Happy new year! Last year was good/bad/whatever. This year, my resolution is to blog more and make cool videos! Onto the actual blog!
During the last week of 2015 (starting directly on Christmas Day), I went on a huge Family Reunion Vacation Road Trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Why? A few personal reasons in my family, one of which being that we had been there before and had a great time. So, we were basically seeing if we could recapture the magic. The trip was pretty damn good over all (despite a lack of snow, which we Floridians desperately wanted to see and despite getting a cold). Rather than hear about possible family drama or some such, I thought I’d give a few short reviews on some of the attractions we went and saw! So, without further ado, here’s some things I did on my vacation.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum
A straightforward “Museum of the Weird” with a lot of old-timey “freaks,” bizarre customs from around the world, and just random unusual facts. Honestly, this was probably the weakest thing we did all trip (and was the only thing we actually did in Gatlinburg the one day we went). At $27 a person, it was kinda boring and really short. This is also a pretty common attraction in other tourist trap areas, like Orlando. Not worth the money or time. (Also, why the hell are there like 6 other “Ripley’s” attractions in this area?)
The Titanic Museum
Probably the most straightforward actual historical museum we did all trip. It did its job well. I learned a lot about the building of the Titanic, the trip, the people on it, etc. Very good audio tour with interviews with actual survivors as well. Interesting information, especially if you like history. Special kudos go to the guy in the captain’s uniform who gave an absolutely stunning and very serious performance. I don’t remember your name, but you rock.
MagiQuest was an attraction I did alone. It’s supposed to be like “a live-action video game.” You get a wand and become a wizard, quest throughout MagiQuest’s lands (3 smallish rooms) collecting items, learning spells, and saving stuff. In theory, this is awesome. As a gamer and in my early 20s, I was the perfect audience for this type of thing. The problem is, this attraction has all the worst parts of RPG video games without any of the good. You get fetch quest after fetch quest running around the same 3 rooms, hearing the same music, looking at the same stuff. It gets really old really quick. Only check it out with children or if you REALLY enjoy exploring the same rooms time and again. I also did 2 other attractions in this building
The Vault: A laser maze that is IMPOSSIBLE for adults who are a bit wide in the middle like myself. Fun, but really complicated and short.
Odyssey: A straightforward mirror maze. Kinda boring, really. Some of the mirrors were cracked. This is the kind of attraction that’s better in a group, as evidenced by my favorite attraction of the whole trip, which was…
Hollywood Wax Museum
By far, my favorite attractions we visited were the Hollywood Wax Museum and the attached Castle of Chaos. I had the most fun with these attractions and came away with the best memories of walking through them with my sister, her boyfriend, and his family. The wax museum itself was one of the better ones I’ve been to. The wax figures themselves were mostly very good with only a handful or so who didn’t look at all like who they were portraying. However, this wax museum gains points for having certain props available to pose with for certain figures. My favorite one was the hat and cane left for the Charlie Chaplin figure. It made for a lot of very good pictures.
Hannah’s Mirror Maze: An anomaly in the world, this mirror maze has a plot. With a pre-show and everything. The pre-show is crap with budget CGI animation obviously made on the quick by college students. I just find it bizarre. A mirror maze doesn’t NEED a plot. Anyway, the maze itself is very fun and confusing with a particularly dizzying spinning tunnel and some other neat gags thrown in. MUCH better than the Odyssey from MagiQuest.
Castle of Chaos 5D: A really cool little idea, this is a 3D shooting game/ride. Unlike Buzz Lightyear or the MIB ride, though, this shooting game takes place in one room with a spinning vehicle in the middle. You even got effects of bugs under your seat and win blasts with certain things happening on screen. It’s a fun idea with the “audience” shooting at bugs and ghosts and the like. I do like the horror aesthetic of the whole thing. There were 2 problems, though: 1) the guns were heavy with hard to squeeze triggers. For a 10 minute ride, it left us with tired arms and very cramped fingers. 2) With so many people shooting at the screen at once, it was really hard to see what I was supposed to be shooting. The graphics were fine, but I just couldn’t see what I needed to shoot. Other than that, a very fun romp.
Outbreak – Dread the Undead: A horror walk-through attraction not unlike those found at Halloween Horror Nights: The government tried to make a super chemical and zombies happened instead. You have to get out of the building alive. Decent robotic effects, cool uses of digital screens, nicely done scares, and I particularly enjoyed the story. However, I have 3 main complaints: 1) It seemed to be understaffed with the same 2 live action zombies popping out throughout the maze. 2) The zombie make-up on the live actors was really weak with only kind of red splashes on them. 3) They rely far too much on the air-pump jump scare. It got old. Other than that, it was a really solid attraction.
The Wax Museum and attached ride may not SOUND impressive, but I had the best time at them, mostly because of the cool people I was with (and the fact that I was a huge coward in Outbreak). If you can do all these attractions with people you’re close to, I highly recommend them. You’ll have a great time laughing. I’m gonna miss Pigeon Forge, but I have a feeling I’ll be going back at some point in the future.