Goosebumps, a wildly popular children's book series in the nineties, revolves around horror themed tales with pre-teens as the main protagonists. The books cover everything from ghosts, monsters, and even a sinister ventriloquist dummy. Like most things aimed at children, a plethora of Goosebumps related tie-in products existed; Toys, video games, even birthday party supplies. As a kid I wanted to get my hands on as much of this stuff as possible. Anything I didn't get as a kid I've since hunted for as an adult. A few years back on my birthday I was fortunate to have been gifted one of their board games. I was so stoked as I had no clue this game existed. Like most collectors I've kept it in it's original packaging in attempt to keep it as pristine as possible. Finally giving in, I said 'F-it", opened it and boy, was it worth it.Read More
In 1997, Six Flags Great Adventure's "Batman & Robin: The Chiller" opened to the public in conjunction with the release of the film. Unfortunately, as a prototype, the coaster had a ton of issues its first run, so it didn't open full-time until 1998. The coaster, which was a "dual launching coaster" also featured elements themed around its main villain Mr. Freeze, hence "The Chiller" being added to the attraction's name. The exterior of the attraction featured what looked like a giant fridge or cooler and a recreation of the observatory at the climax of the film (Where Batman and Mr. Freeze have their final battle.) The coaster's layout consisted of two separate tracks, each representing the titular character--blue for Batman and red for Robin. Each side was a different experience, which would then repeat backwards after hitting a banked Incline . The Batman side featured a "Top Hat inversion" ( I had to look up what it was called) and the Robin side features a "Cobra Roll" (again, both official coaster terms.)
I didn't get to ride Batman & Robin when it initially opened. I was in the anti-coaster phase of my life and it intimidated the hell out of me (I was 12 or 13). Regardless, I was still intrigued by it, being a huge fan of the Batman films. I still wanted to experience it, eventually. Finally in 2002, I gained enough courage and got on. Unfortunately by that time the Batman side was almost always down. I visited Six Flags every year (primarily during their Fright Fest event) and don't remember ever seeing that side functional.
Now onto the actual ride experience. Both sides start by launching you at 65 mph, not in an uphill incline like most coasters. This was the only jarring part of the ride because I remember the restraints being clunky and giving me a massive headache. After a bunch of loops and flips you're led to a dead end incline. The coaster then rolls back and you experience the entire attraction again, but this time backwards. That was my favorite part.
The attraction experienced several maintenance issues until its close in 2007. It was eventually torn down to make room for another Batman-themed ride, The Dark Knight. Most of my memories of Batman & Robin: The Chiller are on the negative side. I remember my mother and other friends calling it the "headache" roller coaster and preferring the original Batman coaster (which is still standing today) over it. I always thought it was a great looking ride and had a "wow" factor, but usually after riding it, I wouldn't want to get on anything else the rest of the day because I was a bit shaken up. Another retired coaster at Great Adventure had that reputation (I'll probably visit it in the future.) The Dark Knight Coaster which took its place is a completely different monster altogether. Unlike its predecessor, this coaster is an indoor mouse coaster. The building itself is about half the size of B&R and is more theatrical than a conventional coaster. I'm guessing Great Adventure wanted to create more of an experience instead of a succession of thrills. There is a pre-show video and a ton of Batman/Joker related set design on the actual ride. The Dark Knight is also way more suitable for younger park visitors. Overall I wasn't a massive fan of B&R the few times I was able to ride it. Again my judgement is solely on me riding the Robin side. Maybe the Batman side was a completely awesome experience. I'll never know.
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I just returned from a short-but-relaxing trip to LA. Before heading out, I looked into a few places I wanted to visit, trying to pick out the most fun and least touristy options. On that list was "The Museum of Death." I was worried that this was going to be just another tourist trap, but after checking out their site and learning more about the museum through the internet and a few friends, I was won over!
The museum is located on Hollywood Blvd, just a few blocks from the TCL Chinese Theater. Out front, a Large skull is painted on one of the walls, with the words "Museum of Death" over the top. You can't miss the building. Once you enter, you'll be inside of the gift shop, next to the ticket desk. All of the walls are plastered with taxidermy animals, pictures of serial killers, and coroner tools. They even had a fish tank with living conjoined turtles, which had 2 or 3 heads if I remember correctly. We were told that this was a self-guided tour and that we should take our time walking through all of the different rooms. I won't go through the entire museum (that'll just spoil it) but here are some of the highlights.
· Charles Manson Murders Room (Murder photos, memorabilia, authentic blanket sewn by his family, Etc...)
· Seeing real art work by serial killers (Richard Ramirez, John Wayne Gacy, David Berkowitz,etc...)
· A piece of the closet Rozz Williams (Singer of the Goth band Christian Death) hung himself in.
· Area dedicated to notorious punk singer GG Allin (They had an autograph of his signed in blood)
· The Heavens Gate recruiting video.
Be warned, apparently people have been known to pass out due to the graphic nature of some of the exhibits. Inside the museum are images and videos of real deaths; murders and autopsies are on full display. They even had a room with chairs set up for people to watch old Traces of Death videos. I thought the most disturbing thing was a wall full of images from real car accidents, but even that you can easily avoid by looking away. I highly recommend checking out the Museum of Death, especially if you have an interest in the morbid side of life.
For more info check out the museums official Site: http://www.museumofdeath.net/
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Halloween is the one time of the year where spooky is the norm and planning creepy trips is a must. One of the best places to visit is Salem, Massachusetts, known by most as the place where a group of ladies (and a few dudes) were wrongfully accused of witchcraft and murdered in 1600s. The town has definitely exploited these murders, some exhibits take a very serious approach (Salem Witch Museum) and others are a bit hokey (Salem Witch Cottage), but all are entertaining. Even without the Salem Witch Trials aspect, though, the town is definitely a Halloween lover's dream. The town has a gloomy atmosphere and enough Halloween fun for the whole family. I visited the town this month (I try to go every other year in October) and instead of doing the usual "tourist thing" (we still did some), I decided to wing it. Here is a quick recap of some of the things I did on my visit.
Essex Street/Derby Street
Both of these streets will definitely get you in the Halloween spirit. Most of the streets are cobble stone and every shop is fully decked out in Halloween decor. Along the way you'll pass several attractions (Haunted houses, Museums, etc). People dress up as different characters and around every corner is another witchcraft shop. One of my favorite shops had to be "Hex Old World Witchery." Inside you'd find potions, spell books, and brooms (yes brooms) I don't believe in witchcraft, but got a kick out of all the stuff they had for sale (especially the War Water pictured below.)
Inside this unique pizzeria you'll find vintage memorabilia from an assortment of Sci-fi films and TV shows. There is a Patrick Stuart Borg statue inside, which was awesome. The pizza itself is amazing and they have tons of Vegetarian and Vegan options, which was a plus for me and my group. Each pie is named after a notable Sci-fi character or film (I ordered the "Morbo the Annihilator"). Definitely eat here if you get a chance.
One of the top attractions has to be "Count Orlock's Nightmare Gallery." Inside, you'll find wax figures of some of horror's most iconic figures--Freddy Kruger, Frankenstein, and Micheal Myers are all displayed inside. The dim lighting and spooky Halloween music really set the mood. My only complaint is the size of the location. It's a small place, so definitely take your time walking through. If you're a Horror fan like me, this is a must.
I'm a beer drinker, so Salem Beer Works is a place I visit every time I head to Salem. Their "Pumpkin Works" beer is delicious and brewed in-house (The rim is also dipped in Sugar and Cinnamon) My friends ordered something call a "Sleepy Hallow" which consists of Pumpkin Works and Vanilla Stoli (Vodka). It literally tastes like you're drinking a pumpkin pie. I didn't get to have one, being the responsible driver that I am. Also inside is a giant Neon Witch, which is just awesome to look at while you drink your beer.
Another great restaurant is Howling Wold Tequeria. This place has both awesome drinks and food. I ordered the Fried Avocado tacos, which was heavenly; I could have probably had two orders. On the menu, they also have a cocktail called the "Chupacabra." In the drink is a couple of types of tequila along with a few different types of juice. Don't make the same mistake that my friend made of drinking more than one!
Hocus Pocus/Lords of Salem locations
Hocus Pocus is one of my favorite family films; it's sort of a tradition of mine to watch it every October. For some reason, in all of the years I've visited Salem, I never thought to visit the actual locations used in the film. Well, I finally did! Both are relatively easy to find with a quick Google search. Another film set in Salem, Massachusetts is Rob Zombie's "Lords of Salem," which was also shot around the town. I'm a big fan of the flick and was able to visit several locations (there are many) on my visit as well.
If you've never been to Salem, I highly recommend visiting in October at least once. You won't regret it!