Super-Summer Vacations: A Travel Guide To Comics’ Greatest Tourist Traps
Today is the official First Day of Summer, and that means that it's time once again for that great American tradition: The Summer Vacation! But it's not just schoolkids and their parents who hit the highways in search of amusement parks and tourist traps -- the people who live in a comic book universe need a break too, and when you're vacationing alongside super-heroes, it opens up a whole new world of travel opportunities.
That's why today, we're offering up a travel guide to super-heroic vacation destinations!
When one thinks of the glitz, glamor and (most of all) mind-boggling danger of the Big City, no other destination comes to mind more than Gotham. Despite a litany of citywide disasters that reads like a harsher version of the Old Testament (earthquakes, plagues and a persistent murderous clown problem being mere highlights), the city's allure still draws an incredible number of tourists every year.
This, we can only assume, is because you are all out of your minds.
The makers of this guide cannot in good conscience recommend that anyone visit Gotham City for any reason whatsoever. Seriously, the crime rate alone would cause us to advise you to only go out during the day, but since there hasn't been an actual instance of sunlight reported in Gotham since 1969, it's best to just avoid it altogether. If you must go, we would advise you in the strongest terms to plan your trip well away from any holidays (especially Halloween, which is really just asking for it) and to avoid times when any sort of circus or traveling carnival is within a fifty mile radius of the city.
Despite our warnings, we will admit that Gotham does boast some truly phenomenal sights. You probably won't make it home to share your vacation photos, but if you're in the GC, it's worth the effort to check them out.
The world-famous Statue of Freedom is a popular destination with tours every hour (Editor's Note: The Statue is currently closed, undergoing renovation after an attack by Two-Face), and no visit to Gotham is complete without a trip to scenic Robinson Park, an oasis of green in the heart of the concrete jungle (currently closed due to an incident with Poison Ivy). During hockey season, the Gotham Blades offer tickets at a surprisingly reasonable price at Gotham Square Garden (Currently being rebuilt after a cryo-bomb was set off by Mr. Freeze), but sports fans can also catch the World Champion Gotham Knights during the summer at the open-air Novick Field (Sportsmaster came out of retirement; the team got moved to New Guernsey). Those looking for more fun can visit the old-style carnival rides and attractions at Amusement Mile (Joker), while those in the mood to see the beauty of nature should not miss the sights at the John Carson Memorial Botanical Gardens (Ivy again).
Also, for the rest of this year, the Gotham City Museum of Antiquity will be hosting an incredible exhibit of ancient Egyptian artifacts, including the original hieroglyphs depicting the Riddle of the Sphinx, the first book to ever be written on papyrus, and a set of famous matching cat statues (Don't even ask.)
You may have heard stories about the notoriously ineffective local law enforcement, but please do not commit a crime within Gotham City. While we would advise all travelers to do their best in obeying local laws, we try to advise them even more when the penalty for stealing an apple from a street vendor is to be hung upside down and punched into unconsciousness by a man dressed as Dracula.
Batmantown: The Safest Town in the World. Period.
For travelers seeking the excitement of Gotham City's most beloved vigilante without running the risk of being poisoned, frozen, riddled (with bullets) or otherwise novelty-murdered, we recommend a trip to Batmantown! The small city changed its name from Plainville in order to encourage tourism and settled on honoring the World's Greatest Detective with a makeover that is both astonishingly garish and utterly charming.
What makes Batmantown (pronounced "Batm'nton" in the local style) more distinctive than, say, the World's Largest Ball of Twine, is that the entire town has committed to their premise. There is not a single establishment that hasn't at least put a paper-mache bat in its window, and seeing a middle-aged fry cook in an ill-fitting costume working a grill full of "Bat Browns" is worth the drive alone.
The central attraction is the Town Square's Batman Statue, located (as you might expect) at the intersection of Batman Blvd. and Robin Rd. It's a must-see, mostly because as near as we can tell, it's actually a statue of Plainville founder Ephram Plain that has been dressed in a Batman costume custom-made from weather-resistant vinyl. Visitors should also make the time to grab a meal at Batburger, an old-style drive-in specializing in a 1/2-pound cheeseburger shaped into the shape of a bat and topped with a "utility belt" (a golden-fried onion ring), "batarang" (double-strip of bacon), and "Bat Signal" (fried egg). The Sidekick Caesar Salad is optional, but encouraged.
Downtown parking is adequate (for $5 per day, you can leave your car at the town's Superstitious Cowardly Parking Lot), but visitors are encouraged to ride the city's Batrolley, which -- thanks to a generous donation from the Wayne Foundation -- recently became the country's first mass transit powered by atomic turbine.
With the recent lifting of international restrictions, vacationers are now able to visit Latveria, the small (but powerful) Eastern European country ruled by His Ineffable Majesty Doctor Victor von Doom.
Despite its leader's fearsome reputation and tendency to shoot entire office buildings into orbit, Latveria offers the cautious traveler a unique chance to experience the last of Europe's old-style monarchies. While most countries have opted for constitutions and democracy, von Doom has substituted killer robots and time machines, and once the initial, all-consuming terror passes, we have to admit that the effect is rather charming, especially as the good Doctor has vowed to welcome visitors with open arms.
Latverian airspace is still restricted (as per von Doom's "Flying Bathtub" Declaration of last year), so visitors will most likely arrive by train from Bucharest at Doomstadt Station, a picturesque train terminal constructed in a beautiful turn-of-the-century style staffed by killer robots. Traveling East, one will no doubt want to see Monument Park, a beautiful statuary garden tended by killer robots, or Cynthia von Doom Memorial Park, notable for its beautiful landscaping, winding path, and full compliment of killer robots. St. Blaise's Cathedral offers up a truly incredible photo opportunity with its immaculately maintained Gothic architecture, and the services -- held twice every Sunday by a priest who is also a killer robot -- is a truly singular experience.
As of this writing, Castle Doom itself does not offer tours, but we're willing to bet that robots would most likely be involved.
Visitors to Latveria should be advised that local customs are of an extremely sensitive nature, and that stepping out of line could result in instant incineration. Travelers should take extreme care to not voice any positive opinions of woodwind instruments involving reeds (the clarinet has been outlawed for nine years under penalty of death), never use UK slang when referring to a flashlight, never mention any form of lawsuit, and only use specific nouns so as to avoid saying the word "thing."
Murderworld may sound like a pretty dangerous place, and under normal circumstances, it is: An "amusement park of death" where each attraction is designed to kill its patrons. With the economic downturn of recent years, however, fewer and fewer disgruntled citizens have been able to afford the million-dollar price tag of his services, and unsurprisingly, you can't keep a massive underground theme park lit entirely by neon open without a steady stream of customers.
As a result, Arcade (along with his friendly staff, Miss Locke and Mr. Chambers) have opened Murderworld to the public, offering thrill-seekers a vacation that not only offers up the thrills of other theme parks with an added sense of danger, but at only $1,000,000 per target -- er, patron, actually works out a little cheaper than Disneyland.
Murderworld undergoes constant renovation and attractions are occasionally shut down for "maintenance" (read: being scrubbed down in order to remove DNA evidence), but there are a few that visitors should endeavor to catch. First up, the gigantic Murderworld Pinball Machine, in which customers are either encased in plastic pinballs and shot around the course or made to dodge bumpers, flippers and the pinballs themselves. As the gateway to Murderworld Proper, the Pinball Machine has always had the park's lowest mortality rate, although a concussion is pretty much guaranteed.
Other attractions (and their attendant injuries) include a rollercoaster that leads directly into the mouth of a gigantic mechanical fire-breathing dragon (severe burns, contusions), a Ferris wheel lined with titanium spikes (lacerations), and the park's latest addition, the Island of Misadventure, a miniaturized scale model of Manhattan populated by robotic versions of super-heroes patrons can use to simulate titanic battles of good vs. evil (pretty much instant death if the difficulty level is set at 2 or above).
While Murderworld's fearsome reputation is not entire undeserved, travelers should note that even at peak efficiency, it had a much better safety record than New Jersey's infamous Action Park.
Krypton: A World Exploding With Fun!
The planet Krypton has been lost to the ages due to the explosion that saw its sole surviving last son (and his cousin, and his dog, and a monkey, and three of his dad's enemies, and a miniaturized city), but thanks to the increasingly commonplace practice of time travel, you too can visit a piece of the past!
Whether reached by Time Bubble or Cosmic Treadmill, it offers a once-in-a-lifetime vacation destination that truly must be seen before it's gone!
Virtually every major location of Krypton offers a breathtaking experience, from architectural and scientific achievements like Kryptonopolis and The Sky Palace to natural wonders like The Gold Volcano, the Rainbow Canyon, Fire Falls and the famous Jewel Mountain.
No matter how tempting, however, special care must be taken to avoid both Kandor (depending on your time of arrival, the city may be perfectly safe, but it's best not to risk it) and the Scarlet Forest. While beautiful, visiting the forest can also lead to "Scarlet Fever," a disease that (unlike the Earthbound disease of the same name) can create an acute amnesia powerful enough to make you forget a specific memory of profound importance, such as the fact that your planet is going to explode.
The perils of time travel are many and varied and you'll be briefed on them before your departure, but please note that the people of Krypton must not be informed of their final fate. Without Krypton exploding, you'll return to a time when Planetary Monarch Lex Luthor has outlawed hair, right before the planet gets destroyed by twenty-seven gigantic meteors. Sorry, but it's pretty much Us or Them here.
Travelers wishing to avoid even the potential of a paradox should consider Krytpon's less expensive alterntive: A visit to the bottle city of Kandor! It's not quite the same experience (think visiting Chinatown in San Francisco rather than Hong Kong), and the up-front cost is significantly higher on paper owing to the relative scarcity of shrink rays and the rarity of White Dwarf star material. The final cost, however, comes out to far less when you factor in that you won't be needing therapy from spending a week among friendly, smiling people who are all fated to die in a massive explosion that obliterates their entire culture, putting the burden of remembering them squarely on your shoulders.
Now that we actually write that down, you're probably better off taking your chances with the killer robots.