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!

Magical Blogorail: Family Adventure – Winter Travel

Winter is a great time to travel some place warm, but what if the budget doesn’t allow for that? Then it’s time for a day trip! And who better to help us plan such trips than the Beatles, the original Day Trippers!

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Peach Loop. Today we are exploring fun you and your family can have this winter. Lots of fun can be found locally!


John Lennon and Paul Mccartney wrote a great song about day trips. Okay, it mainly had something to do with a girl who teased love but didn’t deliver, or possibly it had some other meaning? But for the purpose of this article, I’m going with the title of the song at face value!

So let’s go through the lyrics line by line to see what we can learn about making day trips a successful vacation alternative:

Got a good reason
For taking the easy way out
Got a good reason
For taking the easy way out now

EASE OF PLANNING – How long did it take you to plan your last full-on vacation? Months? And was it a pleasant experience? Probably not as pleasant as the vacation itself! So the first reason to take day trips is just how easy they are to plan.

Pick a place within a two-hour drive radius of your home… and go! It really is the easy way out of town.

She was a day tripper
One way ticket, yeah
It took me so long to find out
And I found out

LENGTH OF TIME – The beauty of a day trip is the duration. It is by nature very short and thus manageable for even the youngest member of the family.

And if it turns out not to be what you thought it might be? Go home! You won’t have lost much, just a day.

She’s a big teaser
She took me half the way there
She’s a big teaser
She took me half the way there, now

SURPRISE FACTOR – Day trips are a great way to spring a special day on your family. Being as the experience is local, no one will need to pack or prepare. So you can easily load everyone into the mini-van without having to divulge the ultimate destination.

Of course, your family may pry the secret out of you, you big teaser, before you’re half the way there!

Tried to please her
She only played one night stands
Tried to please her
She only played one night stands, now

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE – Maybe you’ve taken a vacation that didn’t please at least one member of your family. This can be disappointing, especially if one member always feels that their interests are never served!

With a day trip, you could forgo the surprise element and let each member of your family pick a destination or activity. Yes, with day trips, it really is easy to please them all!

She was a day tripper
Sunday driver, yeah
It took me so long to find out
And I found out

MAGICAL MEMORIES – Instead of just one big experience to remember each year, with day trips you can have many magical memories to add to your family’s scrap books.

I’m sure if you plan a few day trips yourself, you’ll find out just how fun they can be!

Day tripper, day tripper, yeah
Day tripper, day tripper, yeah
Day tripper, day tripper, yeah

I say ‘Day Trip’ you say ‘Yeah‘!

If you’re in the Michigan region, you may want to visit The Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, or perhaps take the Ford Rouge Factory Walking Tour.

For more winter travel ideas, check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our

Blogorail Peach | Family Adventure | Winter Travel

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!

Book Review: Along Interstate 75 by Dave Hunter

“The ‘must-have’ Guide for your drive to and from Florida!” This is how Along Interstate 75 is billed on the cover and I can say from personal experience that it’s that and so much more.

Type: Soft cover

Pages: 206

Publisher: Mile Oak Publishing Inc.

ISBN: 978-1-896819-198

When my wife and I were planning our first drive down to Florida in 2007 we felt a little apprehensive. We hadn’t driven that far into the States before and had no idea how to plan hotel stays and how to find out what to see along the way. Of course, every State has a Welcome Center as you cross the border, but we wanted to do some advanced planning.

We were used to using Birnbaum guides for planning our itinerary at Walt Disney World, and so we checked the travel section at our local book store for similar travel guides. We found Dave Hunter’s Along I-75 and have never looked back!

With 19 years of publication behind it this guide is quite probably the most comprehensive tourist guide of its kind. Part map, part guide-book, it really does have everything the traveler needs to enjoy the drive between Detroit and Florida and back again.

This publication also doubles as a history book. If the drive is starting to bore you simply have your navigator (spouse/travel companion) read from the many white pages and enjoy hours of interesting stories about the people and events that happened all around you along the I-75.

But the main use of this publication is as a map. As mentioned, there are separate pages for going to Florida from Detroit, appropriately with yellow borders (for the sun you know!) And another set of pages for traveling back.

Speed limits, speed traps, exits, alternate routes, gas and food, entertainment, and trivia are all found on each and every page.

The key feature is the ‘upside down’ orientation. If you place the publication on your lap, you can follow the route from the bottom of each page to the top, mimicking the forward direction of your driving. Each page covers approximately 25 miles or 30 minutes of driving time. So if you want to eat in 2 hours, simply turn four pages ahead and check to see what restaurants are available in that area. Want to stop for the night in 4 more hours time? Turn 8 pages ahead and pick your favorite hotel.

Every vacation must come to an end and you eventually have to drive back to Detroit from Florida, so you simply follow the blue pages home again. Blue for cold. Snow. And depression!

Review: I can’t imagine a more comprehensive but easy to use guide! It is one of the few publications out there that deserves a full 5 out of 5 Stars. I’d give it more if I could!

We hope to put this 19th Edition to good use early next year as we once again take to the American highways (the I-75 specifically) to visit our happy place in Florida. In case you’re wondering, our happy place in Florida is Walt Disney World. Duh!

Book Review: Disney’s Adventure Guide to Florida

A FODOR’s Travel Book

Size: 7″ x 10″

Type: Soft Cover

Pages: 64

ISBN: 0-679-00575-7

Distributed by: David McKay Company, Inc.

Date: 1980

Fodor’s Travel is the world’s largest publisher of English language travel and tourism information and the first relatively professional producer of travel guidebooks. Fodor’s Travel and Fodors.com are divisions of Random House, Inc.

Today, Fodor’s has published more than 440 guides (in 14 series) on over 300 destinations, and has more than 700 permanently placed researchers all over the world.

Back in the 1980’s Disney was more charitable with sharing the tourist dollars that flowed into Florida. They produced ‘adventure guides’ like this one to highlight all of the available attractions in the State rather than just Walt Disney World. You can find such cross-promotion on souvenirs like tin trays, to name just one type of item.

Similar images are found on tin trays of the period

So let’s have a look at just some of the attractions featured in this book:

Cape Canaveral

Disney would have a hard time competing with real space vehicles but did eventually try with Mission:Space, a centrifugal motion simulator thrill ride at Epcot that opened in 2003.

Daytona Beach

The Sky Lift pictured here is apparently no longer in operation. Here is what Joe Wittwer had to say about his ride on it in 2007: “This ride scared me so bad. You don’t go over water, just the concrete pier below. It looks like it hasn’t been maintained in decades.” It is probably safe to assume it is gone!

Disney now tries to compete with the natural beaches of Florida with two major water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. Disney’s ‘Bucket Ride’ is also gone!

         

High Wire Parrots and Jungle Cruises

I guess at this point you just have to say that in 1980, Florida had it all!

Everglades National Park

Alligators are synonymous with Florida and not always in a good way. But back in 1980 tourist were encouraged to walk along precarious wooden ‘bridges’ and seek them out!

 

Cypress Gardens and Busch Gardens

Cypress Gardens was a botanical garden and theme park near Winter Haven, Florida that operated from 1936 to 2009. It was in 2011 that the botanical garden portion was preserved inside the newly formed Legoland Florida.

Busch Gardens opened on March 31, 1959, as an admission-free hospitality facility for Tampa Anheuser-Busch; in addition to various beer tastings, they had a bird garden and the Stairway to the Stars, which was an escalator that took guests to the roof of the brewery. And that works for me! It has grown over the years and is still in operation today.

Walt Disney World

Other than having Disney characters interspersed throughout the book, this is the only page dedicated to a Disney destination. Just to put it a bit above the rest, the copy reads that “There’s nothing quite like it east of California’s Disneyland.” We can forgive Disney because it is a true statement!

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage was an attraction at the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World from 1971 through 1994. So of all the attractions that could have been pictured on this page, they certainly picked an iconic one!

         

Price: $3.95 US

Review: This was more of a souvenir guide than an actual guide-book. No addresses are given for any of the attractions so it would serve better as a reminder of places gone than a true guide to places that one would want to see.

So judging it as such I would give it a 4.5 out of 5 Stars.