Attractions: Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum

One thing I love to do on this site is cover places that I visit. There are so many attractions in and around my area that spotlight many unique forms of creativity that it would be a shame if anyone missed them. So if you are ever in Michigan be sure to visit Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum.

If you’re not planning to be in this State anytime soon, then this post is for you!

31005 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills, MI

What can one say about this place? It’s weird. Weird but wonderful at the same time! And as the first exhibit (pictured below) will show, it draws its inspiration from some pretty solid places:

Fine Inspiration Indeed!

Marvin Yagoda, the museum’s founder, had been collecting the items that populate the 5,500-square foot building for some 50 years. He was a recognized expert in the field of mechanical and electrical game apparatus and was involved in the appraisal of such items for the television series American Pickers. We lost Marvin on January 8, 2017 at the age of 78.

But the eclectic showroom he started so long ago still operates and is open to the public seven days a week.

Let’s have a look at just some of the oddities you can expect to find:

Instant Physical Exam for just 75 cents

You will find a huge collection of coin-operated animatronic dummies, mechanical games and other oddities here. The doctor above is just one of dozens of examples on display. If you plan on investing your money on this doctor’s diagnosis, prepare to be insulted!

Where to look first?

Walking in for the first time can be overwhelming! There isn’t a bare piece of wall or ceiling in the place.

“Vibratory Doctor”? Is that even legal?

Many of these vintage machines would have been on boardwalks or in sideshows, at a circus or freak show. I wonder why?

Beautiful Neon

There are several examples of neon signage as well, with my favorite example being displayed above.

Advertising Signage

Marvin was an equal opportunity collector and so also added vintage advertising to his collection.

Disturbing!

This museum is definitely a Home of the Weird as the above image shows. A 3-breasted Gypsy, anyone?

The Lighter Side

The museum also has many pieces to make you smile too. Such as the two Sailor Puppets above.

Hungry or Thirsty?

We are about half way through our tour, so if you’re getting a bit peckish, why not stop at the food stand and ask Humpty Dumpty for something to eat or drink?

Your Weird Hosts for This Post

What would a fun place be without a warped mirror?

On the Road

I need to get me a truck like this when I go searching for things to add to my weird and wonderful collection!

Now all good things come with a price:

Electric Donations

There is no charge to visit this museum but, as you can see above, donations to cover the cost of electricity are gratefully received! Also, almost all of the displays are fully operational and can be enjoyed for between 25 and 75 cents a play. This includes vintage arcade games (like Asteroids and Pac-Man), carnival games, pinball machines, and ‘Peep Shows’ (clean, of course!).

So please be sure to leave some of your hard-earned money behind!

COOL FACTOR: 5/5

I was thrilled to find such a unique and strange place among the attractions of Michigan! It won’t be for everyone, especially if you’re easily creeped out. But if you’re a student of history and a fan of early examples of coin-operated art and like to walk on the wild side at times… make your way to Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum!

Attractions Review: Ford Rouge Factory Walking Tour

After years of having annual passes to The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, we finally availed ourselves of one of the extended attractions offered. Apart from enjoying Greenfield Village one can also take a walking tour of the Ford Rouge Factory.

The tour started for us with the payment of a member discounted ticket for just $14.50 US ($17.00 for non-members). Seniors and child tickets are cheaper. We boarded the free shuttle bus and were taken quickly from The Henry Ford Museum to the Ford Rouge Factory.

Up front I’ll say that the staff for this attraction are top notch! Friendly and knowledgeable and obviously in love with their jobs. We were greeted at the door and given a brief overview of what we were to experience and then shown into the first of two theaters. Let’s begin your vicarious tour with the attractions:

Legacy Theater

Archival Footage of the Rogue – Featuring rarely-seen historic footage from The Henry Ford archives, you’ll learn about the triumphs and tragedies that took place at the Rouge and how Henry Ford’s soaring ideas became actualities and helped define American manufacturing and industry. The music you’ll hear was written and performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

I personally liked this presentation, but those who aren’t big on sitting in a seat for 15 minutes or so watching instead of doing… maybe not so much! But you will learn things you never knew about Ford.

Approximate time: 13 minutes

Manufacturing Innovation Theater

Manufacturing Process Up Close – Celebrating the engineering ingenuity behind the production of the award-winning Ford F-150 truck, this multisensory film experience comes complete with vibrating seats, gusts of wind, and winking robots. With jaw-dropping special effects, from “floating” 3D laser projection mapping and high-energy audio to a breathtaking behind-the-wheel finale, you’ll see the manufacturing process up close, from concept to highway.

This was much more entertaining than the first visual presentation. As far as attractions go, this one had some very cool features! Especially interesting was the use of the F-150 model as it was modified from basic shape to full-fledged running vehicle.

Approximate time: 10 minutes

Observation Deck

Bird’s Eye View of the Rouge – You’ll also get a bird’s-eye view of Ford’s famous “Living Roof.” This eco-industrial wonder – the largest living roof in the world – blankets the top of the final assembly building. Two interactive exhibits help explain the environment features in view.

Not much to see here really. You look out the windows and see buildings. If you’re into reading though, this is the place for you!

Approximate time: 5-15 minutes
Assembly Plant Walking Tour

View F-150 Assembly – The elevated walkway, a 1/3 mile journey, provides you with a unique bird’s-eye view of the plant’s final assembly line. You’ll see firsthand the complex web of equipment, robotics, parts delivery and skilled workers that come together to build one truck per minute at full line speeds.

The tour gives you glimpses of the trim lines for cab, box, and door as well as final testing. You’ll see the F-150 come into the plant as an empty shell and leave as a fully tested F-150 ready for you and me. I’ll take mine in red, please!

FUN FACT: We were told that it was rare to see a Raptor pick-up go by on the line. Why? It may have something to do with this trim lines price tag being upwards of $75,000 US!

The only thing I could nit-pick about this part of the tour is that you start near the end of the process and finish near the beginning as you walk the main plant area. You do then go out to see the finished vehicles being checked and driven away. I thought it might have been better to bring you in from the other side of the building.

Approximate time: 30-45 minutes

Legacy Gallery

Historic Rouge-made Vehicles – Take a journey through time and see some of the most famous Ford vehicles made at the Rouge. The cars on display inside the Legacy Gallery include:

  • 1929 Model A
  • 1932 Ford V8
  • 1949 Coupe
  • 1955 Ford Thunderbird
  • 1965 Ford Mustang
  • 2015 Ford F-150

Explore the stories and engineering behind this vehicle in the Truth About Trucks kiosk. Go deeper into The Henry Ford’s collections with the Collections Explorer kiosks that include interactive educational games, Expert Insight videos, curated collection highlights, and complete access to thousands of digitized artifacts.

Basically, you look at six vehicles and read some more.

    

Of course, no trip to the Ford Rouge Factory Tour would be complete without a visit to the Factory Store located next to the Legacy Gallery.

We picked up this commemorative pin for just $5.99 US at the Factory Store on our way out.

Approximate time: As long as it takes!

Buses leave for The Henry Ford Museum every 20 minutes or so. We finished our tour and boarded the bus for the trip back. One hitch came when we were dropped off at the final tour stop. The doors into the museum were closed because we came back close to closing time. So we had to walk to the front entrance. If it had been raining this would not have been good! The bus could have pulled forward and let us off closer to the front entrance as it had to exit the property via that route anyway.

Cool Rating: 4.5/5

I would highly recommend the Ford Rouge Factory Walking Tour along with the other attractions offered at The Henry Ford Museum! That said, it is basically a one-time experience, as things won’t likely change quickly unless Ford radically redesigns the F-150 or updates the manufacturing process.


For full details, check out the Official Website here.

An Exhibit at The Henry Ford: Modern Glass Gallery

The Henry Ford Museum has a varied collection of artifacts. Truly something for every taste. In one small corridor just off to the side you can find The Modern Glass Gallery exhibit.

Therein one can find examples of glass artistry. Here are a few of the things on display there:

Wrapped Target: Robert Willson – 1992 to 1994

This expressionist-like sculpture caught my eye because of the striking colors.

         

Settling In: Richard Jolley – 1998

This artist works with figures and loves larger works but also does smaller, more whimsical pieces like the one above. It is fabricated like a totem pole with three golden dogs climbing to the top, where presumably, they will find their master waiting.

Scarlet Macaw, from Parrot Series: Noel Hart – 2002

The colors are spot on but one has to look a little harder to see the bird within the colors.

Skeptical: Dan Dailey – 1994

Here we have an abstract offering the seeks to depict an emotion with minimal cues.

Sunset, from Between World Series: Binh Pho – 2010

The color is glorious and beautiful but this piece really came alive for me due to the details. And that it has an very oriental structure.

All-Night-Take-Out: Emily Brock – 1999

Who doesn’t like old-time diners? The level of detail in this piece is amazing, even down to the trash in the garbage can outside.

         

The first piece above is titled Floating Golden Botanical (2001, artist unknown) and the second piece was on display outside the exhibit. It had no title but was listed from the Relationship Series of 1997. The Artist is Richard Royal.

I hoped you enjoyed a sneak peek at just a few of the beautiful pieces to be found in this exhibit!


Trip Report: Walt’s Birthplace in Chicago, IL

Do you have a Disney Bucket List? So far we’ve managed to visit both North American parks, we’ve taken a Disney cruise, attended a Disney press event (and saw John Lasseter), and now we have been able to add a special item to our list. Walt’s birthplace!

We just visited the birthplace of Walt Disney at 2156 N. Tripp Ave. in Chicago, IL:

Corner of N. Tripp Avenue & E. Palmer Street

It was raining off and on when we pulled up but we made the best of it and even managed to do a couple of live Facebook feeds.

From opposite corner

The outside renovations seem to be done and the sign out front indicates a finish date of December 5th, 2016. According to the official website fundraising is still underway to help with completion of the interior.

Exterior Sign

I took the time to walk around the place, which didn’t take too much time, as the piece of property it’s on is very small.

Side and rear

I noticed the two colors of siding and the different facing material on the rear. I read once that this building has had a few additions over the years. So it is likely that the yellow portion represents the original house built by Elias Disney and the rest representing subsequent renovation efforts.

Garage and small back yard

The city of Chicago tried to designate this property a heritage site but a previous owner blocked the effort. The present owner has worked hard with a dedicated team to make sure that this building will be around for years to come! In their words, the dream is that this property ‘becomes a portal to new approaches in early childhood development and helps to inspire future Walts and Roys.’

    

Front porch detail

So now we can cross another item off our Disney Bucket List. And just to make sure that there is no dispute:

Yup. I was really there!

And so was Karen!

 And now you’ve been there, virtually, too!

Magical Blogorail: Imagineer for a Day – Rock’n’Roller Coaster

Mayor for a Day. Firefighter for a Day. Astronaut for a Day. All good choices, but for the Disney fan, it has to be Imagineer for a Day! Join me and my fellow Blogorailers as we exploit our opportunities to change whatever we want about the attractions and/or shows in the Disney parks!

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Green Loop. I’ve chosen to reimagine:


RocknRoller Coaster Starring Aerosmith

Currently, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith is an enclosed launched steel roller coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort and at the Walt Disney Studios Park in Disneyland Paris. As the attraction’s name suggests, the coaster features Aerosmith members, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, Joey Kramer, and Brad Whitford.

Remember them? Many young people today don’t, and this is one reason I feel it’s time for a rethink! Even if the queue area is awesome.

The Florida attraction opened on July 29, 1999 and is located at the end of Sunset Boulevard. The coaster accelerates from 0 to 57 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds and that is something I would not change! Because riders experience 4.5 G as they enter the first inversion, more than an astronaut does on a space shuttle launch. Yeah. It’s that wicked!

But outdated. So what would I do to reinvigorate this attraction if I were an Imagineer?

F I R S T

Introduce a new theme

Out with Aerosmith and the music angle. Rather than mess with the beyond-awesome Twilight Zone Tower of Terror I would introduce a Marvel theme to this attraction instead. Universal Studios has made an art form out of fusing Marvel characters with cutting edge roller coaster technology and as a result has arguably kicked Disney’s butt in the thrill ride sector!

Adding to the obvious symmetry of this product placement is that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a movie-themed park. Marvel Comics movies are killing at the box office now and will likely continue to do so for many years to come. So a superhero overlay only makes sense.

S E C O N D

Reinvent the queue area

Out with the tacky video message. There are so many better and higher tech ways to engage an audience than a flat screen video presentation. The concept artwork for the Guardians of the Galaxy queue area planned for TOT would work here.

Or we could use Avengers Mansion as a template. Or Stark Industries. Or Dr. Strange’s Inner Sanctum. The list of available options are numerous and could be swapped out to freshen up the attraction as new Marvel movies are released. This would also give Disney the opportunity to promote new properties.

T H I R D

Add additional Photo Ops

One action shot is not enough! I love ride photos and this roller coaster has so many scream-inducing moves that more cameras to capture these moments would be cool.

Beyond that, we have the opportunity to create a Marvel hero meet-and-greet beyond anything we have seen in a Disney park to date! Face characters could interact with guests during times of peak capacity. More face characters could be waiting for guests after the ride, near the obligatory gift shop, to pose for pictures.

And that my friends is what I would do to the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster if I were an Imagineer for a day! Of course, it would take slightly longer than a day to pull off such changes, but with a little faith and some pixie dust… it would still take longer than a day.

But I’m a patient man and would stick with it until it was done! Am I hired?

For more about Disney attractions we would like to see improved, check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Green | Imagineer for a Day Loop: