indoor attractions

This gem of Bauhaus architecture on the quiet side road of busy Torstraße houses an attractive indoor swimming pool. Built in 1930 by architect Carlo Jelkmann and saved through the bomb raids of WWII, it was renovated in the early 1990s, providing the city with a wonderful arena for freestyle, butterfly, backstrokes, etc.


Jamaican Plant :: Dieffenbachia is a genus of tropical flowering plants in the family Araceae. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental / houseplant. It’s a perennial herbaceous plant with straight stem, simple and alternate leaves containing white spots and flecks, making it attractive as indoor foliage. Its common name, “dumb cane,” refers to the poisoning effect of raphides, which can cause temporary inability to speak; for this reason it is aka the mother-in-law’s tongue.

This gem of Bauhaus architecture on the quiet side road of busy Torstraße houses an attractive indoor swimming pool. Built in 1930 by architect Carlo Jelkmann and saved through the bomb raids of WWII, it was renovated in the early 1990s, providing the city with a wonderful arena for freestyle, butterfly, backstrokes, etc.

Excalibur in ‘King Arthur’s Great Halls’, Tintagel, Cornwall.  Built by a custard millionaire in the 1930’s, it is the only indoor attraction in the world dedicated to the Arthurian legend. It has 72 stained glass windows, created by a pupil of William Morris, that tell the story and show the Coats of Arms and weapons of the knights. This is an opportunity to see the round table and granite throne.  


The nation’s capital is sweaty and sweltering right now, but Washington locals and visitors can find a seaside getaway in the most unlikely of places. In the middle of downtown D.C., the National Building Museum has installed a 10,000-square-foot indoor “beach” that has attracted kids, tourists and workers looking for an out-of-the-ordinary lunch break.

“What we’ve got here is a big, white box 200 feet by 50 feet,” explains Cathy Frankel, vice president for exhibitions. “We have it carpeted with our sand, which is more like white AstroTurf. You can walk around here on the beach. It’s always 75 degrees and sunny here.”

The beach — situated in the museum’s Great Hall amid massive Corinthian columns — consists of a snack bar, white lounge chairs with umbrellas and a pool of 700,000 white plastic balls, up to 3 feet deep in some places.

“It took a full day for the entire staff to unload all the boxes of balls into the ocean,” says Chase Rynd, the museum’s executive director. “We thought it was going to be really simple. … No, it was work.”

Take A Trip To D.C.’s Indoor Beach, Where It’s Always 75 And Sunny

Photo credits: Noah Kalina/National Building Museum

For decades rumors have swirled of an alarming trend taking place at Disney theme parks – that some people were dumping the cremated ashes of their dead relatives during some of the darker, indoor attractions. While there’s no official confirmation that this phenomenon is actually taking place, plenty of former employees allege that it’s a relatively common occurrence. And some of them have even pleaded online for the perpetrators to cut it out, since they’re basically dooming their departed loved ones to a final destination of getting sucked up into a shop vac and unceremoniously tossed in a dumpster.

In 2007, a brief ruckus ensued when a woman was reported to be sprinkling an unidentified substance over the side of the Pirates Of The Caribbean boat she was riding in. Though panicked staff immediately shut the ride down, neither the substance (described as a powder that dissipated quickly in the water) nor the culprit were ever found. Disney disputed any possibility that whatever it was that got dispersed could be human remains, because of course they did. This was relatively easy to do, seeing as how the police declined to even investigate the incident due to lack of evidence. In fact, The House Of Mouse’s official stance is that nobody has ever scattered ashes at the park, despite the fact that they get requests for it on a regular basis and allegedly have a specific protocol in place to deal with the aftermath.

Spreading Ashes Next To Goofy: The Worst People At Disney

Turning Out the Lights on Disease-Carrying Insects

Night falls, and the lights on streets and in homes go on. For more than 130 years, artificial light has been a key contributor to human development, allowing people to extend their work hours beyond when the sun goes down, school children to study their lessons, and communities to feel more secure on roads and in shared public spaces. 

In many parts of the world, though, the simple act of turning on a light after dark comes with dangerous risks. Lightbulbs attract insects. Some of these bugs are infected with microbes, which get transferred to people and cause chronic or deadly diseases. Certain mosquitoes bring malaria, Dengue fever or rash- and fever-inducing Chikungunya virus. Sandfly bites can pass on the ulcer-causing Leishmaniasis parasite. A kissing bug kiss can impart Chagas disease.

The impact is substantial, with insect-borne illnesses representing 17 percent of all infectious diseases and 1 million deaths annually around the world. But now researchers say there is a new disease prevention tool that could help lower infections by insects that find their way indoors using light as their guide. Scientists have found that LED bulbs tuned to emit certain wavelengths of light attract significantly fewer insects.

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Bigger Dinosaur, Bigger Thrills

As we saw in Monday’s Jurassic World trailer, the company was always seeking out a new way to draw in more guests. What’s more appealing than the introduction of a new dinosaur? 

It’s quite obvious (and even mentioned) that the T.Rex was to be the star attraction, and it’s even more fitting that Rexy was the main attraction for guests for the beginning years of Jurassic World.

You can see that the T.Rex feeding show is still very popular. Who doesn’t want to watch a goat get devoured?

But as you can see, the up close viewing space appears quite small (although I’m sure there’s other places to watch) and repeat guests probably demanded for more experiences similar to this one. 

That’s where the next big thing comes in: the Mosasaur. I’m assuming that the discovery of genetic material in aquatic “dinosaur” bones was a huge leap in the Jurassic World universe. Watching such a creature feed underwater would sound very exciting–and very pleasant for the ears of corporate.

You can see that an even larger viewing area was created–a stadium, along with an underwater one. More people can watch the Mosasaur feed from above and below. This was definitely an expensive addition to the park, and to maintain such a structure with dropping guest attendance was not a good thing. This was also probably the last thing added before the introduction of Indominus–considering that the Aviary and the Kayak Tour were probably opened around the origin of the park. 

I can see that advancements were probably not being made in extracting DNA from dinosaurs (or animals from the “Ice Age”, which probably tempted an indoor, cold climate attraction) so corporate probably commissioned a completely new dinosaur because that capability is there. 

The Indominus Rex feeding paddock is a huge stadium–and appears much larger than the Mosasaur one. Unfortunately, hints from the trailers indicate that this new show does not go over well.

Which brings me to a final point–over the course of about 10 years, the exhibits have gotten larger to warrant the excitement of new guests. The dinosaurs get bigger, along with the feeding shows and the thrills. This begs the question, does bigger really mean better? We’ll see soon from the film that it may not be so easily answered.


Arabia Steamboat Museum, Kansas City, MO

During the 19th century, steamboats navigating the Missouri River needed an incredible amount of wood to fuel their engines and propel them along the water. Trees lining the banks of the river were chopped down to feed the engines, and as the canopy of leaves overhanging the bank disappeared, the riverbank eroded and caused the dead tree stumps to wash into the river itself. These ‘snags’ drifted downstream with the current, and in doing so, they created sharp-pointed projectile missiles aimed at the wooden hulls of any boat steaming upstream. The problem was compounded over decades; particularly as the Missouri was not by any means a tame river, and its path shifted over the years, claiming more of the abandoned tree branches and stumps left by loggers.

On September 5th, 1856, one of those snags punctured the hull of the side-wheeler steamboat Arabia, as it traveled up the Missouri River with supplies bound for brand-new general stores in Kansas and Nebraska. The Arabia sank with all of its cargo onboard, and the boat was buried in the riverbed overnight. Silt in the river made the Arabia’s resting place dark and cool; excellent preservation conditions for a fresh-water wreck. The steamboat would remain there for 132 years.

In 1987, a family who had heard the stories of sunken steamboats passed down among local residents  – particularly stories of the Arabia – decided to turn treasure-hunters, and attempt to recover the lost steamboat. In particular, they were looking for one item among her 200 tons of recorded cargo: untapped barrels of Kentucky bourbon, now aged for more than a century. The family brought some of their friends on board, pooled their finances, and began to research. They originally planned to sell whatever they found at auction, but when they did find the Arabia, they recovered more than anyone had imagined…a wealth of preserved artifacts that shed light on the American Midwest for historians, in such huge quantities that to split up any of the collection seemed a tragedy. Instead of selling, they founded a museum to house their find: The Arabia Steamboat Museum, a perfect time capsule of American life on and around the Missouri River in 1856.

So much was recovered from the Arabia that restoration efforts still continue, 36 years after its excavation. Inside the museum, you can visit the lab, where artifacts in the process of restoration are on display, and visitors can compare preserved items with those that didn’t survive the process, and are corroded or withered beyond repair.

A visit to the museum begins with a guide telling the story of the Arabia, followed by a short video documenting the steamboat’s loss and recovery, and a guided tour through the first ‘treasure room’, where artifacts on display give viewers an idea of the quality and historical value of what was recovered. Following that, museum visitors step onto a life-sized recreation of the Arabia’s hold, where they can see everything – from beads to china, toys to shoes, and even parts of the original steamboat itself – that was carried on board when the Arabia sank in 1856.

Stepping into the museum really feels just like stepping into a general store on the frontier. What’s amazing – even beyond seeing firsthand the details of tiny buttons that show how fabric was patterned, or the rich colour of a surviving bolt of Chinese silk that was sent overseas more than 150 years ago – is the sheer volume of the collection. Antiques valued individually at tens of thousands of dollars sit on shelves with dozens of their identical fellows, and rows upon rows of boots prove just how early right-and-left pairs of shoes were introduced to the market. Sets of delicately-patterned china, ornate doorknobs, and carpentry tools to make elaborate molding show how evolved décor in early Midwestern settlements really was, and the number of each proves that storekeepers believed they could sell high-priced items even in brand-new settlements across the river.

It’s a moment out of time, from the bones of the sole Arabia casualty – a mule tied to the rail – to the snag that sunk the boat. As our tour guide said: The Arabia collection tells its story as well as any museum in the world.


Roadside America, Shartlesville, PA

I grew up taking family trips to Roadside America, and it’s something I still love to take friends to see today. ‘The World’s Greatest Indoor Miniature Village’ is an enormous of model-enthusiast’s delight and United States Americana, and there is nothing else I know of quite like it.

The statistics are dazzling as an introduction: 4,000 miniature people going about their miniature lives, outside 300 miniature structures and among 10,000 hand-made miniature trees, over 8,000 square feet of landscaped terrain and lit by 600 light bulbs, all in perfect 3/8 scale. And winding all around and through the clusters of buildings, people, and animals, through mountain tunnels and across bridges and real liquid waterways, run the railroads that helped to build America. It’s difficult to imagine until you step into the room and see it all stretching out ahead of you, or walk up the ramp into the snow-covered ‘mountains’ to look down on the cable cars and trollies running along their own rails as the trains rush by.

There are as many as 18 trains running at any given time, with freight cars carrying natural resources such as timber and coal, coaches showing the silhouettes of their passengers riding cross-country, and even circus trains with curious giraffes whose heads poke out of the tops of the cars. As you move around the display, you can spot the saw mills producing the lumber to be loaded onto the freight cars, or see a worker unloading great jugs of milk from a boxcar onto a waiting dock. You will not see any cities or urban centers, but instead the vast, sprawling American countryside.

As you move through the space, you will also find yourself moving through time. In one area, you might see pioneers loading up the trains heading out west or settling on farmsteads; in the next, the automobiles and clubs of the roaring twenties; in yet another, the ice cream parlors and billiard halls of the 1950s. Visitors are not set apart outside of the bustling miniature communities, either; buttons placed along the outside of the layout allow viewers to take part in the action, lighting up a church and setting the choir inside to singing, or bringing a children’s playground into swinging, spinning motion. There is so much to see that you might miss some of it, and enough minute detail that scavenger hunts can be made for younger visitors who want to take on the challenge of exploring the massive display and finding the hidden treasures within.

Roadside America is an experience to bring the childlike wonder out in everyone, from the first awe-inspiring sight of the layout, to the moment when the overhead lighting goes dark and the entire display itself lights up to show the landscape after nightfall, with nearly every building coming to glowing life. What might be even more incredible than the view of this creation is the knowledge that the entire layout is the life’s work of a single man, Laurence Gieringer—60 years spent building, painting, wiring, and molding to create the astonishing spectacle on show today.

Some general information: Plan on spending at least an hour at Roadside America, and possibly more depending on your level of interest and group size. Shartlesville is by no means a tourist hotspot, but it’s an easy day-trip (less than an hour’s drive) to attractions in Hershey, Harrisburg, and Ephrata. There’s a Pennsylvania Dutch gift shop right next door, so add in some time to go shopping if you want to look through local crafts. If you’re curious about the famous hand-painted hex signs found on barns and houses throughout the Central Pennsylvania region, this is a great place to visit, and possibly leave with one of your own.