The internet collectively poured one out for GarfieldEATS last year after the automated restaurant based on the popular comic strip character closed its doors for good. Now, if you want to order a pizza shaped like the head of Jim Davis' beloved feline without interacting with another living soul, you ... wait, why the hell would anyone want that?
But in our ironic celebration of this unforgivable affront to Italian cuisine, a lot of us neglected to take note of yet another Garfield-based landmark that shut down in 2020 -- Garfield's Nightmare, a creepy theme park attraction that took visitors on a boat ride through the tormented psyche of everyone's favorite lasagna-loving cat. The ride involved cruising underneath blacklights, past dayglo cut-outs of a fanged pizza box monster, a nurse wielding a giant syringe, and some kind of Frankenstein-ed hot dog creature wearing sunglasses. Presumably, the experience was even more horrifying on Mondays.
The ride was almost impressively confusing. It had all the trappings of a haunted house, but it wasn't scary. It featured a famous comic strip character, but it wasn't funny. It was just a psychedelic parade of brightly-colored, food-based fever dreams, seemingly inspired by the video game of the same name. The end product (which also required 3-D glasses) seems less like a Garfield story and more like an art installation by Guy Fieri and the ghost of William S. Burroughs.
How did this glorious abomination come to be? It first premiered in 2004 at Kennywood -- which, sadly, isn't Kenny Rogers' answer to Dollywood, but rather an amusement park in Pennsylvania. According to Very Local Pittsburgh, the company's manager initially met with Jim Davis about creating a separate, entirely Garfield-themed amusement park. But when that fell through, everybody settled for giving an existing Kennywood ride a Garfield makeover.
Reports are varied as to whether or not Davis had any direct involvement in the ride; some claim he "wrote the script for the ride and did the initial drawings," while others suggest that he "didn't do anything" and merely sent Kennywood some Garfield books so they would know who the hell Garfield is. Unfortunately, the budget for the ride "wasn't that big" and, worse still, the higher-ups told the designer not to make it "too great because too many people would want to ride it." Perhaps we should just be glad that the ride didn't end with the mind-bending revelation that you were floating down a river of dog semen inside Jon Arbuckle's digestive tract.
Top Image: Roller Coaster Philosophy/Wiki Commons