Something called The Museum of the Weird sounds just like the type of place I should visit. And during my most recent trip to Austin, Texas that is just what I did.
It’s tucked away in an old building from the 19th century that was reportedly the residence of actor Johnny Depp during the filming of What’s eating Gilbert Grape. Upon first entrance it’s just like any other curio shop that can be found in a historical part of town, selling creepy stickers, posters and books about a varied assortment of mysteries, and legends. For twelve bucks you’re handed a receipt which acts as a ticket to get you through a turnstile in the back.
At this point you come to a couple rooms stocked full with a collection of sideshow pieces, from voodoo sculptures, jars containing preserved deformities, and movie props. After some time spent to ponder the collection, further in the back our guide met us and delivered her brief introduction accompanied with a brief video describing the museums “prized” piece, the Minnesota Iceman, a sideshow exhibit from the 1960s.
The Iceman is the first stop on the guided portion of the tour where the body of something resembling a Neanderthal is kept incased in ice in an old deep freezer. This was the only portion of the museum where photography was not permitted. In the spirit of the fun that this museum is meant to be I’ll withhold any critical opinions at this point so the reader can make up their own minds when they visit.
The final leg of the tour is a dimly lit wax museum containing the likenesses of Nosferatu, Dracula, the Hunchback of Notre dame, King Kong and others.
The Museum of the Weird is a fun little stop for tourists and oddity enthusiasts in Austin, Texas. It’s worth a visit just to see some of the aptly described “weird” displays and exhibitions of art, culture, cinematology, technology, and just plain creepiness.
Watch the video below for a glimpse at Austin’s Museum of the Weird.
Tonight I attended opening night of a brand new exhibit at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin; Pong to Pokemon, the Evolution of Electronic Gaming.
Just as the name suggests it was a pretty neat walk through the history of video games from the earliest home terminal, Pong through the decades’ most popular video and computer games. There were exhibits of everything from Atari and Activision games like Pitfall and E.T. the Extraterrestrial that I spent so many hours of my youth playing.
There were even really early games like Zork, and the Oregon Trail and of course, Pong.
There were arcade games like Pac-man, and Street Fighter, Nintendo games like Super Mario Bros., Sega games like Sonic the Hedgehog and many more. A lot of these games were actually interactive and you could play them as they were designed.
The only thing missing as I could tell was anything to do with Pokemon Go, though I may have just missed it even though I pretty thoroughly explored the exhibit.
I’ve taken the time to head out to Texas once again, visiting family and friends in the Austin-Round Rock area. While we’re out here we decided to take the kids to San Antonio to spend the day at Seaworld. I’ve never been to Seaworld before and I tend to be reluctant about attending zoos, circuses and other animal shows, but I made an exception here because I’m not militant in this view and it was a big multi-generational family activity.
It was a brutally hot July day, but I hail from Florida so it wasn’t too far out of the ordinary for me. The first thing we did was make our way to the Sea Lion High show featuring Clyde and Seamore as they work toward a scholarship to Ocean University while a snobby young preppy cheerleader tried to undermine them the whole way. Much like high school I don’t know what her problem was, but the show was corny fun with all the classic seal and sea lion tricks, swimming, splashing, and bouncing a ball on their noses that the kids loved.
It was high noon by this time and the heat was wicked. We made our way over to the Sesame Street Bay of Play, a little water play ground full of industrial sized sprinklers and such for the kids (and adults too) to cool off. I stripped down to a pair of swimming trunks and joined in the festivities with my girls. It was just the thing to lighten my mood from the heat.
After playing in the water we went to the Penguin Encounter to observe the Antarctic birds swim in a dimly lit pool behind glass. Because they’re from the southern hemisphere and there is low light this time of year it was kept pretty dark. It was indoors, nice and cool and just what we needed after the heat.
We watched the Pets Ahoy show next. It was pretty impressive with cats, dogs, rats, and a pig performing all manner of nifty tricks. I have to say I was more impressed by the people who were capable of training such animals than I was by the animals themselves. My little nephew loved this show the most.
A few rides were ridden, the most enjoyable being the Journey to Atlantis, a short ride with one dip followed by a plunge toward the water which makes a great splash. I have to say the best part was standing on the side and allowing that great wall of water hit me, and it hit pretty hard too. I went from sweaty, hot and fatigued to soaking wet and cheerful in about a second’s time. I stood there and let that wave hit me about five or six times before we moved on.
We also caught the Ocean Discovery Show with beluga whales and Pacific white-sided dolphins. I thought it was pretty impressive and even better than the One Ocean show featuring the killer whales that made some impressive jumps and flips and splashed the crowd. It was fun to watch the acrobatics of the animals, but I was a bit distracted by killer whales’ collapsed dorsal fins which I’m fairly certain is a poor indicator of the wellbeing of the animals in captivity, but other folks seem to have different opinions on that matter, and I’m not a marine biologist.
Our evening concluded with Shamu’s Celebration: Light up the Night, which the best I could tell was pretty much the same as the Ocean discovery show but at sunset with more flashy lights and an annoying adolescent DJ with a high-pitched elfish voice trying to rap us through the evening – I REALLY could have done without that.
As we made our way out after 9pm there was a rocking Hydro Power Extreme FX show going on that we didn’t attend that included wave runners, fireworks and a band playing I Wanna Rock, Crazy Train, and few other rock anthems from the 80s. We caught a bit of it from the other side of the lake, but by this time our crew was just too tuckered out to stick around much longer.
Over all I’m glad I went even though it wasn’t really my thing. But it wasn’t for me; it was for the kids and they loved it so as far as I’m concerned it was a great time and a mission accomplished.
Watch our video below.