Exciting New Amish Theme Park Hailed as a “Disneyland without Electricity”

Exciting New Amish Theme Park Hailed as a “Disneyland without Electricity”

Drawing from their rich tradition of shunning modernity while embracing simplicity the Amish community has opened a 666-acre family fun park called The Amish Amusement Barn. Hoping to win converts to their joy of sober merriments, Church Elders say they raised this Barn as an analog antidote to today’s digital distress. Church Youngers say it puts the “fun” back in fundamentalism. Contrary to the generally positive inhouse reviews, Church traditionalists lament, “We have visited this so-called Amusement Barn – and we are not amused.”

Yea verily. Yours truly and son visited this Mecca to Merriment. We’ll never be the same again.

For purposes of writing a review (full disclosure: This review was underwritten by Famous Aimish Chocolate Chip Cookies – a division of Mennonite Industries) yours truly visited this proper paean to God-given fun. And in keeping with the sentiments of the Amish community, this review is written by candlelight on a typewriter while sipping on some mead. I hereby submit the following review:

The Amusement Barn bespeaks good, clean fun the way God meant it to be pre-Garden of Eden – i.e., tempting, but not too tempting. And with a janitor to visitor ratio of 1:5 this Amusement Barn is a classic case of cleanliness being next to Godliness.

The park seems to be from a bygone era. But as wary visitors begin to participate in the Amusement Barn’s rides, games and reveries, they find themselves transformed from a nervous Nellie in digital distress to a serene Solomon in analog rapture as the yoke of modernity is lifted from their weary shoulders. That’s how I see it anyway. But maybe that’s just the mead talking.

This interstate can take you all the way to the 1850s.

Located deep in Mennonite country, where men are Mennonites and women are Womennonites, The Amish Amusement Barn begins to reorient their guests immediately upon arrival with visitors parking at a staging area about 1 mile from the Barn. From there they’re whisked away in an enchanting little horse and buggy driven by authentic Amish teamsters. As your stately open air conveyance gently jostles you on its journey to this Mecca of merriment, anxieties begin to melt away to the extent one hardly notices the 40 ton 18-wheelers rumbling by on the interstate at 70 mph, not 3 feet from the buggy.

As you alight from the buggy in muted anticipation of this oldfangled experience, residing somewhere between a Renaissance Faire and an unelectrified Disneyland, you find yourself primed and ready for the Amusement Barn experience of ’22 – 1822. At the entrance one drinks in a delightful tableau of wooden structures in an old timey setting that somehow feels strangely compelling. Entry fees are discounted to any female wearing a bonnet or any male whose pants are held up by a rope instead of one of those newfangled belt buckles.

 

Sober Gaieties Await

Once inside the Amusement Barn you’ll find a bevy of charming austerities in which to participate. One can roam the grounds and take pictures with celebrity Amish such as Famous Aimish (the cookie guy) or a Harrison Ford avatar as Detective John Book in Witness. And this is only the beginning of the visitors’ experience.

Park visitors agree: the Amish Amusement Barn is the Greatest thing since fire was discovered.

The Amish Amusement Barn presents a firehose of entertainments that might overwhelm a first time visitor. The abundance and variety of these distinctly Amish  jollities is hard to take in and I don’t know where to start in describing these pulse-quickening reveries. But if you can steady yourself enough for a cool appraisal of the many offerings, you’ll find you’re just a hop, skip and a jump away from the thrill of Hopscotch Land. Bending over and tossing a stone into a chalk outline – my God. Does it get any better than that? Even though it’s only about 2 feet tall you’ll delight in finding your way out of the Barley Maze – at least your service dog will.

And speaking of dogs, don’t underrate a visit to Catnap Land where you’ll find innumerable felines lolling about in a kittenish habitat for your perusal. Boots, the Alpha cat sometimes sleeps for 23 ½ hours a day. Maybe you’ll catch him during the 30 minutes he’s preening, eating or doing his business.

If you have a vacant mind or you’ve given up all hope of ever being happy, you can pass soothing, anesthetizing hours playing Cup and Ball. And if that’s not enough to titillate your rope-supported trousers don’t forget unlimited staring contests in the Bausch & Lomb Pavilion.

Of course no one wants to miss the biggest attraction in the Amish homage to the Magic Kingdom. It’s a little less swashbuckling than its Disney counterpart, but it has a charm all its own. I’m referring to the Pirates of the Monongahela, where flat-bottomed, cargo-laden canal boats cruise silently by each other at a serene 3 mph. What it lacks in breathtaking pyrotechnics and Bayou bawdiness, it more than makes up for in its presentation of instructive waterborne commerce and Mennonite rectitude. Fun for the entire brain stem.

In other water-based boat rides, passengers appear absolutely crestfallen after emerging from the mandatory It’s a Dull World After All ride – just like they do after completing Disney’s It’s a Small World.

If your interests run to something a bit more romantic, why not steal a breathy peck at the Air-Kisses Booth. No STDs at this venue and all proceeds go to the longstanding  Amish medical charity Doctors Without Anesthesia.

Should you and a spouse wish to sneak away for a while, the adults only Dynamite Mennonite Lounge is open from “whenever” all the way to 8 pm. It serves adult beverages such as unpasteurized milk, chilled water and non-alcoholic vanilla extract. The lounge features popular Amish comedians such as Humorous Jenkins – a real rib tickler and Prudence Scorn – they say hell hath no fury like her. Hear all your favorite songs; as long as they’re played on an accordion. Dancing is strictly prohibited, but milling is tolerated. In fact as long as both feet are kept on the floor, management will turn a blind eye to milling and even some shuffling. Patrons to the Dynamite Mennonite Lounge are reminded there is a 2 juice box minimum. And, unlike the logrolling competition, tipping is not allowed.

Warning: Just across the street from the Dynamite Mennonite Lounge, and completely unaffiliated with it, you are advised to avoid the Happy Heathens’ Gentleman’s Club where one can watch bonnetless women churning butter in a stage show called Cirque du Dairy-air. I’m told if that doesn’t curdle your unpasteurized milk, nothing will.  

The Hall of Stationary Bowling Pins is a great way for haggard visitors to hit the reset button. Based on Disney’s Hall of Animatronic Presidents, visitors are invited to commune with these proudly erect stationary pins. Feel a pinsetters pride while you gaze upon them in all their imperturbable glory. Many visitors are overcome in trying to reconcile how something so very stationary can also be so very moving. The pins are Presidential in their own way despite betraying no movement, no speech and just the thinnest personification beheld in these hand-hewn wooden monoliths. They’re a lot like Calvin Coolidge that way. They’re all there: The kingpin, the 7-pin and that rascally 10-pin. See them all spotlighted one by one in their unpainted, undifferentiated and motionless glory – standing at attention and bathed in patriotic light. Keglers sometimes spend the day here buffing there balls and dining at the 11th Frame Snack Bar. Expect to swap out your shoes at the service desk in order to walk on the special floors. Once inside the hall, patrons are asked to stay in their assigned lane and keep their minds out of the gutter. Solemnly displayed next to the stage is the venerated Tomb of the Unknown Bowling Pin. This unidentified pin is guarded 24/7 by an active duty pinsetter dressed in a crisp camouflage bowling shirt. The well-attended and celebrated Changing of the Pinsetter ceremony is held every 2 hours, rain or shine.

 

The Reviews are In

However varying the opinions within the Church are, there is no question this retro-Amish Amusement Barn has struck an untapped nerve with its more secular visitors. For example, Victoria Hanover from New London, Connecticut raved, “I didn’t realize how much fun I’d had till I got home. The deep and abiding joy of keeping a hoop moving with a stick may seem stupid, but its fortifying kind of joy sneaks up on you and somehow leaves you feeling uplifted and of good cheer. Like you’re doing exactly what God wants you to do – push a hoop with a stick. I mean who needs Virtual Reality or Paint Ball when there are hoops to keep upright and moving?”

Albert Emmanuel of Coburg, PA who works as a pinsetter at the lawn bowling venue says, “The reaction is almost universal. Skeptical patrons initially balk at our supposed lack of glitz and glitter, and the next thing you know they’re signing up for the potato sack race or ordering a second oatmeal sundae.”

 

Because Everyone is Different

While there are an abundance of mainstream venues to explore at the Amusement Barn, there are also thoughtful accommodations created for special needs Barn stormers. For flesh averse individuals Church Elders have established Veganville – a thoughtfully curated habitat for meat-sensitive individuals far from the madding herd of carnivores stomping about in other parts of the Barn. Veganville offers a botanical sanctuary where tree huggers and animal lovers alike can engage in guilt free, plant-based fun such as Pin the Tail on the Turnip or Mango in the Middle. It’s an agrarian haven where Leap Frog becomes Leap Toadstool. In Veganville, surly Piggyback Rides have become friendlier Fig-gyback Rides.

The vegetative fun doesn’t end there because the exciting catch-me-if-you-can game of Duck, Duck, Goose has been transformed into the meatless game of Soy, Soy, Tofu. Even Horseshoes have been supplanted by a Dutch plant-based version called Clogs. While the coarser, meatier side of the Barn has heart-stopping Catapult Man, Veganville features the more artistic Daring Young Radish on the Flying Trapeze.

 

Amusement Barn Miscellaneous Fun Facts

A shortcut to modernity.

Not one nail was used in the construction of this tribute to a happier bygone era – a bygone era for everyone except the Amish, for whom it is simply known as “the era.” Instead of nails over 45,000 wooden peg fasteners were used. Once inside the park, one’s modern mind travels from 2100 AD to 2000 BC in the time it took me to inquire of a Park Ranger, “Yea verily brother, the brochure didn’t say anything about a plague of locusts. My God, they’re everywhere.”

“Well we do try to be Biblically authentic here. And it’s been 17 years since the last plague, so we were due. We’re not so much old school as we are Old Testament,” explained Park Ranger Ezekiel Klein.

Visitors staying for an extended period might consider lodging at the Ark & Park Inn. All guests at the Ark must room in 2’s and register for 40 days and 40 nights. Breakfast is included, which is great if you like boiled alfalfa. As always, guests are reminded to bring their own candles, vinegar and firewood. If there’s no room at the inn there are several nearby mangers available.

Destination weddings are performed by the Most Reverend Joshua Pious in the Betrothing Chapel at the Matrimonial Events Center. If the Most Reverend Pious is too expensive, frugal couples can substitute the Least Reverend Cyrus Scruples. Couples can also get hitched at U-Haul – not married, just hitched.

 

Amish Cuisine, So to Speak

Church Elders recognized the necessity of providing, not fair fare, but good fare at the Fair. Amish Food Services (aka Manna from Heaven) paid close attention to the palette of patrons without sacrificing their religious dietary laws. Such tried and true Amish favorites as Serpent on a Stick, Plague of Locusts Flatbread and Gomer’s Barley Chews seem to be popular with believers and non-believers alike. Sorghum Gum, A-corn Dogs and Horse Nachos have proven a tougher sell. 

There are several restaurants at the Amusement Barn. The most popular is The Famished Amish and the least popular being the seafood restaurant The Clammish Ammish. For those afraid to experiment with Amish cuisine, I recommend their staple dish of buttered noodles and shoo fly pie served at The Cracker Barrel. There are a lot of crackers in the park, if you know what I mean.

 

Amish Barn Must-see Exhibits/Events/Rides:  

Exhibits

  1. Anatomy of Elderly Aldermen – See into the bodies of aged Amish congregants with unusually thin skin. Witness the circulatory system at work just by looking through Hannah Stoltz’s paper-thin skin or see how a spleen operates courtesy of Caleb Coblentz’s wafer-thin dermis. This venue lets children play doctor without any of the naughtiness associated with showing me yours if I show you mine.
  2. FashionLand – The New Fashions…of 1853, as hip today as they were when Millard Fillmore was President
  3. Gonna Take You Higher Venue – Rise up and thrill to the world of Barn, Cain and Eyebrow raising
  4. The World of Tomorrow, Today – The Amish embrace Today’s new technologies: flints, twines, and catapults. See live demonstrations of something called a “wheel.” Later you can step into a prototype of the first wooden Space Station.
  5. Amish Cinerama – A 24/7 continuous showing of the Amish-centric movie Witness starring Harrison Ford as Detective John Book. With Kelly McGillis as the not-so-reluctant love interest.

 

Events/Shows/Games

  1. Monster Carriage Jam – The New Hot-Rod Buggies for ’22. Now with more horsepower than ever – 6 of them. All yoked together.
  2. Shadow Puppetry in the PIXAR Theater of Candles – Discounts are offered to those who bring an imaginary friend. Come in and lend a hand – or two.
  3. CandleLand Chapel – A reverent light show. Very illuminating in a dim way. Oh I could wax rhapsodic about how this place just melts your heart and illumines the spirit.
  4. ChipMonk Day – On Feb 2nd of each year, everyone’s favorite hermit, Chip Monk, comes out of his monastery. If he sees his shadow it’s another 52 weeks of Bible study. Note: He always sees his shadow.
  5. Apple-Bobbing – A very popular activity in the Barn. For those who on the advice of a medical professional are on a low-apple diet, or have really small mouths, cranberry-bobbing is also available. For strictly carnivorous bobbers or Vikings there’s a vat of meatballs floating in a sea of tomato sauce. And for those who prefer a more formal mode of Apple-Bobbing, there’s Apple-Roberting.
  6. Purpose-driven Whittling – In the 4H Pavilion where you can fashion your church idol with meaning and intention
  7. Chamber Pot Making – Design and fire your own repository of human waste and even take it for a test dump before you bring it home.

 

Rides

  1. Rolling Down a Steep Grassy Hill – The original Homosapien thrill ride. It’ll make your head spin so much, your kids will be born dizzy.
  2. Tractor Pull – The Tractor Pull hasn’t proved too popular. How could it be? Who wants to drag a tractor around a Fairgrounds.
  3. Horizontal Ferris Wheel – A lovely way to take in the park while ole Whitey clomps around in a circle at speeds approaching something measurable
  4. Teacup Ride – Thrill to sitting in an extravagantly painted teacup while ole Blackie (ole Whitey’s brother) clomps around in a circle at speeds approaching movement. It’s nothing like the Horizontal Ferris Wheel. That’s a horse of another color.

 

The Antediluvian Future is Here and It’s Unmistakably Amish

At the Amusement Barn, the calming serenity of Biblical fun the way God intended it is a beautiful thing to behold. It offers a natural and uplifting outlet to our humans’ more playful side – especially when keeping a hoop moving and upright with a stick. Although it’s almost culturally impossible to avoid, Church Elders have managed to modify their deeply held horse and buggy thinking, and are considering expansion to other locations. I’m told plans are afoot for a Euro-AmishLand near Lourdes, a 10 Flags Over Bathsheba in Jerusalem and even a rather stoic North Korean PumiceLand in Pyongyang. Will wonders ever cease?

 

The consensus is in. With so many fun things to do, see and eat, is it any wonder The Amish Amusement Barn is a big hit with parkgoers. In fact, it’s a swing and a hit; not a swing and Amish. This is one Barn door that should always be left open. I rate it 5 Milking Stools, but I’d give it 10 Milking Stools if I could; and this coming from a guy who, whenever possible, tries to avoid other peoples’ stools.

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