in this franchise are really living, breathing humans infected with a highly contagious brain disease and, thus, can be killed -- more family fun!) Zombies accept Apple Pay! "Mutated cabbage heads! Get your mutated cabbage heads here!" "Om nom nom!" I wasn't aware of the "Underworld" film series before this ride, but apparently it's quite extensive. I approve of any warning sign shaped like a tombstone! This crossbow display in the queue area was the only clue I had about what the storyline would be. No pictures or filming in the 4-D theater, unfortunately. I'm going to assume this is some sort of gift kiosk when it's open. It looks too small to be a snack stand or game... but maybe! I didn't get the chance to find out. Onward to our final attraction in the Columbia Pictures section: the "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs River Expedition." Note that Etisalat makes another appearance here. I've never seen this movie. I think it has something to do with a scientist trying to end world hunger by turning weather into giant food? Based on the theming in this section, I guess his father doesn't believe in science and wants him to go into the family bait business instead. Either way, that would make the river theming make sense. Bait, tackle and lockers! Indoor playspace = closed for COVID. No submarine for you! Oh, also, there's a character in the movie named Baby Brent. And he owns a luncheonette. What do you call footwear made from bananas? Slippers! So, just in case you miss the "Ghostbusters" gift shop... and the "Hotel Transylvania" gift shop... and the gift kiosk outside "Underworld"... and the small gift area as you exit "Green Hornet: High-Speed Chase"... there's also a Columbia Pictures Studio Store literally footsteps away from each of those venues! Noted! Up next: Time to get Smurfy!
  11. The Motiongate fun continues in the Columbia Pictures section. Castle bigger than Disneyland's? Check! I know social distancing is important and everything... but did they really have to put the decal right in the middle of the logo? And what's the logo for, you may ask? Why, "Hotel Transylvania," of course! Theoretically, every line was a Q-Fast line today! "Hurry back! Hurry back! Don't forget to bring your death certificate!" This is what Wi-Fi looks like in Transylvania! I'm not sure that backpack is screen-used.... That's a wrap! No wait... the ride hasn't even started yet! Our Doom Buggy awaits! This is the scene you get while you're waiting for your ride vehicle. With the exception of a few video screens in one area, the ride consists almost entirely of static figures with lines from the movie piped in when your vehicle triggers a sensor. A little disappointing, but at least the sculpts and trackless ride system are well done. This yeti has exactly as much movement as the one at DAK! Remember those video screens I mentioned two captions ago? Savor them while you can! The attraction recreates the story from the first "Hotel Transylvania," in which Blobby is a very minor character, still a couple films away from achieving the fan-favorite status he enjoys today. But he's still here, nonetheless! "Come on, baby... let's do the twist!" This is one of the only scenes that features limited movement, with the spit turning over the fire. I have to assume that, once the motor burns out, they won't bother replacing it. Small crowd tonight at Oga's Cantina! This is the part in the movie where Johnny has to fill in for Chuck Berry's cousin on stage at the dance so his parents will fall in love and he and his siblings won't be erased from history. "I don't have enough pictures of myself on this wall. Someone go find a camera!" Nothing like a faux stained glass window to add some class to the ride! Back outside, the moat extends all the way around the side of the castle, which is excellent theming... though they probably could have hidden the fire escape on the "Ghostbusters" building a little better. Why, what's this quaint little inn? It's the Hotel Beastro, of course! Also closed the day of my visit. But Taco Vida was open for business! Featuring Mexican favorites like popcorn, slushies, snack mix and Baskin-Robbins ice cream (no tacos). Hey! It's Drac and Johnny! Out of my way, Johnny! I need to get to the gift shop! Up next: Even more Columbia Pictures!
  12. It's been a while since I posted a trip report on TPR! To be honest, while I still include amusement parks in my travel rotation, my travel priorities in recent years have been a bit broader, including driving tours of Route 66 and the Florida peninsula, as well as some international destinations. When I do go to Busch Gardens Williamsburg or HersheyPark or Knoebels, it doesn't make much sense to follow up on here because these are the same parks everyone goes to, and has been to, time after time, year after year. So while I still use TPR as a travel planning tool, I don't stay as current on the message boards as I used to. So tell me... where did they finally end up relocating the Big Dipper? How's Freestyle Music Park doing these days? What are the big plans for Blue Streak's 85th anniversary? Anyway, back in January, I had the privilege of knocking a long-held travel goal off my bucket list: attending a World's Fair. And I traveled halfway around the world to do it! I enjoyed eight days at Expo 2020 in Dubai. But I couldn't take this one-in-a-lifetime trip without checking out at least one theme park. Based on everything I could find, it seemed like Motiongate was the one that best fit my park philosophy, in that coasters (especially woodies) are great and all, but nothing beats a well-themed dark ride. I wasn't disappointed. Since this isn't a park most Americans get to experience, I thought there might be some value in an in-depth trip report. I'll break it up into sections to make it easier to view, which was a thing back when I was a regular poster here. If it's not anymore, then... please forgive the dinosaur in the room! Mr. Stay-Puft says: "This way to Motiongate!" "Ready for my close-up, G.B.!" There it is! Get excited! We see you, giant old-timey camera building! This park was a lot smaller than I thought it would be (I was expecting something on par with the size of Universal Orlando), but they packed a lot of quality AND quantity in such a compact space. The "Main Street" section, called Studio Central, provided a short but well themed segue way into the park's "hub." Ring toss, anyone? First stop: Columbia Pictures! Time for a little "Green Hornet" action! Fun fact: J. Jonah Jamison's dislike of super heroes began when he was a young lad, reading about the exploits of the abominable Green Hornet in the Daily Sentinel. Funner fact: I just made that up. I approve of any cue that includes s car with machine guns! Biggest takeaway from this picture? Motiongate is a Pepsi park. You've been warned! Check out the Gerstlauer layout! Hungry after all that crime fighting? Stop for a bite at Kato's Coffee! (Nearly every attraction at Motiongate is accompanied by its own restaurant or snack stand -- or both.) With two exceptions, the first being "Green Hornet," the Columbia Pictures section is where Motiongate stashes all of its "ghost and monster" attractions. So next, we're on our way to the Ghostbusters' firehouse! Who ya gonna call? Wait, what's all this now? So, it turns out that no one is calling the Ghostbusters anymore. Because they've all retired, and their New York firehouse has been turned into a museum/historical landmark overseen by the not-for-profit Ghostbusters Historical Society. Or something like that. Spooooky! Larger-than-life portraits of the original Ghostbusters adorn the cue area. Vigo the Carpathian! And the painting that replaced him! This suit was once worn by original Ghostbuster Dr. Peter Venkman. It even comes with a certificate of authenticity, which I just printed and certified myself! I don't remember the proton packs looking quite like this. And I definitely don't remember them being made of used sewing machine parts! Though the original Ecto-1 isn't present at the "museum," its importance in "Ghostbusters" lore is evident -- and helps set up the ride! Wait... the Ghostbusters "franchise"? Dude! You're breaking the fourth wall! We're finally ready to start the ride! Time to board our "Ecto Pod." These are miniature Ecto-1s that will take us through the "Ghostbusters Experience," a shooting dark ride inside the Ghostbusters Museum that allows visitors to participate in a recreation of the Ghostbusters' most famous battles (Gozer, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, etc.). It's literally a dark ride-themed dark ride! No photos allowed on the ride (though they were on others), so here's a shot of the "safety instructions" area. Have fun blasting, everyone! Every major attraction at Motiongate included an exit through the gift shop. And many of them included a pressed "penny" machine. Except pennies aren't really a thing in the UAE, so it was more of a "pressed metal blank" machine instead. The final result! Hungry? Grab a Stay-Puft milkshake or Slimer signature hot dog at Slimer's Diner... when it's open. Which it wasn't when I visited. In fact, most of the restaurants were closed, and nearly every ride was a walk-on. I suspect they weren't setting any attendance records that day. Look out for that giant Stay-Puft hand! He's holding a giant "D"! What could it mean? Turns out it's the symbol for Etisalat, an Abu Dhabi-based bank with ATM service at Studio Central. The random Stay-Puft connection near the "Ghostbusters: Battle for New York" ride is just that... random. Up next: More Columbia Pictures!
  13. when the family summer vacation doesn't go as planned... Looks like a backdoor pilot for Disney’s first original Fox show: “When Theme Park Guests Attack.”
  14. I got 83 out of 126, but health issues largely have kept me away from amusement parks in the past couple years, save for a few local ones and two very worthwhile trips to Orlando, so most of my credits are older. Still fun to learn that I've ridden two-thirds of the wooden coasters in North America.
  15. I enjoyed the Twilight Zone TV show. I'm not a big fan of drop towers, but I like the theming in the TOT attractions. That said, my generation (and probably only a small percentage of it) is probably the last generation that's even heard of The Twilight Zone, much less cares about or has any emotional attachment to it. And there's still a Twilight Zone TOT in Orlando. And it sounds like it's basically going to be the same ride but with different characters (whom a larger portion of today's audiences will have heard of/be able to identify). Sounds like a win to me. Unless retheming-instead-of-designing-new-attractions becomes an ongoing trend Which, considering they're building an entire new land for Star Wars and now talking about an all-new Marvel-themed area, it doesn't sound like it will.
  16. It's been a long time since I posted a TR.... My wife and I had a great time at this year's final weekend of the Busch Gardens Williamsburg Food and Wine Festival, so I thought I'd share. Enjoy! To all who enter this happy place, welcome! We bought the 15-sample dining package, good at 14 food stands around the park. First up: Ireland! Many of the stands were decorated with representations of food or actual kitchen items. What better decoration for the Ireland booth than potatoes? Speaking of potatoes... here are some bangers with colcannon (mashed potatoes with cabbage), topped wtih Guinness brown sugar gravy. They were pretty good and a nice way to begin the festival. (Though the park opens at 10 a.m., the food stands don't open until 11.) In the late afternoon, the park's Ireland section hosted an ice carving demonstration. Here are the results! Next up was Hawaii, a new addition for this year. The stands in more open areas had decorated seating areas. Each stand also had informative kiosks (which also served as a convenient place to store napkins and spare plasticware). From Hawaii, we got huli huli chicken (sweet pineapple and soy barbecued chicken) with orange-and-purple sweet potato salad. The chicken was good, but I wasn't a fan of the slaw. We paired it with a signature hibiscus lemonade for a small upcharge. The lemonade was pretty good, but I'm not sure I'd get it again. In addition to ice carving, the festival also included some cool food art demonstrations. Close-up of jellybean dinosaurs! The Crepes and Coffee stand was up next. This was the first stand where we encountered a significant wait (20+ minutes with about five people in line ahead of us) due to poor staffing. There was one person cooking, one person taking the money, pouring the drinks and tending to the coolers (three completely separate parts of the booth) and one person just kind of standing around with a clipboard. It seemed pretty ridiculous, especially at stands where the drinks were set up in a completely different section of the area than the cash registers. Crepes and Coffee had a winery theme. More educational signage. We tried a chicken cordon bleu crepe, with an orange marmalade and brie crepe for dessert. The chicken crepe wasn't bad. The marmalade in the dessert crepe was good, but I didn't think it paired particularly well with the brie. This was also the first area with wine tasting. I don't drink wine, and my wife and I were both feeling under the weather (in different ways), so we didn't partake. Each stand also had a person nearby dressed in regional clothing to answer questions about the food, wine and country. This was France's. Up next was the French Quarter stand. This warm muffaletta and Cajun coleslaw were my favorite items at the festival! I've had muffalettas in New Orleans that weren't this good. And the slaw was just out of this world! Well done, Busch Gardens. The France stand was nearby. I was really looking forward to the steak au poivre. From my high school French class, I thought I remembered "poivre" meaning "pepper," but apparently I really means "lots and lots of salt." Seriously, a spoonful of salt has less salt in it than this thing. It literally made us both gag. I didn't know Canada was so well known for apples and pumpkins, but they were all over the Canada food stand, so.... Inside the Canada stand. I think this area is usually used as part of Trappers Smokehouse. This stand was one of the few where we got bad service. The cashier clearly didn't want to be there, and the server seemed like it was her first day on the job. In fact, there were a few servers throughout the day who seemed new to the concept of food stands, which was pretty incredulous considering we were there on the second-to-last-day of the event. That's pumpkin maple mouse on the left, and I thought it was OK; Kelly liked it more than anything else she tried. On the right is cheddar and lager soup with smoked paprika oil. It also was OK; Epcot doesn't have anything to worry about. Did you know there are Canadian wines? Well, there are! Nearby was the American Southwest stand, where we tried a chocolate lava cake based on nearly every online review I read of the event hailing it as the best thing at the festival. I thought it was pretty good, but not really any better or worse than any chocolate lava cake I've ever had in a regular sit-down restaurant, even with the addition of ancho chiles. Unfortunately, I neglected to take a photo. Next, we were in the Caribbean! Most of the regional representatives seemed pretty bored throughout the day. Were they new this year? I can't imagine this continuing going forward with as little interest as anyone demonstrated in them. The Caribbean stand included seashell art! And this snazzy beer tap! The gamba fritters (basically shrimp hushpuppies) were sort of the "poster child" of the festival. This is what they looked like in person, along with tres leches con mermalada de pina. They were OK; the pickapeppa dip they came with was the best part. The dessert was OK, as well; it tasted like sweet cake with crushed pineapple on top, which is basically what it was, I guess. On to Germany! I'm not sure what the wooden spoons represented, but the "silver" plastic steins screwed into the building's exterior were a nice touch. The currywurst with curry-spiced ketchup and roasted potatoes was good. German wine! Germany also featured a special artisan's market for the festival, but only some of the vendors sold edibles. At least one of them sold handmade soap. On Friday nights during the festival, this stage in the park's Oktoberfest section featured live music. As we were not there on a Friday night, the stage featured nothing. In addition to the food stands, there were a couple of standalone alcohol stands, as well. This one featured wines from Argentina. Some of the stands were squeezed into areas where they didn't really fit, causing bottlenecks, like this one representing Italy. The Italy stand's decor predominately was made of wine corks. The stand featured only desserts, most of which are available at Olive Garden, so we skipped it. A little of the bottleneck in front of the Italy wine tasting flag. More bottlenecking at the Spain stand. Decorations made from plates and utensils! Small stands like this were stationed outside some of the food booths, representing regional culinary plants and herbs. Spain's regional representative was fortunate to have both a fan and a shady spot to stand. It was hot and humid throughout the day. I was disappointed with the food from the Spain stand. That's bacon-wrapped scallops with rice on the left and two chorizo empanadas on the right. Both were just OK, though the scallops were the most expensive item at any of the stands. Fun with fondant! That's a cake, if you can believe it. The Asia stand didn't have anything our local Chinese restaurant doesn't, so we saved our tastings for other booths. The areas around most of the stands were decorated with flags. At Asia, they went a step further and added Chinese lanterns, as well. The Greece stand represented another bottleneck, directly across from the entrance to Escape from Pompei. I also wasn't sure I was ever going to get to order here; the people in front of me apparently had never heard of "food" before and proceeded to ask the cashier many, many, many questions, such as what it was, why you would want to put it in your mouth and how you make it small enough to go down your throat-hole. I timed them; they literally asked questions non-stop for nearly 10 minutes. Fortunately, the halloumi (grilled Greek cheese with honey and pistachios) was well worth the wait! It was amazing, my second-favorite tasting of the day. Our last food stand stop was the new Virginia stand. I don't know what makes tulip poplar honey any better or worse than any other honey, but they had it! For our last tasting, I selected the bacon and cheddar hushpuppies with honey butter. They were great, and my wife proclaimed it the best butter she's ever had. Nearby was another stand-alone alcohol stand, offering scotch tastings. Near the end of the day, we had reservations on a Date Night cruise on the Rhine, offered specifically for the festival. During the afternoon, they offered similar "Wine on the Rhine" cruises, though kids were allowed on those. The Date Night cruises included music and were for adults only. There's our ride! These were the entertainers for the half-hour cruise. It was advertised as a 25-minute experience, but ours actually lasted nearly 40, which was nice. We had good music... Good scenery... And good wine! The cruise also included a fruit, cheese and chocolate tray. The strawberry was tart for my taste, but everything else was good. I understand that in past years, they also threw in a couple packets of crackers, which, at $55 per couple, would have been nice. After the cruise, we got to see the food stands lit up for the evening. Overall, we had a good time, and even the "worst" food we tried was really good! Thanks, Busch Gardens! See you again soon!
  17. Assuming the headsets don't all break in the first year and they abandon the project, I think these could easily tie into Fright Fest and, for the parks that have it, Holiday in the Park, as well. It's not hard to imagine changing the programming to simulate fleeing from a coven of broom-mounted witches or vampire bats or (insert flying malicious ghoul of your choice here). Or maybe you're hitching a ride on Santa's sleigh. This seems like a good way to breathe new life into old coasters. If it works at Six Flags, I can see other parks (especially chain parks) getting in on this.
  18. The local newspaper today covered the new "cart coaster" -- a mash-up of a go-kart track and roller coaster -- at Jolly Roger Amusement Park in Ocean City, MD. Photos and video here.
  19. And... we're into 2014! Enjoy! Summer 2014 began with a trek to northern Pennsylvania to visit Conneaut Lake Park… while I still could. En route was a visit to The Snowman in Portersville, PA. No, seriously. It’s a snowman! Unlike most snowmen, this one serves tasty frozen treats. Plastered on a T-shirt hung in front of the stand on a breezy day, this yeti moved a lot more than the one at Animal Kingdom! Can’t afford a Yeti right now? Charge it to your Diner’s Club! So this is the Yeti milkshake — ice cream, syrup and crushed ice blended to a pleasant consistency and topped with whipped cream. It was yummy! An overview of The Snowman’s seating area. Goodbye, giant snowman! We’re off to ride the Blue Streak! After an afternoon at Conneaut Lake and early evening at Waldameer, we stopped by Sara’s in Erie, PA, for dinner. This is the view from the parking lot. For those who haven’t been, that blue “bridge” is the portion of Ravine Flyer II that crosses the street before returning to the park proper. Let’s all go to the drive-in… They serve both kinds of food… new and used! Mirror, mirror, on the motorcycle… Lots of neon at Sara’s. Time to dine! I had a coupon for a free footlong hot dog with the purchase of a footlong and fries, so that’s what we did. They were tremendous! The fry seasoning was unique, as well. But Coke Freestyle is the headline! This gate is where drive-in customers stop to place their order; it’s lifted so they can go through once the order is placed (and also keeps cars from blocking the path to the bathrooms). The building in the background is Sally’s All-American Diner. It’s supposed to be good, as well, but was closed when we were there. Based on the Sara’s/Sally’s website, I can’t figure out if it’s just overflow seating for Sara’s, if it’s an actual restaurant in its own right, or if it used to be a restaurant and is no longer in business. Check out some of Sara’s’ outside décor. Sara’s is located at the entrance to Presque Isle State Park, which according to the tourism material provided, receives more visitors annually than Yellowstone National Park. Need to pee? Just following the yellow brick road! Wait… that doesn’t look like a bathroom. And that’s a Texaco station! Oh, I see. The bathrooms are inside the Texaco building! Sneaky, sneaky! The next day’s adventure included a visit to Penn State University in State College, PA. But what does Penn State have to do with roadfood? Here’s a hint…. Here’s another…. And here’s the answer! A little history for you. A view of the inside. Here were our choices this day. I opted not for Peachy Paterno… … but for chocolate chip cookie dough! This oversized commemorative “scoop” dug the first dirt for the new building in 2005. Go Nittany Lions! After a couple “culture” stops… and a visit to Hershey’s Chocolate World… our final destination that evening was Springettsbury Township, PA. We were at Springettsbury Park to see a performance by the Surf City All Stars. I read a book about them, from their formation as the backup band for ’60s surf rock legends Jan and Dean during their comeback as a nostalgia group in the ’80s to their time working at Disney’s California Adventure to their establishment as a stand-along touring act, during my first TPR trip in 2008 and have wanted to see them ever since. They don’t play too many shows on the East Coast, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity. But all that aside… this is why this stop is included in the Roadfood thread! I had heard good things about Bricker’s Famous French Fries, which had a stand at the concert. For better or for worse, they seemed like just standard frozen fries with an optional vinegar-and-salt topping. Oh well. For breakfast the next morning we made our way to the Etters, PA, outpost of Maple Donuts. I wish I could receive my mail via doughnut! Noted! Take home a dozen… ...which is 13 in Maple Donut-speak! We opted for a half-dozen (which, sadly, is not six and a half). If I remember correctly, they were (clockwise from upper left) maple crunch, salted caramel and pretzel, apple, coconut cream, sour cream and bowtie. lol Our next stop was the potato chip tour at Utz Quality Foods in Hanover, PA. Unlike Hershey, this is a glass-enclosed tour of the actual factory, not a theme park recreation. No photos allowed on the tour, unfortunately, but there was one photo op…. Afterward, we took a short drive to the Utz factory outlet. No photos in here, either, but the historical building was cool. Unfortunately, my 13-year-old car started acting up that day, so we had to cut the vacation short. It cut off twice on the way to Knoebels and died on the way home. I ended up having to buy a new one that week. Up next: My new car and I hit the road to New England!
  20. Holy molasses, that Fun Bun looks amazing! Also, Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies look awfully familiar....
  21. Maybe they should rename it "French Fries: The Ride."
  22. As always, thanks for reading! I promised a couple 2013 leftovers before we head into the 2014 Roadfood adventure... so here we go! In November, I took my sister on a bus trip to New York, a place she's always wanted to visit, as an early Christmas present. While there, I purchased some roasted chestnuts from a street vendor. For those who have never seen the inside of a chestnut, here it is! And for those who have never tasted one... well, they're just plain awful. At least these were. Maybe they're an acquired taste. I can't imagine why anyone ever would have written a song about them. For several years, a friend of mine has spoken the praises of Ellen's Stardust Diner in New York. I told my sister about it, and she was very interested in checking it out. Here's a look at the inside. It's a little cramped, but they make good use of the space available. Very retro! Did I mention it's very retro? Along the walls are plaques honoring New York's past Miss Subways winners. But the real reason to visit Ellen's Stardust Diner is the singing waitstaff! They day we were there, they sang everything from Elvis to One Dimension. My sister was less than impressed... though some of the songs were OK. The same can be said for the food. Not altogether impressive... but OK. My sister tried a quesadilla... ...while I got loaded waffle fries. Kelly, Lauryn and I rounded out 2013 with what has become our annual Thanksgiving weekend trip to Lancaster, PA. Our first day there, we stopped by Dienner's Country Restaurant, where Kelly's grandparents took her as a child. Dienner's is actually a small buffet... but what it lacks in size it makes up for in taste! Here's my first plate. Clockwise from top is sour beef, ham, sauerkraut, filling (the Amish word for stuffing), macaroni and cheese, and what I thought was the restaurant's best dish, hot buttered noodles. The desserts were good, too, but the chocolate cobbler at the left was the only one I was able to finish completely. I was so full that I just kind of tried a bite of everything else. The next day, we visited the Wilbur Chocolate Co. in Lititz, PA (an earlier trip there is posted in this thread), to do some Christmas shopping. We ended up parking near this little bakery and decided to stop inside. Well, of course, we couldn't leave empty handed! The cupcakes were good -- not great -- but I'm a firm believer that there's no such thing as a bad cupcake! Up next: Pushing forward into 2014, with stops throughout Pennsylvania, New England, upstate New York and Wildwood, NJ. All aboard!
  23. Time for another update! After my big summer trip, I spent most of the rest of 2013 at home on the Delmarva Peninsula... but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of good restaurants there! Here are a few of them. On the way back from a day trip to see Kelly's grandfather in August, we stopped by the Vanderwende Farm Creamery in Bridgeville, DE. The building itself is unassuming... ...but the pasture out back guarantees all the milk, cheese and ice cream inside is fresh! Cookies and cream for me. Here are the rest of the flavors. After Hopkins Farm Creamery (reviewed earlier in this thread), Vanderwende's is my favorite ice cream stop in Delaware. Kelly’s birthday was a couple weeks later, and to celebrate, I took her on a mini restaurant tour. In late 2012, the Irish Penny Pub opened in the strip mall across the street from my office in Salisbury, MD. I’d eaten there a couple times, and it was decent. I mentioned earlier Kelly’s fascination with Irish restaurants, so we started her birthday restaurant tour here. I know it looks dark in this photo, but the restaurant itself is really nice inside, with old barrels (or reasonable facsimiles thereof) converted into tables, as well as a number of booths, regular tables and a bar. A friend of mine who frequents the restaurant recommended trying the Irish egg rolls, stuffed with corned beef, potatoes, cabbage, onions and cheese. I had never tried them before, so why not? They were awesome! I opted for the Reuben with pub fries, which, up to this point, had been my go-to here. Kelly ordered a “build your own” burger with bleu cheese and bacon on a pretzel roll. She insisted I try a bite. Holy cow! I’ve never gotten anything else here since, and I usually come back about twice a month. It’s seriously the best hamburger I’ve ever had that I didn’t make myself. If you’re ever in the area, I strongly, strongly suggest you stop by and try one. (Kelly got onions on hers, but I prefer mine without.) That evening, after dinner at a Bahama Breeze franchise in Christiana, DE, we made our final stop of the day for dessert at Shuckers Pier 13 in Dover, DE. The interior is rather homey. I mean, this is the service area, for crying out loud! But despite the restaurant’s name, we weren’t here for seafood. Doing some online research, Kelly determined that Shuckers was the closest place to our home that served our favorite cheesecake from Junior’s in New York (discussed earlier in this thread)! Mine was original… …while Kelly lived a bit more dangerously with a combination cheesecake and chocolate cake. I took this photo of the locally famous Kirby and Holloway Family Restaurant sign on the way home. The restaurant opened in the 1940s and was a landmark in Dover... until it burned down five months after this picture was taken. A week later, I had some time to kill between appointments in Salisbury, MD, and decided to grab some lunch. Paul’s Pizza was right across the street from my next stop, so I figured I’d give it a try. The restaurant had recently opened in a building that formerly contained another pizza parlor, Route 12 Pizza. The interior was festive. Beach-themed, even. The pizza was pretty tasty, but the crust was a lot crispier than most “New York” pizzas I’ve had. There definitely was no folding happening here! The bad news is, this particular restaurant closed down late last year and has been reborn as another eatery. The good news is that Paul's Pizza is still around, having reopened in a nearby shopping center. In early November, Kelly, Lauryn and I decided to take a day trip to Newark, DE, to attend the Delaware Saengerbund’s annual German Christmas Festival. The band and dancers were great, but they took up a lot of space. This place was wall-to-wall people, and there was absolutely no chance of getting a seat. No one who was lucky enough to have one was about to give it up for any reason. Of course, the biggest reason we were here was the food! It was served cafeteria style. Each of these ladies staffed a chaffing dish, and if you wanted some of what she was serving, you’d say so. Then, at the end of the line, you paid for whatever was on your plate. This was some of the best German food (and hands down the best sauerkraut) I’ve ever had! There’s spaetzle, sausage and a German meat patty covered in the finest gravy these lips have ever tasted. Too bad I had to eat it standing up in the lobby, off the top of a baby grand piano. For dessert I snagged a piece of hazelnut cake. Unfortunately, it didn’t really taste the way I expected it to. When I think of hazelnuts, I think of something like Nutella. This tasted more like sour-ish fruit… which I guess is probably what it was supposed to taste like, but it was a surprise. It took me a long time to make my way across the room to the German candy and cookie vendor, and it took the couple running the candy and cookie booth even longer to ring up my order, but I did end up with an assortment of confections, both for myself and for Christmas gifts, by the time they were done, including these pfeffernusse cookies. They were subtly sweet, almost like stale spice cake with 10X sugar icing… but that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Up next: some 2013 leftovers in Lancaster, PA, and New York City!
  24. Thanks, all! I've never been to Dick's, but it sounds like a place to check out if I get back to Seattle. And speaking of Seattle... this update contains the last of the photos from my 2013 Pacific Northwest/Northern California trip. Enjoy! On the way back to our hotel after Otto's, we passed Annie’s Donuts, which was on my list for breakfast the next day. We decided to get a jump on things and stop in. The interior was very ’70s. The selection was pretty large. We’ll see about that…. Our assortment included a regular glazed, chocolate frosted, sour cream, buttermilk (that’s the one without a hole) and two raspberry fritters, for which we had high hopes. I really liked mine, but my dad thought his was just OK. Unfortunately, I pulled a muscle in my back either the day before our vacation started or the day we left, and it got progressively worse as we went on. By the time we made it to the Rheinlander for an authentic German dinner that evening, I was in considerable pain. They really did up the “German” exterior. Inside, too! My dad, having not gotten his fill of sausages at Otto’s, opted for a German sausage platter. I, on the other hand, ordered a sampler that included sausage, cabbage, hot German potato salad, two types of schnitzel… …and a Bavarian pretzel! Like Otto’s, the Rheinlander also had a mustard buffet… granted, a slightly more refined version. Though we opted for indoor seating, we spied a few diners enjoying their meals on the patio on the way out. After a visit to a somewhat sketchy immediate care center the next morning to get some pain medication for my back (I got a discount for paying for my prescription up front, in cash…) and a truly amazing afternoon at the Enchanted Forest (if you think Challenge of Mondor is trippy, try it on oxycodone!), we stopped for dinner at Big Stuff Barbecue in Cottage Grove, OR. Based on all the signs and bumper stickers we saw, there is a tremendous amount of civic pride in Cottage Grove. The walls of the restaurant were decorated with vintage photos from the region. The hand-cut fries were pretty good. The beans were OK, as well. I tried the pulled pork sandwich, while my dad got a brisket sandwich. Both were pretty good, though if I had to do it again, I would have gotten my sauce on the side; it was hard to taste the flavor of the pork whatsoever with so much sauce on top. Outside, a series of freshly painted Coke murals decorated adjacent buildings. This really was a nice little town. After setting up camp (OK, renting a hotel room) in Crescent City, CA, for the night, we spent the next day touring the California Redwood Trail. On the way to Rohnert Park, from which we would leave the next day for San Francisco, we pulled off the highway in Cloverdale, CA, in an attempt to find someplace for dinner and stumbled upon Pick’s Drive-In. Unfortunately, it was closed for the day. A bit further down the road, we discovered Zini’s Diner. Zini’s was a very bare-bones restaurant located in a strip mall, but its food proved to be quite tasty. I started with a bowl of clam chowder. My dad, having regretted not getting the turkey dinner at the Rheinlander a couple days before, made up for it here. I opted for the bleu cheeseburger. When it comes to dessert, my dad is always on the lookout for peach pie, though it tends to be a rarity. Not at Zini’s! I, on the other hand, opted for the chocolate crepe, which was good but very rich. No new Roadfood for us the next day, as we skipped lunch to fit in tours of the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa and Lucasfilm and the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, then had dinner at In-N-Out Burger, which already has been covered in this thread. On our way back to Seattle the next day, we passed the Del Norte County fairgrounds and decided to stop for a short break. Why? Farmers market! By this time, we had been driving for awhile and were looking for an excuse to stop and stretch our legs, so why not? We really didn’t expect to buy anything, but when I saw this stand, I was intrigued. Apparently it’s so popular that it has to advertise the days it will be at the farmers market (first and third Saturdays). So I took the bait and ordered a breakfast burrito. The result? Amazing! Far better than the ones I get at Sonic. As we approached Seattle many hours later, I started looking on my iPad for potential restaurants for the final meal of our trip. The Pick-Quick Drive-In in Fife, WA, sure sounded good! The outdoor dining area was very picturesque… …and much better than the alternative across the street! It took us awhile to place our order due to a rather lengthy line, and it took even longer for our number to be called when the food was ready. But when we got it… wow! The burgers were great, and the shakes were tremendous. Mine was butterscotch. Up next: a return to the Delmarva Peninsula for some ethnic fare, pizza, ice cream and even cheesecake!
  25. On this leg of the adventure, we head down to Portland, OR. Enjoy! That evening, having eaten lunch at Wild Waves, we stopped by a Burgerville in Portland, OR. Burgerville is a very localized chain with several dozen restaurants, all in the Portland metro area. More faux-’50s décor. Burgerville prides itself on using only locally sourced ingredients. The burgers were good, the fries and onion rings were OK, but the shakes were out of this world. Chocolate for my dad, blackberry (seasonal only) for me. And then it was time for dessert. This place has long been on my food-stop bucket list. After a 10-minute-or-so wait in line, stained glass windows greeted us at the entrance. Those 10 minutes offered a very unique look at the city that is Portland. The young gentleman offering to draw the people in line as dragons for a mere $5 each certainly was doing his part. Pennies aren’t weird enough for Voodoo Doughnut. This is the scene beyond those stained glass windows. But this is what we’re really here for! A display case offers a visual aid for ordering. And they even have vegan doughnuts. Weird! At Voodoo Doughnut, you can order doughnuts by the box… …or by the coffin! Creepy stone-face man says, “Hurry up and choose your doughnuts so I can get back to being weird!” And the winners are… Two random iced doughnuts for my dad and a signature voodoo doughnut for me! He’s filled with jelly so it looks like he’s bleeding while you eat him. The pretzel stick doesn’t represent a cigar; it’s supposed to be a stake through the doughnut’s heart. Apparently the baker was so busy being weird that he missed. (You know, the more I think about it, maybe “weird” is really just a euphemism for “high.”) I tried an apple fritter, and we both got one of Voodoo Doughnut’s famous maple bacon bars. I’ve had these from other places, and they were always OK. Voodoo’s struck just the right balance of sweet and salty. I thought it was the best doughnut of the trip. The next morning, we headed out for Pine State Biscuits, with two locations in Portland (not to mention a booth at the Portland Farmers Market). Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us, one of those locations closed shortly before our vacation, so we spent an unfortunate amount of time cursing the GPS and trying to find a restaurant that no longer existed. Once a friendly (weird!) local set us straight, we made our way over to the one that was still in business. After standing in line for about 15 minutes (fairly typical at Pine State, I understand), we were greeted with a menu board and a list of rules. This is pretty much it for the indoor seating area, though patio and sidewalk seating was available. We were fortunate to find an open table. This would be the Reggie Deluxe — a breaded, fried chicken breast with bacon, gravy and cheese on a freshly baked biscuit — and a side of hash browns with ham, onions, mushrooms and cheese. I thought it was the best breakfast of the entire vacation. (My dad disagreed, largely because we had to stand in line for it.) From there, it was off to do some sightseeing. First on the list: Candy Basket Chocolates. We were hoping to schedule a tour of the Candy Basket factory. Unfortunately, they were not available the day we were there. However, we had another reason for visiting: behold the famous 20-foot chocolate waterfall! Noted! The factory store is a candy lover's paradise! It’s decorated with all measures of candy and candy-making equipment. I liked this Popeye chocolate mold the best. My purchases were rather modest, but good! They included a small box of Clodhoppers (chocolate-coated cookie crumbles)… orange sherbet squares (I’m not even sure how to describe these — they were kind of like orange-flavored white chocolate, but the consistency was more like solidified cake icing that melted on the tongue)… And a big bag of assorted taffy to take home to Kelly, with unique flavors including cheesecake, carrot cake and birthday cake. After a few more tourist traps, it was time for lunch at Otto’s Sausage Kitchen, also in Portland. The sausage-surrounded pig means it’s good! While Otto’s does have a very small area for ordering hot foods to go, it’s predominately a German specialty grocery store. This is more along the lines of what we came for. We had to go outside to get it. No frills here; an Otto’s employee cooks up sausage fresh from the store on a home grill modified from an old oil barrel. Drinks are available from a nearby cooler. Don’t forget the mustard buffet! “Sausages of distinction”? We’ll see about that. Truthfully, they were pretty average. But sausages weren’t our only reason for coming to Otto’s! I also wanted to try some of the store’s homemade jerky. Honestly, it, too, was just OK. While it was a cut above gas station jerky, it was very tough and kind of reminded me of a cross between regular jerky and a Slim Jim. Oh well. If nothing else, Otto’s is still a great place to have your wild game processed and fish smoked. Up next: More Portland and a descent into the wilds of northern California!
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