Monday, June 17, 2013

Monster Mini Golf

When Summer rolls around, I'm always looking for a good place to play some Mini Golf.  In previous years, I've looked to the Jersey Shore for the best locations.  Whether it was Seaside, Point Pleasant, or Wildwood, you were guaranteed fun in the sun.  But a few days ago, my girlfriend and I were looking for something more local.  We wanted something to do, and Mini Golf sounded like a good time, so we turned to Google and put our hopes in her hands.  As always, Google came through and presented us with "Monster Mini Golf" in Paramus, NJ.  Boom.

From what we read, Monster Mini Golf was an indoor, monster-themed, golf course that featured glow-in-the-dark props and animatronics.  On paper, that couldn't be any cooler.  But when we arrived and saw the tiny building, I really didn't know what to expect.  It's small and the only decorative features were the silly stickers on the doors and some distress around the "scary" windows.  I'm also not a huge fan of the logo above the door, but none of that was enough for me to walk away.  We had to get in there and give this place a shot.

Right off that bat, as soon as we walked in, I knew I was judging the book by its cover because I was completely wrong.  As soon as I saw that gigantic tree, grimacing with terror, I knew I was in, particularly for me, an amazing place.  It's no secret that I absolutely love Halloween and all that comes with it, so this was already, far and away, ahead of every other Mini Golf site I had ever been to.  Sure, the beaming sun can be nice at times, but nothing beats a gloomy glow-in-the-dark experience surrounded by wicked trees and monsters.

Everything, even the warning labels, were illustrated and painted with glow-in-the-dark ink to illuminate you as you walked through the black lit course.  I was having so much fun looking at everything, that we might have spent more time snapping pictures and discussing the environment than actually golfing.  But that was fine, because the place was empty.  And that's not to say Monster Mini Golf can't attract a crowd, we just happened to go on a weekday when kids were in school and most people were still at work.  That worked out for us, but that meant there was no in-house DJ.  Can't blame them for not paying somebody for the 4-5 people that occupied the space.  However, the music they did play over the PA system was great.  It wasn't anything out of "Halloween" or "Friday the 13th," but more of an updated Drew's Famous Halloween Party Favorites.  Great vibe.

Everywhere you went, there was some type of creature or creeper.  Now, this guy didn't move, but he swayed just enough to make you think he might.  In fact, I wasn't positive that there wasn't a person inside that costume.  But I figured, if you're not paying a DJ, you're probably not paying a guy to stand like a statue for 5 hours a day.  Embarrassing fear averted.

When it comes to the art, this was my favorite piece at Monster Mini Golf.  They're is a bigger story being told here.  These are the jurors on the "Big Apple vs Jersey Devil" case.  They're obviously taking a shot at NY here by insinuating that our Jersey Devil can take a bite out of their ironically small "Big Apple."  Being from Jersey, I'll take it.  But the jurors are what truly make this special.  Just take a look at Jack Nicholson reprising his role from "The Shining" or, even better, Chief Brody chumming into the famous Amity Island waters as Jaws rises up out from the ocean.  It's one of my favorite scenes in movie history, but coloring Brody to be a green frankenstein monster is just awesome.  If there's ever a remake, I hope it looks something like this.

I have no idea what he's supposed to be.  My first thought was that he looked like Michael Myers.  From afar, that's who I thought he was.  But upon closer review, he's obviously some type of vampire and there's so many things to say about him.  First of all, looking at his hair, he's either very fashionable or doesn't care at all.  It's hard to say, but he certainly walks that fine line perfectly.  He also paints his nails blue and only feasts on green blood.  In fact, I think I've figured it out.  This vampire is a vegetarian hipster.  Whenever you have a hard time figuring out what's going on with a person, just assume they're a hipster.  Works every time.

This guy was really cool!  He's a giant troll or ogre that isn't done justice in this picture.  He was probably 15 feet tall, maybe taller, and completely animatronic.  When I snapped this, he was "sleeping," but his belly still rised up and down as he breathed in and out.  Then, when he finally woke up, he was angry.  His head, eyes, and mouth moved as he yelled at the golfers who had awakened him from his slumber.  Unfortunately, he's very senile because, as I said, there weren't enough people in the place to wake him up.  Go back to sleep, troll.  It's okay.

Monster Mini Golf really doesn't want you swinging your club above your knee.  I couldn't imagine why anybody would do so while playing miniature golf, but I guess there are always the losers who think they're Tiger and want to wack that ball against the wall.  Better watch yourself,  the Creature from the Black Lagoon will hit you over the head with his green club.

I couldn't get enough of the ambiance.  It didn't feel like June, it felt like October.  Any time you place a Jack-O-Lantern down around me, whether it's real or decorative, it's instantly Halloween.  I don't think there is anything more symbolic of Halloween than a grimacing pumpkin.

I tried to look as if I was frightened on the course, but the real fear was due to the fact that my girlfriend and I were still tied through 11 holes.  That just can't happen.  She always tells me that I'm supposed to let her win, but that aint happenin' sister!  I'm competitive and love to win.  Winning isn't everything, but the only other thing is losing.  I'd rather take the former :)

If you're a fan of illustration and design as much as I am, you'll truly appreciate the walls of Monster Mini Golf.  It's incredible art and I'm happy there wasn't a rush behind us because we really got to admire it and view it for what it is.  If we had 20 people waiting behind us, we would have stormed through and miss the detail.  I couldn't tell if they were actually painted on the walls or printed, but the fact is somebody somewhere designed these pieces and I respect their work.  Great stuff!

Having all that alone time on the course allowed us to play around and get some funny pictures.  I'm not posting them all, but this one was one of my favorites.  This gargoyle came out of nowhere and stole my ball.  I tried to be a tough guy and get it back, but I couldn't compete with those red eyes of terror.  And this paragraph? More proof that I'm a major nerd ;)

More amazing art on the walls and I love how they've poked fun at real-life retail stores.  My personal favorite of the three is "Worst Buy."  Not because of the play on words, but because of what the blue punk rocker lost as he got electrocute by the laughing flat screen  It looks like he had just purchased "Friday The 13th," "The Walking Dead," and "Hannibal" on DVD.  But he's not getting to keep any of them.  Worst Buy is taking his money and re-stocking the DVDs!

The final hole and, by this point, I had already beat my girlfriend and succeeded in game 1 of Monster Mini Golf.  I am undefeated in Paramus and the only thing left to do was knock this ball up the evil clown's mouth and call it a hole in one.

Easy, baby!  In fact, it was too easy and obviously just a way for them to get their ball back.  But this wasn't the only hole in one I got at Monster Mini Golf.  Surprisingly, I unexpectedly rocked a previous hole to take a commanding lead only to lose it by getting a 5 on a hole that my girlfriend received a 2.  That sounds a lot more complicated than it is.  To sum it up, I won, she lost, and she'll be upset with me when she reads this.

The coolest part about Monster Mini Golf, besides it's decor, is that it's also an arcade.  It's mostly ticket-based, but it's much cheaper than the Jersey Shore boardwalk stands and crane games.  For $20, we played skee ball, pinball, rode in one of those 3-D simulator rides, and, of course, shot some baskets in pop-a-shot.  I'm a huge basketball fan, as evident by my attire, so I never EVER turn down a game of pop-a-shot or, in this case, 10 games.  My girlfriend is very good so, in this case, we alternated wins, but I got the high score.

Monster Mini Golf is such an amazing time and we truly enjoyed our experience.  When I got home, I did a bit more research and I learned that Monster Mini Golf is actually a franchise and there are 6 locations in New Jersey alone.  They can also be found in 13 other states.  From what I read, there is one in Las Vegas that is KISS-themed and is considered their flagship location.  That's probably awesome.

But from the one that I've seen so far, I can understand why these locations are so popular and I wouldn't be surprised if anybody reading has already visited a site.  I think I'm a bit late to the party, but happy to have gone at all.  We'll definitely be back and we'll make sure it's sooner rather than later.  In my personal opinion, this is far superior than any other course I've played on and I base that all on the environment alone.

Check out Monster Mini Golf to find your closest location.  Then go there and enjoy!

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