June 28, 2012

Are you not entertrained?

I've been dying to visit EnterTrainment Junction (home of the world's largest indoor train display) since they opened up a few years ago. I mean it's the (self-proclaimed) world's largest indoor train display, and it's only like six miles from my house (maybe less if I could go overland).

When Groupon dropped in an offer of $15 for two all-features passes a few months ago, I snapped that right up. Sadly, however, the groupon expires in three days, The Girl is locked up with school, I'm leaving for the weekend, and Calen is out of town. So, solo I headed to the Junction yesterday. Might've been wasting a ticket, but at least I got to relieve my curiosity.

Here's what I found...

First off, the train layout is actually pretty cool. It goes through three time periods of railroad development - early (around the Civil War/Old West era), middle (1940's and '50's), and late (vaguely current time). Each has a massive arrangement with the latter two having city scenes and the oldest being entirely wilderness/small town.

(I warn you...lots of pictures coming...)

First view...ye olde timey trains

Some kind of iron works built into the hillside...a tiny version of one, anyway...

Hillside homes above the coal mining town

Anyton (seriously, Anyton), the 1940's era town

Evereeton (yup, not making that up) complete with brilliantly disguised building support girder/Space Needle
All of the displays show a massive amount of craftsmanship and must have involved - as the informational floor decals point out - like 60,000 man hours and a value of over $15 million in work and materials.

Plus there's lots of cool little details along the way suggesting that the workers really enjoy their jobs...

That's a little fuzzy chicken by the newspaper stand. Why? I have no idea.
The prisoners at the local - and small - jail get to chat up the ladies through the fence.

Love the carhop trying to fix her skates, and the building is gorgeous. The signs said that all the buildings were custom built for the layout. I certainly believe it.
Red Drum Cola? Is that a Shining reference?
Buffalo / Springfield? Crazy Horse? Broken arrow? I don't get Silver Fiddle, but there's a Neil Young theme here.

The yard of Kitterman Construction had the Neil Young signs, and the inside is plastered in Neil Young album cover reproductions. I'd forgotten Neil's connection to model trains.
Love the roof garden and sunbather
Two kids diving into the river (one frozen in mid-air) and one dangling from the bridge...hope the water's clean.
This little guy was pooping in the woods.

Some of the boxes in Bredestege's Market are a little anachronistic.

cute dog park
I can't tell if the woman is angry at the cop, but I appreciate fat cop's donut.
funny stuff
Those are raccoons going through the trash cans. Sorry for the bad focus.
O'Malley's Chinese Buffet? Funny stuff
The highest point on the whole display had a little American flag. Nice...
Why does Black Professional have to be the one to have Obama's pic on the wall?

I have no idea why that button played Mexican Music. The scene showed a horse camp of some sort. There were lots of buttons, but the others were like "steel mill sounds" or "train sounds" or "subway train horn". This one was freakishly out of place.
I see you, too, Toots.
One of the coolest bits to me was seeing lots of local businesses advertising in the most contemporary part of the display. I saw lots of Cincinnati & West Chester businesses. I'm tempted to call the place up and see what their prices are. I'd love to have a little Princeton building there.

There was also a train (not model) museum along the way retelling the history of the railroads in the United States. Most of that was uninteresting to me, except for the first fact on this poster of superstitions...

I pass right by the Maud-Hughes railroad bridge all the time. I'm not a superstitious person, but that's neat to know.

There was also work being done to further expand the layout.

And there's a side room with other exhibits like this one dedicated just to Neil Young and his relationship with Lionel trains. The Neil Young exhibit was made with a lot of love and was remarkably up-to-date, including an image of one of his albums that came out just last month.

The Junction also has a gift shop and a model train/toy store. They're not particularly noteworthy.

The A-Maze-In Funhouse, however, was pretty frickin' cool and well worth the second price of admission.

Curtain Chaos was a maze of small (four foot by four foot maybe) rooms. Each wall appears to be identical, alternating red and white vinyl curtains making the place look like a claustrophobic circus tent. Some of the walls, however, have real walls behind those curtain strips. Others allow a short passage to a sign. Only a few let you continue through the maze. It's an impressively disorienting experience and one that bordered a bit on panic-inducing. Very well done, folks...

The next attraction was Clown College that had a perspective room (appearing to be square but not being that at all), a fun selection of clown portraits that performed when their button was pushed, and a room set at a thirty degree angle that allowed for pictures of people in the room looking like they were leaning all askew.

These are the pictures I get when I go alone. Sorry...I swear that floor is padded (as is the left wall) and that the floor is at about a 30 degree angle with the right being higher than the left.
Then there was the Mirror Maze made of equilateral triangular rooms, some with mirrored walls. The result is a wonderfully hard to manage maze where every view seems to run straight into infinity.

Outer Limits had really only one thing worth noting: a tunnel that rotated around you and was incredibly disorienting. I felt sick in there after only ten or so seconds. Marvelously well constructed this one...

The Crazy Caper wasn't much to write home about, having only one neat room with UV-lit bungee cords and mirrors...

Freakishly, the Christmas Journey was open and had a real, live Santa sitting there waiting for me to take a photo on his lap. I was so stunned as the 'elf' (worker) walked me into his room that I didn't even think to take a picture of him sitting there. It was odd.

I asked him how he was doing, and he said he was hot. I asked if he was there year-round, and he said it was only for their Christmas in July event. Then he'd be back in the winter.

So weird...

All in all, I actually really enjoyed EnterTainment Junction. I don't know that I will go back, partially because the price of admission ($12.95 for the display plus $9.95 for the A-Maze-In) is a little steep.

If I do go back, I'm dropping the extra money to get the VIP backstage tour.


Ame said...

One of my sisters has a son who is autistic. William has a thing for trains. They spend every Sunday at the CSX yard watching real trains. They were given a membership to Entertrainment Junction when it opened and have been going once a month since then. He loves it.

PHSChemGuy said...

I've read a couple of news stories along that line - families with special needs children who just love the Junction, Neil Young's son with cerebral palsy. It's an interesting connection.