ANNUAL "BEST OF" FEATURES in newspapers and magazines make money—and there ain't nothing wrong with that. However, while everyone's scrounging around looking for what's best in Portland year after year, we often forget that behind what's proclaimed as "the best" is a person. And within that person's head, a dream.
Seventy-nine-year-old Roger Tofte is an artist. But instead of working in oils, watercolors, or clay, his medium is the amusement park. In 1971, Tofte opened "Enchanted Forest"—a small-ish fairy tale-themed park situated on a rolling hillside just a scootch south of Salem. What sets the Enchanted Forest apart from its bigger and better-financed competition (think Disneyland and Six Flags) is obvious from the get-go: It was lovingly created and built by the creative and detailed hand of Roger Tofte and his family.
In the early '60s, Tofte was a father of four, and realized that there wasn't much "family entertainment" in the Salem area.
"I'd seen a few little parks," Tofte told the Mercury, "but they weren't very impressive. I'd always had a big interest in art—so I figured, 'Why not?'"
And with that, Tofte bought 20 acres of hillside off I-5, and—hauling one bag of cement at a time—began bringing an imaginary world to life. At the time, he was a draftsman and artist for the state highway department (as well as a full-time father), yet spent every spare moment building the dream. Of course, it's a universal truism that all dreamers must have their detractors.
"The guys I worked with would ask me, 'How's it going up on Idiot Hill?'" Tofte remembered. "I just ignored it, though."
After years of painstaking work and a $2,000 loan from the bank, Enchanted Forest opened on August 8, 1971. On day one, 71 people showed up. The following Sunday, 1,000 people were at the gate. Tofte was able to quit his job with the highway department by 1973, and since then has devoted all his time—alongside daughters Mary (CFO), Susan (artistic director), and son Ken (attractions development and animatronics whiz)—to improving and adding new attractions.
And rest assured, you won't find this level of DIY craftsmanship at Disneyland. There, the squeaky cleanliness and ostentatious perfection creates an unsettling distance. Tofte's representations of classic fairytale characters are closer in tone to the original stories—which means while there may be an abundance of whimsy, there's also an undercurrent of dread. Adorable dwarves live in spitting distance of haggish witches. Alice—making her way through Wonderland—stares accusingly at the hookah-smoking caterpillar. And Peter Pumpkin Eater's imprisonment of his wife in a pumpkin shell? Let's just say that attractions such as this give the modern thinker pause.
Enchanted Forest features punny jokes alongside almost panic-inducing mazes; cute animatronic squirrels alongside unsettlingly hot teenage employees. It's got a log ride, a chili-infested snack bar menu, amazingly awesome souvenirs, and one of the best rides ever created: the Challenge of Mondor. It's Disneyland—without the suffocating morality. It's good, clean summertime fun that's surprisingly inexpensive (only $9.95 admission? Wait... WHAT?), and accomplishes exactly what the classic roadside attraction is supposed to accomplish: It transports you inside another person's dream.
While larger amusement parks fail miserably in this economy (the Six Flags corporation is currently struggling with bankruptcy), Tofte's forest is doing just fine, thankyouverymuch. Portland's travelers aren't flying cross-country for fun, they're taking a 45-minute drive south. What they're discovering isn't the gaudy hedonism one may expect from larger and infinitely more expensive attractions. Enchanted Forest is refreshingly small time, quirky, surprisingly rich with detail, and sweet. Oh, and I guess I would be remiss to leave out that it's utterly enchanting.
On your visit, you may see owner Tofte motoring around the park on his scooter. When we chased him down for our interview, and told him of our admiration for what he's done, Tofte seemed genuinely humbled and surprised.
"I guess I just don't hear that sort of thing much," he said.
Well, Mr. Tofte, you're about to hear a lot more of it, because this year's "Best of" edition of the Mercury is dedicated to you, and the dream you've created and continue to improve. Thanks for enchanting us.
BEST WAY TO BREAK YOUR ANKLES
In my defense, they don't tell you until it's too late: Upon entering the Enchanted Forest you'll see a sign laying out a few ground rules, one of which forbids the wearing of high-heeled shoes. Unless you happen to have a spare pair of something butchier stashed in the trunk of your car, though, there's little to do but plunge forward, confident in your well-heeled experience. But while other under-enforced rules common to amusement parks like "must be five-feet tall" and "no alcohol" have little bearing on your actual safety, the no-heels rule at Enchanted Forest is no joke. Not only is the entire place built into the side of a giant hill, and therefore on a constant incline, but a decent percentage of the attractions are designed to make you fall down. For instance, the crooked house that forces you to lurch through its nauseatingly sloping rooms, or the unrealistic but no less wobble-inducing Wild West-themed drunken simulation chamber. The upside is that if you make it through Enchanted's gauntlet heels intact, you'll have given your calves one hell of a workout. But the risk is too great. Better to wear flats and just stand uphill from your friends. MS
Best place for the Bellagio to totally rip off an amazing light and music show
That fountain outside the Bellagio in Vegas can go eff itself, because the most amazing display of light and sound you will EVER see is at Enchanted Forest! Spurts and drizzles of water joyfully frolic before your eyes as candy-colored, hallucinogenic lights throb and glimmer—all to music that's at once haunting and exhilarating. Clearly the inspiration for every water fountain ever created, the Fantasy Fountains Water-Light Show at Enchanted Forest will leave you stunned and amazed. Also, next time you're ooh-ing and aww-ing at that so-called fountain outside the Bellagio, just remember this: My buddy Shaun peed in it. But has he ever peed in the Water-Light Show at Enchanted Forest? No! No one would dare to commit such a crime. Not even Shaun. EH
BEST HANDSOME DEAD PRESIDENT
Only at Enchanted Forest will you score the chance to have your photograph taken—in period garb—with an honest-to-god Abe Lincoln impersonator (and a handsome one at that). Not only will the gentle, bearded (did I mention handsome?) giant solemnly pose for photographs—he'll even help you don a Confederate soldier's jacket. You haven't been buttoned 'til you've been gently buttoned by Abe Lincoln. Don't forget to tip your dead president. AH
BEST SELF-GRATIFYING ANIMATRONIC SQUIRREL
There is a lesson to be learned in the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs house—and it's not "don't take suspicious-looking apples from old crones," either. The moral here is simple: Don't peek into windows unless you're prepared for what you may witness. If one is brave enough to peer inside the bedroom of the Seven Dwarfs, one will see empty unmade beds, a chirping bluebird, and... an animatronic squirrel giddily pleasuring himself under a bedsheet. Oh, why doesn't the Enchanted Forest provide eyeball-washing stations?? WSH
BEST MAKE-OUT CAVE #1
While most of the Enchanted Forest's numerous zany caves feature a direct route from beginning to end, it's impossible not to get a little lost in the spooky Indian Cave! Empty private caverns, a secret staircase, and dark passages that narrow for the perfect "tight squeeze" await you and a consenting adult partner. SM
BEST WAY TO TEST YOUR CHILD FOR CLAUSTROPHOBIA AND/OR ARACHNOPHOBIA
No need for fancy, expensive psychological evaluations! If you suspect your kid has a fear of small enclosed spaces and/or spiders, simply force them through the small, dark rabbit hole in the Enchanted Forest's Storybook Lane! The tiny circumference of the tunnel (which is somewhere close to 50-feet long) ensures that most adults won't be able to enter, but hey, confronting one's fears alone is an important lesson that any young child would be well advised to learn. Besides, even if your tyke were to become paralyzed with fear, surely it's nothing a high-pressure water hose can't fix. MS
BEST ICE CREAM FLAVOR IN THE FREAKING WORLD
Right next to the Enchanted Forest snack bar, there's the Enchanted Forest Ice Cream Shoppe where you will find the most utterly enchanting ice cream flavor in the world: "birthday cake." Swear to god, you guys... it tastes exactly like a birthday cake! It's white with multi-colored sprinkles, and it's like someone froze one of those amazingly delicious Costco cakes, impregnated it with ice cream, and dumped it on a cone. Or maybe some magical wizard from centuries past milked a unicow (a cow with one horn), added a buttercup of fairy juice, churned it with his magic wand, and transported it into the future to a time when people could actually appreciate it's awesomosity. IT'S THAT GOOD! (Warning: After eating three cones, the magic kind of wears off.) WSH
BEST USE OF FRENCH CULTURE
Susan Vaslev, the daughter of Enchanted Forest founder and master sculptor of whimsical cement creations Roger Tofte, studied harpsicord in Paris before writing all the music that plays throughout the theme park. "I think the reason my music has the flavor it does is because I'm a classically trained musician," explains Susan, who composes primarily on synthesizer these days. "What I'm looking for is to set an atmosphere, whether it's to create a magical mood or excitement for what's to come." The music filtering through every inch of Enchanted Forest, from the parking lot to Ice Mountain, has a Final Fantasy flair to it, often evoking the tinkling of electronic wind chimes. Susan still performs all the music for her father while she's composing new work. "We really feed off each other," says Susan. According to park lore, Enchanted Forest is the only theme park in America that does not pay any licensing fees for its music. SM
BEST AWKWARD CONVERSATION WITH ABRAHAM LINCOLN
After having my picture taken with our 16th president (see BEST HANDSOME DEAD PRESIDENT), I awarded him with a one dollar tip—mostly because I feel sorry for anyone who gets shot in the head. "Would you like to ask Abraham Lincoln any questions?" he said. "Ummmm... sure," I stalled, having absolutely no idea of what I could possibly ask, while knowing I would kick myself later if I didn't ask something. Eventually I asked, "Ummm... is it true that during your presidency you were often depressed?" Abraham Lincoln's response: "Well, after three of my four children died, I did suffer bouts of melancholy... so yeah... there's that." Yeaaaahh... there's that. AWKWARD!! WSH
BEST ALLEGORICAL INDICTMENT OF THE PATRIARCHY
In perhaps the most egregious violation of female sovereignty in all the nursery-rhyme canon, Peter Pumpkin Eater, frustrated with the philandering ways of a wife whom he "couldn't keep," condemned the capricious woman to a lifetime of captivity in a gourdian prison—a pumpkin that, in some readings, represents pregnancy, as though gravidity will finally put an end to her whoring ways. As a small nod to her freewheeling past, though, his wife defiantly paints on her makeup every day—sign that while her body is trapped, her imagination still ranges far beyond her domestic sphere. AH
BEST DWARF NAMES MADE UP TO AVOID COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT
BEST NON-ANIMATRONIC MUTANT SQUIRREL
Of all the gruesome beasts and twisted critters we saw in Enchanted Forest, the most fearsome was a bizarre mutant hybrid, the likes of which would chill even the most experienced biologist down to the bone. And this wasn't even a concocted display! No, this was a live, wild monster that freely roams the Enchanted Forest.
Ostensibly a squirrel, this fiendish varmint scuttled around garbage cans, gorging on discarded nachos and candy. I quickly came to the sickening realization that this was no squirrel. For starters, it didn't move like a squirrel. It had a weird, rolling gait that was closer to the scuttling of a groundhog, or—gasp—even a slithering snake. And its hide was speckled with white spots, just like a baby deer.
What the devil was it?
We dare not answer that question, but we bring you rare photographic evidence of this freakish thing, with a warning that the fabled Groundhog-Fawn-Squirrelbeast is not a creature to mess with. Use extreme caution if you spot this ferocious abomination of nature. NL
BEST REAL ESTATE DEAL (IF YOU'RE A GHOST AND/OR AXE MURDERER)
"Not for the easily scared," warns the Enchanted Forest map, doing its best to shoo chickenshit travelers away from the Haunted House. As they well should! Not only are there ghosts in the Haunted House, but also rats, axe murderers, and, for some reason, a weird plant thing that reaches out and tries to grope you. Also, there are snickering teenagers who act like they're not scared, but they obviously are. It's a pretty good haunted house. I peed my pants twice, so I'll give it a rating of four Depends (out of a possible five). EH
BEST (AND MOST FRIGHTENING) COCKNEY BLACKBIRD TO EMERGE FROM A PIE
BEST WAY TO FRIGHTEN CHILDREN INTO NEVER LYING
The Enchanted Forest's Pinocchio display is an exquisite rendering of the beloved children's classic: The familiar puppet sits in the workshop with his maker, Geppetto, in a heart-warming tableau. But soon horror strikes! The wardrobe door crashes open, and a hideous zombified corpse emerges!
I know the Blue Fairy (or rather... ahem... the "Fairy with the Turquoise Hair"—sorry, Disney) is meant to be a pleasant, benevolent figure, but the Enchanted Forest's retelling rightly puts emphasis on the story's all-important moral: Forget that growing-nose nonsense, kids—if you lie, a terrifying blue hag will jump out of your closet and kill you until you are dead. NL
BEST PLACE TO SUFFOCATE A COWORKER WITH A PONCHO
The Log Ride at Enchanted Forest is both sublime and heart-poundingly exciting. The first part of the ride is a leisurely float, granting the log's passengers a rare view of the lush forest surroundings, which is then followed by the rude awakening of a 40-foot plunge and a wave of cold water engulfing your crotch. I would suggest wearing one of the plastic ponchos generously offered by the onsite staff. Not only does it provide protection from the nether-soaking elements, but when the coworker (in this case Ned Lannamann) sitting in front of you starts to complain about how "boring" the ride is, quickly whip the poncho over his face and pull back HARD, just as the log goes over the 40-foot precipice. "Boredom," thy name is now "heart attack." WSH
BEST SUPERFLUOUS MASCOT
"Chippie" the Chipmunk. (Best superfluous Mercury employee: Erik Henriksen, also pictured.)
BEST DUNGEONS & DRAGONS NERDGASM
Just by reading its name, you can tell that the Enchanted Forest is a pretty enchanted place. And just so we're clear on what that means: Pretty much everything in Enchanted Forest is 10 times better than anything anywhere else on the planet. So I hope you understand my meaning when I tell you that Enchanted Forest's Challenge of Mondor ride makes everything else in the whole place look pale in comparison! In the Challenge of Mondor, you meet the kindly wizard Mondor, who tasks you with ridding his magical, fantastic realm of evil! You do this by getting into a little buggy that drives around on a track, and then, whenever you pass by animatronic spiders and gnomes and trolls and monsters and dragons, YOU SHOOT THEM WITH LASERS. What's more, the buggies you ride in keep score of how many magical creatures you murder, so you can tell everybody what a badass dragonslayer you are! In case you want to try and beat our scores (you won't), here they are: Matt Davis 3,240; Wm. Steven Humphrey 3,150; Patrick Alan Coleman 3,100; Ned Lannamann 3,000; and me, 1,245,742,993. And at the end, Mondor told me I was the "new ruler of the realm!" Suck on that, dragons! I'm the ruler of the realm! 1,245,742,993! EH
BEST PANIC ATTACK
You know how sometimes when you're a grownup you pretty much think you can handle doing kid stuff? Like, no big deal, if a child can do it, so can you? But then your eight-year-old nephew challenges you to a game of chess and wins, or—to bring this back on topic—you see a child-sized maze at Enchanted Forest, and you think, "No sweat! That thing's tiny! I'll be out of there in like 30 seconds!" And so you enter the tiny maze with the utmost confidence only to realize, about five steps in, that the fact that the maze is tiny doesn't mean it's easy, it means it's cramped, and claustrophobic, and so stuffy you can barely breathe, I mean there's really not enough oxygen in there for an adult your size, and in fact it's not easy at all, and all the helpful signs that say "This way!" just lead you straight into a wall, and you can't even turn around because you're really just too big for the maze—I'm sorry, did I say "best panic attack"? I meant worst panic attack ever. AH
BEST FOREIGN GUN FOR CHILDREN
"the pleasure are much many I most like collecting all designs"
BEST MAKE-OUT CAVE #2
OMG, guys! You know that scene in The Goonies when Andy kisses Mikey by the waterfall thinking she's actually kissing Mikey's brother Brand? The Dwarf Mine is such a perfect setting to recreate that exact scene! You're right there on a bridge, overlooking a cavern with its sparkling Day-Glo waterfall. It's super dark in there and the music is so soft and soothing—sure, it's not like the awesome Dave Grusin score from the movie, but it totally works. PAC
BEST LINE UTTERED BY A TEENAGER IN A HAUNTED HOUSE
"Is that a lip?"
BEST PLACE TO SEE AN UNKNOWN CAST MEMBER FROM TWILIGHT
According to a teenage park employee, the best place to spot a dreamy member of the hit movie Twilight is in the Challenge of Mondor. "I totally saw one of the stars of Twilight on the ride," she gushed. "I don't know his name... but it wasn't the British one. Oh, and one time? there was a famous country singer, too! I don't know his name, either. I don't like country music. But they loved it!" WSH
BEST PLACE TO BE VICTOR STEFFEN
Outside the Challenge of Mondor ride, a plaque displays the all-time highest scores. (They said my score was "too big to fit" [and that's not the first time I've heard that, ladies], but they're going to have a special plaque made just for me, which will also have my picture on it, in which I will be giving a thumbs up with one hand, flipping a dragon off with the other, and there'll be a hot elf chick feeding me grapes or something.) Anyway, on this plaque of Mondor's champions? The one and only Victor Steffen, listed not once, but twice—indeed, Victor's combined score is an impressive 9,180. Nice, Victor Steffen. Nice. I'm guessing this has gotten you laid a ton. EH
BEST PLACE TO BE SHOUTED AT BY TERRIFYING ANIMATRONIC BRITISH PEOPLE (WHO AREN'T MATT DAVIS)
In Enchanted Forest's Ye Old World Village, you'll find Merlin's Magic Shoppe, which is kind of what Diagon Alley would be like if Diagon Alley was made out of papier-mâché. Which is fine, but then above you? Windows jerk open and robot people stick their heads out—their rubber faces cracked and wearing away to reveal the machinery inside. Like terminators if terminators were from England, these terror-bots screech their gibberish British language at you, slowly driving you insane. If you ever wanted to envision an America in which we lost the Revolutionary War (and the British were terminators), stand outside of Merlin's Magic Shoppe and shudder. EH
Best DENTAL PRACTITIONER
BEST PROOF THAT NEWTON WAS WRONG
There's no place for science in the magical fantasyland of the Enchanted Forest. In fact, science doesn't even work here. To wit: the Newtonian gravity demonstration on display in a storefront in the Olde European village. It's meant to be a sciencey exhibition of physics (yawn), as balls tumble and traverse a complex network of ramps, tubes, pulleys, and chutes. But on our visit, nary a ball was moving through the track; in fact, all the balls were completely motionless! Perhaps the display was broken—or PERHAPS the laws of physics don't apply to the Enchanted Forest. Suck it, Isaac! (Now if only there was a display proving Darwin wrong.) NL
BEST OFF-MENU SNACK BAR ITEM
Lunchtime at Enchanted Forest is a delight—especially for the summertime chili lover! Of the 14-item menu, a whopping SEVEN dishes are slathered with delicious meaty chili. In fact, the park's aromatic signature dish is so delectable, I decided to order "off-menu" and have my chicken nuggets coated with the stuff (and cheese). "Chili Cheese Chicken Nuggets?' the teenager behind the cash register croaked. "I'm not sure if we can do that." However after a quickly held and hushed conference involving no less than three employees, the answer was thus: "Sure! Why not?" The resulting dish was just as exquisite as expected, and I have little doubt that they will add "Chili Cheese Chicken Nuggets" to the permanent menu. Until then, just step up to the window and order your nuggets "Wm. Steven Humphrey-style" with a wink. They'll know what to do. WSH
Best squirrel eating a corn chip
Best place to be subtly accused of being a child molester
Admittedly, there are plenty of places where this can happen (just ask Mercury Food Editor Patrick Alan Coleman!), but nowhere beats the line outside the concession stand at Enchanted Forest. If you, like me, make the ill-advised decision to visit Enchanted Forest alongside three other grown men, rest assured that there'll be at least one concerned lady who'll size you all up, watch all of you out of the corner of her eye, and then sidle up and start asking weird questions like, "So... is the park younger than you expected?" and "So... what exactly are all of you here for?" Thanks for the memories, lady. No trip to an enchanted forest is complete without a stranger accusing you of being a chimo. EH
BEST HOT TEEN WORKING AT THE NACHO BAR
The dreamy Forest employee (only one in a park filled with super cute and friendly teens) struck up a conversation while dispensing vibrantly orange liquid nacho cheese from a machine onto my chips. "Imagine if you had a big pool of nacho cheese. You could swim in it and stuff. That'd be sweet," he said. Dude. So sweet. SM
BEST ADVICE YOU SHOULD NEVER, EVER TAKE
BEST PLACE TO SAY, 'THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID
BEST WAY TO NOT VIOLATE THE TERMS OF ONE'S PAROLE
As I took a whizz in Western Town's "Waterin' Troff," a small boy began breathlessly chattering to me about the Log Ride. "Did you go on it! Wow, that was fast! Oh my gosh!" The unattended lad couldn't have been more than six or seven years old. And there he was, trying to talk to me... in a public men's room... while I had my member in my hands. Danger! I thought to myself. Red alert! I didn't even dare turn to look at him. Only until I zipped up—and washed my hands—did I dare respond. "Yeah," I mumbled. "That Log Ride sure was fun." And then I ran... as fast as my legs would carry me. NL
BEST CREEPY ELF PUTTING THE MOVES ON A BEAR
Outside the borders of the Enchanted Forest, a relationship between a creepy little elf and a creepy little baby bear would probably be looked down upon. Or maybe it'd be illegal. Yeah, it'd probably be illegal. But in the Enchanted Forest, anything goes (or so I told that high school cheerleader I explored the Indian Caves with), so if all goes according to this creepy little elf's plan, these two are going to have a truly enchanted evening. (Psst! By "enchanted," I mean "boner filled.") EH
Spotted on community message board full of whimsical status updates about Enchanted Forest's fairy tale denizens: "Notice: Due to severe burns, Jack Be Nimble will not teach the candlestick jumping class this week." Actually, guys? That's not funny. Not funny at all. AH
BEST PLACE TO GET TO KNOW YOUR EMPLOYER
The challenges of Ice Mountain are not for the faint of heart. It's a twisty-turny, rollercoastery bobsled ride through a frosty mountainscape, with sudden drops, speedy swerves, and an insulting splash of water in your face when you least expect it. But for the truly hardcore, I'd recommend amping up the fear factor and riding Ice Mountain as I did: sandwiched between your boss' thighs.
As Mercury Editor in Chief Wm. Steven Humphrey and I arrived to the front of the line at Ice Mountain, the (hot, underage) attendant informed the two of us we'd be sharing a car, so I intrepidly took the seat in front, while Wm. Steven Humphrey, perhaps a little too happily, climbed aft. No sooner had the (hot, underage) attendant lowered the cramped lid than I realized there was not enough room in the car for two ample-sized male adults. So I swallowed my nervousness and nestled my posterior against Wm. Steven Humphrey's fronty bits. The ride began, and every turn and jerk pressed us closer; the rapid speed of the bobsled lashed me back against his flesh, which warmed me against the bitter arctic chill of Ice Mountain. We whooshed through the numerous turns, hills, plunges, and thrusts, our pulses quickened with excitement and arousal—but the thrill was over in a heartbeat.
As soon as we escaped the confines of our cozy bobsled, Wm. Steven Humphrey and I awkwardly and immediately parted ways. But in our memories? We'll always have Ice Mountain. NL
BEST CONSEQUENCE-FREE INTOXICATION EXPERIENCE
Should your throat grow parched while wandering the streets of Enchanted Forest's Western Town, duck into the saloon for an authentic Wild West boozing experience—sans booze. Behind the saloon's façade is a long corridor with a mushy, unstable floor, simulating, down to a stagger, the drunken lurching experience. While a quick straw poll indicated that a trip down drunkard's lane rendered this writer neither funnier nor prettier—a far cry from the optimizing effects of a martini—the subsequent lack of nausea, headache, and self-recrimination was a rare treat. AH
BEST THEATRICAL PRODUCTION IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST
In any textual analysis of the Enchanted Forest, it quickly becomes apparent that the hollows and vales of this storied park are rife with sophisticated subversions of conventional fairy tale narratives—from Little Bo Peep's radical rejection of private property to the sex-positive reimagining of Ms. Muffet and her tuffet. None is so quietly revolutionary, however, as the intellectual centerpiece of the park, a subtle masterpiece of post-feminist gender criticism and epic theater à la Brecht: Snow White and the Seven Dorks.
In a boldly unapologetic move, the Enchanted Forest players cast the tale's villain—the Evil Stepmother—not with a female actor, but with a young man in drag. This wry, post-feminist revision inverts traditional gender roles on a metatextual level vis-à-vis accepted masculine modes, while intertextually challenging an assumption common to all fairy tales: namely, that powerful women are synonymous with evil, and that feminine strength is a force to be feared. In Snow White and the Seven Dorks, it is in fact male power that poses the biggest threat to Snow White—to both her physical person, and to her status as a sovereign individual, not to mention the psychologically devastating consequences of perpetuating the notion that if a young woman waits long enough, her "prince will come" (shades of Beckett).
The pervasive influence of the male-dominated power structure is illustrated nowhere more clearly than a pivotal scene in which the Stepmother searches the stage in vain for the Woodsman, that elusive henchman of the patriarchy. As one young audience member cried, her passionate vigilance lending her words the gravitas of a cultural indictment, "He's behind you! No, other side! No, he's right there!" Indeed, young audience member. Indeed. AH
BEST THREE-HEADED FREAK BUNNY MONSTER
BEST PLACE FOR AN IMPROMPTU MILF WET T-SHIRT CONTEST
NOT THAT I WAS LOOKING! I mean, c'mon... they have ponchos RIGHT THERE! So I don't know if I can be blamed for staring in horror and shock when an attractive mother wearing a soaking white shirt steps out of her log with a big grin. NOT THAT I WAS STARING! I mean, for the love of God, there are children about!
I know that as an active, attractive young mother, you have a sense of adventure and like to take risks to keep the soul-deadening task of raising a family from turning you into a hollow-eyed zombie. In that respect, the Log Ride is a great way to get some excitement. But you should have realized you were going to get soaked. IT'S A LOG RIDE! Also, you should have connected that with the fact you're WEARING A WHITE T-SHIRT! Not that I was paying attention. Because I totally wasn't. Honestly. I'm married. What kind of sick person do you think I am? PAC
BEST MAKE-OUT CAVE #3
"Long John's Lookout." (Get it?)
BEST PLACE TO SHOOT A PET DOG
There are woefully few places in the US of A where one can partake in target practice on life-like household pets. Well ready, aim, fire in the Western Town shooting gallery! Gleefully unload a 50-cent round to watch the mangy robot dog on a rundown front stoop yelp and squirm! SM
BEST SIMULATION OF A HALLUCINOGENIC EXPERIENCE FOR TODDLERS
Kids ask a lot of questions: "Mommy, why are your pupils so dilated? Daddy, why are you putting those little paper squares in your mouth? Why are you guys trying to eat Mr. Fluffykins? Why are you looking at me like that? What's the number for 911 again?"
It's difficult to explain to a child that you are merely trying to tap into the thrumming soul of the ever-loving universe through the use of certain chemicals meant to facilitate the complete eradication of the ego for up to eight hours.
Luckily for you, the Crooked House allows your child to understand the effects of hallucinogens, making it completely unnecessary for you to say anything other than "This how Daddy feels after he eats the little paper squares."
The floors are slanted and difficult to walk on, the cat has accusing eyes, the angle of the walls makes them look as if they are being held up by nothing but your thoughts, man. And have I mentioned the cat has accusing eyes?
An hour or so in the crooked house and your child will no longer ask you those asinine questions. Instead, they will understand. Oh yes, they'll understand everything. PAC
BEST PLACE TO BREAK YOUR FAVORITE SOUVENIR THREE MINUTES AFTER PURCHASING IT
Enchanted Forest parking lot.
BEST ENCHANTED FOREST SOUVENIRS!