Fancy downing a Duff at Moe’s Tavern? The only place you can do it is in Springfield.
Home to the butter beer-soaked Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the truly terrifying Walking Dead attraction, and Jurassic Park, Revenge of the Mummy and Transformers-themed rides that make you scream “can we go again?” like an overexcited 10-year-old, Hollywood’s Universal Studios is at risk of buckling under its own weight of attractions.
Despite this, those theme park geniuses just went on ahead and added Springfield, a city block dedicated to the fictional town every hardcore fan of The Simpsons has fantasised about visiting at some stage of their lives. What child of the ’90s didn’t dream about trying a Krusty Burger, the official meat-flavoured sandwich of the 1984 Summer Olympic Games?
From Phineas Q. Butterfat’s Ice Cream Parlor, to Cletus’ Chicken Shack and the Kwik-E-Mart (thankfully, minus the rancid hotdogs), Springfield is everything you’ve ever dreamed of.
Here are some of highlights:
#1 Krusty Burger
Founded by none other than Mr Herschel Shmoikel Pinchas Yerucham Krustofsky, Krusty Burger is where you can chow down on a genuine clown-endorsed meal. Choosing between the Clogger, Ribwich, Mother Nature Burger and Krusty Burger wasn’t easy, but with so many calorific things to try elsewhere in Springfield, I opted for a classic Krusty Burger, fries and Buzz Cola.
While the series depicts Krusty Burger as a low-rent fast food establishment fond of breaking health and safety laws, the real Krusty Burger is anything but. My burger is simple but effective – meaty, cheesy, salty. Sitting in a comfy booth with classic episodes playing in the background and a framed photo of Krusty himself adorning the wall, my inner teenager was beyond stoked with the situation (even if Lisa would be outraged that I snubbed the Mother Nature burger).
#2 Moe’s Tavern
Credited with the creation (well, theft) of the Flaming Moe, Moe’s Tavern has seen the likes of Aerosmith, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2 and REM stop by over the years. Most of the time it’s just Homer, Barney, Lenny, Carl, Sam and Larry sitting at the bar, though.
While Moe once claimed that no ladies have been in Moe’s Tavern since 1979, on the day I visit, there’s plenty of women ordering cough syrup-free Flaming Moes and glasses of Duff Beer (we can’t get enough of that wonderful Duff).
Up at the bar, the attention to detail is truly impressive, with plenty of Easter eggs to delight Simpsons tragics. There’s Springfield Isotopes pennants up on the wall, a pool table, an old, flickering TV behind the bar, and even a phone laden with recordings of Bart’s relentlessly cruel prank calls.
No trip to Moe’s would be complete without Barney – who could forget the episode where his bar tab was so big it had to be calculated by NASA and was ultimately valued at an impressive $14 billion?
We find Barney standing in the corner by the Love Tester machine, looking forlornly into an empty glass. Trying my luck on the Love Tester, I breathe a sigh of relief when I register as a ‘Hot Tamale’ and avoid the sad fate of being publicly shamed by a piece of equipment that obviously has the ability to accurately judge someone’s attractiveness.
While theme parks tend to remain the domain of kids, Moe’s Tavern provides a nostalgic sanctuary for adults. It’s the perfect place to knock the froth off a few Duffs before going on the stomach-churning Simpsons ride (for the love of God, learn from my mistake and do not do this).
#3 The Simpsons Ride
Which brings me to the ride itself. Knowing that the Back to the Future ride was removed to make way for The Simpsons ride, I felt conflicted going into this one. Thankfully, the ride is a winner. Lining up is half the fun, with classic theme-park moments from The Simpsons played on screens located throughout the queueing area making the wait time whiz by.
After a safety demo provided by none other than Itchy and Scratchy, the simulated, 3-D roller coaster experience starts and it’s a non-stop barrel of laughs from beginning to end.
Made in collaboration with the show’s producers, it’s totally brilliant (even with a gut-full of Duff). Can we go again? Please Dad. Please Dad. Please Dad. Please Dad. Please Dad. Please Dad. Please Dad. Please Dad. Please Dad. Please Dad. Please Dad. Please Dad. Please Dad. Please Dad. Please Dad. Please Dad. Please Dad. Please Dad.
#4 Dr Nick Riviera’s Office
There’s actually nothing to see here (the door doesn’t open), however who wouldn’t get their cheap thrills from seeing a real-life reference to one of the series’ best recurring characters? With “If you can put it in, we can take it out” emblazoned on the front of the office door, the people behind the creation of Springfield have tipped their hats to the characters so many of us know and love.
While Dr Nick himself can’t be found, honourable mentions go to Lard Lad Donuts for selling donuts as big as your face, Duff Brewery for pumping out Duffs all day long, Side Show Bob turning up for a photo session with fans, and Chief Wiggum for crashing his car into Lard Lad Donuts (no doubt as a result of a donut-related emergency).
Springfield isn’t just better than Shelbyville… it’s the best.
(All images: Author’s own)
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Jo is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist who knows that the best stories are yielded from time spent on the road, not behind a desk. She writes about travel, pop culture, sustainability, nature and indigenous issues for a bunch of Australian newspapers, magazines, journals and websites. Her work reporting on scientific expeditions means she has lived and worked in some of the harshest environments on the planet including Antarctica, the Simpson Desert and the means streets of Sydney.