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It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. But mostly it was the best of times: About three weeks after last year's Behemoth/Flyer Trip I started talking to a fellow amusement park/foodie/roadside enthusiast named Kelly. About three weeks after that, we started dating. Flash forward to last week, and she's been my girlfriend for over five months.


For the bulk of those five months, we've been talking about planning a roadtrip. We both had time off we needed to take this summer, and she had a personal errand to run that required her to drive to southern Indiana, where she lived before we met--it seemed like the perfect opportunity. So, of course, we took it!


Nine days, eight states, seven parks, a handful of other attractions and approximately 7,000 French fries later, you get to live the highlights courtesy of this TR. Excited? Well, pretend to be, anyway....




And just what was our next destination? Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, of course! (See, I told you there would be parks in this TR!) But since I'm nearing the maximum photo limit for a single post and I don't want to split the park pictures up, I'm going to post them below. Stay tuned!


On our way to our next destination, we passed an endangered landmark: the Colgate Clock, second-largest working clock in the world (the first is the Colgate Clock in New Jersey). Sitting atop the now-abandoned Colgate-Palmolive factory in Clarksville, IN (the work formerly done here was outsourced to Mexico last year), the clock has been in continuous operation since 1924. Colgate-Palmolive refused an offer to have the clock listed on the National Register of Historic Places, leading to speculation that the riverfront building eventually will be sold to condo developers.


Also, it came with a free dish of spumoni.


I was explicitly told to order the Mizithra cheese and browned butter pasta... and I was told correctly! This was hands-down one of the best meals I've ever had in my entire life! I actually may have shaved six months off said life by ingesting it... and I don't even care!


A trolley car inside a restaurant? How deliciously delightful!


After our tour, we met one of Kelly's former friends and co-workers at a highly recomended restaurant, the Old Spaghetti Factory.


Any bronze bench shaped like a baseball glove is OK by me!


And, of course, they had a uniform and signed baseball thrown out as the first pitch of the Chicago White Sox' 2005 season by then-Senator Barack Obama (sorry, Natalie).


Other displays in the museum paid tribute to unique moments in Baseball history, including the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League established during World War II and later popularized by the movie "A League of Their Own."


The company also features a golf line, from which baseball players signing on for bats may request free equipment for recreational use.


During World War II, the U.S. government pressed the factory into service producing wooden weapons like military police batons and gun stocks.


The owner of Louisville Slugger placed this rose on Babe Ruth's casket during his funeral. It was alive then (unlike Ruth).


The Babe had a tradition of carving notches above the Louisville Slugger logo for every home run hit with that bat. This one, from his record-setting 1927 season, has 22 notches in it--meaning he used it to hit more than a third of his then-record 60 home runs that year.



...and Babe Ruth's.



...Ted Williams'...


Of course, the museum contained lots of bats that actually were used, including Shoeless Joe Jackson's...


Back in the company museum, these odd bats were on display. From left: an early attempt to balance a bat by giving it a large knob at the end, a prototype (never mass produced) curved softball bat and one of the company's first metal bats.


As a lifelong Maryland resident, I'm naturally an Orioles fan. And since it was supposed to rain that day, I had worn my Orioles hat during our walk to the factory (I almost never wear baseball caps otherwise). At one point in the factory tour, we were able to try bats that had been made for professional players, but which had not yet been sent out. Upon seeing my hat, the tour guide said, "You're in luck. I think we're making bats for a couple of Orioles right now." Long story short (too late?), I got to swing bats that will eventually be used by Nick Markakis and Felix Pie--which was pretty darned cool!


Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed on the factory tour, so this wax vignette is about as close as I could get for the purposes of this TR.


Of the 29 companies authorized to produce bats for Major League Baseball, Louisville Slugger controls 60 percent of the market. That means there are 28 companies out there competing for less than half of the market share.


That is, until one day a player with the local baseball club stopped in to ask the owner if he could turn a bat for him. It turned out to be a pretty good one, and soon an empire was born.


Believe it or not, the company started out as a producer of swinging butter churns.


Inside the Louisville Slugger factory, the lobby walls are lined with wood-burned signatures of every Major League Baseball player who has signed contracts with the company since the early 1900s.


The glass company immediately adjacent to the Big Bat has a pretty good sense of humor, too.


Oh wait. That's better!


Um... that doesn't look like anything Babe Ruth would have used. Except maybe on Halloween....


Before going inside, we stopped to take a picture of its landmark "Big Bat."


The factory wasn't hard to find; these bat plaques all over town led us right to it.


Of course, Louisville isn't only famous for the Kentucky Derby and Col. Sanders. It's also famous as the home of Louisville Slugger.


This is the type of Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket I remember from when I was a kid. Also: a tin of the Colonel's Kentucky Kandies, which no one remembers!


Old-time buckets. The one on the right is from France (or French Canada, at the very least)!


This is the cooking vessel that makes the Colonel's delicious original recipe chicken possible.


"No, Jason! Do not eat the Colonel's delicious original recipe chicken! It's not made from 11 herbs and spices! It's made from plastic!"


Our ultimate destination on this tour was a visitors center we had seen the night before with a wax pose-with-Col. Sanders display. Note that the Colonel's right hand was gone when we got there; we didn't steal it.


Or the freakiest bike rack in the history of municipal design?


Or outdoor chandeliers?


But what exactly does Louisville have to do with red penguins?


And it's a stretch, but maybe you could make a case for the giant chess pieces since they were all knights (AKA horse-related).


These horses seemed to fit well with that theme.


The one thing I particularly noticed on our self-guided tour was that Louisville seems to have a disproportionate amount of public art. Some of it makes sense, like this Kentucky Derby mural.


You like bourbon? Thank this guy.


Buggy alert!


The next morning we took our own little walking tour. Of all the major cities I've visited, Louisville is the cleanest by far. They had one of these decorative grates around every trashcan and newspaper box.


It's just like Grauman's Chinese Theatre, only the handprints are tinier.


On the way back to the hotel, we stopped by the Kentucky Derby Jockey Walk of Fame.


There are at least five ways to pronounce "Louisville." Which means no matter which one you choose, you're pretty much pissing off the other 80 percent of the population.


I loved that the city named its trolley bus system (every major city has one, you know) "Toonerville." For the 99 percent of everyone who doesn't get that, "Toonerville Trolley" was a popular comic strip from the early 1900s.


For $5 you could have your picture taken with a guy dressed as Col. Sanders. Or you could just take your own picture and walk away, as I did.


Everyone seemed to be amazed that they would think to stick an upscale bowling alley in the middle of all the clubs. So I thought maybe you'd be impressed, too.


Hi, Hyyyper!


After dinner, we meandered over to Fourth Street Live, which is the local tourist district (think Downtown Disney or Universal Citywalk, and you have a pretty good grasp of the concept).


Kelly (who used to work in Louisville) told me I couldn't really say I'd been to the city without having a piece of Derby pie. I don't know all about that, but it sure was good!


It turned out to be the first of many amazing dinners we had on the trip. That's Hollandaise butter on the left, by the way. It tasted every bit as good as it looked!


After our long drive, we didn't want to get back in the car for awhle. We asked the concierge where we could find a good, casual, inexpensive, non-fast-food meal within walking distance. She called and made reservations for us here.


...and the Ohio River!


I can only assume they gave the parking garage views to the commoners, as our room overlooked both the city...


It even had an aviary. Really, I'm lucky if most of the hotels I stay in have running water!


It's the official hotel of the Kentucky Derby. As such, it's parking garage was themed as a stable (really, how many themed parking garages have you seen--ever?).


It was, by far, the fanciest hotel in which I've ever stayed. And thanks to Kelly's mad Priceline skills, we got it for just $50 a night!


Eventually, after what seemed like about 100 hours on the road, we finally reached our hotel in Louisvlle.


Shortly thereafter, we stopped for gas at a station hosting a Harley convention.


Plus the food was delicious. And cheap! I think this cost $7 altogether.


But when we got inside, it was completely wood-paneled with a fireplace and flat-screen TV!


...and this was on the other side.


Granted, it didn't look altogether promising at first. This was in the parking lot on one side of the restaurant...


By noon we were in West Virginia, and having bypassed the scrapple six hours earlier, we were hungry! We found this place off the highway and decided to take a chance.


We left Kelly's house in Delaware early Saturday morning to be in Louisville, KY, by sunset. What better way to start the day than by passing the scrapple factory? (That's not a mere sign, by the way--that's one entire side of their factory!)

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As promised, our first park of the trip: Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. We arrived three hours before closing, just after a massive thunderstorm on a Sunday evening, so the park was pretty much barren. Our parking spot was six spaces from the entrance!


It would prove to be a positive omen: With a single 30-minute exception, every ride line we waited in during the entire nine-day trip was under 10 minutes, and about 3/4 were walk-ons.


"I wanted to be a Ferris wheel at a Japanese park, but smoking stunted my growth."




Because SFA is my home park, I did get a little jealous of how nice and clean the Six Flags parks we visited on this trip were. This was probably the most attractive outdoor dining establishment I'd ever seen at a Six Flags.


I'm not a water park person, but as far as they go, Splashwater Kingdom seemed pretty decent.


How can you not love a water ride called "Mega Wedgie"? Or as Kelly's 5-year-old would call it "Mega Smoogie." Yeah, kids who mispronounce things are funny.


Darned right I'm freaky!


So what do you think?


No whoring it up for us this time. But hey, we still have our season passes....


This one was more to the point.


We now present the Frightfully Funny, Free-Falling Engine 9, AKA the kiddie ride with the longest, most pointless name in history.


In a perfect world, all wooden shoes would fly.


...but the top panels were painted as vintage advertisements for long-defunct carousel builders!



Not only did it include some unique vehicles/animals...


As a carousel enthusiast, I really appreciated the International Carousel.


This is the park's Belgian Village section. Personally, I think they should paint the tops orange with yellow polka dots and call it "Smurf Village" instead. But that's just me.


Hey look! Chang's running now!


The trash can at the Thunder Run exit sported an old-school logo.


Instead it turned out to be my former roommate, who works in finance, letting me know he had just seen that Six Flags had filed for bankruptcy as I (and most everyone else on here) had predicted. I texted him back: "Yep, at one now. It's dead."


Around this point on the ride, I got a text on my cell phone. Kelly had opted to sit this one out, so I figured it was her sending me a sarcastic message like "Look out below." Which is totally something she would do.


Ah, now there's something a wooden coaster enthusiast like myself can get behind: Thunder Run!


Say what you want about Six Flags America; its Penguin's Blizzard River facade has SFKK's beat hands down. Also, SFA has other Batman and DC Comics-themed rides. At SFKK, the lone Penguin ride just feels out of place.


Look! Another coaster! This one happens to be T2. Not to be confused with X2. Or R2D2.


You know, I remember when the game prizes were actually things people might vaguely want to win....


And then we'll pause for a random bronze bear. What he was doing in the middle of the SFKK midway we may never know.


...which was still down after the thunderstorm (assuming it had been running before we got there).


Followed by Chang...


And now here's something you'll really like: random coaster photos! We'll begin with Greezed Lightnin'.


My feeble attempt to gain Bryan and Adam Show approval for this thread.


When she wasn't complaning about the cows, she spent most of the ride in the backseat yelling at me to take her to the PIggly Wiggly.


Any ride with cows is fine with us! Although Kelly expressed sincere disappointment that they weren't singing about chocolate.


We made antique car rides a staple of the trip. It was kind of our "thing."


No Flash Pass for us. We got on these rides so fast, we made Speedy Gonzalez look like Regular Gonzalez!


...featuring "Secrets of the Lost Temple," a fun, cheesy "Never-Ending Story" meets "Indiana Jones" rip-off simulator ride. We rode with eight other people in the entire theater. The ride ops said it was one of the largest crowds of the afternoon.


First stop: Thrill Park Theater...


No flags, no fun?


And finally, I'll end this segment of the TR with a view of downtown Louisville from our hotel at night. Next up: Holiday World!


These were the best burgers we had until our very last meal of the trip! Thanks for staying in business all these years, Dizzy Whizz!


It was an authentic drive-in restaurant, open since 1947. We got two Whizzburger specials: a Whizzburger, fries, coleslaw, a "Chocolate Delight" (small cup of soft-serve ice cream with chocolate sauce) and large soda for just $6 each!


We just couldn't come that close to something called a "Whizzburger" and not try one for ourselves (even if they did misspell it on their own banner)!


We were driving back to downtown Louisville to have dinner at a restaurant Kelly's friend had suggested at the Old Spaghetti Factory when we stumbled across a billboard for this place and immediately plugged it into the GPS instead.


Goodbye, Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom! Thank you for being so awesome and uncrowded!





The good news at the end of the day was, the light crowds meant I got some awesome character shots. You can thank me later.


I liked the benches, so I'm including one in my TR. What are you gonna do about it?


One thing I noticed about Kentucky: they really like serving food in buckets out there.


When I got off the coaster, Kelly surprised me with chocolate funnel cake! They had an end-of-the-day special: buy one, get one for $1.


Roadrunner Express, of course, is your standard-issue Wild Mouse--the only outdoor version I rode the entire trip, in fact.


Speaking of Roadrunner, has anyone on here heard of that new show, "Man vs. Cartoon," on truTV? They build real-life versions of the Acme contraptions Wile E. Coyote used to try to catch Roadrunner in various cartoons and see if they would work in real life. It's pathetic and awesome at the same time!


Awesome theming at Roadrunner Express.


This is how we knew we were in Kentucky: "Hey, kids! Let's ride the monster truck ride!"

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haha This is my home park. I rode Thunder Run after not riding for nearly a year(i only rode becuase i heard they fixed the track) and man it was rougher then ever, i think its got SOB in a dead tie for roughest coaster.


But i will say this, from last year to this year KK has improved alot.

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cool stuff, you don't see much about this park too often, looks quite decent of a place! Question, I'm hitting up Holiday World this summer, how far is SFKK from there exactly, I might consider heading down there to check it out if it's not terribly far.

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Thanks to all for the positive comments so far!


^From downtown Louisville it took us about 15 minutes to get to Kentucky Kingdom. Holiday World was slightly more than an hour and a half in the other direction, not counting a couple detours we made for roadside stuff along the way. So I'd say two hours is a pretty good estimate between the two parks, barring any traffic.


I personally liked Holiday World slightly more than Kentucky Kingdom, though Kelly thought Kentucky Kingdom was the better of the two because there was more to do there. Either way, they were both really nice parks.

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From here its around 2 hours to Kings Island and to Holiday world is just around 1 hour and a half like he said.


It used to be a better park before they built that big fence and closed the log ride and twisted twins. And sadly thats just about as good as KK will ever get since we ran out of space and the 200ft height restriction

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The Galt House for $50 a night?! That's f'ing unbelieveable. Did you also buy a Ferrari for $1000? Mad skills indeed.


And incidentally, my Mom lives in Louisville and I've actually been to 90% of the places and restaurants you showed. Yet somehow, you've made them look even more interesting than they are. Kudos to you. And to anyone else doing the sightseeing thing in Louisville, don't miss the Science Museum as well. It rules.


Some final trivia: The movie The Insider (Russell Crowe) was filmed in Louisville. Downtown locations are prominent and that Colgate Clock is the location for a key scene.

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^Ive seen some of the places but ive never been to them. I went to science center last month and i dont know if its as good as it used to be or not. They got rid of the space section -.-.


By the way i think they are getting rid of the colgate clock since someone bought the factory,

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:shockr: The Galt House for $50 a night?! That's f'ing unbelieveable. Did you also buy a Ferrari for $1000?


No, but there was one parked outside the hotel when we came back from our walking tour. Maybe we should have made an offer!


As promised, we made our way to Holiday World next. Enjoy!


Oh... that's why!


It's actually taking a little longer than I thought to post this section of the TR, and seeing as it's getting late here, I'm going to take a break and post the second half later tonight (or tomorrow, depending on your time zone). Hope you've enjoyed it so far. Stay tuned!


Why does Holidog look like he needs to pee?


Which, of course, happens to be located in Holidog's Fun Town (located across the tracks from Holidog's Crack Alley).


The train also offers a decent view of the Howler.


...and "Kate Gosselin After the Divorce."


..."Hannibal Lecter: The Early Years"...


..."Attack of the Giant Mutant Flowers" (rumored to be one of Dave's favorite non-shark-related movies)...


..."Jack and Jill Do Pilates"...


..."The Perverted Giant"...


..."The Boy Who Didn't Fasten His Lap Bar on The Voyage"...


..."The Boy With the Infected Thumb"...


..."The Little Girl Whose Cane Was Too Big"...


..."Black Widow and the Purple Pumpkin of Death"...


The train passed fiberglass representations of the world's best-loved fairy tales and nursery rhymes, including "The Frumpy Picnic Girl and Her Dog"...


For our resident rail fans.


All aboard!


Eventually we made our way to the Freedom Train.


More great theming. I didn't realize the first time I walked by that the entrance for Paul Revere's Midnight Ride was the cupola of the Old North Church (of "one if by land, two if by sea" fame).


...and Paul Revere's Midnight Ride. Which I don't remember having involed a Spider. But whatever.


...Liberty Launch...


Once again the rain let up a bit, so we took a tour of some of the 4th of July's other attractions, including the Star-Spangled Carousel...


The Betsy Ross Doll House is Mmm... mmm... good!


They even had a few famous dolls.


Some of the dolls were made from unusual objects. This one is composed entirely out of dried rhododendron leaves. The lace effect at the top of the dress and around the cuffs comes from leaves gnawed by beetles.


Who needs a class picture when you can have class dollies instead?


Come quick! He's choking!


I didn't know Calvin Coolidge had Leprosy.


The presidential dolls were kind of interesting, though they went up only through Richard Nixon, and some of them could have used a little refurbishment.


It started pouring again immediately after we got off, so we found another museum in which to take refuge. This building was the town of Santa Claus' original post office.


I still haven't figured out what Lewis and Clark have to do with Model A Fords, but I guess they had to call it something....


Once the rain let up, we decided to try our luck on the Lewis and Clark Trail.


The skies opened up big time as we rounded the corner, so we sought refuge in this gift shop. Notice that Holiday World goes the extra step to even add horticultural beautification to its shop signs.


About a half hour later it was still raining, so we decided to brave the weather and make our way toward the 4th of July. I've always thought it was kind of odd that Americans routinely refer to that holiday as the date rather than its official name, Independence Day. I mean, it's not like we go around saying, "Merry December 25th!"


Other than being Civil War-related, I'm not sure what this had to do with Lincoln, but I thought it was pretty neat.


Authentic presidential campaign materials.


The rest of the exhibit space was overtaken by displays relating to Indiana's favorite son, Abraham Lincoln.



The museum also included a small display on historic moments in the town of Santa Claus itself, including the dedication of the U.S. Postal Service's Christmas stamp at its post office in 1963.


A diorama theorized on how elves were able to make so many toys each holiday season.


They even had an original "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" book from Montgomery Ward. Yep, sad to say one of America's most beloved holiday icons was actually conceived as a department store marketing gimmick.


Because death is always a fun toy!


...and lots of trains. (You can also see some of the glassblowing items for sale.)


They also had toy boats...


So what did you expect to find in a toy museum? Cookies?


It was raining pretty good by the time we finished lunch. And not being ones to pass up an amusement park-based museum (ever), we attempted to wait out the weather in here.


Kelly, on the other hand, had to pay for her stromboli sandwich. After her Holibucks, it cost her a full dime.


When's the last time you got paid to eat at an amusement park? I got all this plus change with my $5 in canned good Holibucks. And the rumors are true: Holiday World's pizza rocks!


By this time, we were ready for lunch.


Little plaques along the top saluted parks that had won the award in past years.



It does have some other pretty cool things, though. Like this.


See, the thing about Christmas is, it's the most wonderful time of the year and all... but it doesn't really have any rides.


Just look at all that Pepsi goodness! (Actually, I prefer Coke, but work with me, people. It's free!)


Again, if a small, one-park operation like Holiday World can do this, why can't other parks? Holiday World offers unlimited free soft drinks and seems to be doing quite well for itself. Six Flags charges $5 per drink with no refills and is declaring bankruptcy. You do the math.


And then there was this: Holiday World's awesomeness trump card.


How rare is it to have two such great wooden coasters within mere footsteps of each other?


The Legend was a really good woodie, too. Not quite as good as Raven's run through the trees, but not bad at all in my book.


Now this is nice theming. I couldn't really figure out the significance of the chalkboard in the cue... until I remembered that the Headless Horseman's prey, Ichabod Crane, was a schoolteacher.


Oh, Halloween is also home to The Legend. Did I forget to mention that?


...in places where people are the most likely to have full bladders.


You know, maybe it's not such a good idea to place scary signs...


...and a seahorse-go-round!


...some idiot who thinks he's a Ghostbuster...


...Frightful Falls...



...Scarecrow Scrambler...


Other attractions in Halloween: Hallow Swings...


Plus they apparently have birds trained to steal your hats and glasses, which is pretty cool.


Oh, who am I kidding? The Raven rocks! In fact, I think I'm going to officially name it my No. 2 favorite woodie, behind Ravine Flyer II.


But the capacity is good. I mean, the crowds were pretty small that day, and they were still running two trains.


I mean, that's kind of an average-looking drop.


Former No. 1 wooden coaster on the planet? We'll see about that.


Great station theming. It's almost like a compact version of "The Addams Family" house.


First ride of the day: Raven!


...Halloween! (Yes, Christmas trees and Santa Clauses always remind me of Halloween thanks to Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas.")


And then a Nativity scene. Which means we must be entering...


And then Santa Claus. (An aside: As a PR professional, I've got to say I love that they put the date on the "Holiday World" plaques behind the statue. Because that gives families a reason to come back and take their kids' photos in front of the Santa statue every year as kind of a chronological keepsake--which means they'll pay admission to the park at least once each year if only out of tradition, and the main photo from each of their visits will prominently feature the Holiday World logo when they show it to grandma and Aunt Mabel and their co-workers. It's brilliant, and the only expense is whatever it costs to re-decal the sign each year.)


And then a Christmas tree.


The first thing we see on the inside? More community awesomeness.


Not only is it a great thing to do for the local community, but it's an amazing PR tool. See, we haven't even gotten to the gate yet, and I'm already singing Holiday World's praises!


This is just one of the many, many things that makes Holiday World so awesome. For those who don't already know, the park is spending the entire summer collecting canned goods for local food shelters. All guests who bring in a minimum of two canned goods receive $5 in Holibucks, good for the purchase of virtually anything in the park from food to games to souvenirs. Why aren't more parks doing this?


What? No alcohol? No spitting? Holidog, I thought you were my friend.


And then we went to Holiday World. First stop: the history of water tower architecture exhibit.


Meanwhile, the creepy ghost of wooden Santa hovers behind the building, ready to eat naughty children who ingest too much of the sweet, sweet candy inside!


The back room features a brief history the Santa Claus Post Office. Though the town founded as Santa Claus had changed its name at one point, a postmaster in the 1940s, upon learning that the more mail his office handled, the more he would be paid, petitioned to have the name changed back. He then got in touch with newspaper cartoonist Robert Ripley and encouraged him to do a "Believe It or Not" feature on the town's name. Once the feature made national headlines, all letters to Santa Claus once disgarded by post offices nationwide were rerouted to Santa Claus, Indiana. Thus the postmaster achieved his ultimate goal, getting a pretty fat raise out of the whole thing on the taxpayers' dime!


Following the United States' entry into World War II in late 1941, business died off at Santa Claus Town with rubber and gasoline rationing. It remained open, true to its original premise (children could play with the toys at each manufacturer's exhibition building, but any purchases had to be made via mail order), until the 1970s when mail order sales began to lag. Santa Claus Town's only remaining building, the Candy Castle, was refurbished and reopend in 2006 by a local history buff (not this guy).


It opened as a candy store in 1935 as the first building constructed in Santa Claus Town, a "theme" park (sans rides) conceptualized as a place for toy companies to market their products during the Great Depression, much in the same way sponsors put their names on buildings and exhibited their products at Disneyland two decades later. The Candy Castle originally was sponsored by the Curtiss Candy Co., well known then as the founder and manufacturer of the Butterfinger and Baby Ruth bars.


It's not as funny as Butt Drugs, but Santa's Candy Castle is a pretty neat little place, especially if you're into history.


When we reached Santa Claus (the Indiana town where Holiday World is located, for the uninitiated), we had to stop for gas before getting to our first "real" destination. Fun fact: 99.9999 percent of all businesses in Santa Claus play off the town's unusual name in some way. Even the local house of worship is St. Nicholas Catholic Church!


We took a 20-minute roundtrip detour off the highway near where Kelly used to live to get this photo. And yes, they do sell more than just suppositories!


What better way to start the day than with a delicious, nutritious breakfast of leftover Six Flags funnel cake?

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really enjoyed your report so far; I can't even tell you how many times I have driven past Louisville and thought to myself... "eh, there's nothing to do there, let's keep going"... might stop and check out some of those restaurants next time.

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^Definitely treat yourself to the Dizzy Whizz. There aren't many places like that around anymore.


As promised, here are the second half of the Holiday World photos. Enjoy!


Auf wiedersehen, dear TPR readers. Next stop: Chicago!


...while I tried the German sampler, complete with bratwurst, knackwurst, wiener schnitzel, German fries and sauerkraut.


Kelly opted for the smoked porkchops...


It was an authentic German restaurant in Jasper, IN, founded in 1903 (though housed in this building only since 1971).


For dinner we originally had planned on stopping by a regional chain called Cheddars that Kelly said was good. However, on the way out of Holiday World we picked up a brochure for this place and immediately changed our minds.


On the way out of town, we stopped by city hall to catch a glimpse of a 22-foot fiberglass replica of the municipality's first Santa Claus statue, which dedicated in 1935. The original statue, made of solid concrete, was built for Santa Claus Park, a planned rival for Santa Claus Town, which you read about earlier in this TR. The two owners battled each other in court over their respective plans, derailing both and allowing a third project, Santa Claus Land (now Holiday World) to dominate. The original statue, now in rough condition, allegedly still stands near Route 245, though we didn't make a point to go look for it.


We parked in the Legend lot, so we eschewed the Holiday Express in exchange for foot power. By the end of the week, though, we were wishing we had some flying reindeer to carry us around!


His schedule and ours did not jibe.


As it was, all we got to see was Santa's chair, anyway.


OK, here's my one pet peeve about Holiday World, and it's not exclusive to HW, but pretty much extends to all theme parks around the hoildays: Why, in the age of digital cameras, do you have to pay to get your kid's picture taken with Santa? Does the markup on this allow them to give away all the other stuff for free? Does anyone actually go to HW to get their picture with Santa in the summer? Minus one point for no free Santa photo ops (though HW is up about 2 million points for all the other freebies, so it's not a huge penalty).


VH1 presents "The Archies: Where Are They Now?"


The show turned out to be all about the Holidazzles, who coincidentally represented the five lands of Holiday World. (Maji was the spirit of water for Splashin' Safari, just to clear that up--it took us awhile to figure it out, and we were actually there!)


My expectations were kind of lowered when we got inside the theater and saw that the seating consisted of folding chairs....


Once all the rides in which we were interested were conquered, we decided to head back to the front of the park and check out the Christmas show. I have to be honest and say that I kind of thought it would be people dressed in Victorian clothing, singing Christmas carols, etc.


Let's take a look at Holiday World circa 1993, courtesy of The Voyage's gift shop.


Happy Thanksgiving!


Vroom! Er, splash? (It's supposed to be recreating the "Mayflower" ride, right?)


Going up!


And what would a trip to Thanksgiving be without some hot, yummy Voyage action?


...but someone did. Thanks for the photo op, guys!


We didn't ride this...


By the time finished our ride on Gobbler Getaway, the rain had stopped... so what better time to check out another water ride!


Apprentice turkey caller isn't too bad, I guess... though the master turkey callers get all the choice babes.


"Time circuits on...."


This plywood turkey is just happy he ended up here instead of Monstars of Rock.


This scene brought to you by the Autumn Falls Chamber of Commerce.


Fun fact: In Autumn Falls, "turkey" is slang for "prostitute!"


...Autumn Falls!


Time to climb inside our fall-colored Mystery Machines and take a ride to...


"See that electrical socket in the middle? The top plug powers the lamp. The bottom one powers me!"


"That way is a very nice way. It's pleasant down that way, too. Of course, people do go both ways."


What better way to wait out the final remnants of the storm than by riding everyone's favorite turkey "calling" attraction?


By the time we reached Turkey Whirl it was pouring.


"For the story that you are about to be told began with the holiday worlds of old...."


This is as close to a water ride as I care to get (Pirates of the Caribbean and It's a Small World notwithstanding).


Speaking of Splashin' Safari, here it is! Again, while I'm not really into water parks, it looked pretty decent.


Waterfalls in here!


I know at least one valuable reader (with apologies to Big Mike) who will appreciate this photo!


Raging Rapids was one of those "in-between" rides that didn't really fit any of the five Holiday World lands. It kind of sits by itself at the junction of 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Splasin' Safari.


More free stuff! We didn't really need sunscreen that day, but it was nice to know it was there. Once again, why don't other parks... well, you know the rest.


More flags, more fun (and that's a lot more than six)!


I tried a "walking taco" while I was here. It was awesome!


Having seen the real Alamo up close earlier this year, I can attest that this building bears little resemblance. It's actually about five times bigger than the real thing!


...and this incredibly politically correct (note the sarcasm) kiddie canoe ride.


...Eagles Flight (is the one on the right supposed to be high?)...


Following our brief detour into Holidog's Fun Town, we continued our tour of 4th of July with the Revolution...

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Nice photos, thanks for posting.


The original Santa statue is almost (but probably not) visible from the Freedom Train, I believe. It's on top of a hill inside the curve where route 245 turns south just past the stoplight. Kinda-sorta across the street from the Candy Kitchen.


And Schnitzelbank is great. They've got a nice selection of beers, including Hacker-Pschorr on draft! Glad to see you found it.

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Great report on my home park, love the little museums. Holiday World used to have their own wax museum, it was pretty cool for the time, actually wish it was still there.


Holiday World is such a nice park. I have bought a season pass there for the last 2 summers, but have visited since I can remember. I have watched it change over the years.

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The original statue, now in rough condition, allegedly still stands near Route 245, though we didn't make a point to go look for it.


Yep, we saw it on the way to the park in the fall of 2008. We had no idea it was there until I spotted it sticking out from the trees. It's less than 5 mins. from the park!

Looking forward to more updates!

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Thanks again for all the great comments! Continuing our virtual journey, we spent most of Day 4 on the road to Chicago. It stormed all day, we got caught in rush hour traffic, and the only stops we made were for food and a couple minor photo ops. So yeah, all in all it was a wonderful day. Fortunately, Day 5 was a lot better, and once we figured out the tricks to navigating the Windy City, we were on our way again!




And the Ferris wheel is sponsored by... oh.


...Navy Pier Park! OMG, park credit!


However, Navy Pier isn't famous for its McDonald's, is it? Nope; it's famous for this thing, located immediately adjacent to the "McDonald's of the Future" in...


But they did have the McDonald's of the future! Sadly, I didn't get pictures inside, but suffice it to say it was a standard-issue McDonald's with a few of those glass balls with the lights inside that look like tiny lightning bolts when you put your hand on them. Apparently the "future" has been on sale for quite sometime at Spencer Gifts.


This place is such a tourist trap, they may as well spring-load it and paint "Victor" on the front.


Our next stop after the museum was supposed to have been a funeral home just outside Chicago with a public miniature golf course and arcade in its basement. Unfortunately, we received word the day before that our tee time had been canceled due to a wake, so we took the opportunity to make our rescheduled stop at Navy Pier.


No, really... poop! They even include visual aids.


...and poop.


...the 1933 "White City" World's Fair...


...narrated in part by a talking donkey...


...the "Pioneer Zephyr," the first train to run on diesel-electric power...


...complete with construction photos...


...a tribute to the first Ferris wheel, which debuted at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago...


...and decorated in part by Walt Disney...


...a room-sized miniature Fairy Castle dollhouse created by silent film star Colleen Moore...


...horse-drawn fire engines...


...a coal mining exhibit 600 feet below the museum itself (we waited in line for 45 minutes to see this--our longest line for anything during the entire trip)...


...rugged sailors...


...huge model ships...


...a circus exhibit...




...a covered wagon...


...the only World War II German U-boat on display in the United States...


...the world's largest pinball machine (hi, Cameron!), called "Swiss Jolly Ball"...


...a Focault pendulum display much like the one that used to greet visitors at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History (only smaller)...


...a businessmen's hall of fame (hi, Big Mike!)...


...a working rocket car...


My grandfather once told me that the first time he visited the Smithsonian Institution, it was all in one large building. So you never really knew what you were going to find from one room to the next--but in a good way. That's kind of how the Museum of Science and Industry seemed to me. Also on display, in no particular order, were a room-sized train garden...


And here, quite randomly, is my face projected onto a dummy. Please hold all jokes until the end of the tour.


I have always wanted to try these leftover-from-the-'60s souvenir machines ever since I saw one on the short-lived (but awesome) TV series "Wonderfalls." Basically you insert your money, two halves of a mold cram together, molten plastic fills the mold from the black tubes on the sides, and mold pulls apart, and a little arm slides your new plastic souvenir into a slot below for you to grab. I got three of these in Chicago: a train, a submarine and a tractor.


And Mold-A-Rama!


...and automobiles.




After "Harry Potter: The Exhibition," we got to see planes...


I'm told this is Mr. Weasley's flying car or something like that. All I know for sure is, it was the only item from the exhibit we were allowed to photograph. The rest of the exhibit consisted of pretty much every single solitary prop used in all 247 "Harry Potter" movies (or whatever number they're up to so far). And we got to sit in Hagrid's giant chair.


Ah, but this is what we *really* came for. (OK, actually this is what Kelly *really* came for. I couldn't care less about "Harry Potter," but I was excited about all the "boring" exhibits in the museum, so it worked out.)


This was one of the best museums I've ever visited. Even the ATMs were made into exhibits!


We began the next day at the Museum of Science and Industry.


We didn't get to ride an El train, but we saw quite a few of them. It's kind of freaky driving under their tracks!



By the time our cab returned to the hotel, the rain had finally stalled. Kelly stopped by the hotel bar for a drink while I ducked around the corner (literally) to get some nighttime shots of the theatre district.


To be honest, it didn't really seem all that "deep" to me. And to be brutally honest, it didn't taste as good as Papa John's (or any other chain pizza place) and gave us both heartburn. I'm glad to say I tried it, but I wouldn't go out of my way to get it again. It was our one gastronomical disappointment of the trip. (For the record, I don't particularly care for Uno's pizza either, so there you go.)


For those who have ever wondered what Chicago deep-dish pizza looks like, this be it.


This was from back when Hulk Hogan was better known for bursting out of his shirt than his daughter.


For anyone unfamiliar with Lou Malnati's, it's one of the places that claims its founder invented the deep-dish pizza (the other is Pizzeria Uno, which we didn't visit since we can go to one of their chain restaurants a mile down the road from my apartment anytime we want). The walls inside were decorated with lots of authentic sports memorabilia, including these flags that once flew over Wrigley Field.


Fortunately, we were still able to get in our planned dinner at Lou Malnati's--even though we were soaking wet by the time we got there and still had to wait 45 minutes for a table.


We had planned to visit Navy Pier that night, but with the pouring-down rain, we had to make alternate plans. Unfortunately, our entire visit to Chicago ended up pretty rushed. Time definitely was not on our side.


It was very nice inside... but the rooms reminded me of an inside cabin on a cruise ship! Fortunately, a friend of ours who had stayed there sometime prior to us had already warned us its more accurate name would be "Closet Quarters," so we were prepared. Once again, Kelly worked her mad Priceline skills, so we got a four-star hotel in the middle of downtown Chicago during peak tourist season for under $90 a night.


This is why it's historic. Only it didn't sound to me like it really was. I suspect they bribed someone at the bronze plaque factory.


After sitting for a little over an hour on the Chicago Skyway in rain so dense we could barely see out the windshield, getting lost in downtown Chicago, getting stuck in traffic again, and calling the hotel and attempting to get directions from a desk clerk for whom English was a fourth language, at best, we finally found the Club Quarters Hotel (photo from a couple days later when we didn't have to swim to it from the valet stand).


For dessert, we stopped by a nearby Fannie Mae candy store for a free sample. When that wasn't quite enough, we broke out the fudge cones Kelly had bought us the day before at Holiday World.


FYI, this is what Kelly would look like if her head was a chicken ring.


...and after. Oh, the humanity!


Remember that promise to visit White Castle? Well, we did! Unfortunately, it was not without some difficulty. The first "White Castle" the GPS took us to once we were hungry turned out to be the White Castle Bakery, a factory where they produce the burger buns.... We were so unamused that I didn't even bother with a photo. By the time we found a *real* White Castle, it was pouring down rain, and we were starved! Fortunately, we also had coupons. This was our haul. Before...


They had a museum inside, though we didn't go in. If we had, I suspect we would have seen displays similar to this one (which we saw during our travels the next day).


...of "The Greatest Race Course in the World."


Celebrating 100 years...


Our biggest "sightseeing" stop of the day was Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


I made Kelly promise that we could stop at both Waffle House and White Castle on our way from Louisville to Chicago, as there are absolutely none of either anywhere near where we live. She grudgingly agreed, and I made the most of it! For the record, those are what covered and chunked hashbrowns look like.


For those of you who are rusty in your Waffle House hashbrown lingo, consider this your Rosetta Stone.


Time to check out the Waffle House jukebox, featuring all the greatest hits. You know, like "It's a Waffle Great Day" and "Waffle House Hashbrowns (I Love You)."


First stop of the day: Waffle House!


Coming up next: Do I even need to say it?


Yes, yes I do: Six Flags Great America.


...and a motel offering *gasp* FREE television!


...a speed hump (insert your own joke here--we certainly did)...


...Wolfy's (where we may have dined had we not been in such a hurry to reach our next destination)...


...Marina City (AKA the "Corn Cobs")...


...the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower (both located directly across the street from our hotel)...


On our way to the next stop in our journey we got to see a few more Chicago landmarks and attractions including a fireboat...


Still, we got to ride the one attraction we really came to Navy Pier to see. After all, they didn't put the miniature golf course on a Pepsi can.


...and miniature golf. I was excited to play this course when I read it was "themed" after Chicago landmarks. We skipped it once we found out the only themed elements were the number signs at each hole. This one, for instance, is the Field Museum of Natural History hole. Notice all the rich, immersive theming.


...remote-control boats...


...chair swings...


...frogless Frog Hopper...


Other attractions in the miniscule park include a carousel...


Aerial view of the rear of the Chicago Children's Museum: check!


The Somali pirates haven't quite made it to Lake Michigan yet, so the tour boat operators are bridging the gap by taking all the tourists' money first.


The top offered a spectacular view of the Chicago skyline. Well, it offered a view, anyway.


...and away! The seven-minute ride was pretty smooth for a Vekoma.


Got our tickets. Now it's time to go up, up...


Your 2009 McDonald's Ferris Wheel prices.


OMG! This may be the most Elissa-friendly Ferris wheel ever!


More sponsorship.


And just in case you missed the McDonald's of the future, this is immediately adjacent to the *other* side of the Ferris wheel. Literally within 200 feet of the other McDonald's.

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By the time we reached Six Flags America, we had slightly less than three hours to spend in the park. Fortunately, the lines were non-existent, and we were able to make every minute count, riding everything we wanted to (we had made a list in advance) and not leaving until five minutes before closing.




Remember those dinner plans I mentioned? After Six Flags we made our way to Chicago's landmark Superdawg Drive-In!


Goodnight, Six Flags! Thanks for a groovy three hours!


OMG, it's Mr. Six! Kelly and I declared "We Like to Party" our official song of the trip.


The light crowds made the characters at the end of the night just as accessible as they were at SFKK. I got a lot of similar (albeit darker) shots, but here are a couple characters who were MIA in Kentucky.


I know a lot of people don't care for Dark Knight, but I enjoyed it last year when I rode it at SFGAd, and Kelly liked it when she got to ride it at SFGAm. It's a fun little ride with great theming (at least in the pre-show) if you just relax and accept it for what it is. The numbers show that a few (thousand) others apparently agree.


I mean, he can sure pay to light up his own billboards.


You'd think with all the money Bruce Wayne has, he could pony up a little to pay the electric bill at Wayne Central Station.


Let's take the Gotham City Rail!


Our final decision: Batman! Or more accurately, the Dark Knight.



...or Superman?






...or Superman?




...or Superman?


So now the ultimate question remains: Batman...


Had we arrived a little earlier, we were planning to check this place out since I'd read some positive reviews on TPR. However, by this point it was less than an hour before park closing, and we not only had other dinner plans, but needed to cross one last ride off our list.


Of course, the adjacent restaurant was wide open and ready for business. Bring twenties!


None of this Hanna-Barbera stuff should be confused with the park's THIRD kiddie area, Bugs Bunny National Park. (Come to think of it, how many "national parks" does SFGAm need, anyway?) It was closed by the time we got there.


And this is Granny Sweet from "Precious Pupp." Both cartoons were segments from "The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show"... which lasted for 26 episodes and went off the air nearly a decade before Great America was even built!


Time's up! This is Paw Bear from "The Hillbilly Bears."


You know what I like most about old Hanna-Barbera-themed lands? Finding remnants of the original theming that prominently feature characters that weren't even pouplar when they were installed back in the '60s and '70s (but that no one has bothered to swap out in the last 30 years or more)! Do you have any clue who the characters on this building are?


"Where Hanna-Barbera characters and classic Warner Bros. cartoons come to meet!"


"Calm down, Judy. He said 'Sprocket Rocket,' not 'pocket rocket.'"


The Sprocket Rocket turns out to be a Vekoma Roller Skater.


In this economic climate, even Mr. Spacely is diversifying his holdings. Can Cogswell's Campsites be far behind?


He's smarter than the average plywood cut-out!


Well, they renamed part of the Blue Ridge as Walton's Mountain, and Superman got his own Metropolis elsewhere in Illinois... I really think we should petition the government to open a real Jellystone National Park somewhere. I'd go. I mean, if they had a good restaurant or something.


Now this was cool! I would have traded my best three He-Man toys to have ridden in the Flintmobile when I was a kid. Sadly, I doubt most of today's riders even know what it's supposed to be.


I'm not sure when Dino became a St. Bernard. I always thought he was a Snorkasaurus.


Had it been up to me, this would have been a Ferris wheel of Yogi Bear pic-a-nic baskets instead of a "stone" wheel. But it's still nice that they themed it at all.


I always imagined that the Flintstones-themed areas were the most fun for designers to work on, trying to turn that animated "Stone Age" look into something 3-D.


See what you can do with just a little paint? No fire trucks or school buses here!


They really did a lot better job at theming than a lot of other Hanna-Barbera lands, going for full cue decor instead of just a few plywood signs featuring the characters.


Having grown up going to Kings Dominion, I remain intrigued by park sections themed after Hanna-Barbera characters, so despite our time crunch, Kelly let me stop here for some quick pictures.


...and Logger's Run, the park's other flume ride.


...Rue le Dodge (which translates literally into "Dodge Road"--bumper cars)...



...Vertical Velocity...




...King Chaos...


...Roaring Rapids (sorry, Michael)...


...which is a Wild Mouse...


...Ragin' Cajun...


...Jester's Wild Ride (not to be confused with Mr. Toad's)...


...East River Crawler (Spider)...


...which is one of the parks' two flume rides...


...Yankee Clipper...




...B&M's first coaster...


Other rides we PBDR (Photographed But Didn't Ride) included the Fiddler's Fling (Crazy Dance)...


You say you want a Revolution? Well you're in luck... because that's what this Frisbee is called!


Hello, random youngster!


This is what it's called. No Thomas the Tank Engine for this park!


Did I mention that SFGAm has a train? Yep, yep.


Then again, the Wiggles do have the "Yummy, Yummy Fruit Salad" ride, which apparently is sponsored by Fruit of the Loom....


The equally massive exit que dumps riders out right at Wiggles World. You know what? What's so great about the Wiggles? I say we petition Six Flags for a "Yo Gabba Gabba" World!


Clearly, the red train won this race....


The woman in front is all, "Why am I on a roller coaster? I thought I was shopping for a cute top."


It's a racing coaster with a track that goes on forever (kind of reminded me of Wild One at SFA in that regard). Unfortunately, our side finished last by nearly two train-lengths.


Most of the 30-minute "wait" (actually, it was closer to 10) was the time it took to walk the zig-zagging length of the coaster's massive cue. It's so big, I actually got lost once (turned the wrong way). It's a shame it was built old-school so they can't just open it up as a straight shot when the crowds (or lack thereof) call for it. Once we finally made it to the station, it was a walk-on.


However, we had other priorities.


Too bad; it looked fun.


We also passed on this due to our pressed-for-time status.


New this year is Splash Battle, which, between our limited time and my intense dislike for walking around theme parks soaking wet, we didn't ride.


...and Demon.


...Giant Drop...


During our one-cycle wait I was able to get decent photos of the River Rocket...


Our next ride was Ricochet. I absolutely love these things. If I'm ever rich enough to afford a Neverland Ranch-style backyard, this is the first ride that's going in.


No Raging Bull for us, but it looked pretty fierce.


Kelly informs me I look like the yellow M&M at the top of each lift hill. Sadly, that's probably pretty accurate.


Regardless, it was a fun coaster.


For instance, Viper at SFMM and the former Six Flags Darien Lake are both steel inversion coasters, while Viper at SFGAm is a wooden behemoth allegedly based on the Coney Island Cyclone.


One of the things that puzzles me most about Six Flags is how they'll take a single name/logo and apply it to a variety of different types of rides at various parks.


Even the first aid station is well-marked, clean and kind of almost themed!


We caught this sign on the way out, and I can attest that it's probably 100 percent true. This was the cleanest non-Disney park in which I've ever set foot.


The ride was extremely hard to photograph since it runs mainly through the trees, but I did manage a couple good shots of its unique helix lift hill. It wasn't anything spectacular, but it was a fun little ride and allegedly one of the only two Schwarzkopf Speedracers in the world still operating.


But never mind that... it's Whizzer time!


And speaking of Flash Pass... here's a kid making a pass at the Flash! Also here: the first Sinestro walk-around character I've ever seen at Six Flags (or anywhere else, for that matter).


So instead we moved onto our first coaster of choice: the Wizzer. Flash Pass is available here (not that we used it).


We would have liked to have checked this out. Unfortunately, we were too late for its last show of the day.


I think this photo sort of provides an idea of the overall charm of the park. This was our favorite "atmospheric" park of the trip.


I'm not sure what this was for, but it was on display near the map rack, and I thought it looked pretty cool.


SFGAm has the most amazing entry plaza this side of the Disney parks, hands down.


Superdawg gets my ultimate approval. Thanks, Maurie and Flaurie!


Up next: A few more Midwest attractions and then... Cedar Point!


Since I figured this likely would be my one and only time at the Superdawg Drive-In, I splurged and tried a tamale, too. It was equally as good as the rest.


Kelly's Whoopskidawg was more visible. Both our dogs were monsters to eat and keep everything in place. I ended up with half of her fries, about which I didn't complain one bit.


OMG! Believe it or not, there's a hot dog somewhere under that pickle (and mustard and onion and neon relish). And the fries were out-of-this-world awesome!


Step three: The Superdawg arrives!


Step two: Read the menu and push the little button to summon a carhop. We were a little rusty at this part, as we didn't know about the button part until a helpful patron in the adjacent car explained the process to us.


Step one: Pull your car up under the canopy. We perfected this part at the Dizzy Whizz a few days earlier.


Mascots Maurie and Flaurie beckon drivers with their creepy hollow light-up eyes... that flash on and off as if they were winking!

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How can you not find the best pizza in the world the best pizza in the world.


I <3 lou malnati's.


Also, Superdawg is like less than a mile from my late Grandparent's house. I used to go there all the time when visiting them.

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...the only World War II German U-boat on display in the United States...


Did you happen to notice a peculiar smell in the U-boat basement? I swear, every time I go down there it smells terrible!


Also, the first aid building is very nice, as I spent about three hours lying on a cot in there today watching Michael Jackson videos!

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^^I dunno. I was all ready to like it, and then it didn't really live up to expectations. The heartburn didn't help, either. Truthfully, it was the only famous restaurant we visited on the trip (more of those coming up) that I left disappointed. Superdawg, on the other hand, I could eat three times a day if given the chance.


^I didn't notice any odor in the submarine basement... but one thing I didn't mention was the tour guide right in front of ours. Forget giving a tour of a Nazi ship--he seriously could have BEEN a Nazi! At least our tour guide didn't yell at us. One thing I was disappointed in was that we weren't allowed to take pictures of the interior. Had I known that in advance, I probably wouldn't have paid the $7 upcharge for the 10-minute tour (they call it a 15-minute tour, but the first five minutes is basically them gathering everyone into the outside holding area, doing a headcount and then springing the news that cameras aren't allowed).


Day Six was basically a travel day, beginning with a couple more touristy things we wanted to do in Chicago, followed by a road food adventure on our way to Sandusky. Enjoy!


First on our Day Six itenerary was the Sears Tower, tallest building in the western hemisphere. Because of the rain and fog that remained throughout our visit to Chicago, this was the best photo I was able to get of it the entire time we were there.




Next stop: Cedar Point. This one may take awhile to put together, as I have several hundred photos to comb through (almost all of them taken illegally if one particularly brash and I suspect (hope) ill-informed ride op is to be believed).


About an hour and a half later, we made it to our final destination of the day: the Breakers Express hotel (thanks for the recommendation, Elissa and others). While on the road, Kelly had bet me the soaps would have little roller coasters on them. I adamantly said they would not.


The food was simple but amazing! We bought a can of Packo's hot dog chili and have finished it already. I bought a jar of the hot pickles to take to my mom. Not pictured is the dish Kelly ordered, chili-mac: a layer of dumplings covered with a layer of macaroni and cheese covered with a layer of chili covered with a layer of melted shredded cheese. Heart attack-inducing? Yeah. Worth the risk? Ooooooh yeah!


And, for balance, someone who readers of this TR under age 25 actually may have heard of.


A couple close-ups: The celebrity whose portayal of Cpl. Maxwell Q. Klinger brought Packo's national fame and fortune.


Their walls are full of hot dog buns signed by celebrities who have eaten there. According to the Food Network (or maybe it was the Travel Channel--I get virtually all my vacation dining tips from one or the other), the first buns were real, then they began to spoil, so they started making foam buns instead. They sold the foam buns (they're kind of like oddly shaped stress balls) in the gift shop. And yes, I bought one!


Like most of the rest of the world outside of Toledo, I first became aware of Tony Packo's when I heard it mentioned on reruns of "M*A*S*H" (Cpl. Klinger was from Toledo and talked about it, along with the local minor league baseball Mud Hens, in a couple episodes).


To be honest, I was expecting something a little more rundown. This place looked entirely too clean and up-to-date to have a decades-old reputation for amazing chili dogs.


OUr next "foodie" stop was at Tony Packo's Cafe in Toledo.


Several hours later, we decided to take a quarter-mile detour to Michigan for ice cream since we were straddling the state line and neither of us had ever been there. We also stopped at a grocery store there and picked up some Vernor's ginger ale, which I had read about but never had the opportunity to try before. Best ginger ale I've ever had, hands down.


And then there was the doughnut. This was our main reason for going to the barbecue/doughnut place, as I had read an old article from the Chicago Tribune's online archive that talked about Dat Donuts offering an eight-inch glazed doughnut. Well, the thing turned out to be not only a full eight inches wide, but about two inches deep, as well! Here it is next to a penny for comparison. We ate it for three days.


Kelly got the chicken wings and rib tips combo, which I ended up tasting, as well, since she couldn't finish it all. I'm glad we got to enjoy it because even if I do end up in Chicago again in my lifetime, you can bet I won't be heading back to that restaurant!


We paid for our order, quickly got back into the car and drove for a half hour until we found a rest stop in a decent area to stop and enjoy our ghetto lunch. My rib platter with white bread was quite tasty.


The doughnut shop was ever so slightly nicer--still lots of bullet-proof glass. I got panhandled three times between the rib joint and the bakery... and they were located inside the same building within 20 feet of each other.


This was it: No tables or chairs. Just some cinderblocks and a window. I'd never ordered ribs from behind bullet-proof glass before.


I didn't take many pictures because we quickly figured out this wasn't the kind of place you should advertise you have a camera. Or a cell phone. Or shoes.


This was our final destination in Chicago... though we would have skipped it had we known a little more about the neighborhood it was in.


We passed some interesting places on our way to our next destination, my favorite of which was the Moo & Oink: "Your favorite meat store... and so much more!"


After seeing the iconic Buckingham Fountain in the opening sequences of such TV shows as "Married with Children" and movies as "National Lampoon's Vacation," I certainly didn't intend to leave Chicago without getting a picture of it. Fortunately, it was just around the corner from our hotel.


When we asked the valet to bring Kelly's car around as we left our Chicago hotel, it emerged with a ketchup stain on the back! Either someone "tagged" us on the way out of Superdawg the night before, or one of the parking attendants used her bumper as his dinner table.


I'm sure this sign will be changed soon when the Sears Tower is renamed the Willis Tower after its new owners in a few days/weeks. I did see it marked "Willis Tower" on one of the observatory ID signs, and quite frankly I couldn't figure out what the "Willis Tower" was at the time. I knew they were changing the buildilng's name, but not to what.


Here's one of Chicago's oldest tall buildings, the John Hancock Center(the one with the two antennae on top, currently the sixth tallest building in the United States) next to its newest tall building (Trump Tower, second tallest building in the United States).


On the other side is a nice view of the Chicago River.


This is the view from 99 stories up.


I wonder how many Michael Jordans high the 99th floor is.


The Sky Deck observation area is typically located on the 103rd floor of the 108-story building. Unfortunately, that floor is currently closed for renovations, so they temporarily relocated the observation deck to the 99th floor.


But that's not what we're here to see. This is.


This is first thing visitors see, straight ahead in the ground floor lobby. Chicago wants those Olympics bad!

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