Thursday, June 14, 2007

The scariest animatronic guy ever

Have you ever been to Brainerd, Minnesota? If so, chances are good you've heard of "Paul Bunyan Land". It was once located in the heart of Brainerd, which happens to be the gateway to a gazillion lakes and therefore a big tourist area. A few years ago, the land upon which PBLand sat was purchased to house a Kohl's department store. Poor Paul Bunyan was evicted. The story goes that the entire park and all the rickety rides and entertainment were free as long as the new owners moved everything and operated the park as a non-profit. So everything was packed up and moved outside of town and reassembled.

The giant Paul sits right inside the entrance of the park. While the parents are paying, they write down their childrens names so that once inside, Paul booms out (through a loudspeaker) HELLLOOOOO, RILEY! (or whatever your kids' names might be). There is generally a log jam of crying kids who refuse to budge past the door. Paul's big arm raises noisly in a mechanical wave and his eyes blink, further terrorizing the kiddies. All the parents laugh and laugh....until the therapy bills start rolling in.

As you can see from the photo, Paul's a pretty big guy so to a little one, he must seem impossibly huge. My son has just now gotten past his fear of Paul, three years after our first visit. My husband tells tales of being terrorized by Paul when he was wee and now he gets to share the night terrors with his own clan. The kids managed to shake it off though and we headed towards the more benign tic-tac-toe playing chickens, wooden "mine shaft", and bumper cars.

That's fun in central Minnesota, and it comes with a side of cheese curds.
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