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Another Portland Blog

Saturday, September 01, 2007


"And this is how we say good-bye in Germany"

People in my line of work aren't allowed to take sabbaticals but we do get a good amount of vacation time. This year I'll be blowing most of it on a trip overseas. I'm heading off tomorrow morning. While this won't be an official sabbatical from my day job it will be a sabbatical from blogging. I'll be checking email every few days while traveling but posting random thoughts from the road would result in more-tedious-than-usual reading for you and would be difficult to pull off for me.

So Auf Wiedersehen for now. I'll be back around this corner of the internet sometime in October. Until then, there's this:

and this...



The Virginia Cafe will live on....

...in the same block that once housed Willamette Week on SW 10th. The owners are hoping to reopen in March but will the new version retain the sass and class that's made the current incarnation a dank beacon of downtown Portland?

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The top ten reasons why Enchanted Forest will make you wet your pants - part 3

Click here for part 1 and click here for part 2.

# 2: Challenge of Mondor

A sign hangs near the entrance to Enchanted Forest's newest attraction warning away "the easily frightened." Other types of people that should be added to the list: "those with heart conditions" and "anyone who has a problem with a screeching demon flying over their heads." The ride is similar to the "dark rides" at Disneyland but updated with a new shooting gallery twist. Riders each wield an electronic laser gun which they can fire at the inhabitants of Mondor, an imaginary kingdom ruled by an evvvvvil wizard. Each successful shot earns riders points, which are added up at the end of the ride.

Really, what better way to teach small children about the rigors of modern combat than by plunging them into a five-minute hell ride past howling, mechanical monsters and a maniacal, robot wizard that...stands up and starts yelling insults rather than duck for cover or return fire?

Challenge of Mondor: it's a lot like Apocalypse Now but with a twist of Lord of the Rings. The horror...the horror? Yup, it's got that.

# 1: The Haunted House

When my parents were wide-eyed twenty-somethings in the '70s, they roamed the Willamette Valley engaging in debauchery appropriate for their era and doing things I really don't want to think about. On one occasion, they visited Enchanted Forest and ventured into the Haunted House. As they came around a dark corner, a teenage employee in a Dracula outfit jumped out, grabbed my father's shoulder and he, kinda, sorta...punched him in the face. They left quickly.

But that's what the park's Haunted House does to people: it turns mild-mannered hippies, such as my father was in 1974, into sucker punchers that think nothing of assaulting mischievous vampires. Or the jaded into quivering rabbits. While employees no longer leap out of the shadows, the attraction is still pretty creepy for adults and absolutely terrifying for tykes. As a timid kid, I never made it further than the foyer.

Working the door on the day we visited was a guy who looked like a young clone of M. Night Shyamalan. Did we "see [any] dead people" inside? Nope, but we did consider turning around after passing a glowing red ghoul candle display and into a dusty room filled with mannequins in Halloween costumes. But were they really mannequins? Nope, they were ROBOTS THAT SUDDENLY CAME ALIVE AND...shook around a bit while a speaker in a nearby wall played a sound-effect of someone pounding on a door.

Anywhere else, this low-level fright would induce yawns but in a quiet corner of an already creepy theme park? With a sibling that absolutely detests theme park attractions like this? And with a group of teenage girls that immediately shriek the second they encounter anything slightly spooky? And in a dusty, old place with dangerously low lightening levels? Under those circumstances, a run-of-the-mill Haunted House becomes a place more frightening than the inside of a Ghostbusters' containment unit.

OK, not really but to anyone under the age of 10 there's at least a 50% chance of some serious pants wetting.

Enchanted Forest: it's been giving kids nightmares since 1971 and here's hoping it keeps dishing them out for years to come. If you doubt it, check this thing out:

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