Dr. Evil was born to a Russian scientist during the height of the plague that stole his mother in 1771. To this day, the immortal Dr. Evil carries on his father’s gruesome experiments—stopping at nothing to find a body that can host his dear mother’s soul, which his father preserved in a metal box.
For this year's new theme, adventurers explore the doctor’s House of Horrors, wandering amid blood-soaked halls that teem with the insane and demonic, including doctors vivisecting their patients, clowns in hastily smeared makeup, and a disgusting man returning from the bathroom without washing his hands. Live actors hiss and scream at the interlopers as they step across uneven flooring, press on through rooms coated in spiderwebs, and twist and turn through fog. Victims too young for the main attraction are invited to the free, kid-friendly fun house.
As they enter the training circuit at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. Thirty seconds is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
Sprouting from the remnants of a kosher winery in Green Valley, Cahill Winery expanded production to a variety of traditional reds, whites, dessert wines, and vinegars. The varietals are sourced from regions around California such as the North Coast and the Alexander Valley viticultural areas. German shorthair dogs and livestock welcome guests to the winery, where the Payne family has cultivated an organic garden and struck a champagne well that erupts from deep within the earth.
From the simple, understated confines behind Bistro M's bright French doors, Parisian-born pastry-punchers pound out traditional Gallic gastronomy. Night-shift noshers can cloak themselves in the warm light of the chandeliers while rhapsodizing on inviting entrees such as trout almondine ($16) and braised pork shoulder with butternut-squash gratin ($21). Otherwise, seek pearls and spark plugs amid the raw, barbecue, and Rockefeller shell-meat of the full oyster bar ($1.75 each). Bistro M also assuages mid-afternoon belly temblors with a storehouse of lunch and brunch provisions. Set upon a refined feast with the croque madame's seared ham and fresh fried-egg chapeau ($11), or unmask hunger and robot invaders masquerading as sandwiches with the honesty of the open-faced vegetable and brie tartine ($8).
With 41 of its 250 beers available on tap, Barley & Hops pours a wide selection of suds to accompany its lengthy, European-style pub menu. Beneath the exposed-beam ceilings of the Old World-y restaurant, patrons succeed starters of gravy-smothered fries ($5) and scotch eggs ($5.99) with slurps of brews from Belgium, England, and Germany. Two flat-screen TVs in the main dining room and three in the ancillary draft room showcase sports, inspiring nearby diners to slam dunk small fish 'n' chips entrees ($12.99) into a neighbor's Avery Maharaja Imperial IPA ($10.99) to claim new ownership. Refreshing gulps of the Ballast calico amber ($6.99) balance out bites of the shepherd's pie ($12.99), whose beefy interior has proven to be the perfect tool for attracting angry, vegetarian sheep.
Vine Tastings ripens appetites with a full menu of boutique Sonoma County wines and small appetizer plates for pairing and singular enjoyment. The friendly wine bar carries anywhere from eight to 10 different vino vintages from small local wineries, available by the flight, glass, or bottle. Guests can sip, swish, or slam dunk a variety of inebriating grape derivatives, such as the Branham 2007 chardonnay from Russian River Valley ($8 per glass), the Deux Amis 2007 pinot noir from Donnelly Creek Vineyards and Anderson Valley ($7 per glass), and the Et Cetera 2008 Sonoma County merlot ($6 per glass), or choose any three 2-ounce tastings for $10. Pair tipples with delicious charcuterie plates, or cheeses.