Friday, September 12, 2014

Two Awesome New Holiday DVDs

I love holiday episodes of TV series which makes me particularly excited for two upcoming DVD releases from the fine folks at Mill Creek Entertainment. First off, let me say how much I adore Mill Creek Entertainment. Besides Disney, they have got to be my favorite company putting out home video material today. They constantly have imaginative and unique titles on their slate, always at a very low beyond-reasonable price.

Holiday episode collections have become quite popular in the last couple of years, mostly with Christmas episodes but Mill Creek is getting ahead of the game with a fantastic looking collection of Halloween themed episodes of 13 different sit-coms. TV's Spookiest Halloween Episodes collects trick-or-treat fun filled episodes of a wide variety of sit-coms and offers them up in one neat package. What I'm really digging about this collection is the wide range of years this collection represents from early 60's (Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie) to late 90's (Mad About You, NewsRadio.) What's also impressive is the range of popularity of the series represented. Some obscure goodies like Square Pegs and Ned and Stacey are tucked in there along with The Cosby Show and Roseanne. To me, this collection is just about perfect. I'm not sure I ever need to watch an episode of That 70's Show, but all the others I can't wait to dig into, especially The Jeffersons, Square Pegs and The Facts of Life. This is just a solid collection I can't wait to add to my library.

Then we've got Mill Creek's Christmas edition of Holiday themed episodes with TV's Merriest Episodes. I already have an enormous collection of Christmas TV episodes on tape and DVD and I'm really looking forward to making this disc part of the yearly viewing traditions.  Again, there is a great variety as far as ages of the shows although this one is a little more heavy on the mid 80's to mid 90's. The collections two vintage episodes: Bewitched and The Flying Nun are the same episodes that appeared in Shout Factory's (also excellent) 1989 collection Merry Sitcom! But it does feature The Ellen Show, which was a great one season CBS sitcom that aired between Ellen's popular ABC sitcom and her huge hit talk show.

TV's Spookiest Halloween Episodes is released Sept. 16, 2014 and TV's Merriest Episodes is available October 14, 2004. Both have an MSRP of $9.98.

If Holiday episodes are you thing, there are also two new collections of The Dick Van Dyke Show out from Image Entertainment. Halloween Episodes Collection is available now and contains 4 episodes while Classic Christmas comes out October 7 with two episodes.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

All The Movies I Saw in 2013 - A List For No Good Reason At All

A few years ago, for no good reason at all, I started keeping a log of every movie that I watched. Mostly it was done on this blog, but then I stopped doing movie write-ups but still kept the log going on my phone. 2013 has come and gone and I'm still sitting here with the big list of movies that I watched, and I figured I might as well post the list. In 2012 I saw 236 movies, which was up 33 movies from the year before. In 2013 I was able to see 212 movies. That's down a few from the previous year but two major life changes occurred last year. We had a baby in April, and while an infant is considerate enough to sleep in your lap for 90 minute stretches, there's also that precious need for sleep in the early months of parenting an infant. I also discovered hour long dramatic series in 2013. While I have prided myself on never watching any thing other than comedy on television, the past tv season saw me getting swept up into the likes of The Blacklist, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Fargo and Orphan Black. So many movie nights were "lost" to binging on quality television,  but it's all good.'s the list:
  1. A Bug's Life (1989)
  2. Toy Story 2 (1999)
  3. Cars 2 (2010)
  4. Dark Shadows (2012)
  5. This Means War (2012)
  6. Cleanflix (2009)
  7. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
  8. Only The Lonely (1991)
  9. Frankenweenie (2012)
  10. Die Hard 2 (1990)
  11. Compliance (2012)
  12. Airplane II: The Sequel (1982)
  13. Mulan (1998)
  14. Ernest Rides Again (1993)
  15. Iron Man (2008)
  16. Ted (2012)
  17. A Haunted House (2013)
  18. Rock of Ages (2012)
  19. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985)
  20. Deal of the Century (1983)
  21. Joyful Noise (2012)
  22. Pitch Perfect (2012)
  23. 9 to 5 (1980)
  24. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
  25. Walking The Halls (2012)
  26. Hey There, It's Yogi Bear (1964)
  27. The Avengers (2012)
  28. To Rome With Love (2012)
  29. Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)
  30. Movie 43 (2013)
  31. 17 Girls (2011)
  32. The Invisible War (2012)
  33. The AristoCats (1970)
  34. Groundhog Day (1993)
  35. The Dukes of Hazard: Carnival of Thrills (1980)
  36. Flight (2012)
  37. Oscar Nominated Short Films 2013 - Animation (2013)
  38. Xanadu (1980)
  39. National Lampoon's Senior Trip (1995)
  40. History of the World: Part I (1981)
  41. Sleeper (1973)
  42. Race The Sun (1996)
  43. Small Time Crooks (2000)
  44. Repossessed (1989)
  45. Here Comes The Boom (2012)
  46. Escape From Planet Earth (2013)
  47. Taken 2 (2012)
  48. Mardi Gras Spring Break (2011)
  49. Two of a Kind (1983)
  50. Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003)
  51. The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones (1987)
  52. So Undercover (2012)
  53. House at the End of the Street (2012)
  54. The Hollywood Knights (1980)
  55. Project X (2012)
  56. The Babymakers (2012)
  57. Police Academy (1984)
  58. The Oogieloves in The Big Balloon Adventure (2012)
  59. Mortuary Academy (1988)
  60. Hot Stuff (1979)
  61. The Princess and the Frog (2009)
  62. Fun and Fancy Free (1947)
  63. The Nude Bomb (1980)
  64. For A Good Time, Call... (2012)
  65. Abbott and Costello in Hollywood (1945)
  66. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
  67. Batman Begins (2005)
  68. Clue (1985)
  69. Paul Williams is Still Alive (2011)
  70. Drive-In (1976)
  71. Skyfall (2012)
  72. Private Resort (1985)
  73. Cool Runnings (1993)
  74. Darby O' Gill and the Little People (1959)
  75. Au Pair Girls (1972)
  76. The Sessions (2012)
  77. Robot and Frank (2012)
  78. The Pill (2011)
  79. Argo (2012)
  80. Roller Town (2012)
  81. Tyler Perry's Madea Goes To Jail (2009)
  82. To The Artic 3D (2012)
  83. The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000)
  84. Fun Size (2012)
  85. Bachelorette (2012)
  86. Nobody's Perfect (1989)
  87. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)
  88. Scooby Doo: Mask of the Blue Falcon (2013)
  89. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
  90. The Fox and the Hound (1981)
  91. The Emperor's New Groove (2000)
  92. Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Apart (2012)
  93. Hitchcock (2012)
  94. Scary Movie V (2013)
  95. Hollywood Shuffle (1987)
  96. Wallace & Gromitt: The Curse of the Ware-Rabbit (2003)
  97. This is 40 (2012)
  98. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)
  99. The Meteor Man (1993)
  100. Chicken Run (2000)
  101. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2001)
  102. Iron Man 2 (2010)
  103. Iron Man 3 (2013)
  104. Foodfight! (2012)
  105. Wild Wheels (1992)
  106. The Guilt Trip (2012)
  107. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
  108. Blown Away (1993)
  109. Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
  110. Safe Haven (2013)
  111. Parental Guidance (2012)
  112. National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985)
  113. Man of Steel (2013)
  114. The Three Stooges (2012)
  115. Attack of the 50ft. Cheerleader (2012)
  116. All In: The Poker Movie (2012)
  117. The Wrong Guys (1988)
  118. LEGO Batman: The Movie - DC Super Heroes Unite (2013)
  119. The Noose Hangs High (1948)
  120. Pinocchio (1940)
  121. Freaky Friday (2003)
  122. Mean Girls (2004)
  123. Monsters University (2013)
  124. Arctic Tale (2007)
  125. Porky's (1982)
  126. Spaceship (1983)
  127. Oz The Great and Powerful (2013)
  128. Despicable Me 2 (2013)
  129. Wings of Life (2011)
  130. Winnie The Pooh (2011)
  131. Pooh's Heffalump Movie (2005)
  132. Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
  133. Teen Beach Movie (2013)
  134. Tuck Everlasting (2002)
  135. Superman Unbound (2013)
  136. Wiener Dog Nationals (2013)
  137. Smurfs 2 (2013)
  138. Planes (20123)
  139. Behind the Candelabra (2013)
  140. Summer Rental (1985)
  141. Spring Breakers (2013)
  142. House Party: Tonight's The Night (2013)
  143. Admission (2013)
  144. Tom & Jerry's Giant Adventure (2013)
  145. G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)
  146. 21 & Over (2013)
  147. Identity Thief (2013)
  148. Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie (2012)
  149. 42 (2013)
  150. Because of Winn-Dixie (2005)
  151. Piranha (1978)
  152. Lay The Favorite (2012)
  153. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  154. I Yabba Dabba Do! (1993)
  155. The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie (2004)
  156. Gidget Gets Married (1972)
  157. The Smurfs (2011)
  158. Annie (1982)
  159. Disney's Teacher's Pet (2004)
  160. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)
  161. A Good Day To Die Hard (2013)
  162. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013)
  163. Epic (2013)
  164. Top Cat The Movie (2011)
  165. The Little Mermaid (1989)
  166. The Sword in the Stone (1963)
  167. Young Frankenstein (1974)
  168. InAPPropriate Comedy (2013)
  169. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
  170. This Is The End (2013)
  171. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  172. Mickey's House of Villains (2001)
  173. The Call (2013)
  174. The Kings of Summer (2013)
  175. Monsters University (2013)
  176. Thor (2011)
  177. X-Men (2000)
  178. Blackfish (2013)
  179. Pepples (2013)
  180. The Bling Ring (2013)
  181. Expecting Mary (2010)
  182. The Avengers (2012)
  183. Ultimate Avengers (2006)
  184. Jedi Junkies (2010)
  185. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  186. Pete's Christmas (2013)
  187. I'll Be Home For Christmas (1998)
  188. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
  189. The Road to Christmas (2006)
  190. Holiday in Handcuffs (2007)
  191. The Heat (2013)
  192. Holiday Switch (2007)
  193. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
  194. The Hunger Games (2012)
  195. Battle of the Bulbs (2010)
  196. Frozen (2013)
  197. Bad Santa (2003)
  198. Ernest Saves Christmas (1989)
  199. The Santa Clause (1994)
  200. Terms and Conditions May Apply (2013)
  201. Farmageddon (2011)
  202. The Hangover Part III (2013)
  203. Christmas in Conway (2013)
  204. Gremlins (1984)
  205. On the 2nd Day of Christmas (2007)
  206. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
  207. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
  208. Good Luck Charlie, It's Christmas (2011)
  209. Strange Brew (1983)
  210. The To Do List (2013)
  211. Hell's Highway: The True Story of Highway Safety Films (2003)
  212. Iron Man (2008)

Friday, September 05, 2014

Look What's Gonna Be On The TV

The new Fall TV Season is just around the corner. Here's what looks interesting to me:

Mulaney  Sundays at 9:30 on FOX First up we have a very traditional sitcom with a great cast. John Mulaney is a pretty funny guy. I'm familiar with him from Best Week Ever, he's made a few appearances on SNL and he's pretty good on Kroll Show. Here he plays a comedian, living in New York...if that sounds familiar, look at his apartment - it also looks like Seinfeld's apartment. The supporting cast includes the great Nasim Pedrad, defecting from SNL to fill the Elaine roll. Comedy legend and one of my very favorite personalities, Martin Short is also on board. It's a multi-camera sitcom, of which I'm a huge fan of the dying art form.

Gotham Mondays at 8:00pm on FOX Premieres September 22. Last year was the year of the Hour Long Drama for me. I've almost never watched any hour long shows until last year when I got engrossed in five different series! This new Batman-less Batman show sounds interesting. It follows the lives of all the Batman characters before they became the characters we know from the comic books and movies. My appreciation for comic book projects in growing, and this new drama feels like it's going to feed my hunger.

Marry Me  Tuesdays at 9:00pm on NBC Premieres October 14. If you've spoken to me in the past three years, then you've probably heard me go on and on about the show Happy Endings, which was in my opinion the best written show on television in a long time! Well, it was cancelled after three glorious seasons but the creator of that show in back with Marry Me, which feels like it will be very similar - it even has Happy Endings' cast member Casey Wilson as the lead!

Selfie Tuesdays at 8:00pm on ABC This looks like a train wreck, but I will watch.

The Flash Tuesdays at 8:00pm on The CW Finally, we have another superhero show - this one looks like it will be fun. I really wished I had got into The CW's Arrow series, so here's another chance for me to jump on from the beginning.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

1984-a-thon: Angel

Today we are taking part in the 1984-a-thon, a celebration of the finest year in cinema: 1984! You can check out a ton of other reviews for just about every movie from 1984 over at Forgotten Films. Thanks to Todd who runs that fine film website for letting us take part in the festivities!

1984 brought us Ghostbusters, Gremlins, breakdancing and Steve Guttenberg as a leading man. It also gave us one of the finest films in the Dead Hooker genre, "Angel."

Molly is a pretty high school girl attending a private academy somewhere in Los Angeles. She looks like she might be pushing her late 20's but she has pigtails so she must be 15.  During her school hours she puts up with homework, tests, gym class and the school jock who wants to date her - but he's a jerk! Then at night, Molly puts on her black leather mini-skirt, red high heels and a ton of makeup (the standard hooker uniform) and hits Hollywood Boulevard as Angel the hooker.

It sounds rough but Hollywood Blvd circa 1984 must have been such a fun place. Angel has a whole group of friends she hangs out with on the strip. There's Yo-Yo, the Charlie Chaplin impersonator; Kit Carson, the ex-movie cowboy, and Mae, a transvestite who's as quick with a one-liner as she is with whatever else transvestites are quick with. Angel also has a group of equally attractive girlfriends who are also hookers. We don't get to know the other girls too well because it turns out there's a crazy hooker killer on the loose and he's killing hookers!

The fact that there's a crazy hooker killer killing hookers in the hooker's town is enough to make hookers and their cowboy friend yell at the cops and tell them they ain't doing their job. However, a guy killing hookers isn't enough to make hookers stop going into dark alleys and seedy motels with complete strangers. I mean, a girl's gotta make money, right!? One by one, Angel's lady friends are getting picked off...and the cops seem to think all these prostitute murders just somehow might be connected.

The guy killing hookers has got quite a backstory, or at least we assume he does. He's got newspaper clippings taped up all over a wall in his hotel room. Good newspaper clippings are never taped to the wall, it's always the clippings that piece together a crazy person's slow decent into madness. Even though we can't make out a word on those newspaper articles, we know this guy is a real sicko. He does things like shirtless sit-ups on a slanted board, eating an egg by poking a tiny hole in it with a huge knife and sucking out the innards, cutting his own hair and worse of all...he puts his boots up on the seat in front of him at the porno theater!

As you may have guessed by now, this movie is more about prostitute murders than it is about the  wacky or scandalous hi-jinks of a high school teenager turning tricks on the side. The high school side of Molly's life doesn't come into play until an hour into the film. Her secret life is found out when some boys from school spot her on a street corner, throw her into their car and try and gang rape her. (Boys will be boys.) By the time the school nerd offers her $22 bucks for a date, Angel has had enough of high school, being a prostitute and having her friends killed by the town prostitute killer.

As Angel's world comes crashing down around her, she eventually gets pushed to the limit. She buys a gun from a KFC employee who passes her the gun in the bottom of her two piece leg and thy combo meal. Angel takes to the street looking for the infamous hooker killer. When she catches up with him, an anti-climatic and confusing foot chase ensues for what seems like 12 minutes.

"Angel" isn't a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it has enough going for it to make it work somehow. After all, the movie did win Best Feature at the 1984 San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival! The performances are fun. The adorable Donna Wilkes (Jaws 2) is perfect as Molly/Angel.  Dick Shawn (who once played Jack Tripper's father on Three's Company) steals the show as Angel's sidekick Mae the Transvestite. Veteran character actor John Diehl is super creepy as the guy killing all the hookers. Rory Calhoun looks like he's having a blast playing the aging cowboy movie star and he must have because he's the only one that reprises his role in the sequel. Only Cliff Gorman as Lt. Andrews looks like he's pretty bored with the whole affair.

With a tag line like "High School Honor Student By Day, Hollywood Hooker By Night" you'd expect a pretty steamy flick, but this drive-in classic doesn't offer much more than some gratuitous locker room nudity. We never see any of the girls turn a single trick and even the violence is kept to a minimum.

In the end, "Angel" is a silly and brainless offering that's one part comedy, one part exploitation film, and one part crime drama. It was profitable enough to have a sequel the following year, "Avenging Angel" and two more down the pike: 1988's "Angel III: The Final Chapter" and "Angel 4: Undercover" in 1994.

You can find "Angel" digitally through Amazon Instant Video as a rental or purchase, the DVD is also available for purchase through Amazon or rental from Netflix DVD.  

Hey! While you're here...why don't you read some of these other movie posts:

10 Best Movies With Robots In Them
10 Favorite High School Movies
10 Great Summer Movies

Monday, August 18, 2014

#EverySimpsonsEver Marathon (The First Half)

People always talk about how The Simpsons isn't as good as it used to be. What they are basically saying is, "I don't watch The Simpsons anymore. It's been on for too long. I've lost interest. Hey, let's watch videos of people dumping buckets of ice water on their head!" The Simpsons has been consistently one of the most funniest, and at times THE funniest, show on television for the past 25 years. Sure, they have had some off episodes that weren't as funny as others. But nowhere else on the tube will you find the rich, biting satire on American culture that the folks in Springfield have been providing season after season.

The Simpsons became a series in 1990. I was a junior in high school at the time. I have been watching The Simpsons for more than half my life! It's unimaginable to have a world without The Simpsons. Hopefully the show will be around for a long time.

Speaking of long times, cable network FXX (yes, that's a real station) is running every episode of The Simpsons starting Thursday, August 21 (my birthday) and running for 12 days until they run every single one of the 564 episodes and the feature order, non-stop. That's pure television joy right there. I'm not in the position in life to lay around on the sofa for a day and watch non-stop, but here's some of the highlights from the schedule - so set your DVRs accordingly!

The #EverySimpsonsEver marathon kicks off this Thursday at 10:00am with the 1989 Christmas special "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" and continues to run all of season one until 4:30pm EST.

Season 2:
8/21 5:30pm - Treehouse of Terror
8/21 7:30pm - Bart Vs. Thanksgiving
8/21 8:00pm - Bart The Daredevil
8/21 9:00pm - Bart Gets Hit By A Car

Season 3:
8/22 8:00am - Flaming Moe's

Season 4:
8/22 3:30pm - Kamp Krusty
8/22 6:00pm - Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie"
8/22 9:00pm - Marge Vs. The Monorail
8/23 12:00am - So It's Come To This: A Simpsons Clip Show

Season 5:
8/23 2:30am - Homer's Barbershop Quartet
8/23 4:30am - Treehouse of Horror IV
8/23 9:00am - Lisa Vs. Malibu Stacy

Season 6:
8/23 3:00pm - Itchy & Scratchy Land
8/23 9:00pm - Bart vs. Australia
8/23 11:00pm - Two Dozen and One Grayhounds
8/24 1:30am - Who Shot Mr. Burns? Pt. 1

Season 7:
8/24 2:00am - Who Shot Mr. Burns? Pt. 2
8/24 3:30am - Bart Sells His Soul
8/24 6:30am - The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular
8/24 12:00pm - 22 Short Films About Spingfield

Season 8:
8/24 8:30pm - Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious"
8/24 9:00pm - The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show
8/25 2:00am - The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase (perhaps my favorite episode)

Season 9:
8/25 3:00am - The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson
8/25 7:30am - Miracle on Evergreen Terrace

Season 10:
8/25 5:30pm - When You Dish Upon A Star

Season 12:
8/26 7:00pm - The Worst Episode Ever
8/27 12:00am - Simpsons Tall Tales

Ok, it goes on for days. You get it...this should be a good start!

Monday, August 11, 2014

My 10 Favorite Hersheypark Attractions

The WWoB Staff
A few weeks ago I took my boys to Hersheypark in nearby Hershey, PA. We spent the whole day there, arriving just as the gates opened at 10:00am and returning to the parking lot after the park closed at 10:30pm. There's a lot of great stuff at Hersheypark, even though the majority of the rides are typical carnival style rides you can find at dozens of other parks - Hersheypark does have plenty of charms that are all their own. I'm a fan of old school and more traditional theme park attractions as well as goofy things in parks too. Here's my list of 10 favorite attractions at The Sweetest Place on Earth!

Capital BlueCross Monorail First of all, the fact that Hersheypark has sold the naming rights to a handful of their rides is just a delight. Second, I love monorails. From Disney's world class transportation system down to ever the shuttle at an airport - monorails are good times in my book. Hershey's monorail serves strictly as entertainment purposes, with open air cars that travel not just around the treetops of the amusement park but also beyond the park fence and into the city of Hershey itself. The monorail makes a loop outside the park, offering riders a view of the town's famed Hershey Kiss street lights and the former Hershey Chocolate factory that Milton Hershey built over 100 years ago. Another highlight for an amusement park nerd (such as myself) is the ride past the mysterious unused Monorail station that sits outside of Hersheypark about half way through the ride. The station is almost a carbon copy of the one used inside the park - I assume at one time the monorail was used as a preview of Hersheypark for those not yet inside the park. Who knows!? (Nearby Dutch Wonderland once employed the same method with their monorail.) The monorail also glides over ZooAmerica, Hersheypark's separate but connected North American Zoo. The entire trip is accompanied by a delightful recording that not only tells the history of Hersheypark and the surrounding area, but also extols the virtues of Capital BlueCross health insurance.

Carrousel Hersheypark's carrousel is the real deal - a beautiful antique merry machine made up of all wooden hand carved horses and chariots. The ride was installed in 1944, it was bought used and actually dates back to 1919! The music is provided by a 1926 Wurlitzer Band Organ, which is a real treat. As someone who pays attention to such things - most parks not use prerecorded carrousel music, but there is nothing like the sound of one of these actual machines in action. The carrousel is not only beautiful but large and fast. It's a great ride, and the first one you'll encounter when entering Hersheypark!

Chevrolet Music Box Theatre  Hersheypark puts on some top notch live entertainment in their huge indoor theater. This season they offer two different shows; during the day is a rock oriented song and dance revue and in the evening hours three pianist duel it out. In addition to seeing a good show, it's also a nice opportunity to take a load off your feet in the air conditioning.

Comet  The Comet is Hersheypark's oldest roller coaster. Commissioned by Mr. Hershey himself, the classic out-and-back style coaster was built in 1946. It's amazing that a ride built that long ago can still hold up against any ride built today, but it does! The first drop and it's subsequent climbs and dips provide just as many thrills as any of the parks other coasters. This old timer won't make you sick or leave you hanging on for dear life, but it will make you scream and it will put a smile on your face. The layout of the track provides a nice long ride. This is a great coaster!

Dry Gulch Railroad  Bob Howdy, I do enjoy me some amusement park trains. Hershey's is a cute little miniature railroad which doesn't circle the park, like most theme park trains, but instead travels over it's own terrain. There's a miniature recreation of a classic train bridge and a little western town which you travel through. The town even has a few gags and animations that are still performing after all these years. You also get to ride past the engine yard where the train is stored and cared for. This is an above average amusement park train experience.

Hershey's Great American Chocolate Tour  Perhaps the most unique ride at Hersheypark, isn't actually inside Hersheypark. This elaborate and massive ride through of a simulated Hershey Chocolate factory is technically inside Chocolate World, just outside of Hersheypark's admission gates. Chocolate World is the largest corporate welcome center in the county, consisting of shops, eateries, shows and this great ride. The ride takes you on an Omni-mover tour of the chocolate making process from cocoa bean to the wrapped and ready to eat delicious final product. After the tour, everyone gets a free piece of chocolate! Any ride that gives you free candy is just begging to be put on a Top 10 List. Chocolate World is an attraction unto itself and is open year 'round, but you'll also pass it on your way in and out of Hersheypark. (It's usually open an hour later than the theme park so you can visit on your way out.)

Kissing Tower   Named for it's windows in the shape of the famous Hershey candy, and not for randy teenagers making out high above the park - this observation tower/ride takes visitors to the top of the 250 ft. tower for a rotating panoramic view of Hersheypark, ZooAmerica and downtown Hershey, PA. The view is spectacular and the height is just enough to be considered a mild thrill ride. There used to be a recording that played during the trip that featured the classic "Hersheypark Happy" theme song but sadly it was not in use on our recent visit.

Lightning Racer  Here's a fantastic roller coaster, built in 2000 that features two identical tracks with trains racing to a finish line. What stands between the station and the finish line is a 90 ft. drop and over 3,000 ft of twisting and turning roller coaster track. The ride seems like it's never going to end as the track cross over itself and back and forth several times before speeding through a tunnel and lining right up with the opposing train before crossing the finish line. This fantastic wooden roller coaster is a blast and has been ranked in or near the top 10 wooden coasters in the country every year since it's opening.

Reeses' Xtreme Cup Challenge Currently the only dark ride inside Hersheypark, Xtreme Cup Challenge has riders using backwards laser guns to zap various targets as you ride through scenes of extreme sports.  What's great about this ride is that it makes very little sense. Sure, you're just ridding through a shooting gallery but why are we shooting at defenseless, innocent extreme athletes? And why are there so many different types of Reeses' Peanut Butter Cups all over the sporting arenas? Most of the characters in the ride are flat two dimensional drawings except for two creepy sports anchors who are complete audio animatronics. They look like department store dummies who were brought to life by an evil curse. I don't know, this ride is a mess of things going on but in the end it's fun and completely different than anything else offered in the park.

Twin Turnpike - Sunoco Classic Cars - Twin Turnpike gives you the option of driving a classic Model T style car or a fancy little sports car. Whenever given the option, I always go for the classic car mostly because the sports car always means tiny and uncomfortable. The Twin Turnpike tracks follow the same pattern around a cute little area landscaped and decorated with faux highway signs. Fake highway signs make or break an amusement park drive-your-own car ride.
If you've been the Hersheypark, comment with your favorite ride, show or attraction...

Friday, August 08, 2014

My Family's Favorite Ocean City Dining Spots - Updated!

Elias will never forget the ONE TIME
 I ordered the large fries!
This blog post originally appeared prior to the Summer of 2013. We often refer to it or share it with people who ask us for dining recommendations in Ocean City, MD. While some Ocean City traditions go back to our grandparent's days, other things can change real fast in OCMD.  Last year's list already needs some updating, so I'm rerunning the article again with some revisions, additions and corrections. The new material is be highlighted in red. Enjoy and Happy Eating!

With the Summer season quickly approaching, my family's thoughts turn to the beach - one of our favorite places to be in the dog days of Summer. We have been very fortunate over the past 7 years to have access to a beach house courtesy of my wife's aunt who is gracious enough to let us use the condo several times a year. Taking the cost of lodging out of the equation has made it possible for us to make frequent and lengthy trips to Ocean City, MD a tradition in our family.

If you've never experienced Ocean City, MD - it's basically Maryland's only resort destination. There is a beautiful beach that stretches for miles and miles accompanied by a world-class 3 1/2 mile Boardwalk lined with shops, arcades, rides, food and games. The rest of the town is pretty much made up of hotels, restaurants and mini-golf. In other words: It's a blast!

For this WWoB list, I brought my wife and kids into the mix and we all sat down and came up with a list of all our favorite places to grab a bite to eat in Ocean City. Most of these places have become traditions within our family...and even though we never hit all 20 of these places in a single trip, we probably enjoy most of them over the course of an entire calendar year.  (Each establishment's name is a link to their website)

The Abbey Burger Bistro 12601 Coastal Hwy, Bayside  A new discovery of ours and we LOVE it. Let's talk about the appetizer first. Crabby Tots! Delicious crab dip covering crispy little tatter tots, the same kind of tots you had growing up, is a marvelous idea worthy of a Nobel Prize! Outstanding. Next, move on to the burgers - they are simply put, some of the best burgers I have ever had in my life. The whole table agreed with that statement. They have tons of different things you can put on your burger, different rolls, different types of meats. It was all good and all fantastic. I had a burger with peanut butter and bacon that was to die for. Possibly the first time that during a week long trip to Ocean City, we revisited a place a second time - it was that good. On the second trip I had a burger with jalapenos and bree on thick cut toast - it was equally amazing.  This joint in in it's second year in Ocean City. They are kind of hard to locate, not visible from the highway although they have a big sign on the road. They are directly behind the Blue Ox Bar and Grill and right in front of Northside Park. Also, don't let the exterior fool you, it's a little dated outside but the food inside is oh so good!

Big Pecker's Bar &  Grill 7301 Coastal Hwy - While the food here is excellent, the main attraction (for my family) is their giant gliders on the front patio that seat up to 6 people. There, you can enjoy your meal in the warmth of the Ocean City sun while dining on fantastic sandwiches. Everything we've all ever had here has been very, very good. For breakfast, you'll find the biggest biscuits man has ever created!

The Bonfire 71st St. and Coastal Hwy - Huge buffet with something for everyone: big selection for the kids and an even bigger selection for the grown-ups. Excellent carving stations, fresh seafood, huge salad bar, awesome soups and how can you go wrong with one of the only places where you'll find all-you-can-eat Crab Dip? Yum!? Look into their Early Bird Special while you're in town, you can save a considerable amount of money dining you'll beat the wait in line. Tanner adds: "They have cool fish in their tanks (in the waiting area.)" and Elias says: "The chicken tenders are exquisite!"

Countryside Cafe  37242 Lighthouse Rd Fenwick Island, DE - This is a recent discovery of ours and we love it! We try not to do breakfast out when we're at the beach (simply because we spend a fortune the rest of the day eating) but when we do grab some AM eats this little unassuming spot has become a new favorite. We've only been for breakfast (they do lunch too) but everything on their simple menu of omelets and sandwiches and other breakfast staples is delicious! It seems to be a favorite with locals, but even what appears to be a long wait has never proven to be too much time. Heads up: They dont' take credit cards.

Crabcake Factory USA 12000 Coastal Hwy - This unassuming spot appears to be the lobby of a hotel, but it's actually home to some of the finest crabcakes in town. They specialize in Jumbo Lump Crabcakes - which are fantastic. Our very favorite item on the menu is the Jumbo Lump Crab Seafood Nachos, which is the highlight of the day when we have them! They are also known for their Bloody Mary's. Best fries off the boardwalk! They've added two more locations; one on 25th st. the other in Fenwick Island.

De Lazy Lizard 1st St. and  Bay - Really fun atmosphere, with seating on a beach like setting right along the bay. May we suggest the Godzilla Nachos!?  Well, the Godzilla Nachos are gone and the new nacho offering isn't bad but it's not spectacular either. They've expanded the outdoor area here to include a large playground for the kiddies. Good drinks, nice location have kept this place on our list!

Fat Daddy's 82nd St. and  Coastal Hwy - Really creative menu with all sorts of unusual sandwiches and pizzas. I recommend the Buffalo Shrimp Pizza. Tanner says their pizza is "mouthwatering!" The kids still ask to go here but honestly, Jen and I are kind of over it. There are more amazing places to try in town.

Fish Tales 22nd St Bayside - Here's a hot spot in OC that offers a little something special for everybody. I've heard people have waited up to three hours to get a table here...don't go at high dinner time and you'll be fine. The main attraction is a huge pirate ship that the kids can play on while you sit and enjoy a few moments of peace and quite with one of Fish Tale's many delicious drink specials. The seating is located on a sandy spot over looking the bay, so it's ok to take your shoes off before you even enter the place. Wide selection from their menu including burgers and seafood. The kids meal comes on a souvenir Frisbee which is also a nice touch. Fish Tales is an amazing way to spend a hot summer afternoon!

Frog Bar Inlet Village - Nobody will dispute that the best aspect of this little hole in the wall is the view. There is a tiny deck overlooking the waves crashing up against the shore of the inlet that just can't be beat. They offer tasty food and good Happy Hour specials and kids are more than welcome in this little watering hole. When we discovered this spot a few years ago, it quickly became a must-do on every trip. The kids love their Shirley Temples.

Grotto Pizza 12407 Coastal Hwy - Simply put, my vote for the best pizza in the world! It's all about the sauce! This Delaware tradition just recently opened their first Maryland location, and we couldn't be happier about it! Elias says: "The cheese and sauce combination is amazeballs. It brings out the flavor!"

Guidos Burritos   1st St. on the Boardwalk - I had a blackened shrimp burrito here that was simply one of the best meals I've had in my entire life! Washed it down with a Swedish Fish Margarita...need I say more? Brand new spot on the boardwalk is home to one hell of a tasty good meal! We went back a second time and the experience was kinda awful. They were out of numerous items on the menu...including the previously mentioned shrimp but also, no joke, my next two choices off their menu. The music was so loud it was unpleasant as was the cramped seating in the back of the restaurant. Reading review on Trip Advisor, you'll discover that many other people have had the same experience of out of stock menu items. Guido's is building a new location, a stand alone restaurant out on Coastal Highway, so perhaps that will change the experience in the future.

Hammerheads  10th St. Boardwalk - One of my wife's new favorites, the location and the ambiance are the big draw here. Seating right on the boardwalk makes this a great spot for people watching not to mention delicious huge drinks, some of them served in souvenir fish bowls. They have real tasty appetizers too and huge Steampots filled with all sorts of fresh seafood. We also love the Boom Boom Tacos. On the way out, there is a treasure chest for kids to pick out a prize.

Harpoon Hanna's Rt. 54  Fenwick Island, DE - This might be the only fine dining location on our list but it's a yummy favorite that my whole family likes. There are Bread Girls that come around with baskets full of fresh breads before and during your meal. We all love the Coconut Muffins, although my older son enjoys their raisin bread and ketchup. Steaks and seafood make up the bulk of the menu, my wife and I both rave over their scallops. On a recent visit with a party of 11 at 6:30pm on a Friday, we were seated promptly. Well played, Hanna!

Horizions 10100 Coastal Hwy (inside the Clarion Resort) This has become a new must-do breakfast spot for our family. We even have nearby family that comes into Ocean City to join us each visit. Every Sunday morning a wonderful breakfast buffet is laid out against the backdrop of a huge set of windows overlooking sand dunes and the beach. The view is great and the food is even better. The eggs are made to order, there is a fine selection of breakfast meats and the cheese blintz' are out of this world! This is also a great spot for a large gathering. We've visited multiple times with a party of 10 and have always been immediately seated!

Ice Cream Castle Justine's 12207 Coastal Hwy. - The Castle hasn't caught on like some other OC staples such as Dumsers, but this place has got to have the biggest selection of flavors and sundae combos in town. While other ice cream joints are mobbed, Ice Cream Castle usually only has a short wait. Last year we finally tried their Sandcastle Sundae which comes in a sand pail with shovels full of toppings. We all shared it and it was a really fun memory. Indoor and outdoor seating too! The name and management have changed but the place seems to be pretty much the same. Can't say we weren't disappointed though to see the change.

King Kone 143rd St. and Coastal Hwy. - A simple strip mall ice cream parlour makes our list probably for two reasons: first, it's in the same complex as one of our favorite pizza places on this list and second, when we discovered it our son, Elias, was obsessed with King Kong and there's a giant gorilla greeting guests outside the doors. But beyond the convenience and gimmick, there's some right-tasty hand dipped ice cream served up in a variety of combinations. We're all fans of a mint Grasshopper sundae they have as well as some crazy good shakes. They even have one of those food challenges where if you eat some giant 8 scoop sundae with 90 pounds of toppings, you get your name on the Wall of Fame. Good Times!

Little House of Pancakes, Ribs and Pizza 74th St. and  Coastal Hwy. - This is our favorite spot for breakfast. I had Snickers Pancakes here once! the pancakes! They obviously have really good breakfast dishes with a whole bunch of different types of pancakes and omelets. Good eggs! Seating is limited and it can get kind of crowded in the early morning, but worth a bit of a wait.

Phillips Seafood House 14101 Coastal Hwy. - The most outrageous seafood buffet you'll ever lay your eyes on! Crabs a half dozen ways including steamed, shrimp another half dozen ways, fish, clams, all kinds of other BBQ goodies, soup, pasta...the list goes on and on! The kids even get their own bar with kid-friendly options. The hamburgers on the kids bar are outrageous, but we always hate to fill up on burgers when there is so much seafood to be had! Best buffet in town, and you'll also want to arrive early at this one to avoid long lines and take advantage of an early bird special. Also, don't eat anything all day before you go! They've made a few changes to the lineup recently, a little more emphasis on non-seafood items but the whole experience still is fantastic!

Pizza Tugos 116th St. - This is THE go-to for pizza delivery in Ocean City. During the summer season, they deliver until 4am! We like this place not only for their late delivery hours but also for their dine in location at 116th St. You can find plenty of coupons for great deals on big feasts for the family and their dine in spot is fun and super casual. They have a full bar and big huge drinks that you refill yourself, the kids love it. Plus, they have the little umbrellas for the kids drinks and that scores high points with any kid.

Ponzetti's Pizza 144th St and Coastal Hwy. - There's never a wait at this classic pizza spot. This is our second favorite pizza in town, very similar to Grotto's. They also offer a nice selection of pasta and sandwiches plus a nice wine selection. There is a small arcade to keep the kids busy while you wait for your food.

Shenanigan's Irish Pub and  Grille  4th and Boardwalk - An Irish Pub right on the boardwalk might seem like an odd idea, but this joint has a top notch kitchen serving up a menu of Irish inspired dishes. I've had some really cool dishes here including Bangers & well as some incredible burgers too. My older son won't stop talking about a Pizza Burger he had once which was the special of the day. Relaxing outdoor dining overlooking the boardwalk and they have a dining room as well with a huge bar and nightly Irish music.

Tequila Mockingbird 130th St. and Coastal Hwy. - Our favorite spot in town for Mexican food, this family friendly watering hole/restaurant offers up some interesting seafood infused Mexican dishes. They also have an outstanding Margarita menu with some very colorful (and powerful) drinks! Since this one is so far up Coastal Highway, you can often find a no-wait time during busy dinner hours.  Kids menu with non-ethnic dishes is also available.

Thrasher's French Fries At the Pier, 2nd and 8th St. on the Boardwalk - For our family and millions of others, it just simply isn't a trip to Ocean City...or perhaps it isn't even summer...until we've had a bucket of delicious Thrasher's Fries. Anyone who has every had a french fry from this 80+ year old stand will tell you that they are simply the best fries on Earth...hands down! They sell three things at Thrasher's...Fries, Pepsi and Diet Pepsi (maybe bottled water too?) and there is no ketchup. Just salt, a little Old Bay and pour on the Apple Cider Vinegar. My mouth is literally watering just typing this!  Elias would like to add: "the warmth of the fries warms you up like a cozy cabin!"

Drop us a line in the comments section and tell us some of you and your families favorite beach side eats, maybe we'll include them in our next visit!

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