Sometimes, it only takes one family to ruin a neighborhood. In the case of the Voodoo Bayou in 1901, Baron Michael Verdun and his wife, Lady Cassandra, were the ones to blame. The psychopathic werewolf and his vampire bride set about building a menacing Antebellum-style mansion atop an old cemetery, where they began creating twisted human-animal hybrids. Enraged, the townsfolk set the mansion aflame, burning its inhabitants in the process. But the Baron and his wife never truly left.
Today, their spirits still inhabit Thrillvania Haunted House Park's nearly 50 acres, which encompass four distinct haunted attractions. A giant brain controls the clowns who rule Cassandra’s Labyrinth of Terror, a twisting maze of black-lit hallways and neon colors. Monsters roam outdoors at Sam Hain’s Trail of Torment, and Mortimer Thorn continues to perform cruel experiments within the run-down church known as Thorn Hall. However, the epicenter of terror remains Verdun Manor, the decaying—and occasionally flame-throwing—mansion.
Spooky origin stories aside, the manor is actually the invention of the late human Lance Pope. Mr. Pope grew up fascinated by old mansions, monsters, and haunted houses. So together with a design team—including former Disney Imagineers—Mr Pope built a sprawling park with more hidden scares than his childhood self could have imagined. His creations have garnered many fans and led to ample media attention, including a feature on Travel Channel's America’s Scariest Haunted Attractions.
Consider activities that take about an hour to complete: a trip to the grocery store, a relaxing massage, watching a favorite television show. Rarely, if ever, do haunted houses fall into this category—unless you're talking about Cutting Edge Haunted House in Fort Worth. In 2009, the attraction’s length caught the attention of Guinness World Records, which deemed Cutting Edge the longest walk-through haunted house in the world.
Looming in a section of the city dubbed “Hell’s Half Acre,” Cutting Edge populates an abandoned meatpacking plant that was originally built in the late 1920s. The plant’s equipment is still fully operational, and still resides inside—only today, it processes humans. To escape such a grisly fate, guests must grope through a multi-storied labyrinth replete with unthinkable horrors such as live monsters, realistic special effects, and salsas made in New York City. Cutting Edge is so terrifying, in fact, that it even earned the top spot on HauntedHouseRatings.com's list of the best haunted attractions in 2013.
Kayak Instruction, Inc.'s tale begins in 2000, when Dave Holl and his friends went kayaking in the Grand Canyon. As he paddled through the crashing water and listened to the laughter of his friends, Dave came up with a plan to start his own kayaking school. He'd hire a crew of top instructors—certified teachers with a real love for the sport—and build a fleet of quality kayaks.
Today, Dave's crew of seasoned instructors boasts an abundance of kayaking certifications and awards. When the instructors aren't helping fledgling kayakers achieve mastery over their oars, they're parting Texas waters during tours of scenic landscapes populated by bald eagles, blue herons, and fluttering land sharks. The team also rents out an assortment of recreational, tandem, whitewater, and sea kayaks by the day.
Located on Main Street of Grapevine, Texas, D'Vine Wine treats visitors to countless varieties of wine paired with savory cheese and charcuterie plates. In the tasting and dining area, honeycombed wine racks and wooden barrels line the earth-toned walls, allowing visitors to imagine they've been swept away to the rustic cottage of a Tuscan vintner or the panic room of a billionaire. Guests sip house-made sauvignon blanc, malbec, and fruit-infused wine, while customers consult with wine representatives on creating a personalized label for any occasion.
Bob Landon has been making wine for decades, but he didn't always have French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks at his disposal. His first forays into small-batch winemaking took place in his basement, but like Batman's love of justice, his hobby was soon elevated to a profession. Today, he and the Landon Winery staff cultivate Texas–grown viognier and tempranillo grapes into a rotating selection of house varietals.
At either location, oenophiles can deepen their knowledge of wines or simply explore the facilities. The McKinney location features an old well that dates back more than 150 years, and the 15,000 square foot Greenville location boasts more than 100 oak barrels filled with grapey blends and one batch of orange juice just pretending. Landon Winery also hosts events and classes that allow visitors to pair wines with food, sample sips, and make their own custom wines.
Dallas Fort Worth Air Tours' pilots love to show off their city; they just do it from several hundred feet in the air. They lead airborne tours of the urban landscape, using planes and helicopters. They cruise along waterfronts, observe ripples of light across steel and glass sky scrapers, and provide a bird's-eye view of the interplay of concrete and greenery in the city's parks.