6 Real Tourist Traps (Where Your Sanity Goes To Die)
Tourist traps are the vacationer's equivalent of opening something you ordered out of the back of a comic book: It's never exactly what you were promised, you vaguely feel like you've been ripped off, and there's a good chance you now have lead poisoning. Usually, cynical exploitation and laziness are the worst things you need to fear when walking into one of these obscure theme parks or museums. But sometimes, an unsuspecting tourist can stumble into the mind of a madman -- a place filled with esoteric nightmares no sane person should ever witness. For example ...
Cabbage Patch Kids Are "Born" In Their Own Hospital
The idiom "like watching sausage getting made" refers to the notion that the process of creating things we enjoy is often a lot messier and more unsettling than the final product would let you believe -- like how little children make our clothes, how circuses abuse their animals, or how models who fall on catwalks get shot in the head and turned into glue. Speaking of the horrific processes behind innocent products, let's talk about the toys that sparked our current obsession with tattooing names on butts: Cabbage Patch Kids.
It begins, as all good tales of horror should, in a mansion that looks like the establishing shot of a murder mystery.
Cabbage Patch Leatherface is horrifically adorable.
Babyland General Hospital is the official theme park and birthplace of Cabbage Patch Kids -- the toy babies which were a major fad in the late '80s, because by then, cocaine had seeped into the drinking water. It's cute as a concept and horrifically Frankensteinian in its execution. The first Babyland was in the Georgia hometown of the Kids' creator, Xavier Roberts, in an abandoned hospital. Soon after, however, Roberts realized he didn't need a horrific setting to make Babyland the creepiest place on Earth, and moved the facility to a 650-acre estate.
But crowded all these into one room for maximum creepiness.
Walking the grounds of this fake hospital are throngs of "medical" staffers who are instructed to treat the Cabbage Patch Kids as living babies at all times. This includes feeding them, bathing them, dressing them, and most importantly, bringing this leafy spawn into this world from Satan's uterus itself.
Wait, is that liquid thingy filled with green blood?
The highlight of this insanity is a show wherein a nurse yanks the babies from a field below a magic tree inside the hospital. A "doctor" informs the audience that the magic bees flying in the tree sprinkle pollen into some crystals, and that's what causes the cabbages to "go into labor."
Although that's a more accurate description of sex than most public schools provide.
Then the nurse injects "Mother Cabbage" with an epidural of "imagicillin." She also makes the audience do Lamaze with the expecting mother -- which, and we cannot stress this hard enough, is a fake head of cabbage.
The father is a lonely farmer.
She even uses forceps to measure the baby, and has some kind of ultrasound with magic crystals. Then comes the birth, which takes surprisingly long and is disturbingly realistic -- to the point where the "nurse" slaps the newborn Cabbage Patch Kid on the butt to induce crying.
If the Kid makes a sound, it is the final sign of the End Times.
It might not be the most responsible way to teach kids where babies come from, but it sure is the most effective form of birth control we've ever seen.
Abandoned Literary Theme Parks Will Ruin Your Childhood Innocence
There's always a twinge of fear in the eyes of literature fans when they find out their favorite book is being adapted into a movie. What if the characters look different than they do in their head? What if the filmmakers don't truly understand the themes? But at least a movie has dozens of experts and millions of dollars to get it right. Imagine how much worse it would be if some idiot decided to turn those same complex narratives into a bunch of crappy rides in an underfunded theme park. Sadly, some have already tried, and it turns out it's not a great idea to match the limitlessness of the human imagination with some entrepreneurial carnie's papier mache budget.
Gulliver's Kingdom Theme Park, built in the shadow of Japan's Mount Fuji, is all the proof you need of how disastrous a literary theme park can be. Between 1997 and 2001, Gulliver's Kingdom was the premier Japanese destination for visiting a 147.5-foot statue of a Swiftian hero, taking a train ride underneath a giant crotch, and, for some reason, bobsledding. And do you know what a prone, motionless statue looks like? Yes, like a dead man. For anyone wondering what it would have looked like if the Lilliputians had simply slit Gulliver's throat in sacrifice to whatever tiny god they worship, Japan was the place to go. It's almost as if the park went out of its way to surround itself with death. It was even built next to the famous suicide forest, seemingly for maximum creepitude.
On the other side is a BDSM shop.
Safe to say the "giant corpse park" wasn't the smash hit its backers (including the Japanese government) expected it to be. After it was closed in 2001, it sat in ruins, vandalized in a way that looked like Gulliver got drunk at a frat and was the first to pass out. In 2007, in an act of mercy, the park was leveled to the ground, finally giving Gulliver's desecrated body a proper burial.
Annnnd the BDSM shop switched over to macrophilia.
Germany tried its hand at the same idea, with equally disturbing results. Some executive had the bright idea to dress this Gulliver in contemporary clothes. Here, Gulliver looks more like a giant PSA on the dangers of skateboarding -- because we're sure that in the original stories, he wasn't supposed to be from San Francisco.
Gulliver's "travels" involved walking to Starbucks, stopping halfway for a nap.
But there's no need to go abroad to frighten your poor children. North Carolina once had its own Wizard of Oz Theme Park, which was created partially to give hungover ski instructors something to do during the summers. In the '70s, it was a Disneyesque place where you could meet characters and see places in the wonderful land of Oz, but the park quickly fell on hard times and had to close down. For decades, it remained abandoned, slowly being reclaimed by nature. This imbued the park with a much more creepy vibe than intended -- as much as you can say that of a park based on the fever dream of a repressed Midwestern teenager.
Which is why now you can take guided tours to the wonderful post-apocalyptic land of Oz -- which is just the ticket for that handful of kids that wasn't already terrified by the movie alone.
This is three times scarier than the HBO series.
Make your way far enough down the yellow teeth road, and you'll stumble upon the frightening remnants of the heroes, ravaged by time and neglect. Gaze upon the horror of the Tin Man, who has been rusting away since the Carter administration. He will look at you with his still-piercing blue eyes, begging to be oiled and set free from his rusty tomb.
Pray the rust holds. The ax still cuts.
He will get no mercy from the rotted-through Scarecrow, who now looks like he's on loan from the Batman theme park down the road.
"I think I'll kill you most of all."
We couldn't find the Cowardly Lion, probably because he took the easy way out.
KISS Mini-Golf Is A Living Nightmare
KISS By Monster Mini Golf is an actual place that you can actually visit in Las Vegas (where else), and caters both to families with hyperactive kids and true KISS fans -- the latter mainly by showing them the decapitated head of Peter Criss.
We don't know how the game incorporates the head, and really, we don't want to know.
Between a maelstrom of black lights, laser shows, and props of KISS even bigger than Gene Simmons' real head, you can take your children to the kid's room, if your idea of a fun kid's birthday spot is the CSI lab where they examine semen stains. Come to think of it, it's probably a good idea not to sit anywhere in a KISS venue that isn't bathed in black light.
You also might leave with a new kid in your belly, even if you're a virgin.
And while you're explaining the overt sexualization of glam rock to those tots, you might as well explain The Twilight Zone to them, though even Rod Serling couldn't invent something as horrifyingly surreal as the clownish hellscapes that are the KISS holes.
Now feel free to use "KISS hole" as your euphemism of choice.
For the final hole, visitors have to place their balls on Gene Simmons' legendary tongue and ram them down his throat -- you know, the full KISS experience. Be sure to try to get a good photo op, because you might want to have proof of why you now have an inexplicable fear of glitter for your next therapy session.
And a new, sudden phobia concerning dogs licking you.
Chaplin's World Is Brimming With Random Corpse-Like Celebrities
Lots of small towns' biggest claims to fame is that they were once home to some famous person. As it might catch them a stray tourist, these places will gladly give historic status to even that one house that got its toilet wrecked by a drunk Ernest Hemingway. But some legacies are too large to contain in a single plaque at the front door. That's why in April of 2016, the quiet town of Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland turned Charlie Chaplin's last home into a huge museum in his honor. And when we say huge, we mean huge. A bit too huge, perhaps.
Chaplin's World is the result of a 15-year project to create the definitive site dedicated to perhaps the greatest silent movie star. The museum is located in the stately Swiss home where Charlie and Oona Chaplin spent the rest of his life after he was barred from reentering the U.S. No page of the actor/director's life is left unturned in this vast museum. Visitors can interact with actual-size replicas of his most daring props, like the giant machinery from Modern Times and the dangerously rickety cabin from The Gold Rush.
This all looked so much less ominous in quaint black and white.
But what makes this museum truly strange is that they decided to fill it with many wax statues that have very little to do with Chaplin himself. Perhaps they overestimated how many of the dozens of rooms they could fill with fake props, ran out halfway through the exhibit, and decided to populate the rest with whatever they could find in the dumpsters behind Madame Tussaud's.
If the curator's true plan was seeing whether they could convey all of the facial nuances of a silent film actor wearing 47 layers of makeup under arc lighting, then they hit the nail on the head. For those not impressed by that level of verisimilitude, at least you can see an old man Chaplin seemingly dry-humping his bathtub.
That's the least sexy thing you can do with a bathtub.
For every candlestick figurine of the man himself, there's another wax statue of a celebrity you wouldn't immediately expect to find in a Chaplin museum. For example, here's an appropriately realistic-looking Michael Jackson:
Looking more realistic that Jackson did 2004-2009.
Then there's an Albert Einstein who looks like he's just taken mushrooms and is seeing worlds within worlds within a bathroom mirror.
He watches you pee.
But at least they got Woody Allen about right. He's set up to look like some sort of shifty janitor who only noticed you after he already pocketed that half-eaten sandwich from the wastepaper basket. Which is pretty much how Woody Allen looked during most of his career.
We're not totally sure this is a waxwork.
A Failed British Children's TV Theme Park That Is Something Out Of A Fever Dream
The creature known as Mr. Blobby was a huge pink blob that was popular with British children in the '90s, making him the UK equivalent of Barney the Dinosaur, except that Barney didn't look like a marital aid that got left in the dishwasher for too long.
I love you,
you love me please kill me
Mr. Blobby was part of a BBC variety show hosted by an evil Santa in that period of time in England when children's television was secretly made by therapists to boost future business. Manufactured as part of a series of underwhelming pranks, Mr. Blobby quickly became popular enough to warrant his own recurring segment on the show, so that every week, the public could enjoy the antics of an amorphous sociopath with the voice of a constipated demon.
That is, "with a British accent."
At the height of the character's fame, three separate Blobby-inspired theme parks popped up around the UK. Here's one of the park's Blobby homes, all of which resemble what a colorblind toddler sees when he's tripping on cold medication at his grandma's house.
They look like if Pepto-Bismol bottles fucked bowling pins.
The Blobby dwellings resemble what the Shire would look like if an entire village could catch syphilis.
Pink! It's the color of severed flesh.
The last park closed its doors in 1999 -- probably so Mr. Blobby could prepare for the millennium, when he shall inhabit his final form. The park in Somerset is still serving a valuable community service, however, with its nightmarish post-apocalyptic landscape and worship of mid-'90s thrash serving as the perfect venue for illegal raves.
Frankly, it looks safer now.
Indiana's Future Mascot Hall Of Fame Looks Absolutely Horrifying
Surely, everyone agrees that team mascots are the best part of any sporting event. They liven up the timeouts, bring some much-needed levity to the field, and are great targets for your empty beer cans. But sadly, of all the athletes out there giving it 110 percent, the ones doing it while sweating in a 70-pound costume get the least recognition. That's why the state of Indiana has decided to honor these costumed leaders by building them their very own hall of fame. Because who wouldn't want to pay full admission to go and gaze upon an entire complex dedicated to the carcasses of Muppet rejects?
This must be one of those Lisa Frank sex parties we keep hearing about.
That level of blind enthusiasm for sports is exactly what Indiana is counting on, as it is currently constructing the million-dollar facility as a children's theme park. The facility is still in its planning stage as of now, and all that exists is a bunch of concept art of how the Mascot Hall of Fame will look when it opens in 2017 -- and the pictures don't disappoint. That is, if you wanted the place to look like that nightmare you had after eating all the branded cereals in one bowl and dreaming that the mascots banded together to murder you.
Fair punishment for the use of the word "phuzzical."
Before even setting foot in the building, people are first gulped up by a fuzzy entrance. This is a warm-up for the neon-lit, non-sports-related mania that resides inside.
Even Gene Simmons fans are weirded out by that mouth.
Then they enter a room filled with the mounted heads of fluffy mascots staring down at them, their cold eyes still looking for their killers. The theme park tries to be a combination of an old-fashioned arcade, a toy shop, and the secret room of someone whom police would later dub "The Fraggle Rock Killer."
Only the colorblind can last a full minute without screaming.
Upon closer inspection, the real theme of this theme park seems to be that it's some kind of felt university, with each room having its own quirky academic moniker like "Department of Furry Arts," the "Science of Silliness Lab," or "Phuzzical Education." So by the time you leave this place, you'll be the most educated costume fetishist at your local furry convention.
"Now I know how to fuck disembodied beast men heads up the neck hole safely!"
When not writing list articles, Mike Garowee runs a dairy farm in New Hampshire.
Last Halloween, the Cracked Podcast creeped you out with tales of ghost ships, mysteriously dead people, and a man from one of the most famous paintings in U.S. history who years later went all Jack Nicholson in The Shining on his family. This October, Jack and the Cracked staff are back with special guest comedians Ryan Singer, Eric Lampaert, and Anna Seregina to share more unsettling and unexplained true tales of death, disappearance, and the great beyond. Get your tickets for this LIVE podcast here!
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