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Erik & Smisty's Florida Oddventures


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They let you get the Air Grover credit? The website says no one over 56 inches can ride.

 

Honestly, I had no idea that was even an issue. There was no signage indicating anything like that. We just walked up and rode. No one acted like it was weird. Of course, I also never saw them come close to filling the train, so maybe that had something to do with it...?

 

^ That's a good answer, too.

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^ I thought it was great! I couldn't have drawn something even vaguely recognizable as a goat at a non-moving drawing table if I had a magical goat-drawing pen.

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  • 2 weeks later...

On International Drive in Orlando, right next door to WonderWorks, sits Hawaiian Rumble mini golf.

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Mini golf, ice cream, and volcanoes. What more could you need?

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It used to be Ben & Jerry's. Now it's Hershey's. Is that a bad sign?

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Well, that's going to make it difficult to play, I must say.

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So I can't swing my putter, and I can't go onto the course. Man, they have a lot of rules around here.

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Like many of Orlando's 36-hole mini golf courses, this one has an "ADA course" which consists of nine holes from one course, followed by nine from the other.

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A fairly typical hole. I do like the different color/consistency "sand trap" carpets.

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A tougher jump than it looks.

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I am dedicated to my game.

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Open your eyes, Misty! The Volcano is less scary if you can see it!

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The volcano used to "erupt" every 15 minutes or so, but that doesn't seem to be happening anymore. Pity.

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On the other hand, "Joe Vs. The Volcano" is a highly underrated movie, and I recommend that everyone go watch it.

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It's a nice enough course, but there's not much here to really make it stand out. (Perhaps an erupting volcano would help...?)

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Action putt!

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Hawaiian Rumble. When you don't care enough to play the very best.

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  • 1 month later...

The Bird Gardens area of Busch Gardens Tampa has undergone quite a transformation over the last year or two. Paths have been moved, a new show added, the Hospitality House changed its primary function, Land of the Dragons was revamped and expanded into Sesame Street Safari of Fun, and most recently, a whole section of it was Australian-ized into Walkabout Way.

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Not traditionally the most exciting area of BGT, but it's getting better.

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The Garden Gate Cafe

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They still serve beer...it's just no longer free.

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But we were here for pizza.

 

(Protip: the pizza is slightly better at Crown Colony Pizza, which is also a nicer restaurant than this one, for the same price.)

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The Garden Gate store sells garden stuff, much like the one at BGW.

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Misty pretends to drive a remote control boat (since we would never actually waste money on such nonsense).

 

Note the entrance to the Bird Gardens Theater in the background, as that's where we're headed next.)

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Yes, the Bird Gardens Theater, home to the new Critter Castaways show.

 

Ever seen Pets Ahoy at SeaWorld? While watching it, did you think, "this needs more humans, and they should sing"? You did? Awesome, then you'll love this!

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This cat tried to get away, but was caught by its evil captor and sent scurrying back.

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The lesser anteater seems content enough, despite being saddled with the designation "lesser."

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While the humans are all backstage for a moment, the kangaroo stages a desperate plea to the audience.

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Having failed to secure help from the audience, the animals at last turn to explosives.

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A dark ending, but a fair one.

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After the show, there's a meet and great with the animals. This human character is supposed to be annoying. Note to show producers: Characters who are supposed to be annoying are not actually funny, they are instead (shockingly enough) annoying. Thank you.

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After the hell that was Critter Castaways, I wanted to get as far away as possible, so we headed to Australia.

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Wow...this is how people in Australia live?? No wonder they produced Hitler!

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This employee asked us if we were teachers. (I guess because we were both wearing shirts from Indiana parks and were taking pictures of this educational crap.) Misty responded, "No, we're just nerds."

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This is pretty. Why would Hitler want to leave this?

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There are two animal exhibits in Walkabout Way. Can you guess what animal this one features?

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Please read this sign in its entirety. It is now my favorite sign ever. Kudos to BGT for having a sense of humor.

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Kangaroos!

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The kangaroo exhibit is nice enough, if a bit sparse, foliage-wise. I blame Australia really.

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Not all the kangaroos survived the arduous journey. But hey, BGT paid for 'em, so here ya go.

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I'm not sure if the building on the right used to be an eatery or not, or if it ever will be. But it sure looks like one.

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The second animal exhibit is an aviary.

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Let's review the use of quotation marks, shall we? Putting them around a single word indicates suspicion or irony. For example, if you say that you are "world" famous, you mean that no one outside of your immediate family has ever heard of you.

 

Which, as a citizen, I would forgive you for not quite understanding. However, I do expect a large corporate park--which employs proofreaders and other learned people--to at least have a rough grasp of this concept. And therefore I assume that BGT is purposely saying, "We know you stupid fudgers aren't actually going to stay on the walks, but we're putting this sign up anyway." Because that makes me feel better about it.

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And now, baby ducks.

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Leaving Walkabout Way (which needs a bit more, by the way--if not koalas, then at least some venomous snakes or something), we encounter this blast from the past.

 

It's a nice touch that it's still here.

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Flamingos! And some kind of big white bird! Possible a goose!

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Every zoo in the world has these things. And now, so does Busch Gardens Tampa.

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Ducks and turtles. In case you were unaware of what these strange creatures are.

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Did you know that the plural form of topiary is topiaries? Well, why doesn't my spell check?

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Safari of Fun, like Land of the Dragons before it, is sort of an annex accessible only from inside the Bird Gardens area of the park.

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"A is for Africa." That's the name of the show.

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Air Grover welcomes you! (You dirty, dirty credit whore.)

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The drop and first helix.

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The second helix and brake run. (This photo also shows off the ride's somewhat-controversial desert theming.)

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I can't believe I just gave a play-by-play description of a kiddie coaster.

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Cookie Monster gets his own store.

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As is only appropriate.

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Sometimes my camera goes insane.

 

Equally odd, Breakfast with Elmo & Friends, rather than taking place in an actual restaurant, appears to happen in this tent--which then sits empty for the rest of the day.

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Bert & Ernie's water play area. (I spent like 10 minutes trying to come up with a gay joke here, but then I gave up.)

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Yes, they have one of those "only kids who really shouldn't be riding anything by themselves can ride it" flumes.

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Really, except for Air Grover, there's not much here for adults.

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Although, they look like they're having lots of fun.

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Adults must be accompanied by a child.

 

I feel I should say, my complaints are purely selfish. BGT never intended or advertised this area as anything more than a kiddie land. I just think that's pointlessly limiting. Gimme Camp Jurassic or If I Ran The Zoo at IOA any day.

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You can stand in the midway, though.

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There is lots of stuff to do if you're a kid, though. Which I guess is the point.

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This car ride is themed to The Count. Duh.

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Three monkeys. Three, ah-ah-ah-ah!

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Okay, so they're hiding in the bushes. Gay joke now?

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Nicely themed snack shop and restrooms.

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Safari of Fun's main gift shop.

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Where you can buy plush and slushies.

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"Wait, plush or slushies?"

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They misspelled "baby."

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This is cool, though. Instead of buying a physical video, it comes on a souvenir flash drive.

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And now, back to our regularly scheduled Bird Gardens.

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Now, the last time I checked, the Komodo Dragon was not considered a bird.

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This guy's a bird, though.

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The big aviary between Safari of Fun and Stanleyville.

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Usually, employees hide when I start taking photos.

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"I'm a parrot. You wanna fight??"

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Also, poop.

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I don't think I'd ever actually been in this aviary before. It's pretty cool.

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This shot kind of shows how the paths around the aviary head up (in order to cross a bridge over the train tracks).

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A few more birds are kind of off in their own little ghetto area, as seen from the bridge.

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From the other side of the bridge, you can see this full-sized anteater. (Or, as I like to call it, "greater anteater.")

 

Well, that's our Bird Gardens update. What did you think?

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Oh.

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I feel I should say, my complaints are purely selfish. BGT never intended or advertised this area as anything more than a kiddie land. I just think that's pointlessly limiting. Gimme Camp Jurassic or If I Ran The Zoo at IOA any day..

Have you been to Jungala yet? You have to have someone under 15 years old with you to be able to ride the zip line ride; and the wait is always less than five minutes. Also there is an even bigger play net area there with the same rules as the play net in Sesame Street Place. The place was built for kids, but it too has one ride that adults can ride as well, The Wild Surge (Moser Bounce Ride); I like that ride.

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As a parent of 3 young kids, I totally agree with your comments about the kiddie area. I hate kiddie areas! Yes, please, make me stand around, bored out of my mind, while the kids go on rides that I am not allowed to go on (nor have any desire to!)

 

The best family park scenario has lots of rides that the whole family can enjoy, together, with maybe a few kiddie rides sprinkled throughout, preferably next to the thrill rides with height restrictions, so the parents can take turns, and the kids don't get antsy, waiting.

 

Is anybody listening? Is this thing on?

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The T-Rex Cafe at Downtown Disney is a dinosaur-themed spin-off of The Rainforest Cafe. To say that the two are similar is, I think, an understatement. Essentially, they are the same--just with a slightly different menu, dinosaurs instead of jungle animals, and an extinction level event occurring every fifteen minutes instead of a thunderstorm.

 

They're both fun, overpriced experiences--but you could probably get away with just doing one. Which one? Well, Misty slightly prefers T-Rex for the food selection, whereas I slightly prefer Rainforest due to the more varied decor. Or, you could choose this way: There are Rainforest Cafes all over the world, but, so far as I know, there's only one T-Rex Cafe.

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A rare shot of the T-Rex Cafe not swarmed with people. Must have just opened for the day.

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The bar area.

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Like at Rainforest, there are various differently themed seating areas.

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I'm not sure what this face means. "Yay, I'm at T-Rex Cafe"? Or perhaps, "Hurry up, I'm hungry!"

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Misty got whatever kind of wussy stuff this is.

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While I choose the manliest meal possible.

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Of course, we also had to have dessert. This is called "Ice Age Indulgence."

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Smisty went with "Meteor Bites" (which I'm pretty sure is the real reason she prefers T-Rex to Rainforest).

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Time to go exploring. Here's the ice age room.

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THE KITCHEN OF FIRE!!!

 

Didn't see any actual cooking being done there, though.

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Yay, the bathroom! Can you guess what the ladies' is called??

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There is, of course, a gift shop.

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Build-a-dino, split a geode, that kind of thing.

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This photo is basically just here for the "glad you saurus" sign.

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Attached to the gift shop, but slightly outside, is this archeological dig play area thingy.

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The T-Rex Cafe, at Downtown Disney. An awesome place to eat--if you're a little kid with a lot of money.

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I *MUCH* prefer T-Rex to Rainforest.

 

I like the food a lot better, the theme better, and did I mention the food again!?!? Seriously, fun restaurant and we have added it to our normal Florida restaurant rotation.

 

The 'event' every 15 minutes is too loud, but that's just me being old and complaining I suppose.

 

I thought at one point that there was one other T-Rex Location, I want to say in someplace odd like Kansas City or something?

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Wow, lots of love for T-Rex!

 

What do you mean by varied interior? I thought this place had a lot of different looks going on inside.

 

I think I meant all the different animals, as opposed to just dinosaurs.

 

Oh, and good to know there's another T-Rex Cafe. Thanks, dandaman!

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About 25 miles west of Orlando is the city of Clermont, which has exactly two tourist attractions. Here's the one you might have heard of.

 

No, it doesn't look like citrus--and no, you can't see any citrus from it. For that matter, you can't even buy any there. Nevertheless, it is...The Citrus Tower!

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The tower is 226-feet tall, but honestly doesn't seem all that big in person.

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This photo becomes much funnier once you know that the tower entrance is to the right.

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The Citrus Tower was built in 1956 to give visitors a panoramic view of the area's copious orange groves (which no longer exist).

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"...that you are not invited to."

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High quality models on display on the ground level.

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To get to the top, you enter and exit through the gift shop.

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Here's a look inside the gift shop, which features standard gift shop crap.

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Hours and prices, for those who care about such things.

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Smisty, waiting for the elevator.

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The inside of the elevator door is chock-full of useful Citrus Tower information.

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The observation deck. You can stay as long as you like. However, there is no air conditioning up here. And it's glass-enclosed. And did I mention, Florida?

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"Cypress Gardens"?

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The city of Clermont, in all its glory.

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Orange trees, as far as the eye can see!

 

(Really, a better name would be "The Scurvy Tower.")

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The coolest, goofiest thing here. Drop a coin all the way down the tower. Or so we claim. No, you can't see it. But you can listen to it!

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Ooh, there's a Friendly's!

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I push the button.

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And back down to the gift shop.

 

The Citrus Tower isn't bad, just kind of pointless. And also, it robbed me of my ability to write funny captions. Curse you, Florida Citrus Tower!

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I really am shocked that the citrus tower is still there! I last went up it 10 years ago or so and back then it *was* still surrounded by citrus groves! Clermont really only "expanded" within the past 6 years or so. I won't ruin the surprise by saying what it is, but please tell me you visited the uuber creepy thing next door!

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