The bathroom, the naked guy, and me

I posted this on Facebook / Twitter when it happened, but it is too good to not save forever. So here goes:

Here’s a great little tale about the magic of Disneyland for everyone.

So I’m at Carthay Circle with Ross and Jay, waiting for 2 of Ross’ friends. We just ate elsewhere and were stopping in for a drink. But, I felt my stomach gurgle, and decided I needed a bathroom break. So, I went upstairs to use the bathroom.

I go in, and check out the stall situation. These magic Carthay stalls have that lock that tells you if it’s occupied or not if the door is locked.

The handicap stall says occupied, but the other regular stall does not.

So I open the unoccupied one, expecting to go in and do my business.

But as soon as I open the door, I see there is a man sitting on the toilet.

But not only is he sitting on the toilet…he’s sitting on the toilet naked.

No shirt. No pants. Butt ass naked. On his phone. Playing fruit ninja.

Note: I’m not sure if he was actually playing fruit ninja. That’s just a guess.

And this is a big dude. I’m talking like he’s pushing 250, hair all over, and he’s just chilling.

So now I’m holding the stall door, staring at this naked dude. And he’s staring at me. Our eyes are locked in a game of “who is going to say something first?”

I clearly loss that game, because I go “Uh…sorry?”

And he goes “No worries!”

And goes back to slicing his fruit.

I let the door close, and then, I wait a moment.

Why? To see if this dude locks the door, now that he knows he was open.

And guess what? HE FUCKING DOESN’T!

This dude doesn’t even bother locking the door, after a random guy walks in on him, fruit ninja-ing it up naked.

Anyway, I walked out and went to the bathroom
around the corner.

Moral of the story: don’t believe what the bathroom stalls tell you.

Also: you’re apparently better at fruit ninja when you’re butt as naked in a public place.

Six Flags Great Adventure: The History of MovieTown!

Back when I was writing about theme park history pretty much full-time, I wrote this column for April Fool’s Day 2012. I recently discovered it again, and thought some of you may get a kick out of it, so I am re-posting it today for your amusement. Obviously, none of this stuff is true…except for the Park about Michael Keaton. I totally saw that happen. For real. Enjoy!



Since it opened in 1974, Six Flags Great Adventure has been the go to meeting place where New Jerseyians could gather and share in their love of theme parks. In fact, one could argue that Great Adventure was America’s very first “themed” park. Up until that time, theme parks were little more than a bunch of rides and attractions thrown together in one area, with little to no story tying them together.

However, Great Adventure changed all of that when it opened its doors. Its richly detailed and immersive environments transported Guests to other worlds. By dividing the park into different “sections,” each themed area helped sell the illusion. It is a little known fact that it was from this concept that Walt Disney developed the original Disneyland. While Uncle Walt may have perfected it, it was Six Flags that invented this novel concept.

While there are many great details of the entire Park we can go into, today we are going to focus on just MovieTown, the area themed to the art of movie making.

MovieTown began its life in 1975 as “Fun Fair.” This section was originally themed with a county fair-like atmosphere (Disney was known to “borrow” this concept with Mickey’s Toontown Fair in 1996). When the age of the county fair began to fade, Six Flags management quickly scrambled to find a suitable replacement theme, one that would be quick, albeit not cheap, to put in its place. With the brand new craze of “moving pictures” on the rise, the Six Flags execs decided to capitalize on this fad and rename the area “MovieTown” in 1993.


In order to make this new theme fit, the entire area underwent a massive makeover. Posters advertising “Ma Dumpkin’s Chicken Dumplings” were replaced with movie posters for current hits at the time, such as Casablanca and Lethal Weapon 3: More Lethaler.

Some buildings were bulldozed, and completely rebuilt from the ground up using their original blueprints. While some may see this as a money eater, park officials were quoted as saying “It made sense to us at the time.”

Lightnin’ Loops, a popular D-Ticket attraction at the time, was given a fresh coat of paint, and became Batman: The Ride. Though the track and cars were the same, Guests couldn’t tell the difference, and praised the “brand new ride” that Six Flags had built.


Another re-purposed attraction was Freefall, which quietly became Stuntman’s Freefall overnight. The makeover required a random assortment of movie props to be placed in the queue. A funny side story, though, is that some people in upper management claim that theming was a complete accident. The props were being moved, via crane, to another location. According to the legend, a cable snapped, and the props littered the ground around the Freefall. Surveying the damage, the current park president thought it looked “good enough for me,” and so they were left.


Splashwater Falls, which was being planned to be built into that area anyway, was quickly scrapped from the plans and went back to the drawing boards. It easily turned into The MovieTown Water Effect, which gave guests a firsthand look at how it would be to live in the world of Kevin Costner’s WaterWorld.


Batman & Robin: The Chiller, which debuted in 1997, added a much needed superhero presence to the area. Though Batman: The Ride had been there since 1993, it wasn’t nearly as popular as it used to be, and many felt Michael Keaton (who was making daily appearances as the character he popularized in the 1989 film of the same name) wasn’t pulling his weight. He was known to hang upside down in the darkened areas of his meet and greet area, cape over his head, repeating “I’m Batman” to passers-by. Luckily, George Clooney was brought in to pick up some of his slack.


Aside from the improved meet and greet (to help push merchandise), Batman & Robin: The Chiller added a new thrill ride that went both forward AND backward. However, due to guest complaints that the ride was not up to par with the Park’s current thrill rides (such as the Bugs Bunny Spinners and Nacho Mountain), the ride was removed in 2007.

Not quite done with their Batman theme, they added The Dark Knight Coaster ride in 2008 (though, due to other contractual obligations, Christian Bale did NOT make his scheduled park appearances). This ride was praised as an engineering marvel, and became the first “wild mouse” type roller coaster in the world. It was quickly duplicated in other theme parks worldwide.


As you can see, MovieTown was a trailblazer, paving the way for theme parks all over the world, and solar system, to become more than just glorified fairs. The advancements made in just that small section of the park helped usher theme parks out of the dark ages and into the modern world.

Do you guys have any favorite rides at Six Flags Great Adventure’s MovieTown? Any extinct attractions that you miss fondly?

Reflections on 2015

On the cusp of the New Year, I look back at 2015, and realize it was one of the best years of my entire life. So much was accomplished, so many new things were tried, and it really was a damn good year overall.

Looking back at the things I did, I am quite proud of how 2015 went. We moved into a great new place. We added an addition to our family, in the form of Pickles, our adorable new dog. We grew and learned together as a family, and in turn, have become closer.

I had many opportunities to speak about things I am passionate about, from engagements with various groups all over Southern California, to being a featured guest at Dragon*Con in Atlanta, where I was part of an amazing live Communicore Weekly taping with some of my best friends.

I experienced some fantastic new immersive art that, five years ago, I never would have imagined being a part of. I’ve forged new friendships and partnerships because of it as well, many of which will follow (or haunt) me to the end of my days.

I also wrote a lot. From short stories, scripts, blog posts, things for HorrorBuzz, and even things that will never see the light of day. I started new projects. I ended some that weren’t working out, put some on hold until later, and followed a lot through to completion.

I finally was able to work with some friends that I’ve been dying to work with in a professional capacity, not just once, but multiple times, and one of the things we made together was a dream test kitchen come true.

Of course, when I look back, as most people do, it’s never enough. I always want to do more, have accomplished more, be a little further along than I already am. However, I’m still proud of everything I’ve done. 2015 was fantastic.

That said, 2016 is going to be quite different, and much better.

For the past few months, I’ve been quietly planning some upcoming things for the New Year. There will be quite a few new projects coming up, some with old friends, some with new partners, that will be quite fantastic. Some are even things I’ve never done before, and will be quite interesting to see how they pan out. Two major ones come to mind, and I am quite excited for them both.

There will also be a change in some of the things I am currently involved in. I learned a lot about myself, and some of the things I’ve been involved in, during the past year. For the sake of my sanity, and my new projects taking up so much time, I’ll be scaling back on my involvement in things. There will be one major announcement coming in a week or so that will probably surprise some people, but will work out for the better.

I have a laundry list of things for 2016, new avenues to explore, new opportunities to experience, and I can’t wait for them all.

I know New Year’s resolutions are so cliché, and everyone forgets them within a month or two, but if you have things you want to do this year, do them. I’ve said it a few times on Twitter (and other social media), but it brings me down to see friends get so disheartened on things because of others or their own insecurities.

You should never do something because of other people. Do them for yourself. Make your own magic, do the things you want to do because you want to. Because you enjoy them. Don’t let anyone else bring you down, discourage, or tell you no. Make the things you want to happen happen. Make 2016 the year you finally do the thing you want to do most in your life.

Thank you to everyone whom contributed to what a great year 2015 was, and made it such a great success. I can’t wait to see all these new things with you in 2016.

Happy new year, guys and gals. See you in 2016.

Flash Mob

I’ve never done a flash mob before, let alone organize one. But, I did during the D23 Expo 2015. Here’s how it turned out!

Bob Gurr Roast

I had the honor to roast Disney Legend Bob Gurr a few days ago. Bob has been a friend of mine for a handful of years, so to be invited to poke fun at him, alongside colleagues he has worked with forever, was fantastic.

I was the opening act, and apparently the only person who has ever heard of a roast. Aren’t you supposed to roast the other roasters, too?! Anyway, it was a fun night, and I loved being able to tell dirty jokes about him.

Check out my set!

RuPaul’s Drag Race and Why It Is Important

You guys have no idea how excited I am that RuPaul’s Drag Race is returning on March 2nd.

You guys have no idea how excited I am that I am going to RuPaul’s Drag Race: Battle of the Seasons in Los Angeles next week, on February 4th.

You guys have no idea how much I LOVE RuPaul’s Drag Race. In fact, when I posted about how psyched I was about the announcement of the new season’s premiere date, a lot of people were like “…wait, really?”

Apparently, a lot of you were surprised as to why a 31-year-old straight guy with a penchant for horror and Disney loves the show so much.

So I’m going to tell you why.

For those of you who don’t know, Drag Race is a reality TV show in which everyone’s favorite Drag Queen, RuPaul, looks for “America’s next drag superstar.” Now going into its seventh season, the show has showcased a wide variety of Drag Queens from all over the world. It’s one of the most streamed shows of all time (from online services), and in 2014, was named one of the 20 best television series picks of the year by TV Guide Magazine.

The show itself isn’t for everyone…and by everyone, I don’t just mean those with little ears. It’s sure to offend SOME people. I mean, you put a bunch of Queens together in a room for almost 2 months, of course the claws are going to come out. It definitely aims toward a more mature audience at times (especially when watching the uncensored versions on Netflix or Amazon Prime). That said, the show has a LOT of heart, and my 12 year old has watched pretty much the entire series thus far with us, and loves it.

But back on track…what is it about the show that I love so much?

Honestly, I think because behind all of the cattiness and drama, there is an amazing message to take away from it.

Over the course of each season, the Queens that wind up staying the longest (because it IS a competition and someone does get eliminated every week…mostly) get their safe guards stripped away. When we’re first introduced to everyone in the opening episode, we see them as their “character.” We see them as they want us to see them, usually as they appear on-stage in their every-day lives. Many of them have shticks, whether they’re the glamorous, comedic, or campy Queens, and that is on full display the first time they step through that door.

But as time goes on, we learn more about the person behind that character. They weren’t born that fabulous…they transformed themselves into it.

As much as I love me some main challenges (now sissy that walk), I honestly feel like the most fascinating parts of the show are when we see the Queens in the work room. It’s here that their true personalities are revealed, and we get a glimpse of who they are behind all that drag.

That’s not to say it comes easily for them. Because it certainly doesn’t.

What amazes me is how much some of these Queens have put up with during their lives. Between being bullied in school, being disowned by their parents, and everything in between, it wasn’t easy growing up for most of them. Some faced adversary at every single turn. In fact, I would venture to say that many of them created their “drag character” as a way of combating against everything they were up against. The personas they portray are facades; shields to protect the person underneath from harm. It’s truly amazing to see them pick themselves up, despite it all, and be who they want to be. That said, some of them are so far deep into their roles that they kind of forgot who they REALLY are underneath it all.

One of the biggest criticisms that the judges give the girls each week is “We don’t know who YOU are.” Sure, they may have the drag part down, but they aren’t giving away any hint of their actual personality. Week in, week out, I can count on Michelle Visage to tell that to one of the Queens, really trying to get them to come out of their shells.

Sometimes, it doesn’t work. But most times…it does.

One of the greatest examples of this is Bianca Del Rio from season six. I have to be honest…I HATED Bianca initially. She was catty, mean, and super judgmental. But over the course of 14 episodes…I grew to love her and learn that she wasn’t ANY of those things I initially thought.

In reality, she was this amazing, loving person who was more than willing to help nurture the Queens who needed it the most. She sort of took Adore Delano, a fellow contestant, under her wing, and in the process, let her own true nature shine through. It was amazing.

Lesson learned: appearances can be deceiving, and first impressions are not always what they seem to be. Yes, I know we all learned this in elementary school, but we, as a humans, can’t help to still do it.

But Bianca wasn’t the only one to emerge like that.

Sure, these queens are stuck with other people they are competing against for almost 2 months straight, all vying for the crown. Sure, they fight and get on each other’s nerves. Sure, people get hurt in the process.

But at the same time, the strongest ones there are able to forge strong friendships and bond with each other. And that is when we get to see the walls come down.

When a Queen, in one situation or another, breaks down to tell us her story, of how she got to where she is and how she became the person she is today, it’s actually quite beautiful. Despite being knocked down over and over again throughout their lives, these Queens pick themselves up and be EXACTLY who they want to be.

At first glance, you may not think RuPaul’s Drag Race is doing anything more than providing riveting entertainment (because let’s face it, it does that, too). But it’s SO much more than that. It’s not only teaching the Queens on the show, but the viewers at home, to be who they are, and embrace it, no matter what.

I will absolutely admit that, on more than one occasion, I teared up a bit when one of the Queens talked about their life growing up. Again, just hearing what some of them had to go through, and how they overcame it, is just incredible.

Drag became their escape, their way of dealing with all of the bad things in their life, and putting it behind them. It became their creative outlet, channeling all those negative feelings into something good, and oftentimes, amazing.

In a weird roundabout way, this turned into a follow up to my “do what you love” post from last year, but with the message of “Be who you are.”

Because at the end of the day, that’s what RuPaul’s Drag Race has taught me: to be who I am.

Whoever you are out there, reading this, you’re an amazingly wonderful human being. For those of you who have been following along with Justin’s quest for positivity the last few months, this is the next step: being yourself.

It doesn’t matter what other people say, or what they think, or what they do. You have to be the you that you love. Don’t try to be anything else, because the people that really matter in your life like you for who you really are.

It’s OK to let your guard down, to let people in, and show them the real you. Yes, sometimes you’ll let the wrong people in and get hurt. That’s just life. It happens. But don’t let that deter you from doing it again, because you may just miss the opportunity to let the RIGHT people in.

Be you. Because whether you’re a Drag Queen, an investment banker, a high school student, a struggling artist, a barista, a waitress, a construction worker, or anything else, you are awesome.

Shantay, you stay.

Until next time…sashay away…