To a kid, happiness is directly tied to location: The playground is all right, Chuck E. Cheese's is pretty good and Disneyland is amazing. And yet every single one of the following places will make those childhood paradises look like a trip to the dentist's office via Grandma's house (and not the cool one, either; the racist one with the peppermints).
#6. Miniatur Wunderland
Model trains are like breasts: They're meant for children, but grown men have a pretty good time playing with them, too. And if that metaphor holds true, then Miniatur Wunderland is the Playboy Mansion of model trains. This nerd paradise is the crowning achievement of twin brothers Frederik and Gerrit Braun, pictured here power-tripping-balls on top of a miniature mountain range.
That uncomfortable smile is because a train has driven into his crotch.
The epic model train set the brothers have created is not only a world record, it's also basically a world. It ain't just trains: Cars drive themselves through the cities, only to be pulled over by police; fire engines race through the streets to fight the fires that break out; planes take off and land from the fully functional airport and boats -- even a giant 4-foot scale model of a cruise ship -- sail its seas. There's even a functioning spaceport!
"Apollo Tiny to Ground Control -- we have discovered extremely large, smelly aliens. Let's never do this again."
And if you ever get bored of watching an entire tiny Earth spin around while you pretend to throw lightning bolts at those who incur your wrath, Miniatur Wunderland also has thousands of hidden Easter eggs to find -- from superpowered girls to fire breathers to bank heists to horny couples boning in the fields.
It's OK, they're both plastic and nonliving. Safety first!
It's like a giant, living, occasionally smutty Where's Waldo? book.
According to the Miniatur Wunderland website, when it's finished in 2020, the mammoth model will cover more than 24,000 square feet and feature 13 miles of track, 1,300 trains, more than 20,000 carriages and wagons, 400,000 individual figures and more than half a million lights, which are necessary because the entire set runs on a day/night cycle of 15 minutes.
That's right: The whole thing lights up.
And as we all know, the only surefire way to improve an already bitchin' toy in a child's eyes is to slap some LEDs on that sucker. And slap they have:
But don't worry, there's something for the adults here, too: That smut we mentioned before isn't all tastefully hidden. Why, there's an entire red-light district for the inappropriately randy grownups among us.
Sadly, her STDs are normal-sized.
#5. The Obliteration Room, the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art
Imagine a beautiful, pristine white room. Now imagine that room exists for one purpose and one purpose only: for you to vandalize it to your felonious little heart's content, with no repercussions. Well, such a heaven exists, and it is located in Queensland, Australia.
It begins ...
... the end times approach ...
... lo, the color apocalypse is upon us!
If you've ever been yelled at for coloring on the walls, the Obliteration Room at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art is where you take your revenge. You can smack that anger right up on the wall in the form of colored stickers and know inside your heart that they can take your crayons, but they can never take ... your freedom. This childhood masterpiece was the brainchild of Yayoi Kusama, who unsurprisingly looks like she's been color obliterated herself ...
If they ever need an aged, colorblind Leeloo for the Fifth Element sequel, this is the woman.
#4. Trampoline Parks
Finally, we've figured out how to mass produce head injuries.
Trampolines. Just saying the word can make a grown man giddy. They're the closest a kid can get to either walking on the moon or becoming a Naruto, depending on the respective fantasy. Although, as with all things, a child's love for trampolines is exponential, the great tragedy is that nobody ever has more than one of the dang things. You get 10 circular feet of bounce, and the rest of the world stays stupidly, boringly inert. But that's not the case at a trampoline park, which is amazingly a real thing and not just the doodle that takes up the entire back cover of our Trapper Keeper:
The other wall features a crudely drawn penis and boobs.
In a trampoline world, no child has to ever, ever, ever, ever stop flipping. Indeed, it seems that once you start, you actually might not be able to stop:
That video was taken at San Francisco's House of Air, an intricate matrix of 42 wall-to-wall trampolines. But the truly fantastic thing is that unlike most of the rest of this article, trampoline parks are not unique locations: The idea has since spread throughout the Southwestern United States, to the delight of both children and bitterly disappointed astronauts everywhere.
Who's "too stupid for space" now, NASA?